The 43mm lens is the most perfect standard focal length.
More and more photographers hate the 50mm focal length. It’s been the standard in the industry for such a long time, but it’s so overdone that many of us are sick of it. Manufacturers have realized this and typically gone a bit longer or wider. But for the life of me, I don’t understand why we don’t have more 43mm lenses. Why this focal length? Well, we’re going to hearken back to one of the best things Pentax did in the 35mm photography world. 43mm is the diagonal of a piece of 35mm film. Full-frame digital sensors have stayed around the same size, so a 43mm lens would be the real normal. In this case, it’s not necessarily about distortion or anything, but more about the field of view.
Some photographers say they see the world in 50mm. I see it in 35mm. I have friends who see it in 28mm. But I believe that any and every photographer who tries a 43mm lens would think it is fantastic. It probably wouldn’t become their primary lens, but I’m sure they’d use it more than a 50mm offering. And lots of manufacturers have done similar things. Pentax, of course, had their famous 43mm focal length. But then others have come close. Remember the Minolta/Leica 40mm f2? Or the Voigtlander 40mm f1.2? Or the Zeiss 40mm f2 Batis? Well, they’re all competent and deliver more of a balance between the 50mm and 35mm field of view. 43 is pretty much the sweet spot between them, as it offers a balance of both worlds.
Another reason why this could be such a great idea: cameras are sort of becoming stale. Lots of them share very similar features. I think the next big spot for innovation is with lenses. So why not deliver something that no one else has or that hasn’t been pushed very hard? Just imagine:
- A Leica 43mm f1.2 in L mount?
- A Nikon 43mm f1.4 in Z mount?
- A Canon 43mm f1.8 STM in RF?
- A Sony 43mm f1.4 lens?
- A Tamron 43mm f1.8?
- A Sigma 43mm f1.4 DG DN
I think these could all do very well and serve as great medium ground for lots of photographers. It would get the YouTubers talking about how amazing it is with clickbaity headlines. It would change so much. Imagine what it could do for street photography and portraiture? Combine that with all the innovations made with distortion control, and you’d have yourself a nearly perfect lens. Better yet, weather seal it. Now you’ve got a lens that can go everywhere and deliver images the exact way people see the world.
Many of you will probably be entirely happy with your 35mm and 50mm lenses. And I get that. But consider the alternative focal lengths and your coverage for a moment. The classic combo is sometimes a 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm. Or it’s a 35, 50 and 85. But a 24mm, 43mm, and an 85mm could give you a much better variety of coverage. Sometimes 35mm and 24mm, while complementary, are too close together. Alternatively, why not play with the other two ends a bit?
- 21mm, 43mm, and 90mm?
- 28mm, 43mm, and 85mm?
There’s so much that could be done with focal lengths, and I feel like manufacturers aren’t paying attention to lenses that they should.