mawz (mawz) wrote,

On Choosing a Normal

Bokeh Fence
Nikon F2a, Nikkor 50/2 AI, Ilford PanF+

Being a fairly dedicated prime shooter, one of the considerations when building a working kit is choosing the normal to be used with any body. The normal is both the standard one lens kit when you don’t want to haul anything extra and the core of a multi-lens kit. It needs to handle well with a given body and also deliver the goods IQ-wise. I’ve settled on my ‘normals’ being in the traditional 40-60mm range. While 35’s are many shooters normal of choice, I find they do well in a 2-lens kit (35 and 85 or equivalents) but I want something a little longer for a single lens kit.

One reason I hadn’t been using the F2a much was the issue of a normal well suited to it. It’s a larger body that simply doesn’t handle well with either the 50mm f1.8 Series E or the Ultron 40mm f2 due to their small size and the Nokton 58mm f1.4 is pretty much welded on the front of the FM2n and has been for a long time. Therefore I needed a normal solution for it. The Nikkor 50mm f1.4 was out, I’ve owned one in the past and used others but have never been fond of them. The 50/1.2’s are out of the current budget, as are the 55/1.2’s. The long-nose 50/1.8 is rare and fairly hard to find. That left the classic 50mm f2. Long Nikon’s standard 50mm, it was introduced as the 5cm f2 in 1959 along with the original F and was manufactured for 20 years. It’s also considered by many to be Nikon’s best non-exotic 50, sharper and with better bokeh than the f1.4 or f1.8 versions. I happened to trip over a cheap and excellent-condition example from the very last production series and snapped it up for the F2. It’s almost ironic that I’d get a last series example of Nikon’s classic 50 for a last-series example of Nikon’s classic mechanical body (my F2 is from the very last production run of black F2 bodies). The larger size of the 50 f2 makes for a much better handling lens on the largish F2 body. It also effectively gives the lens a built-in hood since the front element is heavily recessed and the large focus ring is very comfortable to work with. All in all an excellent combination.

As to other cameras, here are their normal setups:

FM2n: The Nokton 58mm f1.4 SLII (the two are only being used together right now)
FE2: Either the 50mm f1.8 Series E or the Ultron 40mm f2 Aspherical SLII
F80: Ultron 40mm f2 Aspherical SLII
G1: Ultron 28mm f1.9 Aspherical LTM (56mm-e)
ZX-m: S-M-C Takumar 50mm f1.4
645 Super: 80mm f2.8 C or for low-light the 80mm f1.9 C (50mm-e)

Tags: musings

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