28 mm Focal Length

I have been researching cameras and lenses looking for the best pocket camera for my needs.  I obviously would like the largest sensor I can afford as long as the camera fits in a jacket pocket.  The issue that I am exploring with the above pictures is lens focal length.  Lots of street photographers use an effective 28 mm focal length lens since it is wide and small and more discreet on a camera.  But how would it work for me around here?

I had to walk down to another building this morning with some papers so I stuck my Olympus E-PL5 with the 14 mm (effective 28 mm) lens in a brief case along with other lenses.  As I was walking back I took the above pictures.  I tried to cover a range of subjects to see how it performed in good light.

Long ago, well it seems long to me, I primarily used long focal length zoom lenses with an effective 300 mm being a much-used focal length.  It was not until I traveled to Ireland that I found that I preferred wider, faster, prime lenses for those conditions; but for walking around places where I live I still preferred longer focal lengths.  In the last couple of years I have noticed that my most used focal lengths have continued to drop … mostly to 40 – 75 mm effective focal lengths.  Lately I have been primarily using an effective 35 mm focal length for my indoor projects.  The issue I am exploring now is could I get-by with 28 mm for a walk-about pocket camera.

Based on what I have found so far, I am thinking about the Ricoh GR camera for a pocket camera.  It is the smallest, most pocket-able APS-C, effective 28 mm camera.  I had the Fujifilm X100 when it first came out.  It is an effective 35 mm and at that time I was worried that it wasn’t long enough.  In addition it is a much heavier and larger camera than the 28 mm Ricoh GR.  The GR also slides in and out of pockets easier than my E-PL5 with the 14 mm lens … it projects only 35 mm vs. 67 mm, and is lighter, 245 g vs. 425 g … and it has an APS-C size sensor vs. the micro 4/3 in the E-PL5.


  1. John from Boston

    This is an admittedly biased opinion, but I find 28mm to be an uninteresting FOV. For me, it goes back to the days when I could only afford snapshot film cameras with fixed focal lengths. It’s biased and irrational, but those FOVs still say snapshot to me. It’s utilitarian FOV in my mind. I fell in love with the 40mm equivalent FOV with the Panasonic 20mm for m4/3. I’m working on getting acquainted with 50mm now, but it will still take some time before I know how I feel about it. I’m very interested in going wider than 28mm, but I don’t have a lens for that yet.


    • John

      I agree with feeling like they are “snap shots.” I really don’t like the field of view for images like I just made. I prefer the Panasonic 20 mm lens as well. I used that lens most of the time while touring Ireland and only switched to the 14 mm when inside old churches.