What is a 'normal' lens?

Started 1 month ago | Discussions thread
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Flat view
Jon Donahue Contributing Member • Posts: 709
What is a 'normal' lens?
2

Back in 35mm film days, most folks thought that a 50mm lens was 'normal', roughly equating to our eye's normal field-of-view. This was close to the diagonal length of a 35mm film frame, 43mm. And so every manufacturer made inexpensive 50mm lenses, with wider and wider apertures, like the Pentax D-FA 1.4. And Pentax, but not others, also made the 43mm FA 1.9, to satisfy 35mm film owners who wanted a field-of-view just like the film diagonal, later replaced by the full-frame sensor diagonal. But... for 'normal' lenses, it was a 50mm world.

But also back then, the Advanced Photo System came to market with a film size quite smaller than 35mm. Went nowhere in the film world, but took off when everyone went to digital. Cheaper sensors! With our APS-C copying the film size fairly closely at only 25mm x 16.7mm... which made a 28mm diagonal. Oh boy. Cheaper smaller sensors, and all the old full-frame lenses still worked fine, crop the image a bit, but so what. You didn't have to re-invent everything like with the even-smaller Micro 4/3 system. And the APS-C image was large enough to give you lovely large prints, almost as good as full-frame.

Manufacturers like Pentax never really made inexpensive fast new 'normal' lenses for APS-C, as they had for 35mm full-frame. Yes, we have several 35mm lenses to choose from... which give a 35mm equivalent field-of-view at about 53mm. But none have those really wide open apertures. There's the DA f/2.4, and the DA f/2.8 macro. But wide aperture? Pentax is still stuck on 50mm, with the D-FA f/1.4... which makes it a 75mm-equivalent on APS-C. ‘ Normal’ lens? Not any more... these days on your APS-C camera, it's a fast portrait lens.

Question. Even though they sell a zillion more APS-C cameras than full-frame ones, why didn’t... or doesn't... Pentax make a FAST f/1.2 or f/1.4 28mm-to-35mm prime lens, which would give 'normal' field-of-views from to 42mm to 53mm? Closest is the FA 31mm f/1.8 (47mm equivalent) at USD $1,050. Ouch! But then, the FA 50mm f/1.4 is $1,100. Ouch ouch ouch. I guess it's me, trapped in the past when fast 'normal' field-of-view lenses cost a lot less. I've been spoiled to expect everything digital to become lower and lower in price, and that ain't necessarily so, is it?

 Jon Donahue's gear list:Jon Donahue's gear list
Ricoh GR II Pentax K-5 IIs Pentax K-70
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Flat view
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow