Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2016/09/18

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Subject: [Leica] How did 50mm become the "normal" lens for 35mm cameras?
From: mark at (Mark Rabiner)
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 2016 14:17:16 -0400

In the 1960's getting into the 1970's buying a 35mm format camera often a
Leica or Nikon was sold as a package with a lens and that lens was a 50mm
called a normal. By the way in the new PC world of  language today "normal"
is high on the list the PC Police will repel down ropes with Uzis and do you
in for less. "Standard" is the world you find in the camera lens ads now.
I have to draw the line somewhere and if I ever use that world please ill
me. I'd prefer strangulation.
I'd read about 5 years ago 4am on the internet  that actually determining
what is normal by taking its diagonal is a rather arbitrary decision. They
had to get a number from somewhere. So I was disillusioned for about five
In the late 70's the word was out that you don't buy a 50 for your new 35mm
camera body as your "normal" you buy a 35mm. So  I saw a lot of people do
that. I find the revered 50mm lens on a 35mm camera body to be a bit tough
to work with with a 35mm lens being more more friendly and more liable to
"bring home the shot"... And with the right stuff in focus. And the right
stuff in the frame. And at a better distance to the subject. And with fewer
intrusions between  you and the subject. And with a nice heightening of
But the 80's camera bodies were being sold and bought with normal cheap dumb
slow plastic zooms. A camera teacher would tell you to buy a 50 or a 35
though they were "Non zoomable".

I have drunk the cool aid on the 43mm diagonal being the real normal for the
35mm format and the diagonal being the way to figure out out with any format
of any size and shape. It just rings true for me.
Most of all I love shooting an 80mm lens on square format twin lens

Mark William Rabiner

Replies: Reply from mark at (Mark Rabiner) ([Leica] How did 50mm become the "normal" lens for 35mm cameras?)
In reply to: Message from photo.philippe.amard at (Philippe) ([Leica] How did 50mm become the "normal" lens for 35mm cameras?)