What focal length are you?
I remember vividly the day my photography tutor gave me a Pentax Spotmatic to take some photographs for a project. It was like being given new eyes, after box brownie, Instamatic and Salina Paulette, it was a revelation that I could actually see what I was photographing in real time and what seemed like 3D reality.
Well, as they say, once bitten.
There was a break after college (where I was studying REAL graphic design) of approximately 4 years before I bought a Zenith B, quickly followed by a Praktica and then a Nikon.
Of course, like many people I started to look through the cameras and wanted to see wider or longer which in those times limited by money and availability, was limited to 28mm and 135mm (35mm film).
Fast forward to now, and on Fuji X I have the equivalent of 15 to 900mm lenses, but still sometimes join two 15mm images for even wider, or crop 900mm to get closer.
So I asked myself the question, what is my favourite focal length?
The answer came in two choices, 21mm and 85mm (35mm equiv.)
But I decided to check in Lightroom to see which focal lengths were used the most and got a shock.
I only looked at 2021/22/23:
|Lens||Number of shots|
|21mm (XF 14mm F2.8)||154|
|35mm (Fuji X100)||361|
|53mm F1.4 (XF35mm F1.4)||118|
|85mm (XF 56mm)||584|
|105-450mm (Fuji XF70-300mm)||2500|
|105-450mm + 2x||306|
The iPhone is always with me, and I photograph everything I see, but the cameras and lenses are used in a more considered way. I am not a lover of zooms, but two of the most used lenses are zooms which I have to admit surprised me.
I use Lightroom and Photoshop and have never been tempted to change. I have tried so-called better Raw processors, but they all fail in one way or another, and I have never had any problems with sharpening or resolution, there is currently a 3-meter print from my X-H1 using the XF70-300mm (105-450mm equiv) displayed in the town square. I do not worry about noise because I like grain and used to use GAF 500 film, which had grain, not like golf balls but footballs.
Will I change my usage – ‘NO’, I pick up whatever my brain tells me is appropriate, and if I do not have the lens with me, well, that is serendipity.
I do confess to being paranoid about dust and my clumsiness, so each lens sits permanently on a body and for outings to towns and cities 21/53mm (or X100) plus 85mm, for landscape 15-35/53mm (or X100) plus 105-450mm (and 2x). For one body one lens and my love of a focal length adopted early in my life, 127mm, (roughly equiv. to 135mm) I have the Viltrox 85mm.
It was interesting to find out emotion did not match reality in lens choice.
“I was born in the UK and worked as a graphic designer and photographer for most of my life and I feel privileged to have been doing what I love throughout my life and been paid for the pleasure.
I started to take photographs with a Box Brownie at the age of 7 or 8 years old, but the big revelation came when I was 10 and I watched my cousin develop a black and white print using a home made enlarger, ‘that was it, I was hooked’.
The next momentous photographic event came on top of a mountain in Switzerland at the age of 13 when I suddenly thought how do I capture the whole scene. ‘I suddenly knew!’ if I took a series of photographs with my Kodak 127 then join the prints later that should work. It did! 50 years later I am still making panoramic photographs but now digitally though I do occasionally miss the Xpan panoramic camera which stands out among the mass of 5 x 4, roll film, 35mm cameras I have used over the years.
I have shot fashion, cars, musicians, products, hung out of helicopters, photographed air to air and covered the Silver jubilee of the British Queen, but I now work solely on my personal projects.”