After many years of experience using different lenses, I now have resorted to only using a single prime lens. I started with a 50mm then added an 85mm, 35mm, 100mm and 28mm to my collection, and I’ve played around with zoom lenses. But now I exclusively use a 50mm lens. No more zooms and no more choices. But why would I volunteer to limit myself?
Why would I limit myself from the start?
Why would I choose to only use one lens for all my work? There are a few things that might be freeing to you if you decide to go the route I did. One is the fewer choices you have to make the easier it is to begin, and the fewer choices the less doubt you have about the decisions you made. Have you ever taken a photo and wished you brought along the 70-200 telephoto or the 28 wide angle lens? If you only have one lens you only have one option, the result being no more buyer regret or anxiety over your gear.
Choose your poison (lens)
A great reason to shoot with one lens, be it prime or zoom is you get to know your lens inside and out. You get to know the framing of your lens. You can visualise the crop even before you bring the camera up to your eye. I found when I look at a possible photograph I know where to stand, what I am able to capture, and the angle and position I need to be in to get the desired look. And you know what, it all happens subconsciously because I know my lens inside and out.
One lens means no more lens changing. No more dust on the sensor, no need for multiple cameras or a camera bag. Don’t fear the person who knows 10,000 different kicks. Fear the person who knows one kick and has practised it 10,000 times. Become that one trick pony. Less gear means, less gear to carry, less to insure, less to worry about. Giving you more time to spend on mastering your craft instead of focusing on your gear.
Why I only use one lens
Why choose just to limit yourself to a 50mm lens, why not choose a 35mm or a 28mm? The reason I chose a 50mm is because it was the focus length I would default to. Be it Portraits, Events, it’s my favourite focal length. I did have other lenses but for my style, other lenses would include or remove so much content in the frame, which didn’t appeal to me or my photographic aesthetic.
For me, it’s like looking through my own eyes. I know the frame lines before I even bring the camera up to my eye, the familiarity you learn from using one lens quickens my photographic process. My only issue with my 50mm lens is it can’t focus on a subject any closer than 0.7 meters (2 feet). But that just forces me to think outside the box, it challenges me and the way I approach a subject.
Well the reason why I only use one lens, it frees up your time which would have been wasted deciding on gear. Using one lens starts your path on becoming a master of that focal length. You learn its limitations and capabilities making you more efficient when capturing a scene. And the added bonus is all your work has a consistent look and feel to it, which contributes to your photographic style. Why I only use one lens is because I choose to become a master of one lens not a jack of all lenses.
About the Author
Alexander Ben Korako Watson, best known as A.B Watson is a photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. You can find out more about him on his website, follow his work on Instagram and Facebook or reach out to him through Twitter. This article was also published here and used with permission.