Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Exotic Lenses vs Normal lens

  1. #1

    Default Exotic Lenses vs Normal lens

    Just something i thought i would like to share with all since so many has been asking about lens.

    It seems to me many photographers are in constant pursuit of exotic lenses either mammoth telephotos, or extreme wide angles. Very few of my peers seem to use, or even own, a normal lens. The word "normal" is highly overloaded, with meanings ranging from "standard" through "typical", and all the way to downright "boring". In this age of ultra-this and extreme-that, "normal" just doesn't sound as exciting. Well, I am here to tell you that normal lenses are anything but boring. They are, in fact, some of the best and most often overlooked optics around.
    Optical Excellence
    Normal lenses are defined as lenses whose focal length is close to the diagonal of a given film format. For 35mm film, a normal lens will be in the 45-55mm range, for 4x5 it will be in the 135-180mm range, etc. For a variety of reasons normal lenses are relatively simple to design, which accounts for them being among the fastest, sharpest, and best-corrected optics in most camera systems. Simplicity in design means less elements, resulting in less distortion, and better control of flare and ghosting. If edge-to-edge optical excellence is high on your list normal lenses are among the top optical performers.
    Cost Benefit
    The fact that normal lenses are simple to design and manufacture, as well as the fact that they are mass-produced and bundled with many camera kits allow manufacturers to offer these lenses at very attractive prices. It is not rare for a normal lens to be the least expensive in any camera system lineup.
    Versatility
    A recurring discussion among photographers, especially those who spend much time in the field and are concerned with equipment weight and bulk, revolves around the question "if you could only take one lens with you, which it would be?"
    To me the answer is obvious the normal lens is the most versatile of all. With a normal lens I can create close-ups (because they are highly corrected, they still produce excellent results when coupled with diopters, or mounted to extension rings), intimate compositions, and grand scenic landscapes. The added bonus of a large maximum aperture makes these lenses a pleasure to work with even in dim light, and also allows for shallow DOF effects that are not possible even with lenses covering the same focal length (e.g. zooms).
    The Composition Challenge
    The real challenge of working with a normal lens is that of producing compelling images using a perspective most people are used to seeing in anyway. Let me elaborate: lenses at both focal length extremes create noticeable optical effects ultra wide lenses seem to pull the viewer in, distorting elements towards the center of the image, very long lenses compress elements, creating the illusion of them being closer to the viewer and to each other than they actually are. These effects create some interest off the bat they show viewers something they are not used to seeing. With a normal lens these effects are non-existent. An image taken with a normal lens must rely solely on the power of composition with no aid from optical effects. It is therefore my belief that the normal lens is the most powerful and the most educational photographic tool it helps train the eye to see interesting elements and compositions without having to peer through a finder to see how a given lens would alter it.
    What about Other Lenses?
    Undoubtedly various scenes and composition work well with a variety of focal lengths. There is no denying some of the most effective images demand extreme perspectives. I believe that mastering the normal lens gives one a starting point an understanding of the elements of a good composition, irrespective of optical manipulation. Once this skill is mastered, visualizing compositions in all other perspectives becomes easier. Scenes can be judged by eye to determine whether a wider or narrower view is required, compared to normal.

  2. #2

    Default

    Nice, now where did you copied that from?

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    near e4
    Posts
    375

    Default Re: Exotic Lenses vs Normal lens

    Originally posted by jeffgoh

    Cost Benefit
    The fact that normal lenses are simple to design and manufacture, as well as the fact that they are mass-produced and bundled with many camera kits allow manufacturers to offer these lenses at very attractive prices. It is not rare for a normal lens to be the least expensive in any camera system lineup.
    [/B]
    on mass produced - well, i attempted to get a minolta 50mm lens, enquired a few times but no stock.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    singapore
    Posts
    5,499

    Default

    jeff, heartily agree with you.

  5. #5

    Default

    When I got my AF Nikkor 50/1.8 I was wondering how often I would actually use it.

    I have surprised myself and had days out were I have only used the 50mm. It also came in handy yesterday at the Australian Museum as I only had the 50/1.8 and the 24-85/3.5-4.5 with me and the camera loaded with E200 film.

    So for the AUD$190 I paid for it has been a great lens.

    james m ....

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    3,911

    Default Re: Exotic Lenses vs Normal lens

    Okay, just to play devil's advocate although I entirely agree with Jeff...

    Originally posted by jeffgoh
    It seems to me many photographers are in constant pursuit of exotic lenses either mammoth telephotos, or extreme wide angles. Very few of my peers seem to use, or even own, a normal lens.
    What you seem to ignore is that those people in constant pursuit of exotic lenses - either mammoth telephotos, or extreme wide angles, seldom seem to use them either.

    If edge-to-edge optical excellence is high on your list normal lenses are among the top optical performers.

    Again, you are ignoring the simple fact that a large number of people are posers first, and photographers second. Or technophiles first, and photographers second. But on a less flippant but equally serious note, most people also own some kind of standard zoom, say of a 28-70mm variety. This would cover the 50mm length. As to the poorer optical performance and loss of a few stops of light, the vast, vast majority of photographers out there would never miss either.

    To me the answer is obvious the normal lens is the most versatile of all. With a normal lens I can create close-ups (because they are highly corrected, they still produce excellent results when coupled with diopters, or mounted to extension rings), intimate compositions, and grand scenic landscapes. The added bonus of a large maximum aperture makes these lenses a pleasure to work with even in dim light, and also allows for shallow DOF effects that are not possible even with lenses covering the same focal length (e.g. zooms).

    You've just described the classic scenario of a jack of all trades and master of none. The 50's versatility is its Achilles' heel. Dedicated macro lenses are better close up performers. Truly grand scenic landscapes are better done with wide angled lenses. General landscape work is better done with short telephotos. Yes they have large maximum apertures but they are too short for the most common low light work (theatrical). Yes they give good DOF effects but only at close distances, and in those situations dedicated macro lenses are usually better choices (optical, and DOF is so shallow at nearer distances anyway) and their wide angle of view makes composing close ups a bit more difficult. Both of which make the 85/1.4 a far more popular option, albeit far more expensive. But then the 85/1.4 has far more poser appeal as well.

    With a normal lens these effects are non-existent. An image taken with a normal lens must rely solely on the power of composition with no aid from optical effects.

    Actually, this point is arguable. I believe the normal lens has its own effect. Because the wide angle perspective is so common, and the telephoto compression effect is also so common, pictures without either actually stand out. There is something about a well composed standard lens shot that appeals. But definitely, it's like Bmers being so common that they're starting to lose their snob appeal. But they still have a sizeable amount of it which is why people still want one, and why aspiring snappers grab 80-200/2.8 lenses the moment they can.

    I'll openly admit the most recent lens purchase I had was a 50mm, and I bought it not because it was a 50mm, but because it was an f1.4, and I'd already got an 85. Still, I adore the standard length on my MF and LF outfits, and already have a zoom covering the 50mm FL on SF. So I didn't need one until I picked up the fast lens bug.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •