Don’t Just Shoot 50mm Because Henri Cartier-Bresson Did

BAXTING

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I really like 50mm. Its much easier for me to compose and get a shot Im happy with. Ive tried to force other FL, but I never get the same feeling while shooting.
 

Livnius

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My interest in photography started and blossomed out of an interest in capturing memories and documenting the things around me, when things got 'real' so to speak, I got into micro four thirds and a variety of lenses, I ultimately found myself gravitating ever more and more to the PL25...I felt comfortable with the focal length and found it was almost a natural focal length for me, that is, my eyes seemed preset to that focal length. Pretty soon, I realized my catalogue of images was heavily biased towards this particular FOV (I also happen to really like the rendering qualities of the PL25).

All of this happened long before I'd even heard of HCB (or any other photographer for that matter).

Admittedly though, my recent explorations with the Rich GR and Nikon A (28mm) and the RX1 (35mm but actually closer to 32mm) have me thinking that if I were forced to choose a 1 focal length solution now, it would be 40mm/45mm.....as such, I've been entertaining the thought of perhaps requiring the P20.
 

Mellow

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Interesting how Cartier-Bresson was looking for depth of field, not trying to minimize it like many people want to do today. But that was his subject, I guess.

The photograph of the three (Cuban?) women is one of my favorites.
 

zlatko-photo

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HCB's comments are always fascinating, sometimes for their insights and sometimes for their contradictions. He didn't believe in cropping, except when he did (for his most famous photo). He only used a 50mm, except when he didn't. He didn't see the point of a light meter, except when the light is changing quickly or he's in another country, in the desert or in snow. I actually love the 50mm, one of my most used lenses.

Interesting how Cartier-Bresson was looking for depth of field, not trying to minimize it like many people want to do today. But that was his subject, I guess.

The photograph of the three (Cuban?) women is one of my favorites.
The women were photographed in Spain in 1933 - http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2TYRYD1D4YN9
 

AussiePhil

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50mm is a lens length i've actually never owned in nearly 40 yrs of taking photos, my film days were dominated by the 70-210 zoom range with a fall back to 28mm for close up indoor shots.
Little wonder then when reviewing focal length used in the 4/3-m4/3 that the 14mm end gets a lot of use as does the 40-150 from the 4/3rds days.
The FOV covered by the full frame 50mm gets very little use for me and i struggle to visualise photos in that FOV.
 

robbie36

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I dont think I have ever thought in the way of a favorite focal length - I guess I tend to use whatever I feel is appropriate. I fI did choose I know it wouldnt be 35mm. I do like 50mm but I think my favorite is 24mm. 24mm, for me, is about as wide as you can go and keep everything looking natural - people and environment.
 

jamespetts

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Likewise, don't not use a 50mm (25mm in our format) lens because of reading this article. Different focal lengths are good for different situations and styles: one should choose equipment based on the subject and desired effect rather than trying to second guess what may be considered fashionable.
 

AussiePhil

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Likewise, don't not use a 50mm (25mm in our format) lens because of reading this article. Different focal lengths are good for different situations and styles: one should choose equipment based on the subject and desired effect rather than trying to second guess what may be considered fashionable.
I think the real point is that people get used to a certain FOV and will always gravitate back to that FOV often regardless of situation. The multiple 17/20/25/45/60/75 threads that all have people swearing it is their favourite FL (FOV) typifies this.
 

fortwodriver

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HCB's comments are always fascinating, sometimes for their insights and sometimes for their contradictions. He didn't believe in cropping, except when he did (for his most famous photo). He only used a 50mm, except when he didn't. He didn't see the point of a light meter, except when the light is changing quickly or he's in another country, in the desert or in snow. I actually love the 50mm, one of my most used lenses.
Yeah, but HCB didn't do ANY post-processing. He had a very loyal, although independent, assistance who's name escapes me. His assistant did all the developing and cropping. HCB just took pictures, and later painted but had no interest in the intricacies of developing or controlling the print.
 

fortwodriver

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I always preferred the view that a lens wider than 50mm provided. I loved my 35mm lenses and liked the 24mm and 20mm...

Always wider to varying degrees between those extremes, and as a result, I spent more time walking up to people and things to take their pictures. That seemed to work well for me. I admit the "shouting" distortion HCB spoke of helps me see things.

The only reason why I had a 50 was because it was the only f1.4 lens I could afford.

There's a really funny video done about HCB where the interviewer asks him what he says when people say he's "brilliant". First he asks "Am I allowed to say 'boolsheet'?" ... Then he says "It's boolsheet"... really funny...
 

bucky

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PL25 lives on my camera about 80% of the time. Only time I take it off is for landscapes (7 to 14), group portraits, and bokeh happy portraits (45 or 75), or macro (105 mm). I've tried to like 35mm equivalent, but my pictures look so uninspiring. Much like what I take on my iPhone.
 

Linh

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I used to shoot 50 more because it's what I learned on. It's what I ended up liking. I've since grown to like 35mm and 85mm as well. Now that I think about it, the 12-40 could be my only lens coupled with the 75. Now only if the 12-40 were magically half the size (yes, I know, carrying 3 lenses isn't too different, but it's more of while I'm shooting. and sub f/2) :)
 

nardoleo

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I dont think I have ever thought in the way of a favorite focal length - I guess I tend to use whatever I feel is appropriate. I fI did choose I know it wouldnt be 35mm. I do like 50mm but I think my favorite is 24mm. 24mm, for me, is about as wide as you can go and keep everything looking natural - people and environment.
Same. My favorite fl is 24mm too! everything frames just right with it.

I find 50mm too tight for everyday use but ideal for portriats. (the type i like to shoot).
 

laser8

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Yeah, but HCB didn't do ANY post-processing. He had a very loyal, although independent, assistance who's name escapes me. His assistant did all the developing and cropping. HCB just took pictures, and later painted but had no interest in the intricacies of developing or controlling the print.
It was Voja Mitrovic.

Btw, I like 25, probably because of the PL. Earlier I had a LX5, and I was mostly at 12 (m43 equivalent :smile:)
 

Ramsey

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i have the P20mm and while i love some of it characteristics, i hate that it's too wide for 90% of my use and i find myself cropping a lot.

I borrowed the PL25mm and can't seem to get outside and take some photos. I'm not a huge fan of it and the "leica feel", particulary bcs it's rather soft until f2 (as opposed to P20mm).

ALthough i do feel 17mm would be too wide for me (many unwanted elements), i did find myself enjoying the photos my friend takes with the Sigma 35 f1.4 on his full frame and wanting to try the Oly 17 f1.8. Could be the shouting effect HCB is speaking about...
 
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