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03-03-2014, 08:58 PM   #16
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For general serious shooting, I'll use two bodies,
typically one with a 15mm or 25mm prime, and the other with a 50mm or 85mm.

So if you like, one wide-angle body and one tele body.
For some sports or stage events, that may change to
one medium tele and one longer one.

For casual walkaround, it's usually just one body with the "prime of the day,"
although a recently acquired DA 20-40 is changing that now,
since it's giving prime-level quality.

03-03-2014, 09:11 PM   #17
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I think WAAAAAY to much stock is put into focal length. For certain applications, yes the focal length choice is critical. Mostly portraiture because our brains are hardwired to look at faces, so they have to look just right.

Another place FL really matters is when you are standing where you are, the photo is happening wherever it is, and it is all happening right now. (reportage and vacations with the family are two good examples). In these cases, a zoom is your best friend. Or if you need reach, a 70-200 zoom is a pretty nice tool.

For wandering around, just shooting whatever, the focal length isn't very important 99% of the time. Do this thought experiment, how many times have you seen a great photo, and thought to yourself, this would have been so much better if only he had used a 5mm shorter lens? Never. If you put yourself in the right place, you can get the shot you want with almost any FL. Will the shot at 18mm look EXACTLY like the one at 70? No, but both could be excellent.

Do this: pick one prime lens, any lens at all and join the Single In challenge, shooting with only that lens for a month. You will learn the joy of shooting one and only one prime all month. It's liberating. Cut the shackles of the focal length mania!

I love all my lenses but I could get by with just my 15, 30 and a 70. Zooms only on vacation with the family (18-135). Good to go.
03-03-2014, 09:38 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kozlok Quote
Do this thought experiment, how many times have you seen a great photo, and thought to yourself, this would have been so much better if only he had used a 5mm shorter lens? Never.
Certainly not if it was a photo by Diane Arbus or Anne Leibowitz.

On the other hand, I've seen lots of mediocre photos,
especially with "normal" focal lengths (diagonal of the frame),
that wouldn't seem quite so lame if they had the perspective
of a wider or narrower angle.
03-03-2014, 11:02 PM   #19
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The other side of it is to zoom with your feet for perspective and zoom with the lens for composition. Do both if you are using a zoom. It makes no photographic sense to just stand there and zoom away. Find the photo you want and zoom to frame it the way you want. It's great stretching exercise, too.

03-03-2014, 11:03 PM   #20
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I agree with much of what's already been said. Yes, it is a pain. Yes, it is worth it. I proved this to myself the past weekend, out of the city at a cabin with a large group of friends. There was much I wanted to shoot - there were eagles flying about - I could have chased them into the trees with a long zoom and my weather sealed body, but for this trip I did something I'd not done in years: I left the zoom and the digital in the case in the car a mile away for the entire weekend.
With me, in my small bag I had my 31/1.8, 77/1.8, 50/1.2 and the good'ol K1000. \I walked about with everyone here and there and in and around the cabin with just those.. in fact during the day I only took had hte 31 and 77 and at night I had only the 50 (it's dark in the woods)... It was a glorious and like-coming-home zen kind of shooting experience. I was there with everyone - sure I was thinking of photos often, but I was more present in general and a part of everything and I truly think this combination is why. I just got out the rest of my film that has been stored for a few years and ordered a bunch more.

---------- Post added 03-03-14 at 10:07 PM ----------

In terms of the 31 and 77 during the day - that's what really struck me about the combination. I never truly wanted anything else 99% of the time - that spread was perfection. My only occasional want was that the 15mm I bought off of Freerider had been able to show up at my house a bit earlier (it arrived today)... but that would've been more moody landscape shots of the area and special situations indoors - e.g. only would've been "gravy".
Especially on FF the 31 & 77 is damn magic combo just by themselves.
03-04-2014, 12:14 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
Some PF member said: your feet are your zoom in/out with a prime. That is right. With a single prime, you have to learn to be at the right place, and this is an excellent skill to gain.

In addition, there are situations when you cannot change lenses: no time, or too dirty, or too risky. Changing lenses can be messy and you take the risks to contaminate your camera and your lens.

My walk around prime lens is the FA31mm. I love its IQ and I am prepared to use my feet to compensate for the lack of zoom (or the lack of other primes).

My 5 cents....
^I like the feet analogy, I'm pretty darn fresh to photography (imo at least) and this is how I view it when I shoot with my 50mm.

To the OP, I switch lenses very very often in the field. When I look for shots I am trying to identify not only how I'm going to compose, but where I need to be, what lens works with that, and whether the strengths/weaknesses of that lens is going be an issue. The lens switch happens if I think its worth it; if I don't think I have the equipment for the shot, I'll usually just try to figure out another line of attack.

I carry three lenses with me usually, and I try to streamline my bag so that lens swaps can happen ASAP. If I'm particularly active and in a relatively safe zone, I'll have lens caps and bayonet caps off all lenses the entire time, with the bayonet facing the bottom of the bag. Really darn risky, but I find that when I can just unlock the lens and chuck it into the bag (without putting on caps), I start kind of indexing where that little red alignment dot is, and lenses begin to pop in and out at the snap of a finger.
03-04-2014, 12:57 AM   #22
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A couple of posts here talks about the FA 77mm being good at night or in situations with darkness.

As a rookie I'm curious to why this may be?

Last edited by Ztrejfer; 03-04-2014 at 01:40 AM.
03-04-2014, 01:36 AM   #23
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I mostly use primes and usually carry two. I hardly swap. Once swapped, that lens stays on the camera till I really, really have a situation that requires the other one.

At family gatherings and so on, I usually use the 18-55 for the convenience.

03-04-2014, 01:43 AM - 1 Like   #24
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In general, you start to look for compositions that suit the lens you have mounted. You also have to give some prior thought to what kind of shots you're going for and what lens will be best for them.

Having said that, there will be occasional unexpected opportunities that you will miss because you couldn't change lenses fast enough. The up-side to this is learning to make the best with what you have to hand, which is a major factor in creativity and leads to unique shots you wouldn't have gotten if you had the easy option of selecting the focal length that seems most obvious.
03-04-2014, 02:08 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ztrejfer Quote
A couple of posts here talks about the FA 77mm being good at night or in situations with darkness.

As a rookie I'm curious to why this may be?
It gathers the light well; it has very high quality when shot wide open at f/1.8.



Most lenses can't shoot as wide as f/1.8, or if they can, the Image Quality is significantly compromised.

---------- Post added 03-04-14 at 01:15 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
which is a major factor in creativity and leads to unique shots you wouldn't have gotten if you had the easy option of selecting the focal length that seems most obvious.
Well put! It's difficult to improve if you only go with the obvious.
03-04-2014, 06:23 AM   #26
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I'm shooting more with zooms now, but for the first few decades of my photographic life, I used nothing but primes. When I was shooting primes, I often did what someone else suggested...carry two bodies. What lenses I put on them would vary depending upon what I was shooting. Might be a medium wide and a medium tele...might be a wide and a macro...might be a short tele and a long tele...it just depended upon the situation. My experience with primes mirrors my film experience, so it may be that the cost of film factors into things, but I did a lot more pre-visualization when shooting primes. I would first try to find the optimum position for what I was shooting, then figure out which lens I needed. With zooms (and digital), I find myself shooting first...and asking questions later. lol These days, I'm more likely to shoot a few shots as soon as I spot something, then fine tune my position and focal length...shooting more shots as I go along. I think I eventually end up at the same place, but take a different route to get there.
03-04-2014, 09:20 AM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
I'm shooting more with zooms now, but for the first few decades of my photographic life, I used nothing but primes. When I was shooting primes, I often did what someone else suggested...carry two bodies. What lenses I put on them would vary depending upon what I was shooting. Might be a medium wide and a medium tele...might be a wide and a macro...might be a short tele and a long tele...it just depended upon the situation. My experience with primes mirrors my film experience, so it may be that the cost of film factors into things, but I did a lot more pre-visualization when shooting primes. I would first try to find the optimum position for what I was shooting, then figure out which lens I needed. With zooms (and digital), I find myself shooting first...and asking questions later. lol These days, I'm more likely to shoot a few shots as soon as I spot something, then fine tune my position and focal length...shooting more shots as I go along. I think I eventually end up at the same place, but take a different route to get there.
This all sounds very familiar, particularly the "shoot a few shots as soon as I spot something" when using digital. In my experience though, about 85% of the time this happens, the first shot or two still wind up being the best.
03-04-2014, 10:15 AM   #28
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Interesting discussion.

For a normal nature hike of 2-3 hours, I'll usually mount a prime lens - AF or MF - with the intention of shooting the entire hike with the single lens. I sort of envision the type of possible subjects, perspectives and views that I would like to capture that day. For example, I'll venture out with a 300mm and concentrate on birds, wildlife, or specific objects on the trail. I'll also bring one or two other lenses, for example a 15mm or 35mm, just in case. If I'm in a wider-angle frame of mind, I'll start with a 35mm or 50mm, and may swap lenses several times during the hike.

I was hiking one time with the DA* 300mm. After a couple of hours, I swapped to the DA 15mm Ltd - woah, the much wider angle of view threw me off because I had been so focused on the narrow FOV of the 300.

City hikes are different - often, I'll mount the 50-135mm zoom and stick with it for several hours.

- Craig
03-04-2014, 12:52 PM   #29
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I use a lowe pro compact camera bag on my belt which will hold two of my primes so if I wish to travel light I am out with the camera and three lenses and just the one small case on my belt that also holds the spare battery and SD card. I had started my photography with primes in screw mount then moved to autofocus all zooms and now mostly moved back to primes. Much of this is based on that fact that my wife has zooms so it was better to go a different route and we both have the best of both worlds. In the end it is more of a personal comfort level in both carrying the camera and lens on your shoulder and changing lenses in the field that are final determinating factor. I do find that when I have any certain prime lens mounted on the camera I see images that require that lens and when I change lenses I immediately spot images that call out for that new lens. It is either my mind has readjusted for the new focal length or I am simply lazy.
03-04-2014, 12:55 PM   #30
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I only use primes, but I do use multiple bodies loaded up with the most appropriate lenses for the job in hand, so changing is not a common event, unless the unexpected happens.
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