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01-10-2017, 05:19 PM   #1
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Can You "Learn To Love" A Focal Length?

Recently I bought a very expensive lens that is in my most un-favorite focal length. It's a very highly rated lens, and the price was so low that I could not pass it up.

It's going to arrive this Friday. I will initially use it intensively to see if the fabulous qualities of this lens can overwhelm my dislike of this field of view.

If it doesn't work out for me I can always sell the lens, but I sure hope that the lens is able to persuade me to change my mind about that field of view.

Have any of you ever had a legendary lens persuade you to like an un-favored focal length?

01-10-2017, 05:33 PM   #2
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Had a manual 35mm and loved it enough that I then bought a 35 2.4. While sharp, it seemed pretty meh and I barely used it for a year, after which I sold it.

Recently bought a bargain 35mm Macro and I like it a lot. Probably something about the feel, but I am starting to be able to see good framing in 35mm again.
01-10-2017, 05:45 PM   #3
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Yes, I believe so. I rarely used the DA* 50-135 on my APS-C bodies, but once I moved up to the K-1 and got a D-FA* 70-200, I found myself with my first favourite lens. It changed my mind about the focal length range, and even about the genre of portraiture. It's always a lot of footwork to schedule things with a model, but once I'm in the zone, I have so much fun.
01-10-2017, 06:33 PM   #4
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I used to hate 135mm, then I did a single in challenge for a month with one. I still tend to ignore it, but I no longer outright avoid using it.

01-10-2017, 07:00 PM - 1 Like   #5
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No, but I've had the (counter-intuitive) experience of enjoying the 77 on crop, but meh with the K-1. I probably need to do a SIC with it to be cured.
01-10-2017, 07:31 PM   #6
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You never know, frankly. When the 40xs dropped to under $100 new, I thought it was worth a try as a novelty lens. The 60mm equivalent in FF strikes me as about as dumb as can be, existing only because it is the FoV that can be produced very small and most cheaply while maintaining decent IQ. It took me very little time to understand not only that the lens is very good, but the focal length isn't much of an issue. Even for certain environmental portraits (i.e. horizontal) it teaches you that providing context at a focal length slightly narrower than "normal" is a terrific tool.

If nothing else, trying a prime lens at a focal length you view as difficult, forces you to imagine new framing possibilities. The exercise is worth the effort. Hope you come to a similar favorable conclusion.

I should also mention that I picked up a used SMC-21mm at a very low price from a reputable dealer, and it was mostly because I wanted to try a Limited lens cheap. I wasn't enamored of 21mm either, but quickly decided that it was a very good focal length because anything wider simply does not look "natural" because all UWA lenses require some form of distortion (yes, rectilinear is a form of distortion - quite extreme in most situations IMHO). While the lens isn't stunning, in my opinion, I have grown to appreciate its field of view.

Want to let us in on the secret focal length (and format)?

Last edited by ScooterMaxi Jim; 01-10-2017 at 07:39 PM. Reason: mentioning the 21mm lens
01-10-2017, 07:38 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Try a month with it shooting a picture a day in the Single In Challenge. It really helps clarify love and hate for a lens.
01-10-2017, 08:35 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Try a month with it shooting a picture a day in the Single In Challenge. It really helps clarify love and hate for a lens.

if there's a lens you are unsure about, shoot it every day for a month and see how you feel then... I sold off a very nice 100 and a pair of 135's because I just could not see ever using them again...

on the flip-side, I've discovered other lenses that I don't think I'll ever part with....

01-11-2017, 12:41 AM   #9
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Back in the film era, all SLRs came with a 50mm prime and in my impatient, not so wise youth, avoided its normal straight forward FOV. No love.

But around the time kit zooms became the norm, I rediscovered and ʻlearned to loveʻ the 50mm (FOV for FF). It actually started with the 75mm on my 645 MF, then 35mm on APS-C, and now 50mm on FF.
01-11-2017, 06:33 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
You never know, frankly. When the 40xs dropped to under $100 new, I thought it was worth a try as a novelty lens. The 60mm equivalent in FF strikes me as about as dumb as can be, existing only because it is the FoV that can be produced very small and most cheaply while maintaining decent IQ. It took me very little time to understand not only that the lens is very good, but the focal length isn't much of an issue.
That's almost exactly my experience with the 40XS. I loved it so much, I bought a second as a gift for my niece because she only had the kit 18-50 that came with her K-S2. It's her favorite lens now, too (and my brother, her father, is jealous because he shoots Nikon).

For me, it was years of buying zoom lenses because "they are more versatile" but then I'd always shoot at one end or the other of the range (which I suspect is how most people use zooms), where most of the affordable zooms are not the best. Got a 35mm Limited Macro when they first came out and used my feet a bit, and it has become my second most-used lens (after the 10-17mm - don't ask).

So, I'd never "learned to love" any zoom. Then I got a 20-40mm Limited for a great price, totally prepared to say "redundant and not worth the replication of two of my favorite focal lengths (40 and 35)." Lo and behold, I actually like this lens, mainly because 20mm is a nice compromise.
01-11-2017, 07:07 AM   #11
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I've never learned to love a particular focal length. The exception to that is when I buy a lens in a length I've never owned before and come to love a wider lens than anything I have or a longer telephoto. But I don't think that's what the OP is asking. I've had my uses of particular lenses change when I went from film to digital, but I think that's because the range moved into the way I like to see scenes. I rarely used my 35-105 on film, but it's my favorite lens on APS-C. I think that's because I tend to see things really wide...or really tight. So, on film, the 35-105 was just a midrange that didn't appeal to me, but on APS-C digital, it moved more into the telephoto range and became my favorite walk-around lens. I think our way of seeing is indicative of who we are as people so we choose focal lengths that match our view of the world around us. So expecting someone to fall in love with a lens that doesn't jive with their view of things is kinda like wanting an introvert to suddenly become the life of the party...or thinking you can tell an extrovert to sit down and be quiet. lol It's not very likely to happen because it goes against their nature.
01-11-2017, 07:21 AM   #12
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I would be pouring through galleries at PENTAX : Welcome to the PENTAX Photo Gallery and hunting for shots on flickr that were taken with the same lens. You will almost certainly see photographs that you are enamored of which take advantage of the particular properties of that focal length... if you are anything like me, your enthusiasm with build.
01-11-2017, 07:22 AM   #13
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Every focal length is the best focal length for some sorts of pictures in terms of creating the best relative perspective between foreground, main subject, and background elements. And then there's simply times when you want objects A & B in the image whilst being constrained to stand at point C (e.g., street corner, cliff top overlook, etc.). Points A, B, & C define a triangle that defines the required focal length which may be the unloved focal length.

But whether you like taking such photos that require the unloved field of view is another matter.

Have you ever searched your own photos or Flickr for examples of the unloved focal length? Perhaps that will either inspire you to use the focal length or reaffirm that it's not a field of view that creates the kinds of images you like.
01-11-2017, 09:09 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fenwoodian Quote
Have any of you ever had a legendary lens persuade you to like an un-favored focal length?
Well, I've had a semi-'legendary' lens persuade me to dislike it so much that I rarely bring it except for very specific applications: the Jupiter-9 80/2.

The lens generally performs optically as advertised, but the reasons I dislike it are: it's too heavy, it has a 'preset' aperture, and the focus, aperture and preset rings are very stiff. Also, it's very, very soft wide open (though this is reckoned by some to be what makes it 'legendary'), and doesn't really get much better until 5.6. Maybe it's a great portrait lens, I've not been super-impressed by it but then I'm not much of a portraitist.

I've had the lens for over 10-years, I bought it new from rugift in Kiev for US$60, so no complaints about the price. A couple of years ago I replaced it with an adaptall 135/2.8 which is an all around better lens for general street and landscape work, even though it's a tad too long for most shots, so I just use my supertak 50/1.4 for those situations that I wish I had a shorter tele to hand. Heck, I shoot so much at 35 and 24 that 50 seems like a tele to me.
01-11-2017, 09:46 AM   #15
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I am mixed on 135 on apsc, i loved it on film but just not on apsc. OTOH i wish i still had my M100 2.8 it was an amazing lens on aps, I need to spend some time with my 105 takumar to see if i can love it the same but so far not really. On film i am mixed on 35 much prefering the 28 fov for a wide but on apsc it's a favourite length . I also love my 27 and 28 mm lenses on C enough that i wish i has a 43 limited for my film body . Longer lenses i can take or leave, i just have little use for them so it's not a love hate thing (though before it was stolen i really did like the m200 f4 great compact long lens i used when i needed a long lens

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