How to photograph on vacation with a fixed lens

How to photograph on vacation with a fixed lens

The temptation to load up with photographic material to face a holiday period can prove to be counterproductive for the result, ending up stressing and demoralizing the photographer, but also relying on the usual superzoom can end up penalizing the results. In this article I provide an alternative view on how to face a vacation period without stressing too much about the kit to carry around using a fixed lens

I have just returned from a week of Sea Holiday with the family. These occasions are for me the most unique and rare moments in which to reserve some time to devote to my hobby, as well as try to take home some nice memories of the moments that have characterized the pleasure of having fun together for a while. time.

For this, the temptation is always to carry all your kit with you in order to make the most of the moments, only to realize that most of the time will be spent on the beach chasing the children running along the shoreline. The occasions were very few, also due to the fact that I did not consider the idea of ​​changing optics on the beach to reduce the risk of sand infiltration into the camera body.

How to photograph on vacation without getting stressed: the approach

My primary vacation lens was a fixed lens 20mm / 2.8 pancake. Equivalent to a 28mm / f4, it allowed me to capture without worries all the moments in which the children played together and group photos. Thanks to its extreme portability combined with good optical quality, I always carried the camera with me without any problems, ready even for a more reasoned shot (as in the case of the featured image of this article). Lastly, the possibility of closing one stop and turning the camera into a point and shoot with a fixed lens drives me crazy, with no more problems (hyperfocal focusing) apart from the composition.

How to photograph on vacation with a fixed lens

A close-up of the tiny Sony 20mm / 2.8

For the circumstances in which I knew I needed longer focal lengths (for example photos in the water) I went to the beach with the fixed lens 50mm / 1.8 mounted on the camera body. I had no further needs, after a careful study of the environment and lighting. In fact, it didn’t make much sense to take close-ups in the water in the afternoon when, despite the sun was behind us, it prevented us from keeping our eyes open once we turned towards the photographer …

How to photograph on vacation without stressing: because a fixed lens

Surely will argue that I could have made the same shots with only one lens, basically there are different zooms that cover the 20mm-50mm focal range. My answer always remains the same: NO. And here’s why

  • A close-up at f2 as a fixed lens can provide, unlike a zoom, it is completely different from one at f4 (even f5.6), especially in a crowded and messy environment such as a beach, where it is practically impossible to avoid disturbing elements. in the background, much better to try to confuse them by blurring them as much as possible.
  • An extra stop on the wide angle can be invaluable in the evening in low light.
  • A fixed lens makes more than a zoom at the same focal length, so you can take home more satisfying photos, or even more shots, having fewer limits on the aperture.
  • Fewer choices means more freedom to shoot

I would like to focus more on the freedom to shoot. It could be argued that a zoom would have given me more flexibility, but once again my view is contrary. Clearly the use of a fixed lens requires a prior selection of the type of shot (I certainly cannot make a close-up at 20mm, unless I accept a certain degree of perspective distortion in the result), but it guarantees me a greater mental freedom when shooting, what I have and what I use, concentrating on the composition, certainly not wasting time choosing the focal length, only to find myself having to correct the aperture as well. In the meantime, the child turned and shot goodbye.

With this I do not pretend to have the truth in the palm of one hand and to offer it to you with a few modest lines, but I hope to have offered you a different vision of the souvenir photo issue on vacation. The thought “I bring a super zoom so I’m ready for anything” does not suit me. At the moment I prefer to select a priori what kind of shot I’m going to do and concentrate on that. The fixed optics are not in any case welded to the body, certainly in less hostile environments I would have allowed myself a few more changes, increasing the variety of my shots.