Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tokyo-X-Vario: Shooting with a 50mm Lens

Leica X-Vario at 50mm equiv. 1/1250th sec F/5.6 @ ISO 400. Shot RAW, edited in CS5/Photoscape and cropped

I find many people use their zoom lenses as a way to crop their image, and in some instances, it makes sense. You can't get closer, nor can you back up. But I find many don't really understand what a focal length does to the actual relationship between the subject and the foreground and background. When you zoom in, you are compressing the image, not just creating bokeh. As a general rule, a street photographer doesn't need a 70-200mm lens. That's for paparazzi. Between 28 to 50 is a good range for street photographers, even though a bit above or below this range is great for specific effects as well. 

For many Leica photographers, the 50mm perspective is the magic focal length-perspective, and in many ways it is the most versatile. You can use it as a portrait lens, but it's also great for the street, not having to get too close to get your shot, but not too far away either. The X-Vario marks the 28-70mm lens at key focal lengths: 28, 35, 50 and 70mm. Instead of using the lens to crop your image, maybe try and see your image in these distinct perspectives by spending a day at a specific focal length and leave it there. I did so at 50mm and pretended I had a Summicron (but at F/5.6!!), and forced myself not to change the focal length just for convenience. If I was too close, I backed away. If I was too far, I ran up closer. 

Yes it made me work harder, but I was more satisfied with my images in the end, and it helped me get a feel for the focal length again. The above image was taken at 50mm equiv, and I really think the focal length was just right for this shot. I have more images at 50mm coming up soon, but enjoy this one for now. 

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