Fresh Bites and Porno: An Afternoon At 50mm

(it can be fun)

Between the Northern Quarter and Ancoats, Manchester

The wrong side of the tracks? ©2010 Jason Hindle

It has often been said that restricting one’s self to a single focal length can be liberating, forcing the photographer to think at that focal length, zoom in and out using feet and sometimes leading to out of the box thinking in terms of getting a shot.  Since Saturday was a nice, bright day, with this in mind I dusted off a couple of extremely under used pieces of kit:

  • A four year old Panasonic L1 DSLR (remember when 7.5 megapixels was considered quite enough?)
  • The Olympus 25mm f2.8 pancake lens, which gives a 50mm field of view in old fashioned 35mm terms.

I packed this combination in my rucksack and went for a nice, lone walk, taking the occasional photo along the way.  Now, the beauty of the 50mm FoV is that it is more or less what our eyes see so, what you see when looking straight at the subject is pretty much what ends up in the photo.

 

Autumn colours in St Peter's Square ©2010 Jason Hindle

Autumn colours in St Peter's Square ©2010 Jason Hindle

The combination of camera and lens proved fun but was not without its problems.  Firstly, although only a four year old design (based on a five year old Olympus design), the Panasonic L1 looks and feels archaic.  It’s metering also seems somewhat archaic and, having not used the camera in over a year, I found myself accidentally using the wrong metering mode in a couple of instances.  Getting some of the shots required a little bit of trial and error.

Newer DSLRs are simple.  You set the metering mode to ESP, keep it there and let the camera take care of the measuring the light and deciding how well exposed the photo will be.

Also, the L1 meters a little conservatively, so when looking at the photos in Aperture later in the day, I found them between 1/3 and 1/2 stop under exposed.  With this camera, it’s not a bad thing.  It meant I had nice, blue skies with nice cloud definition and using the raw captures, I found no issues with pushing the shadows to balance out the exposures.

Fresh Bites and Porno ©2010 Jason Hindle

Fresh Bites and Porno ©2010 Jason Hindle

All in all, it was a pleasant walk out, mostly spent around Manchester’s Northern Quarter (the closest thing Manchester has to an old town) and I’ll probably explore the place again, at different times of the day, light permitting.  Next time, I’ll probably make use of the L1’s auto bracketing and perhaps read the relevant bits of the manual (with respect to metering) before I leave the house.  A slideshow of photos form the walk can be found here:

A 50mm Walk Around Manchester

OPTIONS FOR SHOOTING FASTER LENSES AT THE 50MM FoV?

Fads come and fads go.  According to the history books, back in the olden days, film SLRs were typically supplied out of the box with a 50mm lens.  Fast forward to today, DSLRs usually come supplied with rather poor, slow zoom lenses.  However, the fixed focal length fast normal (i.e. 50mm) lens has recently become fashionable again and there are some good options:

  • Nikon recently introduced a fast 35mm (the APS-C equivalent of 50mm) with its consumer DSLRs in mind
  • Likewise, Pentax have done the same with a slower lens at the same focal length
  • Canon has options
  • Full frame DSLR users (Canon, Nikon and Sony) have always had lots of options
  • For a wider (but close to normal) field of view, Panasonic have the 20mm (40mm equivalent) for the Micro Four Thirds mount.
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~ by jasonhindle on October 31, 2010.

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