Fooling Around with a 24mm Window


So I picked up an odd lens I’ve wanted for quite some time: the Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4 XF WR. I’ll spare you (most of) the technical details. Suffice it to say it’s at the beginning of the wide angle field of view in photography (24mm equivalent view). Wide angle views aren’t something I have much experience with and I’ve been both nervous and excited to shoot with this lens for quite some time. I’m used to shooting at a 50mm field of view – “normal lenses” fall between 35mm and 50mm. Anything less is wide and anything more is “telephoto.”

Comic-Con is in town! Might have to go in and photograph ppl’s costumes tomorrow!

But I had to have this lens. Why? Because my photography has been a bit stale lately. I haven’t been very excited to get out and shoot much and after much mulling, I decided I needed to try the photography equivalent of a new medium. A new field of view. Telephoto just feels boring to me now – “oh, I zoom in close, make the background blurry, and now I have a capture with little life.” The images come across as exactly what it is: me being a photo-sniper with no skin in the game.

It’s definitely gonna bite…

So this lens. It’s very…Intimate. There, I said it. I want to laugh a bit, because it sounds like that’s just my techno-geek side getting off on the specs but no…It’s a very intimate way of shooting because it’s so wide – and as I’ve discovered, it has the effect of making objects seem farther away than they really are. It’s the opposite of compression, something telephoto lenses do – they make far away objects appear closer.

An example of “reverse compression.” The tip of the lens is only about a foot away from the horse’s nose yet it looks like I’m quite a bit further because of how wide the lens is…

I can’t be assed to look up whatever the term is. Perspective distortion, maybe. But it’s a pretty neat effect. It’s also kind of awkward to work with sometimes. So you have to get way closer than you normally would, which means people are going to notice you 90% of the time. It’s also a very fat lens so again, you’re going to get noticed.

Anything near the edges of the frame get distorted. I don’t mind; I was going for this effect so I can better understand how it works.
And again, I’m really close in this shot; less than a couple of feet away.
I think what’s drawing me to 24mm is that it’s a storyteller’s viewpoint. 24-28mm is often used by documentary photographers because it gives you a sense of place, space, and context. Environmental portraits are another use for this view.

The 16mm f/1.4 also has a depth of field scale, which is a great feature for zone focusing. Essentially, I can set the lens to manually focus instead of auto and set my aperture and focus to a particular zone. That way, I can basically strafe an area while holding in my mind the 24mm field of view. As long as I know how far away my subjects are from the camera and how wide my area in focus is, I don’t even need to autofocus; I can just walk by and snap without even looking through the eyepiece. Zone focusing is great for street photography, especially if you don’t want to be seen snapping. You just keep the lens at your hip or around your neck, set the camera to Silent E-Shutter (SO sneaky!), somewhat stealthily point the camera and just walk by naturally without anyone the wiser.

Im’m still not very good at it but I do like how this one turned out. Shot from the hip!
Also architecture! Wide is great for buildings!

In short, I’m pretty excited to have this lens. I shot less than usual but liked more of my images than usual so that’s probably a very good thing. I’ve also been working on curing my G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) by selling all except for 3 lenses. I might even try to get down to 2 or even (gasp!) 1 lens…Simplify. If so, my 1 lens will definitely be this 16mm chonk.

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2 comments

  1. It is always good to move out of our comfort zone and try something different.

    Some great images here

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