Published on: 24th Apr 2016My next trip to China is less than 7 weeks away and as usual am I doing my best to make the remaining time feel as short as possible. I decided to publish a set of articles to explain what focal lengths I used and why. Some time ago a presented a talk about my photographs in Shenzhen, so I decided to use the photos of that presentation for these articles.
Shenzhen is one for the major cities in the Guangdong Province of China - right next to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and was China’s first (1979) and one of the most successful Special Economic Zones (SEZ). It currently also holds sub-provincial administrative status, with powers slightly less than a province. According to the Government census of 2014, Shenzhen has a population of about 11 million people and the full metropolitan area has a population of over 18 million people. Shenzhen is a very modern city (notice the Burger King logo in one of my photos) which is a direct result of both government and foreign investment in this SEZ. Because of my relationship with Xiaoyi, Shenzhen is slowly becoming my second home.
I think a disclaimer isimportant before you look at the data: The results of this analysis are very skew because I mostly concentrated on street photography in Shenzhen - in fact, I used the 10-24mm lens only one morning when we deliberately went to Shenzhen Bay Coastal Park to photograph the sunrise. I also kept the 14mm lens on my infrared body (because I forgot to take a body cup with me) which resulted in me not using the 14mm as much as I normally would do.
I also need to remind you that I am using the Fujifilm X system which has a crop factor of 1.5. Thus, when I mention 35mm, the effective focal length on a 35mm full-frame body will be 53mm.
Looking at the distribution of lenses used, the first shocking observation I made is that Iown too many lenses! The next, and I think the most important observation is that I used the 35mm (Fujinon XF35mmF1.4 R) almost 50% of the time.
You will also notice that the 27mm lens is the second most used lens. I need to explain (justify) the 27mm lens to put its usage in perspective; One always hear these horror stories of photographers travelling abroad and get their photography gear stolen or robbed. I know of quite a number of people who had this unfortunate experience while travelling - especially in Europe. For this reason I decided to invest in a second - hide away camera kit. I decided on the Fujifilm X-E2 with the 27mm pancake lens. The idea was to always leave it in the hotel safe with a memory card anda charged battery. But then, one day, I decided to take this combination with me to dinner rather than the X-T1. And it was an absolute winner. It is so small that it is much less obtrusive than the (already unobtrusive) X-T1, yet it basically has all the features of the X-T1 and exactly the same image quality. I started to use it more often leaving the X-T1 in the hotel room. So,I guess we can put the usage of the 35mm and 27mm lenses together, which means that for most of my street photography in Shenzhen (64 of 101 photos) I used this focal length, and then also as a prime lens - not a zoom.
For my final graph, I "optimised" my lens usage by looking at the actual focal lengths used on the zoom lenses. I averaged the focal lengths to the closest 2 mm of a prime lens and then count them as part of the prime lens' focal lengths. Doing this, the 27mm and 35mm combination was used in a whopping 69 of the 101 photos.
The three things that are tipping me over towards the primes are:
Although not many people ever write about the 27mm lens, I must tell you that I am very impressed with this lens. Accept for the fact that it does not go as wide open as the 35mm F1.4, its image quality is on a par with the 35mm lens and a do think that it focuses faster.All the photos in this article were taken using the 27mm lens (except for the panorama at the top which were taken with the 18-55 at a 35mm focal length).
(If you have read up to here and did not click on a photo yet, do so to see them in larger format and also to browse through the rest of this gallery)