Street Photography lens: Leica 21mm Elmarit f2.8

Shooting with my Leica MP Typ 240 is always a pleasure and since I just bought a second hand 21mm Elmarit f2.8  I decided to give my Leica Q a break and enjoy the new wide angle lens.

I tested the 21mm in a walk in the Center of Rome, on the Seaside of the italian capital and on my way to the city of Siena where I was invited at Palazzo Patrizi for a lecture about my Street Photography.

21mm Street Photography

21mm Street Photography

Once mounted my Leica Finder, the first thing I noticed is that the 21mm capture such a larger scene that my Leica Q 28mm lens. That makes the picture more difficult to compose because many more static and moving elements
should be considered.

Another particularity of this lens is that you really need to get near to the subjects to capture faces and expressions. I was already used to get very near to people with the Leica Q but this walk reminded me that the 21mm is just another story.

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You get so close and personal that often you have to be careful not to bump into people. I’m not saying that to take great pictures with the 21mm you have to get closer at any cost, but if you own a 21mm o a 20mm wide angle lens you should try experiment street photography in the way of the great photographers that made of this approach a signature.

Think about photographers that gets so intimate with their subjects such as Bruce Gilden or William Klein that once said “ I photograph what i see in front of me, I move in close to see better and use a wide-angle lens to get as much as possible in the frame. ”

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Also shooting from the hip get more interesting adding a new level of creativity to your photography.

You will be able to shoot from uncommon angles and heights with a better rate of succes when you’re composing without looking into the camera.

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Of course a wide angle means also being able to show much more of a scenery. Mixing it with people is really a great deal for strong images where people and landscape are both important in your frame. With a 21mm, you can get pretty all you got in front of your lens, while it doesn’t distort as much as the real ultra wide angles.

21mm Street Photography

21mm Street Photography

Another great plus of shooting wide is that you will be able to focus much faster. If you will be shooting in zone focus or hyperfocal, at f8 or f11 you get a great depth of field and the zones are getting so large that will be really difficult to miss the focus. Of course even with very open apertures you will have to forget out of focus zones and bokeh.

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Often a wide angle lens means also smaller lenses. Wide Angle prime lenses are lighter and most of the times they are smaller than zoom lenses. 

And this is something really useful for me since I really want to get unnoticed by people while I carry with me the smallest and lightweight setup as possible.

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Shooting wide has also another plus. It adds drama to your scene. Greater skies and impending architectures become more dramatic in your shot giving to the final image a stronger impact and atmosphere.

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After two days I’m already in love with this lens. Now is going to be really difficult to decide what camera to get with me on my next walk, if the Leica Q with its razor sharp 28mm or my MP with the wider (…and wilder) 21mm.

Probably I’ll get both of them. After all we are talking about Leica Cameras. They both get into my little street bag.

My Leica MP Typ240 wih the 21mm Elmarit lens.

My Leica MP Typ240 wih the 21mm Elmarit lens.