Over the last 6 or so months I’ve really bought into the Zeiss ZM system of lenses. I’ve gone from owning 2 of them to 5, and in combination with film and digital cameras they mount to, I now feel like I have all I “need” from my photography equipment. Significantly, the last three of these lenses have been bought at a time that I’ve been describing as a bit of a “low ebb” in my photography. So I thought I’d write a bit about which lenses I’ve chosen and why I’ve chosen them at this particular point in my photography journey.
Zeiss 50mm ZM Planner
I got into film photography in 2017 starting with a square format TLR before picking up an Olympus 35 RC which became my daily carry. I love the tiny RC and the relative quality you can get out of the Zuiko lens, the 42mm focal length also really seems to suit my perspective when shooting street. I wanted something a bit more special though and something that could be adapted to different uses as I like shooting portraits of family and friends, and the occasional landscape too.
For my approach to photography I find that 50mm makes sense for a lens with the greatest capacity for intimacy in an image. 90mm is my go-to for street composition involving large scale geometry and light/shadow play. 21mm is for wide scenes, and an emphasis on scale and perspective. This leaves 50 for portraits and photojournalism where I feel comfortable moving quickly through a crowd, or taking candid shots. Zone focusing is easier than with 90, which needs precision on the rangefinder for spot on focus. Everyone’s use of lenses is different, and some may prefer a 35mm for the kind of photojournalism I just described.