80mm Street Photography
a portrait in the street
This is the budget setup
You can pick up a 50mm lens with the change in your pocket. I’m not kidding. I picked up an old Helios 58mm for $30. Wait 50mm? Yeah 50mm and here’s why. The cheapest cameras out there are crop sensor. I can get into sensor sizes another time. For now you just need to know that the average crop sensor, APS-C, magnifies by 1.5x. So screw on that 50mm and your shooting a 75mm. Or in the case of my Helios, an 87mm. I can find a good APS-C camera for under $400 easy and if i’m not being picky I can probably find something around $200. So if you want a bare bones street kit this is a good way to go.
Something I had to learn early on
Capture the moment not the scene. 80mm is portrait territory. Take that strength and use it. Focus on a single subject. You’re not going to get a whole street in focus. These lenses are bigger whores than I am, they like to be spread wide open. That f2- f2.8 is a real sweet spot for a lot of lenses. By sweet spot I mean that’s where the lens really shines. Sharp details and a crisp final image.
How do I manual focus in the street?
Until you get a feel for the lens, don’t. Set your aperture and a couple goto focus ranges and move your feet. It’s far less frustrating to move yourself than to sit there fidgeting with the focus ring.
You can also set up focus peaking. For street work I don’t like it much since I find myself fidgeting more, but it can be helpful when learning to use a manual lenses.
Or you can try the lazy way. Set focus to 3 meters and aperture to f11. Almost everything should be in focus. A little dull but still better than a blur.
Too long didn’t read
APS-C cameras and 50mm lens’ are dirt cheap. Focus on single subjects and your golden.