Getting close with a 35mm Prime

Getting close with a 35mm Prime

After a motor failure on my kit lens I was looking for a replacement while I got it fixed. After opting for a 35mm prime I noticed a number of unexpected benefits when it came to my street photography.

Rush hour at Zhongtan Lu metro station in Shanghai

The reason for the new lens was, as mentioned previously, a mechanical failure. I am not a kit junky and am pretty reluctant to buy new stuff unless absolutely necessary.

There is always someone out there taking better photos than me with worse equipment so I would rather work harder than open my wallet. But eventually even I had to cave in after a week trying to shoot street on an old manual Nikon lens (which I can write about later).

Woman with tattoo sleeves

Here were the reasons I chose the 35mm Prime (Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G shooting on a Nikon D90)

A woman works in a princess doll shop in Shanghai Railway
  • Price – It was cheap
  • Size – Small and light
  • F/1.8 should be good for the low light I often shoot in

After about a week of shooting with it I noticed a real improvement in my street shots and general experience.

Delivery driver takes a break
  • I had to get close. There is no zooming (obviously) so you have to use your feet and body to get the angles. This was the single biggest advantage, it broke my fear through confrontation. With this lens there is no choice but to get up in people’s grills. Generally speaking the closer you are in street photography the better the result.
  • I only took this lens out so I instantly cut my options down. Rather than this being stressful it was liberating not to be dicking around changing lenses or thinking about it.
  • After a while you know exactly what you can and can’t shoot successfully and compositions come more naturally.
  • The lens is smaller and makes the camera look a bit less imposing on the street (obviously DSLRs aren’t the best in this regard but as I mentioned I am not a kit junky).

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