Top 75 Street Photography Blog

My street photography lenses

Today I thought I’d write about my lenses. What lenses do I have and what do I like about them?

Fujifilm Nano-GI XF 16-55mm f2.8 R LM WR

The wide angle zoom

My wide-angle zoom was the first X-Series lens I bought, when I moved over to the mirrorless system. I bought it for exactly what it is - my go-to lens for all-round flexibility in perhaps unfamiliar environments. I do like to work with zooms - there simply isn’t the same control over composition with a prime, and the optical quality and lack of noticeable distortion is great throughout the range to the extent that the difference from a prime is minimal. It’s also a weather sealed, tough and sturdy lens - so a great workday lens for shooting a wedding or frankly, any event. And the ability to shoot out to f2.8 across the range is wonderful in low light. However - it’s heavier and bulkier than my other lenses. One of the reasons I like mirrorless systems is the beautifully compact, lightweight aspect - which is instantly negated by attaching a great big zoom. I realise the irony in that. But still, this remains the most frequently used X-Series lens I have, and that in itself says a lot about how much I get on with this wonderful zoom.

Fujifilm Super EBC XF 23mm f1.4 R

The wide-angle prime

Lightweight and relatively compact, and with a wide aperture of f1.4. It’s great for street photography because it sees pretty much the same way you do - the scene you see with your eyes translates comfortably to what you get through the viewfinder. Being more on the wide-angle side, it also forces you to get closer - in on the action. Optically superb, and I’ve never had a problem with distortion. Whilst I’m not super fussy about distortion (it can really transform the right image, actually), care is still needed at the wider end of the scale. And this lens makes it easy and rewarding. That said, it’s probably the lens I’ve used the least in recent times. That’s down to me rather than the lens - from a personal point of view, my style of shooting doesn’t usually fit in with the up-close-and-personal approach you need to get the most out of the 23mm.

Fujifilm Super EBC XF 56mm f1.2 R

The bokeh and portraiture prime

First off - the aperture opens all the way out to a super-wide f1.2. Second, it’s got sublime optics. That’s a great combination - brilliant for low-light and night-time photography, and wonderful for creative atmosphere and portraiture. Its beautiful bokeh with the shallow depth of field produces gorgeous images, whilst the focal length (translating to 85mm when you take into account the X-Series’ cropped sensor) produces naturally flattering portrait work without the need to invade personal space. I love the opportunity for documentary wedding photography - but often, the bride and groom still want those more traditional portrait photos. So this lens is a must in my bag. For street photography, I’ve also found it has its advantages. I’m not a naturally bold, fearless type - so it's just the right focal length for me to stand back and take shots I might not otherwise have had the guts to take close up. Downsides? Well, it does struggle to focus quickly in low light, to the extent that I’ve missed a number of shots as a result. And you really, really have to watch what you’re doing with that shallow depth of field. So whilst it’s a rewarding lens to work with, it’s also one where a lot of care is needed.

Fujifilm Super EBC XF 55-200mm f3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

The telephoto zoom

My telephoto zoom is the lens I’ve used least of all for street photography. I’ve been out with it simply to challenge myself; to see how I perform when I only have my telephoto to hand. But “papping” people from afar on the street doesn’t sit well with me, and leaves me feeling a bit uncomfortable if I’m honest - so I’ve usually attached this lens when I’ve needed it for specific assignments. As an event photographer, it’s incredibly useful to capture the people, their interactions and any details from a distance, without being intrusive. This is where I really don’t think it matters if I’m not part of the action - because I want to capture people acting naturally. An event as it really happens, not how I’ve made it happen. I’m very happy with this lens for what it does. It’s not too big or heavy, and with the OIS stability control, it returns sharp, high-quality images right the way through the zoom range. For any commissioned event photography, this lens is an essential piece of kit for me.

I'm so impressed with the X-Series lenses. I’ve only recently made the move over to my mirrorless system and the sheer quality - both in terms of photographs and the build quality of the lenses themselves - is impressive. Metal-bodied, not plastic. Superb quality primes offering super-shallow depths of field. And, in photography terms at least, at a reasonable price. Fujifilm have built up a world-class system of lenses in this price range, and I honestly can’t recommend them enough.

Anyway, for now that’s it. Those are all my X-Series lenses. Now you may understand why I haven’t spent much money on holidays for the last few years…

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