We all like to chop and change our lens selections from time to time. One of the things I have discovered as I have practiced street photography more and more is that a prime lens is perfect for street photography. There are several reasons for this, but that’s a story for another time. But once you’ve decided that you prefer prime lenses over zoom lenses for street photography a problem presents itself. Which focal length should you choose? After all, you can’t simply switch focal lengths as you would with a zoom lens. You may remember a while back I wrote about my experiences using a 50mm lens for street photography. I’ve also talked about why I currently feel that the 28mm is the perfect street photography lens. This time round I’ve decided to focus on the photojournalist’s holy grail – the 35mm lens. So read on for my pros and cons of using a 35mm lens for street photography!
Regular readers of Street Hunters will probably have seen several of our past posts about the different lenses you can use for street photography. We’ve discussed the various merits of telephoto lenses for street photography, wide lenses, and 50mm lenses. Choosing the best lens for your street photography is an agonising decision, because they all have their strengths, weaknesses and compromises. Some photographers will chop and change their lenses and focal lengths a lot, others will pick one focal length and stick to it, while others will go through ‘phases’ of shooting one focal length for a while, then another, and so on. Having done my fair share of lens roaming myself, I am starting to wonder if I’ve finally found a lens that is perfect for my street photography, and that lens is around the equivalent to 28mm focal length on ‘full frame’. Why? Read on for more…
Most photographers (myself included) will often go through a period when they worry about their choice of gear. Both the blessing and the curse of getting more into photography and learning about camera equipment is that you realise how good some specialised equipment is for some types of photography, and how bad it is for others. Someone in search of wide landscape shots isn’t going to get on very well with a 300mm lens for instance, and a wide angle lens is far from ideal if you want to take photos of birds in flight. These examples are obviously more extreme, but it’s surprising the nuanced differences that you’ll find over just a small change in focal length, especially in a genre as demanding as street photography. 26mm, 22mm, 15mm or 10mm of difference in ‘reach’ or wideness between lenses can make all the difference between getting a shot or missing one. With this in mind, and having shot street photography extensively with a mix of focal lengths from 16mm to 50mm, I’d like to offer my thoughts on using a 50mm lens for street photography.
NOTE: This is a subject that I feel I don’t have the really professional technical knowledge for, so everything I write in this post is from personal experience. If something is inaccurate, please correct me! You are most welcome to do so!
A Street Photographer has many camera lens options for when shooting. A Street Photographer can use a camera equipped with a zoom lens, or a prime lens. Zoom lenses provide Street Hunters with focal length flexibility but are usually bigger and not as sharp or as fast as prime lenses. So, naturally primes are widely used in Street Photography, without that being the rule of course. When someone uses primes they automatically have a lighter and smaller kit to carry around, compared to another Photographer who uses a big zoom lens which gives them some advantages in movement and stealth.
There are many different types of Prime lenses. There are ultra wide lenses, wide lenses, normal lenses, classic portrait lenses, telephoto lenses and ultra telephoto lenses. Today, we will talk about the wide angle lenses and discuss their pros and cons in Street Photography.