Street photography - 35mm or nifty fifty

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paul
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#1
Hi, with myself going to night time London to do some work with the homeless just wondered what people's thoughts on the two lens 35 and nifty fifty. Would ideally just take one with me, I'm borrowing the 50 and never used it. Is it better for street, both are fairly fast being 1.8. I've heard the 50 is basically what the eye sees.
 
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Ian
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#4
Would probably use the 35mm on a FF too. It often has the ability to pick up those 'corner of the eye' details without distorting them as you might get in UWA lens views.

The 50mm though can be had in a f1.4 version too which is helpful at night.
 
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woody12
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paul
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#5
Hi, haven't got a full frame but I wish! I'm using my Nikon 3100 old battered but the love of my life, don't tell the wife
 
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Brian
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#8
Most definitely the 35mm. I suspect that in what you're doing, you'll want to include some context - i.e. the person's surroundings, their environment, etc. Also, the closer you get, the more emotion or 'feeling' you're likely to capture.

Before you go, get to know one lens (whichever you decide to take) really well, so that you can shoot quickly and instinctively. In particular, get to know its field of view so that by the time you put your camera up to your eye, the picture has already been mentally composed and framed.

I'm sure you'll be shooting these people in a non-exploitative, non-voyeuristic way, but do be careful out there.
 
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Dave
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#9
I tend to prefer the 35mm on FF for general walkabout or even 24mm is it's buildings I'm after. The 50mm would be a preference if you're wanting more portrait style, or tight people shots. StreetSnapper pretty much nailed it otherwise.
 
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Alfredo
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#10
I do favor my 50mm, on a full length i think it gives you less distortion, I find the 35 bit to wide for what i like to shoot. It is of course a matter of preference, regardless you'll have fun. Having only one focal length makes you work for your shot a bit more...excellent exercise!
 
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#11
Are you shooting random people or people you know? Going up close to random people to get that 35mm cropped portrait look might be a much if you're doing it to strangers in which I'd rather keep my distance. If you're shooting more environmental images where the landscape is important then of course the wider angle is better.
 
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James
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#13
I've heard the 50 is basically what the eye sees.
50mm has a similar magnification to what you see, but is obviously nowhere near as wide a field of view. If you want a similar field of view, then you're looking at fisheye lenses.

I'd use the 35. Lots of people do street with Fuji's 23mm 35 equivalent.
OP is on a crop sensor as well, so you'd be advocating a 23mm lens for him (as would I).
 
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Angelo
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#14
I would use them both and then see which one works better. I've had the 35mm 1.8 and was a stunning little lens, worked really well for me.
 
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Adam
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#15
Neither would be my honest opinion.

When people say 35mm is good for street, or 50mm is similar to what the eye sees, they're talking about full frame equivalents which you don't have. The 35mm is going to be more like a 50mm and the 50mm is going to be more like an 85mm. I find both of those too long for a good versatile street lens.

The 50/85 equivalent is great when you're new to street photography because you can stand back a bit more but they're also often compressed and disconnected from the subject.
 
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David
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#18
I would try both . Depends on what u are after . 35 most flexible as u can move forward . 50 u can't always move back . Mind I love a 50 on a crop sensor but maybe that's me . I like to get more portrait like shots in .
 
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#21
Get out there and try both. People are always going to have varying opinions on what is best. I used to prefer 50mm on a FF camera, or a 28mm and these days I think I'd like to go for a 35mm lol. I'm currently a fuji user and have been using the 27mm pancake lens which is the FF equivalent 40.5mm . I would like to go wider for street photography, but I'm not sure how much wider. I'm considering the xf 23mm, which I know isn't significantly wider, but it might hit the sweet spot. It will also allow for the use of filters, which my current lens does not. Plus it should offer faster focusing. When you look at the popularity of cameras such as the x100 or the RX1, which both offer the FF equivalent of 35mm and that focal length is often referred to as a really good documentary lens, or street lens, then I guess there must be a reason for it. But, I still say go out and experiment with both :)
 
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#22
I forgot to mention that the lens I'm considering is pretty much the same as 35mm in terms of FF equivalent :)
 
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#23
I've just got a 35mm for my Nikon FE, and one thing that became immediately apparent is that if you want to use that focal length for street photography, you need to be comfortable with shooting quite close to people otherwise your subjects get lost in the wide frame. In that respect, a 50mm gives you a little more range - a comfort zone, if you like.
 
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Ned
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#24
A lot depends on your style, personally I prefer normal to tele for my street photography as I prefer the intimacy and emotion of being closer without causing a reaction and also I tend to see in telephoto (I'm always thinking look at that over there and scanning the horizon).

Others swear by 35mm (full frame) as it allows more context of the environment and surroundings or "being right in there" which I personally think defeats the point somewhat. Also I find 35mm (full frame) an awkward length to shoot with although I admit I often like the shots it produces.

Best advice is to try both and see which you prefer but in your situation and I could only have one lens it would be the 35mm (same field of view as 50mm on full frame).
 
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Paul
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#27
Take both (or try both locally before your trip in to London).
See the results and go from there.
To be honest, I'd pack both (they're not a major weight issue), seconds to change and both bases covered...
 
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Jon
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#28
I prefer 35mm or 28mm on full frame. I use the Ricoh GR quite a bit for street photography, which has a 28mm equivalent lens. It's also inconspicuous. On the A7s or A7rii I use a manual focus Pentax 35mm. It means you have to get quite close, which is more challenging, but imo it ultimately makes for better shots. With the wider angles from these lenses you usually get more of the scene in the image.
 
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#29
A Full frame lens on your DX boy needs to be multiplied by 1.5x so a 24mm = 36mm on DX, 35mm = about 53 50= 75mm
The wider your lens the greater your dof will be for the same aperture setting and working distance
But the closer you get to the subject you dof will be reduced accordingly Im guessing you will be shooting near enough wide open in low light ?
 
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Rob
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#30
I like zoom lenses for street work. I use my 24-120 f4 VR lens on my FX camera or the 18-55 f3.5-5.6 on my Sony. Each one covers all bases except the fact that they're not f1.4 or f1.8 max aperture. I can compensate to a great deal with the D610 which is very good at high ISO but the Sony not so much.
 
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#31
I have tried both and I have to say I prefer the 35mm on the full frame camera. I use the Canon 35mm f2 IS lens (see a review here) and I have to say it is a cracking lens and not too expensive either. On the crop sensor camera I find the 35mm a bit too long for my liking so I use the Canon EF-S 24mm f2.8 STM (gives an effective focal length of around 40mm) instead. This is another great lens, and since it costs only a few bucks more than the 50mm f1.8, it is top value for money, and one definitely worth having a look at.
 
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#32
A Full frame lens on your DX boy needs to be multiplied by 1.5x so a 24mm = 36mm on DX, 35mm = about 43mm 50= 75mm
The wider your lens the greater your dof will be for the same aperture setting and working distance
But the closer you get to the subject you dof will be reduced accordingly Im guessing you will be shooting near enough wide open in low light ?
About 53mm in fact.
 
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#34
20 or 24mm depending on how confident you are with sticking something (potentially) offensive in someones face. Although the tiny D3100 + a 20 3.5 would have little impact and could go unnoticed. Compare it to the 14-24 bolted on to a D3/4/5 (I occasionally go with the D3s 14-24 combo to make my life as hard as possible)

Th 20/24 AF-D's are probably the easiest to use allowing metering, and on DX would be generally crispy across the frame. They also are FX lenses if you decide to go down that route. (and will work on old AF film cameras)

I would say 20mm 3.5 if you are confident metering by eye/light meter - at that focal length zone focusing is ok.

Correct me if I am wrong but the 3100 doesn't have a focus motor in it does it? Meaning nothing other than AF-S lenses will focus on that body. Shooting a manual focus lens that wide has the benefit of everything being "in focus" but I personally find it difficult to nail the focus quickly.

Each to their own of course...go out with the kit zoom, shoot all day without thinking about it, check out your common focal lengths in light room. Decision made.

Earl
 
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Redsnappa
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#38
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Gareth
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#39
On a DX lens the 35mm is more versatile, it can be quite hard to compose urban scenes using a 50mm on DX. That said, I've had the most fun with a 50mm on DX... :)
 
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