A single prime as walkaround?

Started Oct 13, 2010 | Discussions
BobT Forum Pro • Posts: 13,216
A single prime as walkaround?

Does anyone in this forum utilize a single prime lens as their main walkaround lens?

If so, which prime? What sort of subject matter do you shoot? I've been trying this out with my 50 1.8 and Sigma 50 2.8 Macro. Got to admit, I sure like the light weight. And....have been somewhat surprised at the few subjects that I've missed. With effort, most walkaround subjects can be captured. Is this an unusal way to shoot.? Thanks

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Granamere Senior Member • Posts: 1,487
Re: A single prime as walkaround?

I have a freind that shoots that way from time to time. He claims he likes how it makes him think about the shot. He uses a Canon 50mm 1.4.

I dislike zooming using my feet.
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MarshallSoames Junior Member • Posts: 26
Re: A single prime as walkaround?

BobT wrote:

Does anyone in this forum utilize a single prime lens as their main walkaround lens?

If so, which prime? What sort of subject matter do you shoot? I've been trying this out with my 50 1.8 and Sigma 50 2.8 Macro. Got to admit, I sure like the light weight. And....have been somewhat surprised at the few subjects that I've missed. With effort, most walkaround subjects can be captured. Is this an unusal way to shoot.? Thanks

I use a 35mm. I find 50 to close.
I may consider something wider to suit my style.

I mainly shoot stuff like interesting windows, signposts. I look for shadows and do B&W a lot. Textures always catch my eye.
And scenic stuff like landscapes, cityscapes.

It's not unusual. Most street shooters I know use a single prime. In fact, most use a fixed prime compact (Ricoh, Sigma, etc).

Osiris30 Senior Member • Posts: 2,804
Not unusual

I bring my camera everywhere with me. I bring it to work everyday. Most days I'll just bring one lens. So I look at the shelf in the morning and go what I do feel like today. It's always fast (2.8 or better), but often I'll grab the 50 1.8. It's tiny, weighs nothing, and performs well (amazingly well on my new body).

Steve

BobT wrote:

Does anyone in this forum utilize a single prime lens as their main walkaround lens?

If so, which prime? What sort of subject matter do you shoot? I've been trying this out with my 50 1.8 and Sigma 50 2.8 Macro. Got to admit, I sure like the light weight. And....have been somewhat surprised at the few subjects that I've missed. With effort, most walkaround subjects can be captured. Is this an unusal way to shoot.? Thanks

steve88 Contributing Member • Posts: 905
It's a great way to learn

Back in the olden days, well not that old...but when I took a class in high school we were required to have a 50mm prime lens to do most of our work on.

There are many people who believe that working with a prime lens forces you to put a lot more thought into composition and framing (when compared to using a zoom lens). Working with a prime lens makes you ask yourself "Am I too close?" "Too far away?" "At a bad angle?" "How could I make this photo better or more interesting?"....and then you kind of go from there in setitng up the photo. The joy of working with a prime lens is asking yourself all of these questions and then finally taking the shot. All of the planning I guess.

I really enjoy working with a prime lens because it makes me think so much more about what I want to put in the photo and what I need to do to get that photo. For some reason, I just don't ask myself all of these questions if I'm working with a zoom lens. But other people are different. Zooms can definitely come in handy, no question, but I like shooting mostly with primes.

So, I would say if you get the most enjoyment out of photography by using mostly primes, then go for it. Others prefer zooms. There really is not wrong or right way to do it. It's what works for you that's important and what makes you the happiest when taking photos.

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Keith Z Leonard Veteran Member • Posts: 6,134
Re: A single prime as walkaround?

I have been doing that more and more lately, not for scheduled shoots or anything, but just for walk around. The 50mm 1.8 is SO LIGHT. I think the Sigma 30mm or something like it would be better for a crop though.

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cheddargav Veteran Member • Posts: 4,493
It's the only way I walkabout...

I recently spent the day shooting in Koln with just a 50mm (on FF) and in the past have used the Sigma 30mm on APS-C plus any number of Pentax primes around London. Some of my best London shots have been taken with just a 70mm.

It's hard to put a finger on it, but I always feel as tho zooms stifle my creativity

BobT wrote:

Does anyone in this forum utilize a single prime lens as their main walkaround lens?

If so, which prime? What sort of subject matter do you shoot? I've been trying this out with my 50 1.8 and Sigma 50 2.8 Macro. Got to admit, I sure like the light weight. And....have been somewhat surprised at the few subjects that I've missed. With effort, most walkaround subjects can be captured. Is this an unusal way to shoot.? Thanks

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TDR1 Contributing Member • Posts: 550
Re: Not unusual

Osiris30 wrote:

I bring my camera everywhere with me. I bring it to work everyday. Most days I'll just bring one lens. So I look at the shelf in the morning and go what I do feel like today. It's always fast (2.8 or better), but often I'll grab the 50 1.8. It's tiny, weighs nothing, and performs well (amazingly well on my new body).

Is that on a cropped body or full frame? I agree with some other posts here that on my cropped body I find 50mm isn't wide enough for general use. If I had the 28mm F/2.8 or the 35mm f/2.0 I think I would make much more use out of it.

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Osiris30 Senior Member • Posts: 2,804
Re: Not unusual

On a crop. I like the ~85mm. 85mm is my favorite full frame lens length (I like shooting people).

Steve

TDR1 wrote:

Osiris30 wrote:

I bring my camera everywhere with me. I bring it to work everyday. Most days I'll just bring one lens. So I look at the shelf in the morning and go what I do feel like today. It's always fast (2.8 or better), but often I'll grab the 50 1.8. It's tiny, weighs nothing, and performs well (amazingly well on my new body).

Is that on a cropped body or full frame? I agree with some other posts here that on my cropped body I find 50mm isn't wide enough for general use. If I had the 28mm F/2.8 or the 35mm f/2.0 I think I would make much more use out of it.

davidonformosa New Member • Posts: 13
Re: A single prime as walkaround?

I find the focal length of the 50mm f/1.8 a bit long for walk around. Last weekend I hired a Canon 24mm f/1.4 L. It was a great focal length for walk around and I got some nice shots. The moderate wide angle (mounted on Canon 400D) is really nice to work with. However, it is a big and heavy lens and doesn't really handle well on Canon 400D body (at least without a grip). Not to mention the fact that it is very expensive.

I am still procrastinating about buying a wider angle prime (wider than 50mm), but when I do get one it will probably be my preferred lens for walk around photograpy.

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paulfromwales Regular Member • Posts: 256
Re: Not unusual

I find 70mm too much, 50mm a little too much, 28-30ish just fine and 20mm too little.
A 50mm Sigma Macro, would be a really good compromise.

OP BobT Forum Pro • Posts: 13,216
Re: Not unusual

I'd like to think that the 50 2.8 Macro could be "THE" prime lens for me for walking around. Most of my "walking" is in nature and not cities. So....tomorrow my wife and I are planning a last day attempt at capturing what's left of fall foliage colors. I'll take my DSLR with the Macro, and maybe my Canon sx20 for anything requiring a telephoto need. I've used similar 2 camera combos before, and things have worked rather well. I'll let you know just how well the 50mm macro prime did.

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rhone Contributing Member • Posts: 624
Re: A single prime as walkaround?

I do it a lot with my 50 1.4, especially in cities at night, but I'm actually finding it too close much more than too wide, so I think I'd much prefer the sigma 30 1.4.

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rsn48 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,755
I also have used 50mm

I have both the Sigma 50mm f1.4 and the Canon 50mm f1.8 (version 1). I love the Canon 50mm f1.8 as the camera - Xsi (450D) - almost feels like a point and shoot with it on, its so light. For street photography, I usually use the Sigma 50mm.
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David Strachan
David Strachan Senior Member • Posts: 1,326
Re: A single prime as walkaround; thats what was used.

The first 140 years of photography was all with primes. Those marvellous decisive moments, millions captured, particularly with 50mm lenses on 35mm film. All street photography was with primes until the first zoom lens was invented...the Zoomar by Voigtlander (1959 36-82/2.8 ).

A priime needs visualisation framing. The way I do it is to look through the viewfinder and note the edges of the image. By extending my arms I define the frame width. Easy to use rather than looking through the viewfinder for composition every time. Some people use a black card with a rectangle hole cut ithrough it, and held a short distance from the eye. Soon one just sees the framing with a bit of practice anyway.

It is a discipline and great fun just using a small lightweight prime. They are often beautifully engineered and feel nice to use. The optics can be immaculate, and old lenses in the back of the cupboard can be enjoyed.

cheers Dave S

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Narcosynthesis Senior Member • Posts: 1,832
Re: A single prime as walkaround; thats what was used.

I often go out with the 35mm f2 as my only lens - an equivalent to the traditional fast 50mm lens for a crop sensor camera.

I find it helps to change your approach and focus our eye when out and about - it limits you to only the single focal length, which makes it much easier to imagine your photo before looking through the viewfinder, so it narrows down your options and lets you look at your surroundings more accurately without the option of variable focal lengths cluttering your mind. At the same time it also limits you and forces you to be more creative - you cannot just pick a spot to stand in and zoom to fit your subject, instead you have to work around the problem of working out the correct distance to put yourself to fill the viewfinder and be more creative in your angles and composition.

I will also have to say I wouldn't want to shoot a standard prime the whole time, as I love the options available with other lenses, but they do force you into a different method of working, which will then improve your work the rest of the time when you make the effort to consider factors like how focal length affects perspective, and finding the best angle and composition.
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SNGX1327 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,186
Re: A single prime as walkaround?

"back when i shot canon" (boy i've been starting off a lot of my posts with that, lately...) i used a 28mm f/1.8 USM as my main walkaround lens. i owned a 50 II but i rarely used it.the 28 was my go-to lens. i loved the focal length, i felt it was perfect for everything. a lot of my pictures are what i call "bar pictures" --- pictures of me and my friends drinking and being stupid. at a bar, BBQing, tailgating at a baseball game, or street festivals like mardi gras. this focal length is GREAT for that (my only advice --- if you are going to designate a "bar lens" get a UV filter for it!)

i can see the benefits to going with 50mm instead of 28-30. some people will say it's too long. and it is long. BUT that tighter framing will get you more dramatic photos in general. narrow-er DOF at 50mm means more impact with subject isolation.

if 50mm fits your style i say go for it. plus, at a cost of $100 what is there to lose?

i also used to own a sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX. this was an ... odd ... lens. it took stunning photos, but it was so large and heavy that i avoided bringing my camera with me. it was prohibitive. i traded it for the canon 28mm and suddenly i was free to take my camera wherever i wanted because it was so small and compact (especially before i traded my rebel XT for a 20D)

Monviso View Regular Member • Posts: 158
Re: A single prime as walkaround?

I often do. Generally the 50mm 1.8 because it's so wonderfully light and discreet, occasionally the 28mm 1.8.

OP BobT Forum Pro • Posts: 13,216
Re: A single prime as walkaround?

Right now, I'm thinking that the Sigma 50 2.8 Maro lens, might just be my one and only prime walkaround lens. Took it out today(along with my Canon SX20 for anything tele-necessary), and found that I was not for wanting anything wider. Of course, this was on a mission to shoot snippets of fall foliage. So could be that just about any lens might have worked. But the 50mm did just fine, and the SX20 saw very little action.

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Howard S Senior Member • Posts: 2,210
I often use the 35 f2

great size, weight, fast and sharp make it ideal on a Rebel

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