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Which lens "speaks" to you? A Mike Johnston article on the 40mm view.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Fmrvette, Feb 8, 2014.

  1. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Recently (over the past few months) I've pretty much relegated all of my lenses save one to the cabinet. The lone exception is the 20mm f/1.7 Panasonic (which, of course, is a 40mm equivalent in 35mm SLR terminology).

    It harkens me back to my starting out days as a hobbyist, when I had a single Pen FT 35mm half frame SLR and a lone 38mm Zuiko lens. That lens lived on that body for the entire time I owned it (some ten years). I loaned it out and the person I loaned it to managed to damage it beyond repair. The damage wasn't intentional but it was a mistake that I've not repeated.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympus_Pen_F

    Edit: As noted by PenFan2010 below, the 38mm Zuiko, when mounted on a Pen FT body, was a 55mm equivalent, a bit longer than the 40mm I prefer today. Of course the discussion isn't so much about the 40mm focal length per se as it is having a single lens that has become "welded" to your favorite camera body. Thanks and a tip 'o the hat to PenFan; I should have noted the discrepancy in the original post. Edit off.

    The combination of the Panny 20mm and the OM-D E-M5 just "speak" to me; I have dozen or so other micro four thirds lenses but none feel as right as the 20mm when mounted on the E-M5.

    I ran across this article this morning:

    http://www.steves-digicams.com/smp/05102005.html

    It's from May, 2005 and discusses photographing with a 40mm view and explains my comfort level with the lens much better than I ever could. (Of course Mr. Johnston is a well known writer and editor of all things photographic and is currently the Head Honcho over at T.O.P. (The Online Photographer))*.

    Does a single lens speak out to you? One that, even though other lenses might get closer or show more of the scene or capture movement better, still gets mounted on your camera body simply because it is a joy to use?

    Just curious on a day when it's too cold and too snowy to go outside and play...

    Regards,

    Jim


    *(Disclaimer - I have no financial interest in any venture of Mr. Johnston's, although I do have a financial interest ($380.00) in the Panasonic 20mm lens :biggrin:
     
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  2. penfan2010

    penfan2010 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 12, 2010
    NJ, USA
    That's a great article. I loved the 38mm lens on my Olympus 35 SP rangefinder, and generally like the 20mm F1.7 Panny. It's a good comfortable compromise between the traditional 35mm FOV for street shooting, and the 50mm "normal".

    One thing to consider -- the 38mm F1.8 Zuiko on a Pen F, which is a half frame film camera, actually had an effective field of view closer to 70mm full frame, not 40mm (I can't recall whether the Pen-F crop factor is 1.5x or 2X, just like 4/3). Regardless, it is my favorite legacy lens for mu-43, and it makes for a fast, short telephoto, given the four-thirds 2x crop factor. This is the lens and field of view that seems to speak to me.
     
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  3. Jay86

    Jay86 Mu-43 Veteran

    477
    Dec 26, 2012
    Im in a similar boat in that the 50mm FL has always spoken to me. I tried lots of different lenses over the years.... 24mm, 35mm, etc. but the 50mm FL always just seemed to agree with me. In-fact at one point I think I shot for over a year with just one lens and it was a 50mm. When I look at a scene to compose a shot and then put my eye to the VF at that FL it just seems to work. Not to mention (to me anyways) its such a versatile FL. Move a little closer and you can get some nice 1/2 & 3/4 portraits of people (or things).


    Although I must admit I have never owned a 40mm prime lens.
     
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  4. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    773
    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Ron
    When I got my X100, seduced by its outrageously good looks, I found the 23mm focal length ideal for me. That's 35mm FF, or 17mm m43.

    I shot solely with that camera for over a year and loved it. I still take it when small size and portability is needed.

    I never really warmed to the Oly 17 1.8 though. I sold it when I compared it to the 12-40.
     
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  5. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Hi PenFan!

    The 38mm Zuiko was equivalent to a 55mm (see the chart in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympus_Pen_F ). I remember spending a few minutes trying to grasp the concept of "equivalency" when reading the owner's manual of my then new Pen FT, finally comparing the view through my Olympus with that of a buddy's full frame Canon. That short education has stood me well, as it turns out - I have no problem at all in "converting" various lenses, seeing the output in my mind's eye as it would relate to a "normal" lens.

    Of course although my current favorite is 15mm wider than my old Zuiko, it's the concept of a single lens still 'speaking' to me now (as one did 45 years ago) rather than a specific focal length doing the talking that fascinates me today. I've spent a considerable amount of money over the last four decades on lenses that, while serving a purpose, were just lenses; they didn't make me "feel" one with the camera.

    (I no longer possess "my" 38mm Zuiko - it long ago went as a trade in to Woodward Camera (for, as I recall, a Minolta lens of unremembered vintage and focal length). I'm glad that you have, and are enjoying, yours.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  6. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Ron, it's been all I can do to keep from whipping out the Visa card and ordering in a Fuji X100 (or S, I'm not hard to please :biggrin:). I think it would work very well for me, other than causing the inevitable resulting divorce...

    Regards,

    Jim
     
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  7. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Veteran

    Me too. I could happily use my X100 and nothing else.

     
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  8. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Hi Jay!

    As PenFan noted, the 38mm Zuiko was actually a 55mm equivalent (the Pen FT were 'half frame' cameras. One could get 72 shots on a "36 exposure" roll of Tri-X. 50mm is, of course, supposed to be "normal" - what one eye would see if looking at a scene without the lens intervening.

    50mm used to be the "kit lens" that came with a DSLR body (I'm sure you already knew that) and they are, as you note, quite versatile. Canon, Nikon, Pentax - all had (and have) their "nifty fifty" and usually at a bargain price.

    I find the 40mm not to be as good for close up portraiture - folks don't like it much when their nose looks like the business end of an Abrams tank :biggrin:. It doesn't stop me from using the 40, I just back up until things get into...um...perspective :wink:. But your 50mm would do a better job.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  9. BigTam

    BigTam Mu-43 Top Veteran

    773
    Mar 19, 2012
    Dortmund, Germany
    Ron
    I've got to the point where my wife doesn't know what's new and what isn't. She only objects when a new parcel arrives. I have to find some new explanation for what's in there. If it's cheap I'll be honest: It's a remote shutter release for my camera: only €34!

    If it's more, I usually say I bought it from the proceeds of the sale of my last lens. There was even a little bit left over ... honest ...!
     
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  10. geoawelch

    geoawelch Mu-43 Regular

    120
    Nov 18, 2011
    NH
    Jim

    Thanks for the link

    Good to be reminded to simplify every once in a while

    George
     
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  11. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I tried the P20f1.7 but I did not like the focusing function. I also had the PL25f1.4 and found it quite superior to the 20mm lens in all respects. Personally, I don't want to limit myself to any one lens as there are different requirements for different photo opportunities. I like the faster zoom lenses and I sold my primes but for the O17f1.8 and the legacy manual lenses I have.
     
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  12. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    715
    Jul 23, 2010
    I think it is quite interesting that most of the people I hear talking about what lens they find easy or natural to use say from 35mm to 58mm, When I look at my preference and I find anything from 50-60mm is good. Now when I first got a serious camera they all came with a 50mm or so (first one was a Helios 58mm) and or years I wanted more choice, eventually I got a 28 and a 135mm, they did not get used half as much as I thought, just got so used by then to a 50mm that it was natural to me. I have the Sigma 30mm that feels like the old helios and at some point soon will get one or both of the 25mm, won't drop the Sigma though its different enough to the 25mm to be worth keeping.
     
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  13. BeyondTheLines

    BeyondTheLines Mu-43 Veteran

    262
    Sep 23, 2012
    Spain/USA
    Patrick
    I too end up putting the Panny 20mm 1.7 on my EM5 most of the time although since buying the Rokinon 7.5 fisheye they alternate a lot, but I'll usually carry both when I'm walking around Madrid. The 40mm equivalent focal length is the easiest for me to frame naturally, so it does "speak to me", but I've only had a few different prime lenses, so who knows... I think I'd like to try out one of the 25mm primes just to see but I like how the 20mm is in between the 35 and 50mm equivalents.
     
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  14. m4/3boy

    m4/3boy Mu-43 Veteran

    306
    Jul 21, 2013
    I take anything Mike Johnson writes with a grain of sand, except when he wrote that he is writer and not a photographer.
     
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  15. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Interesting.


    Regards,

    Jim
     
  16. klee

    klee Mu-43 Veteran

    367
    Mar 20, 2013
    Houston, TX
    Kevin
    I would also say the 20mm. That and my legacy Hexanon 50/1.4
     
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  17. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    Silver, I hear ya. I just acquired an Olympus 75-300mm zoom for use at the local zoo; there are indeed different requirements for different opportunities.

    Still...I migrate back to that 20mm - unless I've planned a day shoot that requires something else. Rather the opposite happens, tho - I end up going to places where I know the 20mm will work :biggrin:.

    I've not tried the 25 f/1.4 but I don't doubt its superiority. And that goes back to my point, sorta - I end up with the 20mm on the body even though optically, electronically, and mechanically there are 'better' options available.

    Still - it makes the hobby (for me) more enjoyable even as I recognize its limitations.


    Regards,

    Jim
     
  18. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan
    Jim
    You and Rob are having a bad influence on my credit cards :biggrin:.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  19. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    When I first got the EM5 with the 12-50 kit lens (a very fine lens BTW..). I read all about the praises of the P20f1.7. It did not take long before I purchased one. Honestly, I was quite disappointed with it mostly because it sucked in the AF department. It was only marginally better than the slow 12-50 for AF mainly because the f1.4
    It is definitely a sharp lens and some of the photos I took with it had very good IQ. However, maybe because of my personal predilection, I just could not frame good shots with it and often the highlights were washed out. Granted, I was just learning the camera, but the kit lens gave me better results time after time.

    I think it's great that so many people love the PL20f1.7, but it just did not work for me. I did love the pancake form though.. In that respect it was nicer than the PL25f1.4. Form is an important factor, and that's why I like the O17f1.8 and I loved a Voightlander 35mm (adapted from M mount) that a friend loaned me and I like the looks of the O45mm. I wish the PL12-35f2.8 was smaller but it's just what it is, a great lens. I plan to get the 35-100 f2.8 as soon as I can. I'm selling my other zooms as well to get the faster Pro lens.
     
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  20. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    I don't think Mike would disagree that others might have different preferences. OTOH, I also think what lens you "see" with depends on your environment. I live in a rural area where wide angles have no isolating power because I often can't get close to my subject. The 45 works just fine, and the 75 would be better. When I visit a city, however, the 17 is perfect.
     
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