Not that I was getting bored of my 35mm lens, in fact I really like some of the pictures that I was producing using it. But I’ve decided to give it up and move on. I bought it about a year and a half ago, as something other than a 50mm for my crop body EOS350d. 50 x 1.6 was getting close for group shots, so I figured fuck it and bought a fast prime a little wider than 50. Hence the 35. The other options were (similarly) ancient 24s and 28s. The 40 2.8 pancake wasn’t out then, so wasn’t really a factor. But everything else was 2.8. Not 2.0. I wanted that extra almost stop of light.
When you’re sacrificing your legs (or your zoom) over fast glass and better quality, you want to get the damn fastest you can. I was shooting with a oldish camera body at the time. ISOs above 800 were wonderfully unusable, and even 800 pushing it (almost literally, but this ain’t film). So I wanted something fast, and cheap. The 35/2.0 was great in that regard. It was bigger, heavier and even had a focus ring (of sorts) compared to the 50/1.8, but it wasn’t too expensive, and it made damn sharp images (esp. when using only the middle of the potential imaging circle).
But hey. Fast forward to now. I’ve spent a silly amount of money on photography in 2012 and have a few new lenses and a wonderful new body (that isn’t quite as ISO limited as before). The 35mm was feeling old. Its build quality wasn’t up to the other lenses I had (I use a 100/2 and a 50/1.4). It was also a focal length I used a lot, but, at the same time, I didn’t want to use that much because I frankly didn’t feel it as much as the 50 and more so with the 100. Especially for great close-up candid photos, I feel a fast short telephoto is required. Obviously the 35 is no telephoto, but group shots are needed too from time to time, as are bops and other such events that warrant something wider.
So I had a look into getting something new. Something faster perhaps, but something not too expensive. I could go for the 35/1.4L, a fine lens, but it’s big, and expensive. And selling my existing 35 would hardly compensate a fraction of the cost of it. I might consider it one day, but for the moment I needed something more affordable. Canon has recently revamped the f/2 primes (the 24/2.8, 28/2.8 and 35/2.0) with IS, better build quality (involving a more accurate closed loop focussing system when using a new body – see this LensRentals article for more info), and higher price tags to go with it all… All well and good except that they’re expensive, like almost at the price of the 35L expensive. And they’re not any faster, at least in laymen’s terms (ignoring the IS potential…). The 24 and 28 are even slower than the 35 I want to replace. So where does that leave me.
Step in the 28/1.8. It’s faster than my old 35, a whole F-STOP faster than the new 24s and 28s, and has the build quality of the 100/2 and slightly better than the 50/1.4. Ultrasonic focussing, rear-element focusing (no outside elements move!). Wonderful little things. It has mixed reviews. Rockwell kinda likes it, but notes that it’s a little uncontrasty when shot wide open, but it has some hit and miss reviews on sharpness and wide open performance when reading around. Anyway, fuck it, I won one off eBay. Got it for a pretty good price (substantially lower than the Amazon list price (both for new and used)) and so I figured I should try it out.
I’ll try and get some pictures soon, but all in all, I like it. It has a dreamy sorta vibe when shot wide open at objects that are fairly close. Kinda cool, but it’ll take some practice to master. However the conclusion of it all, is that the 35 gets sold sadly. It’s great lens. I’m somewhat sad to see it go, it was a sharp copy, but at the same time it wasn’t always my favourite lens to use. Anyway, I hope the person who gets it realises how much better it is than any kit lens they’ve ever used… AND, as an upshot of selling it on eBay, I had to take a photo of it, and the photo that I took looks legit. Like product photo-eque. Oh the benefits of playing around with ambient light mixed with off camera flash. And it was taken with my new 28. Check it out above.