EF 35mm f/2 – real world impressions

Doing “Bring him home!” featuring Ariella Rosen on TIPUSIM.com in Jerusalem I used only one lens on the 5D – the EF 35mm f/2. Why the fixation?

A couple years ago I was interviewed on the Photography Corner Blog and asked what equipment I have in my camera bag. My answer was “I don’t carry one” – a camera bag. I hate carrying things that weigh me down and limit my mobility. I hate changing lens on the camera in the middle of a shoot (paranoid about sensor dust perhaps). I hate heavy equipment. That’s one of the factors that lead me to the Canon G10 about a year. That’s one of the reasons rumors of the new full-frame sensor Leica M9 are causing me to wake in the middle of the night in horror – or maybe it’s the Leica’s expected price tag – something like a small car. I want small and light equipment!

Therefore my new Canon EF 35mm f/2. It has become my main lens (previously Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS). It’s small, light, and reasonably well-built. Doing “Bring him home!” there were three things I wanted to check out; sharpness, wide aperture, and fixed 35mm field-of-view usability for my type of photography (aspiring for close and intimate).

I shot in Aperture Priority full-time, between f/2.2 – f/5.6 if memory serves me correctly. I was worried about shooting wide open at f/2 and missing the focus point, therefore f/2.2. And in situations where more depth of field was necessary I rolled the dial to f/4 or f/5.6. Bright sunlight in pre-noon August gave me shutter speeds of up to 1/4,000, not something I am used to. And as I shoot several frames in continuous mode in these situations the shutter speeds guaranteed no motion blur.

I am very impressed with the lens sharpness, detail resolution and contrast!

Wide aperture and shallow depth-of-field – do not be afraid of f/2! That’s my conclusion. I feel a few of the frames could have benefited from even a shallower field-of-depth.

And in regard to the  fixed 35mm field-of-view usability – no problem! It does take getting used to and several times my left hand instinctively went searching for the zoom ring but eventually I learned to allow my feet to do the zooming.

I would conclude in saying that the only thing I miss is the flexibility of a zoom lens but the advantages of size and weight far out-weigh the limitations of a fixed 35mm in most of the situations that I shoot. Bottom line is that the EF 35mm f/2 stays on the 5D … at least until the Leica M9  😉


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Filed under art, documentary, image, israel, Jerusalem, photo, photographer, photography, photojournalism, photos

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