The Beauty Of The 50 mm Lens

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Don Heisz

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Unless you are a camera collector, it sounds like a lot to me.

I guess having 50 lenses would qualify a person as a collector whether or not that was the intention. But I think it's very easy to accumulate 50 lenses just by wanting to try out different cameras and formats.
 

miha

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As for cropping, why not compose within the viewfinder of your chosen format?
Do you find photos that emerged from such negatives superior? If this is the case, can you explain why?
 
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I guess having 50 lenses would qualify a person as a collector whether or not that was the intention. But I think it's very easy to accumulate 50 lenses just by wanting to try out different cameras and formats.

Agree. Not really a collector myself but lenses get accumulated faster than camera bodies while trying them and if I happen to find them at the right price/condition (and if I happen to have some spare cash on my wallet too).
 

faberryman

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Do you find photos that emerged from such negatives superior? If this is the case, can you explain why?

I shoot and print full frame. Looking back over the past few years, I don't think any of my photos would have been better cropped. If I had wanted a different image, I would have framed it differently in the viewfinder.

Of course, if you are shooting street or sports or something else fast action where you don't have time for precise framing, you might need to crop from time to time.
 

miha

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I shoot and print full frame. Looking back over the past few years, I don't think any of my photos would have been better cropped. If I had wanted a different image, I would have framed it differently in the viewfinder.

I do so too, the main reason is that I only have to think about the composition at the taking stage, however, I'm interested in Clive's reasoning for his non-cropping modus operandi reasonings.
 

cliveh

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Do you find photos that emerged from such negatives superior? If this is the case, can you explain why?

'superior' is the wrong word, as I think composing in the viewfinder adds to the simplicity and execution of the photographic process. If you make a painting or drawing, do you then take it back to the studio, do you then cut a bit off with a pair of scissors?
 

miha

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'superior' is the wrong word, as I think composing in the viewfinder adds to the simplicity and execution of the photographic process. If you make a painting or drawing, do you then take it back to the studio, do you then cut a bit off with a pair of scissors?

Sure, making it right at the taking stage makes the whole process a lot simpler. I don't see the relevance of comparing photography to painting.
 

MattKing

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Some great subjects are a different shape than our viewfinders.
Some great square pegs look lousy in round holes.
At the time of exposure, try to frame your subjects carefully, so as to minimize cropping at time of printing.
IIRC, cropped from a 6x7 negative - scanned from a print.
 

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lxdude

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It is not cheating, but many who use zoom or telephoto lenses have no regard of perspective. As for cropping, why not compose within the viewfinder of your chosen format?

I agree.
I used to shoot only 35mm slides, so composing full-frame was a necessity. And due to the small size of 135, I didn't want to lose any of it. I still do compose full-frame; I strongly prefer it. I've been thinking of switching from 645 to 6X6 for the challenge of composing within the square (plus cropping is an option if I can't make a shot work). I see 6X6 as more versatile because of that.
And there's something in me that just likes working with the format I have. My approach is to always strive to use the full frame, but if a different proportion to the picture makes it better, cropping is not somehow wrong.
It's the guys who would declare that anyone who didn't shoot full-frame were dishonest or somehow cheating that amazed me. It's like a moral thing with them. To them, "no serious photographer crops". Of course, many well-known and admired photographers had no qualms about cropping. I think it's fine to be a purist for oneself; I am, just not fanatically. It's important to me to use the full frame, but not essential. I recently unframed a favorite full-frame print from135 I took decades ago, cut it to a square, and re-framed it. I did it because I realized it's a lot better that way.
Same with AE or AF. The same sort of guys said the same sort of things about automation- it wasn't as pure, so it was somehow wrong.
I never use either. I always determine focus and exposure manually, and have never wanted to entrust either to the camera. It's a part of my process, begun when there was no other way. And it's valuable to understand, which is why photo courses start students off on manual cameras. But automation works well for others, and the quality of a photograph is not determined by the means through which it was created.
I do admit to having "cheated" with cameras that have an exposure lock: I'd meter and let the camera find the exposure I liked, then lock it. Scandalous! 😟
 

lxdude

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Do you find photos that emerged from such negatives superior? If this is the case, can you explain why?

Composing full-frame has one very good effect: it promotes "cropping" in-camera. Regarding the viewfinder image as the final image encourages removing extraneous elements at the time of exposure.
 

Sirius Glass

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I agree.
I used to shoot only 35mm slides, so composing full-frame was a necessity. And due to the small size of 135, I didn't want to lose any of it. I still do compose full-frame; I strongly prefer it. I've been thinking of switching from 645 to 6X6 for the challenge of composing within the square (plus cropping is an option if I can't make a shot work). I see 6X6 as more versatile because of that.
And there's something in me that just likes working with the format I have. My approach is to always strive to use the full frame, but if a different proportion to the picture makes it better, cropping is not somehow wrong.
It's the guys who would declare that anyone who didn't shoot full-frame were dishonest or somehow cheating that amazed me. It's like a moral thing with them. To them, "no serious photographer crops". Of course, many well-known and admired photographers had no qualms about cropping. I think it's fine to be a purist for oneself; I am, just not fanatically. It's important to me to use the full frame, but not essential. I recently unframed a favorite full-frame print from135 I took decades ago, cut it to a square, and re-framed it. I did it because I realized it's a lot better that way.
Same with AE or AF. The same sort of guys said the same sort of things about automation- it wasn't as pure, so it was somehow wrong.
I never use either. I always determine focus and exposure manually, and have never wanted to entrust either to the camera. It's a part of my process, begun when there was no other way. And it's valuable to understand, which is why photo courses start students off on manual cameras. But automation works well for others, and the quality of a photograph is not determined by the means through which it was created.
I do admit to having "cheated" with cameras that have an exposure lock: I'd meter and let the camera find the exposure I liked, then lock it. Scandalous! 😟

Composing full-frame has one very good effect: it promotes "cropping" in-camera. Regarding the viewfinder image as the final image encourages removing extraneous elements at the time of exposure.

What lxdude said! Just a good photographic practice. I learned to it when I was only shooting 35mm slides.
 

NB23

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At the end of the day, the 50 is where it’s at. Allows for layered compositions without introducing too many visual pollution that come with wide
Angles.
Also, it allows a focused vision without falling into simple basic unidimensional photography closely linked to telephotos.
 

Vaughn

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Moving up in format over the years, skipping 35mm (and the 50mm lenses) and starting with a Rollieflex (80mm) I kept myself to one lens per format, usually a 'normal', though my 300mm on the 8x10 is on the wide side of normal, and the 360mm on the 11x14 is on the normal side of wide. Lately (the last decade or so) I have expanded my lens choices as I have become more visually familiar with the formats and focal lengths.

I work by studying the light and its interaction with my surroundings. I tend to wander until I am in the right place at the right time to record what I am experiencing in a way that is transmittable to myself and others thru a print. Beauty is a big factor, but I find it not as meaningful on its own.

I do not crop (nor burn/dodge) and the images I see fit the format I am carrying around at the time...but I do have the option of a splitter for making two 4x10s on a sheet of 8x10 film (and two 5.5x14s on 11x14). I enjoy the directness of the process...me/camera/lens/film/place translated directly onto handmade material. Not out of a sense of 'purity', I just enjoy the challenge of this particular type of hunt, so to speak, and I feel it has expanded my personal vision. A normal lens has always made that easier for me, and explorations with un-normal lenses have also become fun.

I am presently working on a group of prints that are 4x5 carbon prints. The challenge here is working in the small format and creating images that work best in that size.
 

flavio81

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I still do compose full-frame; I strongly prefer it. I've been thinking of switching from 645 to 6X6 for the challenge of composing within the square (plus cropping is an option if I can't make a shot work). I see 6X6 as more versatile because of that.

I also do as lxdude (btw, just got my first LX this week).

When I use 6x6 format, i compose square. Otherwise i have nice 6x4.5 and 6x7 cameras.

I do have, in the past, chosen a different crop at enlarging time, but it's rare. 99% of the times I shoot with the final crop in mind.
 

warden

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I enjoy composing for the format but I'm not a slave to it, and will crop the hell out of a negative if it needs it. I must see in square format because I seem to crop those least, and when I'm cropping 35mm it is often to make a square.
 

faberryman

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I must see in square format because I seem to crop those least, and when I'm cropping 35mm it is often to make a square.
Sounds like you are a natural for a medium format camera. A larger negative and no cropping - a twofer for technical quality.
 

Sirius Glass

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Obviously 50mm lenses for 35mm cameras is a wise choice, look how many 50mm lenses are sold compared to the other focal lengths for 35m cameras.
 

guangong

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The point about composing in the viewfinder I take as a given, but this does not always result in the best desired photo. For example, it is not unusual for a painter to add canvas to a work in progress because of a changed idea regarding composition. So there is nothing sacrosanct about cropping a negative if cropping makes a stronger picture.
 

mscott842

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I’ve always felt that a 35mm lens challenges one to “find the right frame” more than a 50mm. I use it as a “normal” lens in digital. More gets in the shot and for me it takes longer to press the shutter and makes my brain work a bit more.
 
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