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Before I switched to Fujifilm I was a Canon EOS user. My favorite camera was the EOS 5D Mark II and my favorite lens the 85mm f/1.8. I liked that lens because it was ideal for portraits, and for close-ups revealing details.
When I switched to Fujifilm I expected the Fujinon 56mm f/1.2 lens, the closest equivalent (on an APS-C crop sensor camera) to the 85mm, to become my new favorite. It’s a great lens, especially for portraiture. But, to my surprise, the humble 35mm f/1.4 lens, bundled with the X-Pro 1, has become my new favorite.
At first I was a little puzzled as to why. With Canon I owned a 50mm lens, and while I tried to use it in practice, it didn’t get used much. It was more of an experimental lens – I used it with extension tubes, and reversed for experimental close-up and macro photography. Occasionally I used it while out shooting, but always ended up preferring either the 85mm (short telephoto) or a wide-angle.
So what happened with the 35mm f/1.4 lens (which has the same angle-of-view, and is a normal lens for an APS-C camera)? I think, a number of things happened.
These two photos are great examples.
Another thing I like about the 35mm lens, is that it focuses quite close to the subject, allowing me to move in close for detail shots without having to use a close-up lens or extension rings. The 85mm lens that I used with my Canon camera didn’t focus quite so closely, and I had to use a 500D close-up lens (filter) with it for close-up photography. Here’s an example.
One of the benefits of a mirrorless camera system, with an APS-C sensor, is that the lenses are smaller and lighter than those made for camera systems with full-frame models. The 35mm lens is small (it’s only 55 mm long) and light (it only weighs 187 grams, 6.5 ounces). Compare those dimensions to a 35mm f/1.4 lens made for a full-frame camera and you’ll see what I mean (Canon’s 35mm f/1.4 is 20.46 oz., or 580 grams).
That wide aperture comes in very useful when shooting in low light, or if you want to use a wide aperture for creative effect. This lens gives me the best of two worlds – small size and wide aperture. This photo, taken at f/1.4, ISO 6400, shows how useful a wide aperture is in low light.
Another benefit of this lens is that I can take photos that aren’t affected by converging verticals. With wide-angles, even moderate ones, any slight tilt of the camera results in converging verticals. Vertical lines are crooked rather than straight. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes I prefer the straightness and order, imposed by the 35mm lens. This candid photo shows the point – with a 35mm lens it was easy to frame the photo and make sure the pillar (and the other verticals) were straight.
The focal length also works very well when I shoot in the square format. There is something a little magical about the results, and I have been using it a lot for that lately. Here is a photo I took recently in Spain.
Have you used the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens? Or indeed any other normal or standard lens? Let us know what you like, or dislike, about these lenses in the comments. It will be interesting to hear what you think.
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