Opinion: Finding The Lens That Speaks To You

I’ve been debating this question in my head for a while. How do you actually go about finding the lens that “speaks” to you. No one just grabs a camera and says to themselves, yup the 35mm is for me. At first maybe. Maybe you grab that lens and you feel comfortable with it. But at some point you’ll get bored and more than likely that lens never sparked anything in you. You might then go ahead and buy another lens. Say a 50mm and get infatuated with it for a period of time, then eventually toss is aside or sell it. And you’ll continue this process for a while. This is essentially what happened to me.

I’ve used an assortment of lenses on the Leica. 40mm, 28mm, 50mm, 90mm and now 18mm. The 28mm has stuck with me the longest so far, as I prefer to shoot wide enough to get the subject plus the environment. This was more important to me than isolating the subject by getting them out of focus. I had a 50mm at one point. Sold it. Then purchased another one after the 90mm. The only reason I still have it, is to use it on film sets. I need to be far enough back not to disturb the action or the cast. The 50mm allows me to achieve that, but it’s definitely not my go-to lens.

The 28mm is the most used lens I have for the reason I stated above. But again it never really “sparked” anything in me. Yes it’s a cinematic focal length, and yes I will be using it at night, but it’s definitely not my go-to lens anymore.

BUT when I first tried out the 18mm I got this eureka moment. I thought maybe I was infatuated with the ultra wide lens so I borrowed a 21mm to try out for the day. And I didn’t enjoy it one bit. I have no idea why the 18mm sparked something in me, but it tends to be permanently mounted on my M7 or M9. I find myself getting really close to people, something I never did with the 28 or 50mm. I find myself experimenting more and breaking down boundaries I’ve formed out of habit. I guess this is what it means to find the lens that “speaks” to you.

Happy Holidays!

-Dominic

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