Old 12-14-2011, 02:27 AM   #1
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Default If you could only have ONE focal length...

what would it be? I'm definitely more of a zoom guy than a wide angle. Most general photographers back in the day would have chosen 35mm or 50mm. However, I would take a 100mm macro.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:33 AM   #2
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On my 1.6 Canon crop, I'd pick a 35mm, if I could only have one.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:35 AM   #3
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Well, if you have enough pixels, just get the widest lens. Any longer focal length can be achieved by cropping ...

For all around use, so trains and family and the occasional walk-about on a trip, 24-28mm (35mm equiv). I like scenes.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:41 AM   #4
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Not what you're asking, but I'd give anything to have my 10 to 22 mm back. It's currently Laid Up Bad Order awaiting cash I ain't got to get it fixed.
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:31 AM   #5
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Not what you're asking, but I'd give anything to have my 10 to 22 mm back. It's currently Laid Up Bad Order awaiting cash I ain't got to get it fixed.
Hey Joe, what happened to your 10-22? I've been looking at them, thinking about giving one a try. Something break on it?
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:04 AM   #6
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I could never commit to doing only telephoto or only wide angle. I need to buy a 18-120, or maybe even a 18-200. I've been having to pass up too many shots due to having to choose between a wide and a telephoto. Then again it may be for the best so I dont try to do too much like I often did with my old camera.
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:17 AM   #7
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I would use a 50mm. That's what I used for many years.

Younger photographers should learn the craft by first mastering the "normal" lens before taking on the wides and teles, IMHO. When they consistently produce good to excellent shots with a normal, then they can resort to the gimmicks of the other focal length lenses.
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:57 AM   #8
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I would use a 50mm. That's what I used for many years.

Younger photographers should learn the craft by first mastering the "normal" lens before taking on the wides and teles, IMHO. When they consistently produce good to excellent shots with a normal, then they can resort to the gimmicks of the other focal length lenses.
Ok...
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Old 12-14-2011, 06:12 AM   #9
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Ron, do you mean the 45mm 'normal', the 50mm 'normal', the 55mm 'normal', or even the 75mm 'normal', without even venturing into another format? =)
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:24 PM   #10
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I would use a 50mm. That's what I used for many years.

Younger photographers should learn the craft by first mastering the "normal" lens before taking on the wides and teles, IMHO. When they consistently produce good to excellent shots with a normal, then they can resort to the gimmicks of the other focal length lenses.
+1. Love my 50mm, which I suppose becomes a 75mm on my DSLR... not sure how that works. It's the GP9 of my camera bag. The 85m and 105mm are pretty handy, too, but the 50 is the workhorse.
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:27 PM   #11
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Ron, do you mean the 45mm 'normal', the 50mm 'normal', the 55mm 'normal', or even the 75mm 'normal', without even venturing into another format? =)
No...I meant a 50mm, which was "normally" the "normal" lens that came with most SLRs back in the '60s. Some fixed focal length 35mm film cameras had other variations (which you mentioned), but the 50 was the most common.

The question was: if you had one lens, what would it be---and that was my answer. It could just as easily be a 45 or a 55.

My comment about anything wider or longer being a "gimmick" was probably a poor word choice. I love both variations---but again, that wasn't the question. I suggested "learning" on a "normal" lens before venturing off into other tools of the trade.

Some of the greatest photos of this genre have been taken with a 50mm lens---or a "normal" lens depending on the film format (a.k.a. camera format).
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:30 PM   #12
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I would use a 50mm. That's what I used for many years.

Younger photographers should learn the craft by first mastering the "normal" lens before taking on the wides and teles, IMHO. When they consistently produce good to excellent shots with a normal, then they can resort to the gimmicks of the other focal length lenses.
I'll agree with you on the 50mm.

However, I don't agree with you about zoom being considered a gimmick. Unfortunately, I can't seem to master the art of levitation, so I need to be able to adjust to those other focal lengths.
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:08 PM   #13
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I'll agree with you on the 50mm.

However, I don't agree with you about zoom being considered a gimmick. Unfortunately, I can't seem to master the art of levitation, so I need to be able to adjust to those other focal lengths.
Again---not the best choice of a word. I love a zoom lens (as well as a wide). If you consider that many neophyte photographers quickly gravitate to a 300mm view of the world--and create some really unmemorable stuff in the process--my point was: start with the basics.

Among the old fart photographers who discuss such things off-list--it's a common opinion that today's youthful digi-age fotogs rely too much on the "gee whiz" stuff of technology. They blew right past the fundamentals. They might be able to engage you in a passionate discussion of histograms---but they can't truly command the relationships between ASA (that would be ISO to the younger folks), shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, etc.

In my day, a histogram would be a telegram that was lost for several years before it was finally delivered...
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:09 PM   #14
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Again---not the best choice of a word.
I know, I was just having fun with it.

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They might be able to engage you in a passionate discussion of histograms---but they can't truly command the relationships between ASA (that would be ISO to the younger folks), shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, etc.
I've only had a clue for about 6 years of my 44 years on this earth on how all those things relate to each other, and I really enjoy discussing that topic. When discussing it with someone who hasn't gotten it yet and I see the light go on in their head like it did for me on that fateful day back in December of 2005, it makes me happy.
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:52 PM   #15
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Again---not the best choice of a word. I love a zoom lens (as well as a wide). If you consider that many neophyte photographers quickly gravitate to a 300mm view of the world--and create some really unmemorable stuff in the process--my point was: start with the basics.
I knew what you meant. Sometimes I look at an image and have to think, does it really have value or is it just catchy in a superficial way?

But it's so much fun! And it is just a hobby ...

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Among the old fart photographers who discuss such things off-list--it's a common opinion that today's youthful digi-age fotogs rely too much on the "gee whiz" stuff of technology. They blew right past the fundamentals. They might be able to engage you in a passionate discussion of histograms---but they can't truly command the relationships between ASA (that would be ISO to the younger folks), shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, etc.
Well, OK, now we separate a bit. I do agree about those fundamentals, but in your remark about "gimmick" and the subsequent discussion I thought you were more focused on composition, the next step up from the technical issues. And light.

I think I understand depth of field fairly well but not necessarily how to take that knowledge to the next level.

And histograms are always good ... or at least are never bad ...
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:10 PM   #16
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Among the old fart photographers who discuss such things off-list--it's a common opinion that today's youthful digi-age fotogs rely too much on the "gee whiz" stuff of technology. They blew right past the fundamentals. They might be able to engage you in a passionate discussion of histograms---but they can't truly command the relationships between ASA (that would be ISO to the younger folks), shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, etc.

In my day, a histogram would be a telegram that was lost for several years before it was finally delivered...
First thing I did when I bought my first DSLR was to figure out how to turn everything to manual - that is as far as I experimented with it. Not an old fart yet (unless only using manual lenses makes me an old fart), but I did shoot slides for a decade and I didn't feel comfortable letting the camera do the math. I can screw up fine on my own, I don't need the camera assisting.

I do think about the advantages of a zoom lens from time to time, usually when I don't have the lens I need for a shot handy or if I drop a lens during a rapid change out. Hasn't got me to buy one for foaming yet, but I do think about it.
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:21 PM   #17
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Ron;

Don't be a "Back in my day" type of guy. It doesn't really suit you well. Some of the young guys on this list who have never used a film SLR are doing some really great work. It's not their fault technology moved past the 1960s and 70s.
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:26 PM   #18
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I think what Ron is saying is apt regardless of the decade we happen to be in or the technology we use. Understanding the fundamentals of photography is essential, and I suspect those turning out excellent work that have never had to 'earn it' with slides, probably understand the fundamentals.

I say earn it with slides, because they were very, very unforgiving of any error.
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:39 PM   #19
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Learning and understanding basic photography theory (like music theory) can go a long way.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:19 PM   #20
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Ron;

Don't be a "Back in my day" type of guy. It doesn't really suit you well. Some of the young guys on this list who have never used a film SLR are doing some really great work. It's not their fault technology moved past the 1960s and 70s.
That's not what I was saying. Very few people would go back to an old film SLR. I like the comment about learning on "manual." I just think a basic grasp of how a camera works, and the relationships of this to that is important. That's all.

In truth, the only thing that's different in a digital vs. a film SLR is the "film plane." Now, it's a sensor. All the other tried and true pieces of technology are basically no different from my 1964 Argus Autronic II (except, of course, all the mechanical pieces, such as the shutter, are now digital, driven by little servo motors, microprocessors and little green men).
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:26 PM   #21
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In truth, the only thing that's different in a digital vs. a film SLR is the "film plane." Now, it's a sensor. All the other tried and true pieces of technology are basically no different from my 1964 Argus Autronic II (except, of course, all the mechanical pieces, such as the shutter, are now digital, driven by little servo motors, microprocessors and little green men).
True in a narrow sense, but not a wider sense. The difference between digital and film photography is a) differences in the sensor, b) differences in post-processing.

Or, rather, processing. An important part of "processing" in the film days was film selection, trading off various characteristics, color, sensitivity, etc. Now that "pre-processing" is handled in "post-processing."

Beyond that, in the digital age, one can more readily (without extensive darkroom equipment) do some extremely detailed post-processing. And one can do this in a projectable form (slides themselves for the most part can't be altered, but digital images can) as well as a distributable form (prints can be extensively "post-processed", or "manipulated").

It is this post-processing for the masses which to me is the real impact of digital. Of course you knew all this, Ron, I am just stating it explicitly.

But this also goes to a greater point, which is that the "fundamentals" of photography are no longer just exposure + composition, they are now exposure + composition + processing. Or at least they are so to a much greater extent than in the past.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:31 PM   #22
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Among the old fart photographers who discuss such things off-list--it's a common opinion that today's youthful digi-age fotogs rely too much on the "gee whiz" stuff of technology.
I will move from the more factual stuff in my previous post to opinion

I do wonder if the "old fart" guys have some conscious or unconscious resentment of the fact that post-processing has become so important in photography, thus diminishing the relative importance (but not absolute importance) of the exposure/composition skills they have honed over the decades. The world has moved on, and away from them, a bit.

At the same time, some of the "youthful" guys, in actual age or photographer-experience-age, may under-appreciate the vision and artistry, the compositional/expressive skill, achieved by (some of) those "of age".
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:00 PM   #23
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But this also goes to a greater point, which is that the "fundamentals" of photography are no longer just exposure + composition, they are now exposure + composition + processing. Or at least they are so to a much greater extent than in the past.
I agree with all you said. Actually, it requires a whole new array of skill sets to harness the post-processing thing. I'm very much a neophyte in that area---but I enjoy learning more about it. I've used Photoshop for a few years now, but I'm still into the "wonder what this will do?..." kind of mode. Like most men, I don't bother to "read the instructions" (although I do go to the Help section at times).

It's certainly changed the way I work with magazine publishers. I just finished an article submission for Trains. After completing the writing and final edit (of many) on the article itself, I scanned about a dozen images---all old black and white 35mm negs from 1964 (on Kodak Tri-X, ASA 400----very grainy stuff, but very fast for that time). I was in the 11th grade when those shots were taken, and my knowledge of photography was pretty thin. Photoshop allowed me to bring some of these shots back to some usable form.

Had this been a few years ago, I don't think film and darkroom technology would have been sufficient to salvage some of these old shots. And---without images to support the story, there was no incentive for me to write on this particular subject. Again---digital technology will be responsible for this thing possibly seeing "ink" one day (at least I hope).

The whole thing, by the way, was uploaded to Kalmbach's FTP site. It was all so easy, compared to the old way. I haven't gotten a contract yet, but if I do, this may appear in print sometime in the not-too-distant future. We'll see.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:13 PM   #24
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Sounds great, Ron! I look forward to seeing it.
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:07 PM   #25
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I will move from the more factual stuff in my previous post to opinion

I do wonder if the "old fart" guys have some conscious or unconscious resentment of the fact that post-processing has become so important in photography, thus diminishing the relative importance (but not absolute importance) of the exposure/composition skills they have honed over the decades. The world has moved on, and away from them, a bit.
Not for me - I love the fact that I can be assured in most cases of nailing the exposure by using the histogram and highlights feature of the DSLR. I'm also happy to have moved beyond manual focus and so-so auto focus to really outstanding auto focus on my newest DSLR. I also love the fact that my digital negatives take far less PS work, than my slide scans.

Getting back on topic, The most fun lens for me is the 17-35 zoom, followed by the 200-400 zoom. The normal (50mm to short telephoto 85 and 105) give me the most "normal" looking views. I use them all when I'm out for a day.

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