The pop ularit y st akes
Nikon’s lens range runs from super-wide to super-telephoto, but which are the most popular focal lengths?
Take a look through practically any serious collection of notable handheld photography from the first use of 35mm film in the late 1920s right up to today, and you’ll see that the great majority of images were, and continue to be, shot with lenses close to standard focal length. Yes,the definition of what qualifies as standard is vague, but what all these images have in common is that they offer views that are easy to imagine seeing with our own eyes.
Of course, what is actually happening in that view is anything but ordinary in a good photograph, and that’s a clue to the reason why near-standard lenses dominate the archives of photography. The majority of photographers have always concentrated on finding interesting content, often to the exclusion of searching for stronger graphics from more extreme lenses.
Taking a couple of hundred mainstream images from a variety of sources and arranging them from super wide angle to super telephoto, the result looks like a bell graph with standard focal lengths crowded in the central peak. This is a bit different from the impression you might get from looking at the list of Nikon lenses (or any manufacturer), but it’s worth pausing for thought.