Why I’m Exchanging the 85mm Lens

Why I’m Exchanging the 85mm Lens

I’m going to break this up into two posts.  Originally I had planned to make this one post, but it would have been too picture heavy so I figured two posts would be easier on the eyes.  I’ve decided to exchange the 85mm lens for the Sony Sonnar FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens.  I used to love the 85mm focal length for street photography.  I never really had to deal with people being angry when I took their picture, although that did happen.  I did have to deal with curious people wanting to talk.  Not being much of a people person, small talk lover, good conversationalist, etc., this was a bit of an issue for me.  Also, people either posed in some way or moved when they saw me, which doesn’t really make for a good street shot.  85mm allowed me to keep my distance from the subject while still capturing the scene.  

2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, Beautiful, Broadway play, Carol King musical, color, colored hair, combat boots, construction boots, cowl neck, glasses, Manhattan, New York City, NYC, Sony, street photography, Times Square, Zeiss Batis

I don’t know what made me decide to purchase a 35mm lens when I bought my a7Rii about a year ago.  At first it was just so strange to me.  Shooting with an 85mm lens for so long made 35mm shots look not so good.  I had to do a lot of cropping in the beginning.  Now, I don’t have to do as much.  I still don’t like to get too close to people (besides wanting to avoid small talk I think it’s rude to be all up in a stranger’s personal space), but I have learned how to get closer to get the picture that I want.  I took this lens to Times Square, which obviously made standing farther back and getting my shot very challenging, and Union Square when the farmers market was out, which also made getting certain shots challenging.  The Union Square pics will be in the next post, along with a few of the Times Square shots that didn’t make this post.


2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, color, Manhattan, New York City, NYC, portrait, red, smoking, Sony, street photography, Times Square, winter hat, Zeiss BatisI love my 35mm lens for landscape and cityscape shots, and I love how now I get to see some of the scene instead of just the main subject but I did want something that got me a little closer to my subject without being right in their space and also produced some amazing bokeh.  I absolutely love the bokeh that this lens produces.  It’s something that I missed with my 35mm lens.  That lens is an f/2.8 while this lens is f/1.8.  Since the 85mm lens is typically a portrait lens, it’s no surprise that portrait shots came out beautifully.   Click on the pictures to see them bigger.

2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, balloons, beard, blowing a bubble, Blues Traveler, Canada, color, gloves, hat, hearts, long hair, Manhattan, maple leaf, New York City, NYC, pink, Sony, street photography, sunglasses, Times Square, Zeiss Batis

The moment I saw this guy I thought that he reminded me of the lead singer of that group Blues Traveler.  They were doing some kind of photoshoot because a photographer kept taking places of people in different places with the balloons.  I think this guy might have been the scene director. I’m not sure.

2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, Ash Wednesday, bow tie, Catholic, color, eye contact, hearts, Manhattan, New York City, NYC, overcoat, red, sign of the cross, Sony, street photography, Times Square, Zeiss Batis

As it was Ash Wednesday you could easily spot the practicing Catholics.  This guy looked so sharp in his trench coat, and ready for Valentine’s Day with that spiffy red bow tie with the hearts that he would have made an interesting subject even without the ashes.  

2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, color, eye contact, Manhattan, New York City, NYC, Sony, street photography, Times Square, triangles, Zeiss Batis

This was a rare moment in Times Square when there wasn’t a huge crowd of people walking by.  I wasn’t even intending to take a picture of this man.  He was just watching me as I did my street photography thing and I thought it was interesting how he was just standing there by himself against that huge background.

2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, black and white, bubble coat, coffee, couple, drink, eye contact, gloves, Manhattan, New York City, NYC, scarf, serious, Sony, Starbucks, street photography, Times Square, Zeiss Batis

Even though the woman’s face is not sharp I still thought this made for an interesting picture.  A lot of times in street photography your focus settings aren’t always what they should be for a scene that you spot in an instant but you just have to go with it anyway.  It’s part of what I love about street photography.  Your picture may not be perfect but it’s still interesting.  I love how this couple both stared at me with suspicion while they held their Starbucks cups in the same hand, and both of them were wearing leather gloves.





2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, backpack, black and white, book bag, coffee, drinks, gloves, hat, Manhattan, New York City, NYC, poof ball hat, Sony, straws, street photography, Times Square, Zeiss BatisI love coffee but I’ve never drank two cups in a row.  I’ve drank up to 3 cups a day (normally it’s two but if I’m having a rough day I’ll drink a cup in the afternoon.)  He probably was holding this for his girlfriend but it made for a good picture anyway.  





2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, beard, black and white, bubble coat, long hair, Manhattan, New York City, NYC, old man, Sony, street photography, Times Square, white hair, Zeiss Batis

I still had to do a bit of cropping for certain pictures, and some of them I didn’t have to do any cropping.  I did have to crop this picture a bit but not too much.  I took this picture for the photography group I’m a part of for the beard category.  I got a lot of good pictures that day but I liked this one the best.  I seriously love the bokeh of this lens.  For any portrait photographers out there, this is a fantastic lens to own.

2/14/18, 85mm, a7Rii, black and white, bubble coat, cell phones, Manhattan, New York City, NYC, pictures, sitting, smiling, Sony, street photography, Times Square, Zeiss Batis

These two were really cute together, taking pictures of the city and of each other.  It was good for me because they were so busy with their own picture taking that they didn’t even notice me.


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