#540. Your experience may vary
Much of DS’ content this past year has been gear-related; lens comparisons, Zeiss’ Otii, Sony cameras v everything else, different software comparisons and despite our best intentions and efforts, little of it really conclusive. Personal preference remains the real test.
Trawling my usual list of daily/weekly/monthly photo blog reads this morning, I hit on a piece detailing lens choice(s) for a planned overseas visit.
The lenses selected caused a bit of agonising – don’t they always? In this case, zoom lens solution(s) offered a distinct mass-saving benefit and at that point I wondered whether there might be some kind of yardstick to help the rest of us choose lenses for that all-important trip.
Given that two photographers in exactly the same place at exactly the same time are likely to produce two entirely different sets of images, I quickly realised that seeking a one-size-fits-all solution was a waste of time.
Prepping for our recent Route 66/Japan trip, I did ponder just packing my M9 and a 25mm Zeiss Biogon to keep my 50 ‘lux and 35 ‘cron company. Not for long though. The Leica is a recent acquisition which I enjoy immensely, but remain entirely unfamiliar with. A breakdown would have been catastrophic for my photography plans. And, despite the lure of reducing my carry load substantially, I didn’t have a back up body and that was simply a road to nowhere.
So, I packed a pair of X-Pros (a -1 and the newer -2) along with Fuji’s 16mm, 23mm, 35mm and the heavily steroid pumped 90. It all fitted into my carry-on nicely and on a whim, I added my X100T, just in case.
I’d recently bought the 23mm f1.4 as a replacement for the X100T’s own 23mm, thinking I might use it when a pocket carry wasn’t needed and I chose the larger X-Pro/23 combination, when a bag and opportunity presented itself. Well, the idea was great, but in practice, the X100 stayed in the hotel safe most of the time.
Two recent city visits show what I mean:
Venice (pre buying the 23mm f1.4)
16mm f1.4 20 2%
23mm f2* 628 81%
35mm f1.4 106 14%
90mm f2 23 3%
* = X100T
16mm f1.4 103 10%
23mm f1.4 597 58%
35mm f1.4 332 32%
90mm f2 1 1%
Conclusion? There really isn’t one, save the obvious; shorter focal lengths are for city, sightseeing and street shooting.
Maybe the use of the 23 and 35 together show some similarity – 95% in Venice and 90% in Tokyo, but after that, there isn’t much to be said.
To me, carrying and using the 16mm lens is one of those necessities; it’s there when I need it and impossible to shoe horn a view into the viewfinder any other way, save a pano shot.
The 90mm is a monster, big, heavy and surprisingly long after the shorter lenses I seem to use so much. And, unless just one image justifies hauling it halfway around the world, either leaving it behind, or opting for a shorter 50mm alternative would be a much more sensible plan. Even my manual 50mm Leica Summilux on a Fuji adaptor would be a better idea.
Our next trip is in late March, to London. I’ll know how valid these thoughts are then.