Facing my own music……

2 years ago 16
Posted in: Uncategorized


For years I’ve taught a lot about lens selections, yet on every major trip I take, mostly the same lenses, almost all zooms. On this last trip to the Badlands and Black Hills, by the end of the trip I realized I had used only two lenses, the Fujifilm 18-135 and the 100-400.  I took the 10-24, never used it, took the 60mm Macro, never used it, the 90mm f2, nope stayed in the bag!  I used two zooms instead!


I fear I’m getting lazy, and zooms help me stay that way.  The thing about zooms is they allow you stand in one spot and zoom to compose, and sometimes that is great because you can’t really move in or back up, but it keeps you from exploring other angles!  I think that generally, in the Fujifilm system, the single focal length lenses are sharper and have faster wide open apertures, allowing more shallow depth-of-field affects.


So you ask yourself, “What if I go on a two week trip to the UP of Michigan and on to Acadia N.P. and you don’t take zooms and find you hate working with only the single focal lengths, what do you do???!!!  I really want to limit myself and force myself to make it work, but how???


Here is the plan;  I have filled a Think Tank back pack with most of my single focal length lenses:


14mm f 2.8


16mm f 1.4


23mm f 2


35mm f 2


50mm f 2


90mm f 2


One body:  the Fujifilm X-H1


In a second “LOCKED” bag, I mean it actually has a lock on it that has to be opened with a key is the 18-135 and the 100-400, and and extra body the X-T2.


I plan to shoot with only single focal lengths and make myself compose and move to get the shot and taking advantage of the faster lenses.  ONLY in the event of my feeling it is not working at all, do I UNLOCK the other bag and admit I really am a zoom freak!!!!  Trust me I ‘m commited to making this work and I’m excited to ee how differently iI work whenI limit myself to single focal length lenses!


I will post images and share my findings!  I leave Sunday a.m. and will start really shooting over the first days of next week, stay tuned!!!




the pilgrim

16 Responses

  1. Jerry R says:

    There are other factors to using a zoom (I have both zoom and single focal length lenses). First, depending upon your selection, less weight and bulk. Second, less changing of lenses and, thus, less danger of getting the sensor dirty. And if speed is of the essence for the shot, having a greater chance of having the focal length you need for the moment. Just thoughts!!!

  2. I recently switched to Fuji from Nikon so only had the budget for one lens (XF 16-55 F2.8 R WR LM). But I am a minimalist who knows that even with a zoom I shoot mainly at 40mm, 50mm, and 90mm (FF equivalent FOV).

    So … when I do have budget for more Fuji lenses I will most likely purchase the 23mm, 35mm, and 60mm macro focal length. There are wonderful images to be found at these focal lengths by changing distance and angle to subject. I won’t feel like I am missing out.

    NOTE: Jerry R. makes some excellent points in favor of zooms.

    • Bill Fortney says:

      He certainly did! I learned to shoot by accessing the situation and then picking the focal length I thought would work best. That as years ago, I guess I just want to see at 72 if I still have those skills, it will be a fun test!

  3. Mike Roberts says:

    I know what I want to shoot and what I want to accomplish. I evaluate a scene and choose my composition, and it’s generally excellent given I have a lot of experience and wonderful instruction from one Bill Fortney, among others. I HATE, HATE, HATE limiting myself to a single prime lens. It seems when I do that, I can’t shoot what I want. Now, having said all that, using the same old lenses gives the same kind of results. One can’t grow until one makes the choice to do something different. Hate it though you might, use a different set of lenses and get a different set of results.. Even though you are going a long way, spending a lot of time and money, and risk losing much by taking a chance, it ought to be done. Wow, now if I can only be brave enough to take my own advice!

  4. Mike E says:

    My prediction – It is not going to be a mistake. It is going to force you to find the composition that works best for a given lens thus driving that creative gene and seeing something that not everyone will readily see….

    Best wishes….

  5. Gale Stoner says:

    I only have one prime, 50mm f/2. For me, it’s the perfect lens when shooting indoor sports, such as volleyball and basketball. Does great in poorly lit high school gyms and is quick to focus. However, I love my zooms. But, like Bill, I recently returned from a week in the Colorado Rockies and I still used the 18-135mm 90% of the time, the 55-200mm 8% of the time, and the 10-24mm 2%. I have the 50-140 f/2.8 with 2x teleconverter and the 60mm macro, but both are rarely out of the bag. I’ll be going to the Munising workshop next week and I plan to go light: 18-135mm and 55-200mm. Still debating if I should take the 10-24mm. Bottom line: I like having some empty compartments in my bag. Gives me more room for extra protein bars and snacks.

  6. Mike Kline says:

    Enjoy your trip to the UP Bill. Looking forward to seeing your results.

  7. Point Reyes says:

    I have another reason to use zooms – family. There have been way too many times where I am not allowed to separate from the family and spend minutes with a prime to get the angle or distance I want. Thanks to a zoom I did get a shot like this though:
    That was a single shot in a rush to get to the car because the whole family was waiting to go. I had to hold the X-Pro2 above my head with the 50-140 @ 140. 🙂
    I mainly get to use my primes when it is an intended task that does not involve the family.

  8. Bill Fortney says:

    Great shot! I hope to post tomorrow, lots to share, been scouting two days and already have learned a lot!

  9. Joshua Boldt says:

    sounds like a great exercise!

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