I was recently reading an article where a photographer received criticism from another that he used zoom lenses too much .His point of view jumped around all over the place and he might do better to stick to single focal lengths and to develop a more singular point of view.
I was coming to the same conclusion over the last couple of years. Modern zoom lenses are great quality and have their place . they can be incredibly useful if you are stuck in one position and unable to move in closer or out further, I use them a lot in aerial photography as it saves having to continually manouver the helicopter to the right position.
Modern point and shoot photography has also become very convenient with zooms that go from wide to ultra telephoto in the flick of a switch. But there is nothing like a few boundaries to help develop your own point of difference. A lot of my still life photography is based on one lens and I wanted to see if this could apply in other situations.
At first , I wanted to go back to basics and use the lens that was standard with every camera sold for many years – the 50mm lens. This lens was sold as it corresponds to the natural perspective of human vision in a 35mm format , but for many photographers , including me , it was neither wide enough or close enough. You really had to work to get a good image , but isn’t that a good thing? A style could develop from the restrictions to create a way of working around the limitations. It might be a nuisance professionally , but creatively it definitely has the possibility of being more satisfying
So to keep it really basic , while using a modern digital canon camera , I tried using a Nikon 50mm lens with adapter to force myself to take more control of the process , and to encourage the possibility of mistakes that might lead to more creative opportunity
I consider it was a success, and I hope to experiment further, but the one big issue is manually focusing is very difficult to do these days with a digital camera , especially if you need a wide aperture like I prefer. I have an 85mm Canon lens that while not a 50mm , at least shows me the potential of an auto focus wide aperture lens , also a 50 mm macro , but the widest aperture is 2.8 , not wide enough for my taste and to really isolate the main subject. So when cash flow allows ,I will purchase a 50mm 1.4. I like the 1.2 model , but its huge! . and expensive! And from the experience using the Nikon lens its more than likely I will find 1.4 adequate.