5 frames with...

5 Frames Shot From the Hip (with the 7artisans 35mm f/2) – by Simon King

April 12, 2020

Shooting from the hip is a great technique to apply to fast paced situations where bringing the camera to your eye and precisely framing could mean missing the moment. Combined with something like zone focusing, and lots of practice, this can really enhance someone’s shooting style, and implies an emphasis on spontaneity, and fast reactions. Most people starting out with shooting from the hip may end up with tilted frames and seemingly badly composed results.

Tilting the frame isn’t always just used to achieve the Dutch angle aesthetic – there can be a function which informs this form. In my application the function of tilting the frame is to fit as much information into the frame as possible – stuffing as much content as possible in order to have a frame with a lot of energy. Ignoring horizons and straight lines allows me to focus on the situation and scene around me.

My recent attempts at shooting from the hip have been an attempt at becoming more at peace with the idea of imperfect frames, and also an effort to get some more use out of my 35mm lens. This focal length spends most of its time relegated until required for a specific application – normally a photojournalistic assignment.

For street photography I am starting to become more comfortable using a 35mm for scrappier, faster, closer up work than I normally practice with my longer lenses. The work presented here was all made with that philosophy – identifying potential, getting close, and shooting without framing. My settings were most often f/8 and 1/250ths, and the film was Tri-X pushed to 3200.

I enjoyed the freedom of this more reactive style of shooting, but haven’t practiced nearly enough to be fully confident about the results. I spent time walking down busy streets with the camera propped on my collarbone, and as people would pass me by I would kind of wave the camera in the general direction of where I thought the interesting thing was happening. 35mm is tight enough for me ti fill the frame without worrying about lots of empty space in the way I am sometimes left with on a 21/24mm.

It’s a bit of a frustrating lens for me to return to after so much work at 50mm+, but I want to escape my comfort and feelings of safety in order to push myself and my images somewhere new. I was shooting at a fixed distance of between 1-5 meters based on the zone scale on the lens, and it was interesting searching for potential i such a small window.

The lens itself continues to perform wonderfully. My 35mm lenses on Leica started with a modern Summicron, which I then turned into the Zeiss f/2 Biogon, and now finally the 7artisans; the cheapest by far, but with nothing lacking in performance that I can see when compared with my experience with those more expensive lenses. I continue to be impressed by what 7artisans are offering in terms of value for money, and don’t think I’ll be getting rid of this lens in favour of anything else anytime soon!

Thanks for taking the time to read this article! If you like the images here please consider checking out my Instagram. I buy all of my film from Analogue Wonderland.

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  • Reply
    April 12, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    From the looks of the lens, looks a little beaten up since its arrival in the West. There’s more to a lens that the performance of its optical cell. That part nowadays isn’t rocket science. My oldest Leica lens is turning 62, whilst my oldest Nikkors are 50 and 48 years old respectively and work, look & function perfectly. Played with a few Chinese lenses and they seem OK but nowhere need the solidity of Japanese and German kit.

    Not quite sure I understand your strategy of constantly downgrading your lenses. Can’t see anything in the photos an older Leica or earlier Voigtländer isn’t capable of.

    • Reply
      April 12, 2020 at 4:46 pm

      It doesn’t take me long to wear through a piece of kit if I use it seriously for any amount of time. It’s a solid lens mechanically – definitely feels a little sturdier than even the 50 1.1, and that’s pretty decently solid too! Feels like much better quality control has been implemented as they expanded their range.

      If you see no difference between what’s offered by this lens and results from older Leica/Voigtländers then I’d say that is all the more reason to opt for the 7artisans. The price difference between this lens and even one of the cheaper Leica/Voigtländer options is not negligible. I haven’t seen this as a downgrade in quality or performance, only in cost. If that were not the case, and something about this lens was untenable then I would consider adjusting my price point until I hit the right balance of factors for me. So far this lens has that balance.

      • Reply
        Conor Clarke
        April 12, 2020 at 9:57 pm

        Love photo’s 2 and 3. 3 connects with me on a personal level as there is a taxi rank outside my work so I interact with the drivers quite often.

        I have to agree with you Simon. Surely if you are going to be using the Cheaper 35mm everyday and it performs similarly too the more expensive lens’s it makes more sense to buy the cheaper one. Less harmful too your pockets for a similar look and less expensive if it breaks from an accident or just general use. Also less of the “I have to protect this beautiful expensive kit” which I think would transfer into taking more images/taking the lens more places.

        I have just ordered this lens and am very much looking forward to using it!

        • Reply
          April 13, 2020 at 2:45 am

          Thanks Conor! Hope the lens meets your needs! Happy shooting!

  • Reply
    Eric L. Woods
    April 12, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Great article. Love mine. I use it as much with the TECHART/Sony as I do with my Leica CL. Here is a post I wrote on it. https://ericlwoods.com/2019/08/31/semilux-7artisans-35mm-f-2-m-mount/

    • Reply
      April 13, 2020 at 2:43 am

      Thanks Eric, and thanks for sharing your perspective!

  • Reply
    Harry Machold
    April 12, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Simon, thank you for these images and for your experience with shooting from your hip, something I never did before.
    But I am not in street photography though love to read these articles and enjoy most of the photographs. I was with 7Artisan and later also TTArtisan from their early days on. I enjoy their philosophy behind and there is a philosophy unlike some of the other makers at least.
    The build quality I always regarded as excellent and there was never any real difference for me to notice when looking at Leitz, Zeiss and Voigtlaender. But I also enjoy to shoot with old Russian lenses and have them improved by my mechanic to their highest possible level. However, none of them is up to what theses Chinese makers are able to.
    Just keep going please; I enjoy your article here very much.
    Best wishes

  • Reply
    Ron Scibilia
    April 13, 2020 at 1:59 am

    Good post. I have shot a lot on the street, often without careful viewfinder framing. There is a time for Renaissance symmetry and a time for Baroque diagonals. Yes, it is about energy.

  • Reply
    Zisis Kardianos
    April 13, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    There’s something I don’t get. Shooting the tri-x at 3200 is like pushing 3 stops and practically underexposing by 3. But at 3200, f8 and 1/250 are not attainable even on a cloudy day.

    • Reply
      April 13, 2020 at 4:01 pm

      I tend to be maybe a bit freer with the way I expose on film. 250/ths and f/8 were what I remember metering at while shooting this roll so that’s what I’ve noted down in the article.

  • Reply
    August 23, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    Your delightful article reminds me of a Harry Callahan exhibit I saw in Paris quite a few years ago. He was an “explorative” photographer who made quite a name for himself with his hip shots. I spent the rest of our vacation trying it with my digital camera… with great results. It was a very “freeing” way to shoot street candids. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Reply
      August 23, 2021 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks Dave, really glad you were able to revisit that time via my article 🙂

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