Lens choices are incredibly personal, and when buying a prime lens (a fixed focal length lens), there is a lot to consider before locking in your choice. I was faced with this troubling decision when buying the Leica. I had to decide which lens to indulge in, in order to maintain versatility on the street, without limiting my options for travel or the great outdoors.
You can probably tell from the title of the post, I decided to go with the 35mm focal length. I have been using this equivalent focal length on the Fujifilm X100T (fixed lens camera) and the XT1/XPRO1/XPRO2 for a long time. It allows you to walk into any situation and get right to work. For most, it is a lens which you work up to using. It is a little on the wide side for distortion free portraits, but you can make it work if you are careful. And when prowling the streets for unique individuals and candid moments you have to get intimate with your subject to fill the frame, your subject will definitely aknowledge your presence.
It is a lens which has been historically very popular, considered a standard focal length by many and is frequently used by photo journalists. They are generally light weight, have a small profile and have staggering optical performance. All lens manufacturers have one in their range!
There are alot of benefits to using prime lenses and focusing your attention on a select few which you learn to master. When you become intimately familiar with a prime lens, you will be surprised how often you can bend a scene to fit within your fixed frame. You learn to start thinking outside the square, instead of zooming in and walking on. You begin to work a scene and quickly discover unique and original angles missed by everyone else who took the easy route.
Almost all 35mm lenses allow you to focus close, so you can isolate your subjects with beautiful bokeh. They also let you work in tight spaces and have the ability to either include or remove your subject from their environment. Plus they are great low light performers, and flare is minimized for high contrast imagery under a large variety of lighting situations.
The 35mm focal length is definitely my new desert island lens. Learn to master the field of view and it will go the distance.
To illustrate the versatility of the 35mm lens, and prove that the focal length has made me proud. I chose to include some of my favourite images made with this focal length across a few different camera systems (click on the thumbnails for full screen viewing).