Your best focal length / lens for street photography

Started Jul 13, 2012 | Discussions thread
apaflo Veteran Member • Posts: 3,854
Re: Your best focal length / lens for street photography

Charles Pike wrote:

I have shot street for over 40 years, so I grew up during film days when zooms were a poor choice as they were slow, and not sharp at all. So we wanted fast prime lens.

My first Street camera was the original Pentax Spotmatic, bought when they were first released in 1964.

My first zoom lens was the 80-200mm f/2.8D from Nikon, purchased for use with a D1.

I have owned great zooms like the 17-35mm f/2.8 from Nikon, tack sharp, but people ran when they saw you coming. So today I shoot uptown with either the 14mm or 20mm on my Panasonic G3. I always try to get close, comes from the years of shooting for a paper where the favorite lens was the 35mm. I often go to town, with only one lens on the camera, extra battery in my pocket and a 16gb card in the camera.

That might be true for you, in your environment. But it appears that there could be just a little bit of nostalgia involved in your choices?

As noted previously, religious beliefs are fine but they should never be described as logical.

What ever works for you is great.

That is the essence of what this discussion should be about! Why does something work for you, or me, or the next guy... and why doesn't it work for everyone. It's the logic behind what we do that needs to be passed on to others, not the icons of our religious faith.

Which is to say that it is clear that you personally need to get close to subjects, and to do so you personally need to feel your camera and lens are not intrusive. That may or may not have anything at all to do with the people you photograph! It would be interesting to distinguish the effects only on the subjects and the effects only upon the photographer, though it may not be easy to separate them.

It happens that I have always been bothered by the idea of sticking a big lens in the face of anyone. I do not want to interact with people I photograph. Oddly, in the specific environment that I now work in, there is an odd reverse bias! Small cameras pointed at everyone and anyone remind people here of "tourists", and the connotation is not good. On the other hand a fairly large Nikon DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 mounted, held by someone who clearly is not a tourist, has a very different connotation.

I don't want to teach people to "do what I do", and don't see that as good pedagogy. I want to teach people to think about what to do the way I do , and learn what will work for them in the circumstances they will encounter.

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