#196 Street with a 21mm lens

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A while ago I bought a 21mm lens (as mentioned before in recent posts). At first I was bothered by the fact that the rangefinder only supports lenses down to 28mm. Any wider than that requiers an external viewfinder – optical or digital. If you wear glasses like me, anything wider than 50mm in fact means that you won’t be able to see the whole frame at once in the rangefinder. But thats ok – down to 35mm. I used to have a (in fact two different…) 28mm lens, but I never liked that focal length on the M – just beacuse of the problem of seeing the whole frame.

I have bought an external viewfinder that I can use for composing with the 21mm – but I have found that the 21mm lens is best used in another way…

When shooting pictures on the street with the 21mm lens I set the aperture to 8 and use aperture priority mode (the shutterspeed adjusts by it self). I then set the focus to around 2 m – which means that everything from 1 meter and beyond will be in focus. A photographer calls this zone-focusing. A method that has been used since the beginning of photography – but may be less known today, in the age of autofocus and cellphones. Now – there are a few things to think about. Zone-focusing gets more useful with wider lenses and I would say that you need rather good lighting conditions (or a camera that can handle high ISO:s).

The advantage is that with this setting you just have to point the camera to what ever you want to shoot [from one meter and beyond] and press the trigger.

Take this picture. The dad with the kid on the shoulders just walked by me. I lifted the camera – without looking through the rangefinder – ans snapped a picture. Well – it is not 100% sharp, but that is probably motion blur rather than focusing. But I still like the picture.

The 21mm has about a 90 degrees view. That means that I get about 45 degrees on either side from where I point the camera. After a little bit of practise I didn’t need to look in the rangefinder at all to get the quick shots. Just point and shoot. A really fun way of shooting in the street. I coult really recomend all of you with a Leica M out there to try out a 21mm lens. There are some good options out there, that doesn’t have to cost you a fortune…

Another example of a picture that suddenly emerged in front of me. No time to think – just lift the camera and shoot.

If you can – try it out 😊