Thoughts on 35mm Lenses (and Yet More Minox Photos)

I’m a natural 50mm shooter. Like a lot of people, I started with it, and it just feels like what I expect when I look through a viewfinder. Anything else is always slightly off at first, but this is especially true with wider focal lengths.

Even though 35mm is hardly extreme, it still feels a little…off. Using the Minox as much as I have (relatively speaking) in the last couple of years has, however, made me a little more comfortable with it. Even though it is considered a general-purpose lens (hence its attachment to so many fixed-lens cameras), I find it tends to exaggerate distances in a very noticeable way (to my eye, at least).

Looking back at my photos, I find I’ve been unconsciously using this fairly often to create a particular sort of a style of photo, often with dominant lines stretching toward the horizon (usually) that further emphasize or create a sense of distance from the viewer. Also included here are photos taken from unusual angles that, added to the mild distortion of the wide angle, tend to be a bit disorienting.

This isn’t to say that I’m using this like some sort of special-effects lens (it isn’t), nor that these are the only sorts of photos I’ve taken with it (see the few posts below this for evidence). But I do find it interesting that I seem inclined to experiment with what is usually considered as fairly normal focal length; I don’t see the same sorts of images coming from my 50mm lenses.

Maybe this means I’m finally getting a handle on how to use a 35mm lens. Or maybe not. If nothing else, it seems as though my photos taken with this particular one at least have developed a degree of consistency that I hadn’t noticed before.

More Minox, Mostly Monochrome

All that color was starting to hurt my eyes, so it’s time for black-and-white. Frankly I don’t have a lot of it from the Minox, but since that’s the stuff I’ve been looking through lately, I pulled a few shots to at least provide some samples.

There’s no real surprises here. The Minox handles B&W as you’d expect – good resolution, moderate contrast, pleasant rendering and smooth tonality. The photos shown here, as always, have been adjusted a bit after scanning, but none of it is anything more than minor tweaking, and the images remain representative of the camera that captured them.

For no rational reason whatsoever, I’m not inclined to shoot B&W with the Minox. Somehow, it’s a camera I associate with color photos, just as I tend to associate my Leicas with B&W. It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s how it is. So whatever you see here from the Minox going forward will very likely be color.

Minox Pentatych

I rarely indulge in this sort of thing, as I prefer that photographs retain a bit of singular identity rather than being lumped together (as you might expect, I am not a big fan of the Bernd & Hilla Becher Düsseldorf school typologies). But as I went through the Great Accumulation, I found I’d somewhat inadvertently shot this sequence, and as it seemed a natural progression, I put them together into a pentatych.


(Recommend that you click the photo for full resolution – it’s rather small as seen here.)

I could have played with the images to perfectly align the horizontals, but where’s the fun in that? Frankly, I think it would have been more interesting to exaggerate the displacement, but I saw no obvious reason to do that, so it stayed as shot.

What’s interesting with something like this is how you can manipulate the viewer’s perception by altering the sequence. I’ve written before about this (here and here), but it bears repeating: the photographer is an active participant in shaping the reality that viewers see.