If you had to pick one focal length to shoot with for the rest of your life, what would it be? We all have our favorite lenses. Do you find yourself shooting with one lens more than the rest? And do you typically shoot at one focal length more than the rest?

I’m curious which end of the spectrum is more popular. Let’s put our answers in 35mm equivalence so we’re all on the same page. The answers are in ranges of focal lengths, so if don’t know for sure which focal length is your favorite, at least take a stab at one of the ranges. If you do know exactly which focal length is your favorite, let us know in the comments — and tell us why.

What's Your Favorite Focal Length?

Don’t forget to check out the results of the last poll on Who’s Your Favorite Professional Photographer? It was interesting to see how many different favorite photographers we have — and I even found a few new ones I’ve never heard of before. Thanks to everybody who participated in that one.

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136 – 200 for close up sports action shots, AND for a very close 2nd favorite range, this would be 31-50

July 24, 2007 8:18 am

Hmmm asking what your favorite focal length to shoot at is like asking what is your favorite color to photograph. I’m not sure either are very relevant. Although this question may provide a neat peek into the preferences of a photographer, focal length like so many other things are just a creative component of an image.

Why so snarky to the question? I fear this type of question puts the onus on the equipment rather than the creative thinking behind a photograph. Shooting at a certain focal length, or with a particular camera body or with a particular filter isn’t going to make your photography any better. Much of the photography that makes you go “wow!” starts with a creative vision and ends with great execution. Everything in between is well… not very important.

To answer your question my choice of focal length depends on the subject. Since I shoot a variety of subjects my choice of focal length varies. For most landscape and architecture photos I think shorter focal lengths provide more of a dynamic look. For wildlife longer focal lengths help you get closer to your subject providing more of an intimate viewing experience. When I’m photographing family or street subjects mid-range focal lengths are preferred. When photographing insects or flowers macro lenses are preferred and they’re usually around 100mm. I guess the bottom line is I don’t have a favorite focal length. I have a more pragmatic approach to using the right focal length for the right subject.

July 24, 2007 11:30 am

Thanks for the insights, Jim. I ask these sort of questions for two reasons: to learn about my readers, and to spark insightful comments such as yours. Many of the questions I ask don’t have a cut-and-dry answer, but they are intended to make us think about one little aspect of photography. You, Andrew, and Susheel have been providing very thoughtful discussion points around these questions of mine. Thanks guys!

July 24, 2007 12:22 pm

Although I responded 51 – 85mm, I agree with Jim. Having a ‘favourite’ focal length is a bit of a strange question. I chose to treat the question as more of a ‘What focal length are the majority of your photos taken at?’ query.

July 24, 2007 2:43 pm

I would opt for a 35mm. The reason why is that is for the first five years of my photography that is pretty much all I used and found that it was good enough for most everything I did.

July 24, 2007 9:19 pm

Brian,

I love using wide angle lenses. I would probably use them most of the time except where I do need other lenses. I agree with Jim, but then I also do have a preference when I have a choice of lenses in a given situation, and that is to go wide. I love my 19mm rectilinear lens on my Canon AE-1 Program…

July 29, 2007 7:18 am


I, however, do have a favorite focal length.

30mm, on my Nikon D40, which is more like a 50mm.

The point is, that I like it not because of the images it produces, minus my creative input. I like it because of what it forces me, the creative person behind the shutter, to do.

I’m forced to get closer quite often. I’m also forced to be more considerate with what is being composed.

I think I’m a better photographer now, since I have my trusty 30mm.

August 1, 2007 12:17 pm



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