As the title suggests one lens is all you need right? Well yes .. maybe.
Theres a school of thought and any number of YouTube videos that suggest the same thing and it got me thinking.
In the film days when 35mm SLR’s were the in camera, most came with a 50mm lens attached. Depending upon the model they generally ranged from f1.4 to f 2.8, were manual focus and manual aperture. This changed with the arrival of auto focus cameras and the introduction of consumer grade short telephoto lenses usually in the range of 28 mm to 90 mm ( today’s versions would be 16 -50mm or similar.) and were generally inferior in the optics that they used. Thats not to say they were totally horrendous but merely of lesser quality than the standard 50 mm prime that normally arrived with your SLR.
Thinking about this brought me to my favourite style of shooting images. I like flexibility, but I dont like having to swap out lenses all the time, nor do I like having to tote around a bag full of lenses. What I want to do is capture the image. This is what attracted me to the manual focus Fuji bridgecameras like my HS20. I was happy to trade a bit of image quality for the convenience and flexibility a single telephoto lens could provide.
However as time went by I found I didnt always need the long end of the lens and was often a little let down with the resulting images. Having had DSLR’s in two or three lens combo’s I found that although I had traded up on functionality and image quality I had gone backwards on my desire to be unencumbered from having excess weight in my gear-bag.
Until I decide and have funds available to purchase what may be my forever camera, I traded the digitals apart from my HS20 for a couple of Pentax SLR camera bodies, namely the MZ-6 and the MZ-30. Depending upon circumstance I will normally have the 50mm on the MZ-6 for everyday photography and the MZ-30 for road trip work as the MZ-30 sports the well regarded Tamron AF aspherical xr di ld if 28-300 mm macro. (Note this is the 35mm film version not one of the later versions that you see on some DSLR’s .)
The Beauty of the Tamron is its range. It is considerably heavier than a lot of lenses but the ability to give a large all in one option is very handy. By contrast the MZ-6 with the 50mm onboard is feather light and just right for those occasions where you have lots of people around or perhaps you just want a lightweight option for the day.
So are you limiting yourself by considering the one lens option? I’d argue that you arent, especially when you consider that the average smartphone has a single focal length and people love the images they get from these short focal lengths. Its only in the higher end phones that we see more options focal length wise. This video shows some of what you can achieve using just a 50mm lens.
Do yourself a favour and try this as an option on your next photo excursion. You might just be surprised at what you can do.