This is the best focal length

Ooo! That lens looks scrumptious!

Searching eBay in 3… 2… 1…

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Careful, they are a family and not budget options.

My favorite one, too. The only disadvantage that it gets stuck to the body :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I didn’t graph mine, but apparently I gravitate toward the extremes (or at least, I used to – no more). This covers images from 2007 to the current day.


I looked at raw files, since I don’t always keep JPGs and I certainly don’t process every raw I shoot. Orange background are the focal length extremes (17-70 and 70-300 lenses) and the yellow background indicates an interesting range. Not only is 28mm the “dotted” (i.e., supposedly sweet spot) on my 17-70, but that’s also the range I typically use for panoramas. The 70mm shots are split between the lenses, but probably favor the 17-70 more than the 70-300. I didn’t feel like extracting and analyzing the lens type… :slight_smile:

(I don’t know about the 0.0 mm shots… just a glitch in the matrix, I suppose.)

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For me, this is true only in so far as I don’t have primes. My longest prime is 135: I use my 70-180 for longer focal lengths. My shortest is 35: I use my 17-70 for shorter focal lengths. With a zoom mounted, I have a non-foot composition tool. And I do use that: not just the extremes. Honest! :slight_smile:

I like my small collection of primes best. But hey, in a universe which allowed impossibly small and affordable 1.8 zooms — maybe I might change my mind. Physics and my wallet say that that is not going to happen.

My favourite prime is my 40mm lens on my APS-C Canon (with my 24mm as a backup). I’m in the process of moving to fuji atm so I suspect I’ll be using 35mm from now on.

So basically ~50mm FF equivalent.


in this universe, yes.

I can confirm your stats. I call it the “zoom bias”.

Whatever zoom you have, the two extremes will be the single (double) most used focal lengths.
Does not matter if it is a 43-86, 35-70, 10-20, a 24-120 or a 12-600.

The bigger the range, the more the values will be spread out of course, but the peaks are rarely different.

You Sir, are among the few enlightened.

Did you also know, that DOF is not determined by focal length but distance to subject?

For me it works like this: look at this fantastic landscape. I want to capture its beauty: the majestic mountains over there, with that valley on the right, and that peak on the left, too. Wider… wider… until everything I see with my eye as interesting becomes a small, meaningless detail in the actual shot.

Hey, look at that bird. No, not that one, that’s too close, any idiot with a camera could capture that. The one farther away. Zoom in… in… actually its beak is kind of nice. Later, when culling the photos, I realize (for the 100th time) that my zoom is not a pro lens, and its sharpness at the telephoto end is only good when compared to a child’s toy binocular. Well, it looked interesting on the LCD.


I’m sure you’re right. I can’t help wondering why, though. Just to maybe try to counteract it.

Is it just the hard stops at the end of the ranges?
Is it that we carry lenses that are too short or long for our needs or standard zooms that are unhappy mediums?
Or that we’re too lazy to change lens?
Are we looking at the world through our lens first rather than ‘through our eyes’?

Speaking of nifty 50s…


I would go one step further and say that most people are actually talking about field of view when choosing their favourite focal lengths, and working distance plays a big role in that. Even though the focal length of a lens doesn’t change between sensor sizes, most people tend to give the FF equivalent when talking about focal length. This is to help visualize what they would see through the viewfinder. But it’s not actually a focal length equivalent they are talking about, but a field of view equivalent.

So, even though you are actually changing the focal length and therefore perspective and depth of field when using a “35mm equivalent” lens on an APS-C or M4/3 sensor, you get to have the field of view and working distance that you are comfortable with (if you used to shoot 35mm). If you really really enjoyed a certain focal length on a 35mm sensor because of the inherent properties of that specific focal length, then you will need to adjust your working distance to achieve the same field of view when using a different sized sensor (further away for smaller sensors, closer for larger sensors).

So, shouldn’t this debate be about the “best field of view” or “favourite working distance”? Maybe not, but food for thought!

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I don’t think I’ve ever done this, though I’ve always used APS-C cameras (except for my P&S days, when I probably didn’t pay focal length any attention at all).

I should have worded it better, but it’s just my experience in online forums and websites. In manufacturer-specific forums, especially Fuji ones, you won’t get people giving equivalents, but in more general photography forums, it’s common for people to give equivalents to help with comparisons between the full-frame crowd and other sensor sizes. 35mm full frame has become the standard so everyone can be on the same page. Although there’s a case to be made that it’s actually not very helpful because it perpetuates myths about focal length/DOF/background blur, etc. I think it would be better to just say 16mm APS-C, 35mm full-frame, or 50mm crop, for example.

Yes, in my P&S days I had an Olympus XA2 and I don’t know if I ever knew the focal length. It was probably something like a 27mm, but I don’t know and it never bothered me.


I don’t know that I have much to add here, although I agree with your point about working distance.

Something I find a little puzzling is the endless confusion (in some corners of the internet) over aps-c vs full frame equivalents, and people who think that (for example) a 35mm lens designed for aps-c cameras, used on an aps-c camera will give the FOV of a 35mm lens on full frame… :exploding_head:

Not intending to be snobbish - just honestly puzzled over the lack what I would think of as clear thinking…

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As someone who does street and documentary photography, there’s only one answer: a 28mm (that is, on a 1.6 crop). Any wider, and I’d be breathing down my subject’s neck; any narrower, and I’d never get my subject sharp. This is all because I use zone focusing, of course.

I plan to take some street portraits next year; that way, I can finally get to play with a few more focal lengths.

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I have found the more common myths to be that you lose 1.5 stops of DOF with a crop sensor and that larger sensors inherently create blurrier backgrounds. Neither of which are true, although I can see where the misconceptions come from. You can indeed get blurrier backgrounds with a full frame camera with the same focal length lens and max aperture, not because of the sensor size, but because you can get closer to the subject to achieve the same framing.

A crop sensor literally just crops the same image that a FF camera takes (which gives the illusion of zooming in), so the differences really just come down to field of view and working distance at the end of the day.

The whole equivalency thing is really only helpful for those who switch between sensor sizes and/or have a background in film. If you stick with just one sensor size all your life, it’s pretty much irrelevant.

But to your point about the misconception of a 35mm lens on APS-C giving the same FOV as 35mm lens on FF, could it be because the focal length doesn’t actually change? It’s still a 35mm lens, and maybe people get mixed up between focal length and FOV? I don’t know. There are so many misconceptions out there and I blame the fanboys for endlessly trying to prove one manufacturer or sensor size is better than the other, so they jump on these myths and peddle them!