The Photography God Lens. 35mm F2.


The circle is complete.

For many years the technology has been driving photography, digitisation has opened up new possibilities for photographers, and we have seen the development of all sorts of new technologies and lenses that are supposed to make us better photographers.

But we forget that actually photography is photography, and no matter how complex we make it, the basics never change.

Years ago, I was an angry young man, and I fell in love with that beautiful highway…

Which brings me back to the 35mm F2. The angry young man of my youth new that this was the God Lens. That the 35mm was the natural and overriding way we needed to look at the world.

My old Nikkormat with 35mm lens…

The 35mm filled the central spot in my bag. An ideal lens line up would be something like 24mm, 35mm and 70-200. And the 35mm was always an F2.

But as time progressed, we got fancier and zoomier… the 17-35 f2.8 replaced it…. and then the 24-105 f4 became a norm…. and for amateurs it became the 28-300 F Whatever….. slower and slower and further away we drifted….

Well, as part of my efforts to become a better photographer, I have gone back to basics. And one of these basics I went back to was the 35mm f2. In this case the canon 35mm f2 IS…..

And today I was looking through some recentish work…. to choose portraits for a new portfolio… and I realised…. All of my favourite portraits of late are on that lens…. almost all of them as well at F2… i.e. wide open…




So, the circle comes around… I started with that lens. I spent the last 25 years doing all sorts of fancy things, and now I’m back. And you know, I wish I had stayed with it the whole time. There really is no subject that can’t be tackled on a 35mm. And the simplicity of the perspective means the picture is about the subject, not the technique.


PS; For all you gear heads, who would like a review of the Canon 35mm F2 IS, here it is…. Build quality is ok, not a solid rock… IS works very well, especially if shooting video, Optically its very nice.. sharp in the important places right down to F2. AF is fast and accurate, much much much better than Canons 28mm f1.8. It’s a Bokeh monster this lens… and the Bokeh is rather marmite esq…. at first I hated it, now I think it has a charm of its own. I had been thinking that this would be a interm lens on the way to the 34mm f1.4….now… not so sure. The IS is surprisingly useful…. especially when shooting video hand held.

So, there you are. Go out and sell your Kit lens and buy a 35mm. You don’t need anything else.