I only took two lenses with me on my four week trip to Myanmar in the autumn: a 35mm and an 85mm. I wanted to keep things simple and light by only using prime lenses. I ended up using the 35mm about 90% of the time, typically switching to the 85mm late in the day. It’s a great combination for someone mainly interested in portrait photography. The 35mm is ideal for environmental portraits, showing a person in context (as above), while the 85mm lends itself to close-up head shots (as below). Both are relatively small and light, and encourage the photographer to get close, but not too close, to their subject. With both lenses, my physical distance from the person I’m photographing is about the same: close enough to establish some kind of connection, however fleeting, but not so close as to invade their personal space.
I’m finding my standard zoom lens increasingly cumbersome, and rarely use it these days, so much so that I’m thinking of trading it in for a wide-angle prime. While I never really wish for anything longer than 85mm, there were occasions on this trip when I would have liked something wider than 35mm, particularly for landscapes and architecture. Does anyone else out there have any experience of going zoom-free? I’d be interesting in hearing your thoughts.