Fixed focal lenses & Why I use them

fixed focal lenses 35mm

If you only see fixed focal lenses in any of my camera bags this is why. I should start by saying that while many photographers enjoy shooting with zoom lenses, I noticed that I don’t really zoom very much. It’s not that I dislike them. I own three zoom lenses a 14-24mm 2.8f, a 28-70mm 2.8f and a 70-200mm 2.8f. All great lenses. You don’t really need anything else if you have these three lenses in your camera bag. However, all three are very heavy, very large, and very, very bulky. 

nature photograph puerto rico
Taken with a 17-35mm 2.8f zoom lens at 35mm.

For those reasons I never pack them for a shoot, unless I know I will absolutely use it. For example, if I pack the 70-200mm for a wedding or a photo session, I will use it. Otherwise it is as if I don’t have them at all. I take them along for very specific projects. For example, interior photos of homes or hotels for clients, I will take a long the 14-24mm 2.8f. For head shots, formal portraits or fashion shoots I will take along the 70-200mm 2.8f. And for times when i can only carry one camera and one lens and nothing else, I will take with me the 28-70mm because it is a good all around lens. 

I should be honest and say, I usually forget them. I’ll either pack them and leave them or not pack them at all, because I can do with out them. And I could. 

I love working with fixed focal lenses. I have one camera with a 35mm and one camera with an 85mm. I do not have to change lenses, I do not take any other lenses with me. I use this set up specifically for documentary photos and also for weddings. 

Alicia Kidd digital SLR cameras for destination wedding photography in Puerto Rico Caribbean

20mm 2.8f My first fixed wide-angle lens. It’s a great lens. Bought it used. Still use it on spare cameras, like 35mm film cameras. 

fixed focal lens 20mm
This was taken in Mexico during Day of the Dead with a 20mm lens.

35mm 1.4f My work horse wide angle. This lens is a beauty. It’s always on my main camera. One of the best fixed focal lenses built for and by Nikon.  

fixed focal lenses 35mm
This image was captured with a Nikon 35mm fixed focal lens.

85mm 1.4f My work horse telephoto. This lens is always on my second camera. 

Fashion editorial shoot taken with an 85mm lens

60mm 2.8f macro I occasionally remember to take this lens to weddings for shooting details. I use it for commercial shoots, food, jewelry, details etc. It’s even great for portraits. 

So, why would anyone carry around four different lenses instead of one or two zoom lenses? 

Image quality. The sharpness and detail of the photos are great with fixed focal lenses. There’s also a good sense of finding a better shot when you HAVE TO move around and zoom in and out with your legs. The experience of shooting is different. You are also able to have an amazing aperture of 1.4 or dare I say 1.2! 

Occasionally I would either borrow or trade lenses with fellow photographers. It’s good to try lenses out before deciding wether to purchase them or not. You can also try out a lens you know you will never buy, like the 300mm. I know I will never purchase for my own because I have no use for it. But I borrowed it for a week and I loved playing around with it. Just didn’t like carrying it around. 

Wishlist: 105mm 1.4f, 58mm 1.9f Petzval Lens, 24mm 1.4f

Also, I would trade the 35mm for the 24mm in a heartbeat. 

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