Shooting with fixed focal length

Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF18mm F2 R

My photography journey begins with compact camera with the widest end at 28mm. During that period of time, I was shooting quite a fair bit with 28mm as when the camera was turned on, it will start at the widest end and hence I’m using it like a fixed focal length camera sometimes.

When I switched to DSLR, I started the practice shooting with prime lenses and I shoot more on 35mm focal length. Eventually I’m getting very comfortable with the focal length. When I switched to mirrorless system, I continued the practice of using prime lenses and had added 28mm and 35mm lens in my arsenal.

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50mm was not a focal length that I shoot a lot with. It’s only when I started to shoot with the FM3A which came with a 50mm lens that I started to learn and appreciate about this focal length. After the camera and lens were sold, I got myself a 50mm lens to use on my mirrorless camera too.

I always believe that it’s good to shoot with fixed focal length. You can either shoot with prime lenses, or lock your zoom lens to a certain focal length and not touching it during your shoot. For me, I shoot with prime lenses on my mirrorless system as they are smaller and lighter. It’s not really about having better image quality from prime lenses, however it’s more about limiting oneself to only one focal length, and shooting with it will allow you to learn more about that particular focal length.

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As one venture through this focal length practice, you will get to know what works and what doesn’t for a particular focal length, the distortion and compression, and most importantly expanding your creativity to tackle a shot from a different perspective. One will have a better understanding on what focal length will cover the field of view required, what focal length will achieve the composition and perspective that you want and so on.

For now, I’ll start to practice more on wider or telephoto end such as 21mm and 90mm, and hopefully I can get to know these focal lengths better and make good use of them soon.

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