As fun as it’s been to own my first telephoto lens (the Rokinon 85mm f/1.4) I’ve sent it back in exchange for a more traditional street photography lens. Why?
Well, I have to say that the focal length is really constraining. Which is obvious on one hand – with my Fujifilm camera it has a cropped field of view that’s so zoomed in any sort of environmental photos are pretty impossible. The flip side of that is that I have a lot of reach to create an intimate feeling shot without actually being anywhere near my subject. Which, if I’m being honest, is fun but also makes me feel a little…Off.
I don’t want to stalk people – I think an important part of street photography is the intimacy of being seen (or ignored as above). The idea is that you’re showing what you see on the street and it’s implied that the photo is your field of view. If you’re snapping away with a telephoto lens you might as well be shooting wildlife.
I also find manual focusing the be a bit of a chore sometimes. I don’t HATE it – it’s actually a lot of fun and it forces me to slow down and think more about composition. But the hit rate is only moderate – and I don’t really need f/1.4. It’s so shallow that it’s impossible to work with on the street. I usually stop the lens down to f/2.8 or even f/4 when walking around to ensure I get my quick portrait targets in focus. Really drives home that this is a true portrait lens – when you have time to set up and focus you’ll get great images, no question.
I liked this guy’s reaction to me suddenly pointing a camera at him; he sort of went through three phases of shock and started laughing and smiling in an enjoyable fashion. It’s out of focus – but I still like it! But too cropped for you to see he’s pushing a cart! Doh!
That being said, I WILL miss the telephoto subject isolation. I love seeing how people stand out from their background and it’s super satisfying to nail the focus.
So what will I have instead? I’ve just put an order in for the Fuji XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 zoom. I haven’t owned a proper autofocusing zoom in…Quite some time. And the focal length is handy for street photography. I’ll miss having wide aperture primes but my budget is super tight. So tight I really should have just pocketed my refund but there seems to ALWAYS be money for camera gear…
It also has OIS to help with video work – something I’ve wanted to experiment with for some time now. Be looking out for that soon.
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