Picking a standard prime lens for Canon EOS Rebel T4i(650D)

Started Dec 30, 2012 | Questions thread
Matty W Regular Member • Posts: 206
Re: 30mm for sure! (or 85mm for portraits)

Difficult to say... What kind of material do you shoot? For me 50mm and slightly wider (on FF) is perfect for snapshots or for giving a sense of being there but with some (relatively undistorted) depth, whereas 135mm (on FF -- or 100mm, even) is long enough to be pleasing on the face without the extreme distanciation and flatness of 200mm and longer. 85mm on FF isn't tight enough for fully compressed portrait-length faces (noses protrude still just a bit) and yet isn't wide enough to take the background meaningfully into the equation. It just feels like a lifeless no man's land to me, very difficult to use well, but beautiful when it is used well.

I am also very fond of 35mm and even 24mm on FF.

My preference might be because my background is in video, and 50mm (on super35, which has a similar field of view to APS-C) does not provide much depth, nor does it provide the slick orthographic projection and flattering flatness of very long lenses. Anecdotally, Spielberg's favorite lens (on super35mm and so similarly APS-C) is 27mm. Terry Gilliam's is 14mm (I think). Ozu's is 50mm. All have some claim to high artistic sensibility. But it's damned hard to compose like Ozu!

On 4x5 (and recently 6x12 roll film because it's cheaper) I am pretty fond of 135mm for landscapes, or about 40mm on FF, I guess. My favorite photographers stick closer to 300mm, or an 85mm FF (50mm crop) equivalent. It's a fine focal length, but the "slight" compression feels flat to me without being flat enough for portraiture. I'm hoping to do some landscape soon and I plan to rent the 90mm TS-E for that. So I do like this field of view for some things!

Of course the very fact that we disagree is reason enough for anyone making this same choice to try both out. But if I could have one lens stuck to my camera, it would be in the 35mm-50mm range (on FF).

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