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Why are there no 50mm fixed focal length serious compacts?

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Andrewteee, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    The primary focal length for today's fixed lens serious compacts is 35mm. But in the past 50mm was considered the standard lens. And I prefer to shoot with 50mm cameras. I wonder why there are no fixed focal length 50mm serious compacts except for the Ricoh GXR/A12 50mm? Would they be unpopular?
     
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  2. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    My guess is that 50mm is seen as too long nowadays. Personally, I do like 50, but still prefer 35 for a jack of all trade lens. Maybe someone can make a serious compact with a fixed 35-70 lens with a constant f2 aperture and an 1 inch sensor.
     
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  3. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    I can't think of a single fixed lens camera with a 50mm equivalent focal length--the GRX is not a fixed lens camera. The most common is 35mm. There have also been 28mm and 40mm. The only formats that had fixed lens cameras with a normal lens was medium-format and mostly TLR and folders. 50mm was a standard lens only in 35mm and for interchangeable lens cameras. BTW, "standard" means that it came packaged with the camera. That is opposed to "normal" which is equal to the diagonal of the format. In the case of 35mm, a normal lens would be 43mm.
     
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  4. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    In my mind the GXR/A12 50mm is a fixed lens camera as mine is never separated :wink:

    The Sigma DP2M is, I believe 46mm... pretty close to 43mm, but of course not exact.
     
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  5. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    I would prefer a 50mm fixed length too. If fact if there was an equivalent X100 with a 50mm, I'd be more interested in it.
     
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  6. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    While a Leica M is also not a fixed lens camera, Leica did used to sell "starter" kits of camera body plus a Leica 50mm Summicron at a "discounted" price. Discounted being loosely used in the context though!
     
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I think the reason 50's used to be the go-to focal length is that it was a relatively neutral length, didn't need to do any fancy optical tricks to go longer or wider than what the naked eye typically sees, and were relatively cheap to produce. And because of the relative lack of optical challenge, it was easier to stretch these lenses to include very fast apertures. These tricks were somewhere between unimaginable and prohibitively expensive on wider lenses back in the day when the 50 was making its name. I know I always preferred a wider lens even as a kid on the rare occasion my Dad would let me shoot with his Nikon SLR that he had some sort of 28 or 35 for, but they just weren't readily available. So I spent most of my youth shooting with a 50 also, but it was by default, not choice. More recently, between better lens design, computer aided design and manufacturing, and software correction, the lens makers have just gotten a lot better at making wider lenses, or making them both good and reasonably affordable. And they're where the market seems to be. I personally prefer 28mm and its possible to find (although one of the best is also the GXR 28mm module), but its easier to find 35mm. Probably because its that in-between length that people who'd prefer 28 or 50 probably figure they can live with and some folks just love all on its own. I suspect if there was much perceived market for a 50mm fixed lens, there'd be more of 'em out there. Its a strategy that's worked on me - I wouldn't buy a 50 but I've been willing to buy a less than optimal for me 35 in the form of the X100. And probably would have kept it if they'd brought out the 28mm adapter for it before they'd released the X-Pro with the 28mm option...

    -Ray
     
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  8. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    I never knew they had 'starter' kits. I thought it was up to each dealer how they want to package their products.
     
  9. Lawrence A.

    Lawrence A. SC All-Pro

    Nov 8, 2012
    New Mexico
    Larry
    A lot, perhaps even most fixed lens, 35mm cameras had wider than 50mm; 50mm was more the SLR body with lens standard. If you look at the film rangefinder "type" cameras from the 50's and 60's with fixed lenses, you'll find a lot with lenses of around 40mm. 43.3mm is the actual diagonal of a 35mm frame, the standard by which the idea of "normal" is decided, so 50 is actually a little long. It's approximately as much longer as the 35mm lens is shorter than the 43mm "ideal".

    50mm works as a normal, everyday lens for me, but that may be because my first used SLR came with a 50mm lens. And many Leica street shooters of the past preferred 35mm to 50mm, even if the 50 was (and still seems to be) cheaper.

    Olympus had several 35mm rangefinders with 40 and 42mm lenses, as did many Canonets, and the last Olympus venture into rangefinder land was the XA with a 35mm lens. (Sweet little machines too!) I think 50mm as "normal" became fixed in granite during the heyday of 35mm SLR's, when every second person you met had an SLR body with a 50mm (sometimes 55) lens.
     
  10. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    Responding to Ray - I think that is why manufacturers go for 35mm, because it's sort of the new "neutral" for people who prefer wide-ish rather than the 50mm.

    The strange thing is, I use my LX5 wide only. But on my Leica, I very much prefer 50mm.
     
  11. Hikari

    Hikari SC Veteran

    292
    Jan 5, 2013
    Maine, USA
    The 50mm in 35mm was an odd ball. It was taken from cinema camera lenses and stuck onto a Leica. 35mm was the only format not to have a true normal--at least for a very long time.

    A normal lens does not have the same angle of view as the human eye. In fact, the eye does not have a single field of view, which is why there has been so much debate and such about this. A normal lens has the same apparent perspective as your vision. This is because with a normal lens, the "standard viewing distance" (as defined as the distance equal to the size of the image) is the same as the "correct viewing distance" (as defined as a viewing distance matching the POV which is a ratio of format size to focal length). The apparent perspective is "normal."
     
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  12. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I'm learning new stuff in this thread!
     
  13. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    I feel that the manufacturers are correct in that 35mm is a better compromise focal length for a fixed-lens camera, pre-supposing that that camera is your only camera or that you are only likely to carry one camera. I don't even like the idea of carrying just one focal length so the idea of a best compromise is lost on me (by-the-by, it also explains why my only fixed lens camera is a zoom).

    For a single focal length lens my preference is also towards the 40-50mm zone. At one point I thought that 35mm might be a good number but in truth I have always shot around it rather than at it (40+, or 28 and wider).
     
  14. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Jack
    The so called "starter" kits that I recall were M7's with 50mm Summicrons. I think Leica discounted the package by $100 or something like that.
     
  15. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    There are 'starter' kits on eBay like that I think.
     
  16. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Some of the fixed lens cameras have a zoom step function that would allow you to select 50mm and stay there.
     
  17. 50mm in 35mm full-frame was popular as it was the cheapest lens to make. A bit of a compromise with interior work - just not wide enough and a bit of a compromise with portrait work - too wide meant distortions when shooting close.
     
  18. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    it's such a relief to finally see someone get it right! :smile: although the one thing that's still relative about this, is the "standard viewing distance". I suppose having a viewing distance equal to the image diagonal makes for an image you can easily take in at once while still being able to discern plenty of detail, but still it's kind of arbitrary. But indeed, if we choose to accept this "standard viewing distance", then a 43mm equivalent lens will give you a natural perspective, as if you're looking through a window rather than at a photograph.

    [edit] for those who are interested in FOV, the total FOV of a human being using both eyes and focusing on a single point is about 180*100 degrees, which is wider than most fisheye lenses (and it's shaped like an ellipse with a vertical narrowing in the middle). The area that's seen by both eyes is about 120 degrees wide, and the area that's in focus is about the size of a coin held at arm's length (super-tele territory). Focus and colour perception gradually (but non-linearly) fall off towards the edges while movement perception increases.
     
  19. snkenai

    snkenai SC All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
    I really don't care what the "accepted" "new normal" is. After 50+ years, in photography, as my primary hobby, I know what I like. I almost never use anything wider than 50mm equiv. I understand, and agree that others have different "views". I don't expect camera companies to make something to my specs. But I sure would like something like the X100, with a 50mm, equiv. F1.4.
    Sigh. Not holding my breath!
    Even if they did, I couldn't buy it, until it was at least 2 generations old. :smile:
     
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  20. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I guess folks like you who find 35 too wide and folks like me who find it too long are exactly why ILCs are a good idea. We can each be happy with the X-Pro, you with the 35mm (53-ish equivalent), me with the 18mm (28-ish equivalent). And Fuji only had to make one body for it.

    -Ray
     
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