The Advantages of Single Lens Photography: Why Less is More

The Advantages of Single Lens Photography: Why Less is More

Photography is all about capturing stories in light. As a photographer, you may find yourself wishing for the best gear, acquiring new lenses and accessories, and upgrading cameras frequently. However, focusing on one lens at a time can actually benefit your photography in more ways than having multiple lenses ever could. In this blog post, we'll explore the advantages of using a single lens in photography and how it can help you improve your craft.

My Story

I began my photography journey with a Sony NEX-5N and the kit lens (16-50mm). As a beginner, I was tempted to buy many lenses. But after researching for a while, I traded my kit lens for a 50mm prime lens upon realizing my love for portrait photography. Turns out, this decision was good enough that I stuck with it throughout my photography journey. My current setup is A7III and Sony Zeiss T* FE 55mm f/1.8 as my only lens. So how does using a single lens help in photography?

Advantages of Single Lens Photography

  • Better Understanding of Focal Length: By using a single lens, photographers are forced to physically move towards and away from their subject in order to achieve their desired composition. This deliberate use of a single focal length over a period of time helps photographers develop a good idea of the focal length of their only lens. With consistent practice, this mastery helps in attaining better results in the long term. Photographers can better understand the compression, coverage, and distortion of their lens, and intuitively create frames accordingly.

  • Lesser Distractions: Multiple lenses and camera bodies can often provide distractions that prevent photographers from focusing on their craft. The distraction provided by different lenses and bodies can stop us from becoming the best photographer we could possibly be. For example, if you are in a national park or a sanctuary, you can shoot both landscapes and wildlife at the same time. Right? Maybe. You can shoot either landscape or wildlife at only one time. If you try to shoot both at the same time, you are likely to miss a few shots in between.

  • Knowledge of the Sweet Spot of the Lens: Every lens has a sweet spot for optimal sharpness and clarity. By constantly practicing with one lens, photographers can learn the ins and outs of the lens and how it performs in different light conditions at different f-stops. This allows them to identify the sweet spot of their lens and get the best results out of it. It also helps them to understand that the sweet spot of a lens can vary from lens to lens and even in different lenses of the same model.

  • Single Lens is a Time-Saver: Switching lenses can cause photographers to miss important moments. By having only one lens, photographers can save time and focus on framing and composition without worrying about changing lenses. This is particularly important when photographing fleeting moments, such as sunsets or wildlife.

  • You Can Make a Better Choice: Instead of investing in multiple lenses, photographers can invest in one quality lens and necessary accessories such as extra batteries or a tripod. By not buying extra lenses, photographers can avoid the neglected-lens and favorite-lens syndromes. Often, in kits, only one lens gets used consistently, while one lens is always neglected. Investing in a single lens helps photographers to make better choices and use their equipment to its fullest potential.

  • Travel Light: Traveling light is the mantra for any travel. For travel photographers, it can become even more important. The hikers, the trekkers, the adventure photographers, or even the wildlife photographers – all can simply ease up a bit on the load on their shoulders by carrying only one lens. While traveling, you can’t anyway change lenses often. In outdoors, changing lens can attract humidity and dust in the camera body. Therefore, it is best to go with a setup that will continue to stay in the same manner. Even in other genres, the perfectionists can manage with a single lens setup. It also helps that your shoulders can feel lighter. Like other occupations, photographers could suffer from professional hazards such as back and shoulder pain. The equipment hoarding and buying habit probably are the reasons behind this.

  • Tell Better Stories: Everything in photography is about story. A single picture itself tells a story but you can also tell a photo story. Here, you cover different subjects in a single theme, or different objects in a single theme. In street, fashion, or even modern product photography, you can tell great photo stories. Stories often create a unique visual world. To tell a story, however, you need to create a cohesive narrative. The consistent usage of equipment, the light setting, and the treatment to the photographs are some of the ways to achieve this. In terms of equipment, having a single lens-body system can help make everything consistent. You can even match the distortion and the grain if the setup is the same. Otherwise, the pictures may not relate to each other, or there may be inconsistencies in the setting..

  • Build Your Style: Photography is all about developing your style and finding your voice (or eyes). Most professional photographers often have a particular lens that they use to tell their stories. It becomes an extension of them, and they live and breathe the same focal length. It also helps develop better visualization in terms of their storytelling. When you start building your style, you will observe the benefit of keeping the same system as it becomes part of the reflex. Thereafter, you are simply following your vision, and the camera becomes an equipment that’s turning your vision into pictures.

  • Better Consistency: When using multiple lenses, there can be inconsistencies in the images, such as varying levels of sharpness, contrast, and color. Using a single lens can lead to better consistency in the images, making it easier to edit and present them as a series.

    In conclusion, using a single lens can offer numerous benefits to photographers. By focusing on one lens at a time, photographers can gain a better understanding of their equipment, improve their craft, and develop a unique style. Additionally, single lens photography can save time, reduce distractions, and help photographers to tell better stories.

    Chin Hock

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