Using standard focal length in Landscapes

Landscape photography is possibly at the pinnacle in artistry difficulty scale amongst photographers.

You tend to have very little control over the subject and lighting. You either find a good composition and wait for the right lighting, the vice-versa, or snap a shot when you feel that the right shot suddenly presented itself for you.

Most people like to have a wide zoom for landscape photography. Wide angle usually represents the ‘angle of view’ our eyes ‘see’, while standard focal length often emulates what our eyes ‘look at’. Zooming in with a wide lens also allows you to fiddle with the composition, perhaps eliminating annoying/distracting elements from the frame.

Here is a different thought, though: Using standard focal lengths.

Why, you ask?
Because the perspective provided by wide angle lenses is not particularly the same as that of your eyes. You have the argument that “Once you’re far enough from the subject (i.e. taking landscape photos), it doesn’t matter anymore.”
Well, it does change the perspective in relation to the horizon and all that regardless. (Look up two-point perspective and focal length, fellas. That is why learning drawing helps understand photography)

I am an advocate of standard focal length because it makes photography easier. I don’t have to think about the effects of focal length in the atmosphere of the final result. When I want the specific effect, I will pick up the focal length I desire. Until then, though, I would not deviate from the 35~60mm range, regardless of the format I use.

Even with a 35mm lens on my APS-C D7000, can I get quite nice results, so long as I figure out where to stand at.


I do recognise that using a wider angle of view is actually easier for landscape photography.

The solution then, is going full-frame or even medium format.

My father has an old Nikon FM2 and I have tried out a couple of medium format film cameras.

35 or 40mm focal length on medium format is about 24mm in the full-frame world.. Seeing that 24 is the popular choice for landscape photography, using medium-format with standard lens gives the best of the both worlds.

I personally like photographing people, which makes me stay away from wide-angle, heavy gears. However, if you have a back for landscape photography, try out a fixed medium-format film camera. You do not need that many shots if you are photographing landscapes, anyway. As far as IQ is concerned, Reasonable exposure in a 6×4.5 film will beat an image from D800 most of the time.


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