The enduring appeal of the 'standard' lens. Sony A7r and 55mm f/1.8



Pictures of the Sony A7r + Carl Zeiss 55mm Sonnar FE f/1.8 T*  photographed with Sony A7 + Minolta 50mm f/1.7.

The 50mm 'standard lens.' They are faster, smaller and with some obvious exceptions, generally cheaper than other lenses in any range. They used to be the 'kit' lens with 35mm film cameras. Many of us learnt our photography using one. And in most cases they are the best optically in those lens ranges. DxO describes the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus as the best lens they have ever tested and the Sony / Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 pictured above as the best AF lens they have ever tested. And yet there are photographers around today who have never used one and see no virtue in them. 

And while it is true that looking through a viewfinder with one attached it's rare that the pulse starts racing. Maybe when there is a nice view of some creamy bokeh but not otherwise. Because they give us the same perspective as our eyes, there's no surprise factor when we bring the camera up to our eye. We usually have to wait until we look at the images we have created to see the benefits.

And in the case of the Carl Zeiss 55mm Sonnar FE f/1.8 T* those benefits are obvious. Sharp and virtually flawless this is a no-compromise lens that offers me, in combination with the Sony A7r, the best image quality I've ever seen in an image I've created. And no, that's not everything, but when you are a 'resolution junkie' like me, it goes a long way. 

It is also, strangely, very liberating. None of that lens or focal length selection, a case of this is it, no more no less, make the best of it. And I like that. I like the simplicity, the choice of vertical or horizontal and not much else. I like the fact that I have to move to get the shot instead of just reaching into my bag for another lens or zooming back and forth . I like the fact that I shoot less, no trying the shot from all angles with different focal lengths. I like the lack of choices and I like the fact that It's me that creates the image not some fancy optic and that there's no stretching or compressing of perspective. It's down to me whether what's in the rectangle works or doesn't. It is, in fact, my favourite kind of photography.

 
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N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.



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