When I first started out with photography, I followed what everyone else said; 50mm lenses are really where it is at and there is absolutely nothing better. “If you want to have the best images, you need a 50mm f1.8 and to shoot with it forever or you’ll be nothing,” is pretty much the mantra that was thrown at me. But after some time, I realized 50mm wasn’t really how I saw the world. Instead, the 50mm lens became just garbage to me. It’s the center of my vision more than anything else, so I moved to 35mm and adored it. This is more how I saw the world–until I really started working with 28mm lenses.
And so I’ve realized something:
- 50mm is the center of my vision
- 35mm is mostly my vision and what I tend to pay attention to the most
- 28mm is my full vision
Yup, that’s how it works. Crazy, right? Try it for yourself and you’ll see that I’m telling the truth or you’ll more or less just end up spewing terrible things in the comments that none of us will read anyway.
The problem is that for years many manufacturers haven’t had a number of 28mm options. 35mm has been so much more popular. So there weren’t really a lot of good 28mm lenses. But that’s changed. Sigma, Sony, Leica, Nikon, and others have produced very good options. Even so, I can’t name a whole lot of other fantastic 28mm lenses on the market right now. There just aren’t a ton of them. But why?
I’m aware that I’m not alone in sharing this sentiment. 28mm is a wonderful way of seeing the world as a photographer. 28mm isn’t at all for everything: I wouldn’t dare shoot a lot of portraits with this focal length unless I was pretty far from my subjects. But it’s a great lens for documenting everyday life and for anything that doesn’t really need to be done in a studio setting at all. I wouldn’t use it for product images but it’s just a fun focal length to work with. Perhaps this is what has been holding it back: 28mm is a documentary focal length and landscape staple for many years.
Perhaps it is time for every other manufacturer to start giving the 28mm focal length its due.