Great photography is NOT about great photography equipment. Sure, equipment can assist and it does make a difference what platform you choose. Think about 35mm, 120mm, 4×5, 8×10, or any flavor of digital and you have a virtual buffet of options. But getting mired in “gear acquisition system,” can actually hold you back. My advice, start out with one camera and one lens. Shoot that combination for a few years then branch out into your options.
Me, I’m a 50mm guy. Film or digital, doesn’t matter. At first, when I began my photography career, I didn’t realize I was a 50mm guy. In fact, I bought and sold numerous 50mm lenses. Leica, Canon, Nikon. Yep, in my bag one day and gone the next. And then something odd happened. I kept buying 50mm lenses and one of them finally “stuck.” Suddenly, the 50mm was the ONLY lens I wanted to use, and all these years later if I had to choose a single lens for the rest of my photographic life you can bet it would be the 50mm.
For the past twenty years, I’ve used the same 50mm lens on my Leica M4. This is my standard 35mm film setup. And for the past four years, I have been using the Fujifilm 35mm f/2 on the Fuji XT2 when I need to shoot digital. The XT2 camera isn’t full frame so the 35mm f/2 actually becomes a 50mm equivalent. This lens is small, light, and works well. But I felt like something was missing. Things felt too easy and I was also looking for a bit less depth of field.
So, I decided to try something new. I purchased the Zhongyi Speedmaster .95, 50mm lens but let me explain what this is and what this means. The Speedmaster is yet another 50mm lens but this one is manual focus only and the fast aperture setting is .95, which in lens terms means it is ultra-fast and capable of shooting in ultra-low light.
The manual focus aspect might seem like going backward but manually focusing actually makes me feel like the old days when I had a bit more control of my photography process. Manual focus isn’t better than autofocus, only different. Also, the .95 aperture setting allows for a VERY shallow depth of field, which for a specific kind of photograph, can make a difference. The lens is heavy, lots of metal and glass, and I love it.
But like all other photographic objects, the lens takes time and practice to really understand. So, I’ve been carrying this lens on a daily basis and using it as much as possible. In fact, I dedicated one camera body to this ONE lens. What I’ve discovered is that for my projects this is all I need. Sure, when I’m doing work for other clients, including Blurb, I need much more diversity in my camera gear, but for me, this will do just fine.
I would normally show you photographs of PEOPLE but the only person I have photographed since owning this lens is my wife, thanks COVID19, and she would kill me if I posted something of her without consulting about hairstyle, angle of view, lighting conditions, clothing choice, color temperature, viewing distance, and chromatic aberration detection. So, I give you my bike.