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theselby

23mm or 56mm lens

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theselby

I'm about to purchase a X-T1 and can only afford one lens to start with so am torn between the 23mm and 56mm prime.

The bulk of my photography is portrait, documentary style so was originally more tempted by the 23mm but after seeing some amazing photography and reviews of the 56mm is causing me to question which to go for.

Does anyone have both? Seem to use one more than the other? If you could only have one what would you go for?

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Owtafocus

Odd, for portrait style work I'd say the 56 is a better choice. But, I can't make this decision for you. Try the 18-55 to cover the range….

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jeremyclarke

56mm is clearly a wonderful lens and the bokeh is mind blowing but having tried to live mostly with a manual 50mm (for low light) on my X-E1 I'd say it's not a satisfying choice if you only have one lens. There are just SO many situations where you won't be able to get far enough away from your subjects to get more than their nose and eyes. In small rooms it will be impossible to get a picture of a full person.

Even though 35mm to 50mm doesn't seem like that much (well actually it does but people don't think of it as much) it's an enormous difference, and now that I have the 35mm I find I am very rarely unable to get the shots I want compared to the 50mm I had. If you want just one lens that is capable of sweet depth-of-field trickery then I'd say that one.

If you're planning to have both 23 and 56 in the end (a wicked combo no doubt) and don't think the 35mm makes sense then you'll have to choose between giving up versatility for awhile or giving up bokeh-portraiture for awhile ;)

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Owtafocus

Go for the 23 as it is more versatile I have both

How can any fixed focal length lens be 'more versatile' than any other fixed focal length lens? There are an infinite number of scenes with unique requirements. Any lens might be the 'perfect lens' only for the photograph you are trying to make at the moment with that lens. Turn around and the the scene now may call for a diferent appropriate lens. The only lens that can be called versatile is a zoom, for apparent reasons of definition.

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jeremyclarke

Owtafocus FWIW I answered your question already. A 23mm is more versatile because there are more situations it can at least take a picture of, assuming you're willing to compromise on the perspective you capture of that situation.

A 400mm lens is very versatile when things are far away, but useless for close things. At least with a 23mm you can take a picture of both a field and a person you are having dinner with.

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jeremyclarke

I guess it comes down to the old "you zoom with your feet" adage about prime lenses. In theory none are more versatile than others because you can always approach or distance yourself from the subject, but in reality there will be times when you can't foot-zoom-in any further (e.g. edge of a lake) and times when you can't foot-zoom-out any further (e.g. backed up into a wall).

It's up to theselby which limitation of foot-zooming he is more likely to encounter ;)

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phrehdd

Go for the 23 as it is more versatile I have both

How can any fixed focal length lens be 'more versatile' than any other fixed focal length lens? There are an infinite number of scenes with unique requirements. Any lens might be the 'perfect lens' only for the photograph you are trying to make at the moment with that lens. Turn around and the the scene now may call for a diferent appropriate lens. The only lens that can be called versatile is a zoom, for apparent reasons of definition.

I believe the original thought was that going slightly wider is more versatile as it implies you can get the subject captured and crop later if need be. If it were just typical portraiture, I would opt for the longer lens but being documentary, you cannot always choose the set up and thus, better to go slightly wider if need be.

Years ago, I had some camera items stolen and was left (35mm film days) with a 90mm macro lens. I shot for two months with just this lens in two countries and by being careful, I got some really outstanding images. I can say there were only a couple of situations where I really could have used a wider lens but it is the photographer in the end who has to manage a situation and do the best one can. FYI 7 of the transparencies (K24 and K64) were picked up by chance for publication and at that time, I was just getting started in the craft.

Final - if documentary is involved, the OP in my opinion shouldgo with the 23 and expose properly and learn about the inherent perspective of this focal length.

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Raglan

Portrait work often does not require large file size, therefore the 23 could be used and cropped if desired. However I love the concept of wide angle portraits. The 56 would be too restrictive for me in terms of coverage.

But I'm guessing there are as many for, as against, the aquisition of only one lens. It's gonna be completely up to you as to which one is the more practical.

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dmward

The reason Fuji makes both focal lengths is because they are both indispensable. :-)

I have both and my preferred approach to event coverage is to have the 56mm on the XT-1 and the 23mm on the XE2. Its the way I used to cover events with two Leica M4s, one with 35 and the other with 90.

In my view, the only real solution to your situation is to buy one, then save your money to buy the other. :-)

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Albert

Buy the lens that suits your shooting style. I can see absolutely no reason to buy a long lens if most of the time you shoot wide. Most people buy a lens to take photographs, not to pixel peep or to drool over the bokeh.

I might be wrong, but for me 'portrait documentary style involves people in their environments, so a wide angle is more suited than a tele. If you were shooting traditional head & shoulder portraiture then the 56mm would make a lot more sense.

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jjb

How about the 60mm and the 27mm?

That'd be a cheap combo. The 60mm is very cheap on the grey and second-hand market.

Sure the 60mm has slower AF, but it's still up there on IQ.

Then you could afford the 27mm as a lovely walk-around pancake :)

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milandro

I would definitely second the recommendation to consider the humbler 60mm macro and with the money that you save there ( and if you buy it second hand you will spend less than half of a new 56mm) you can easily buy a 27mm.

Unfortunately perhaps not a 23 although, you never know, if you find a secondhand one and can stretch your budget a little bit?

If I could buy one lens alone I would go for the 35mm 1,4. Cheap at the moment and you can shoot portraits with it as well as street scenes, but no, it is not a wideangle.

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theselby

Think I'll go for the 23mm and then consider a 56mm when funds allow...although I'm bloody tempted to hang on a see when this X200 might come out...not sure if it will be full frame or even worth it.

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Albert

Think I'll go for the 23mm and then consider a 56mm when funds allow...although I'm bloody tempted to hang on a see when this X200 might come out...not sure if it will be full frame or even worth it.

As for the X200 -- haven't those rumours been around for a year or more by now? Why not leave some money in your will for your grandson to buy himself one? :-)

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robthebruce

I used the x100 as my only camera for 18 months. The 23mm lens was great for most things that I photograph. Even the macro was good. If I had to choose one lens for a year it would be the XF 23. Even portraits work reasonably well if you move the camera to the same height of the face so the distorting effect of the wider angle is minimised. Here is an example. My favourite portrait using the x100 with the 23 mm lens is here.

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gryphon1911

Not to throw another spanner in to the works, but have you considered the 35/1.4?

It is a great lens that fits in between both your options, can be found inexpensively and is very satisfying to shoot with.

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Spud

I have a 56mm on backorder so I picked up the 35mm to hold me over. It is definitely a very nice lens, and good looking, too!

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jeremyclarke

And light! With the hood and everything the 35mm isn't particularly tiny, but I forget how light it is until I switch the 18-55 for the 35mm and my camera feels like the battery is missing ;)

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hstel

Why not the 18-55? Not the top XF lens but not a standard, average quality kit lens either. And this is not a silly salesperson talk, it is actually proven (highly recommended in the Photography Blog review, for example, with a rating of 4.5 out of 5). Very good image quality, good Bokeh, OIS, faster-than-average wide open for a "kit" zoom lens... maybe there's not a more versatile lens than the 18-55 if you plan to buy only one now.

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DavidAlanKidd

I have the same combo... X-T1 + 23 1.4 [bought together] and 56 1.2 [added about 2 months later]. I started with the 23 really found I tend to use the 56 only when shooting portrait work or when a little bit of extra reach is needed.

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DavidAlanKidd

Either way you will like the ease of use and how nice either lens feels. I do have to give the 23 a little MF love. When manual focus is needed, it is really nice to click back and instantly override the camera body settings. Feel this should carry forward to the other lenses, but sadly didn't make it to the 56 1.2.

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