Why are wide prime lenses seemingly so popular?

Started Jan 12, 2015 | Discussions thread
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MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 35,963
Why are wide prime lenses seemingly so popular?

Wide angle lenses seem hugely popular and although I can see the uses for and reasons why and also own and use wide lenses I am less certain on why they seem so particularly popular as a type before even short telephoto lenses.

I think I know the answer but it is worth a discussion so that we can see just what the motivations are:

Wide angle seems good for up close and dirty where you need to get more than just a head-shoulders in the image. You can fit groups into wide angled images very easily.  It also would be better to get a wider scene in the image to better tell the story of the image. Good for "views" and scenes. In my view (only) less good for broad landscapes as the detail is lost and you really need small aperture and maybe a tripod to preserve distant details.

Broad interesting vistas are truly breathtaking when they have interesting subject but can be boring if there is no specific point of interest in them and relay in how well the detail is captured.

Also wide allows for quick street shooting and "cropping be my friend".

Wide enough and you don't even have to point the camera directly at your true subject.

I tend to like the range from about (FF eq) 75mm to 150mm where I can get personal candids "from across the room" which can be head shoulders and also deliberate portraits from some distance. For non-person images I like to use the longer focal length to crop off naturally to precise objects in a frame rather than pick up a lot of clutter that a wider image might introduce.

I am fully conversant with and use lenses from fisheye to fast quite extreme telephoto.

I just wonder why the abiding skew seems to be from (FF eq) 20mm to about 50mm in such seeming popularity - but maybe I have it wrong and certainly zoom lenses will quickly give the lie to my simple understanding.

I think it worth understanding motivations and expanding on my reasonings for a broad range of focal lengths.

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Tom Caldwell

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