Why are wide prime lenses seemingly so popular?

Started Jan 12, 2015 | Discussions thread
OP MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 34,908
Re: Why are wide prime lenses seemingly so popular?

NCV wrote:

I think it is due to the influence that the great photo journalists such as Capa and artists such as Friedlander, Frank and Bresson (50mm) still exert on photography. This style of photography typically with a 35mm equivalent lens is what most of the stuff called that we now call street photography (unfortunate pictures of unfortunate people) imitates. We like it because we are used to this in your face perspective and it is what we expect to see from this style.

It seems often to be a bit of a fetish that to do this type of photography the rules of the game ( that should not exist in art) dictate that one must limit oneself to certain fixed focal lenses just like the old masters did to do in order at achieve "pure photography".

Personally I tend to agree more with Andreas Feininger who preferred the crushed telephoto perspective style.


I have learned a lot and probably see the virtues of the wide and ultra wide more clearly now. I certainly will look through my wides with a more determined composition in mind. I tend to have my composition in my head and an appreciation of the rough frame before I even get to the stage of framing it electronically. Over some years I have been trying to train my mind to see in FF eq focal length terms without the crutch of a camera and lens. But I haven't quite completely licked it yet. Nevertheless it is surprising how good a mind can get in pre-visualising a focal length frame for a prime.

The words and explanations help the understanding of the lure of wide primes but I think that they might still be over hyped - however in the end it is simply what turns the photographer on and they are certainly small,reasonably priced and easy to use, even if great compositional skills can be very usefully applied.

I like the "crushed telephoto perspective" phrase and accept that my lens instincts are suitability crushed.  

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Tom Caldwell

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