Back when I owned Nikons, I worked with a 35mm and an 85mm; I also had a 20mm and a few other lenses for specialized work like the 14-24 2.8 for interiors and architecture, the 70-200mm 2.8f for portraits and editorial photo shoots and a 28-70mm 2.8 for editorial and documentary work. While these zoom lenses were crazy sharp, fast, and produce perfect images, they were heavy and big. I hated lugging them around. I much prefer my trusty 35mm 1.4f, and I used that one lens for almost everything I did. Life was good until I chose to switch brands. Without the 35mm 1.4f I feel weird.
I switched to Sony. I now have a 24-70mm 2.8f G-Master, an 85mm 1.4f G-Master, a cheap 50mm, and a cheap 20mm pancake lens. And I couldn't be happier. I noticed I used the zoom lens at 24 exclusively, no surprise there. I know myself well enough to admit that I am lazy at zooming in and very much used to fixed focal lenses. At the time of switching, I purchased the 24-70 because, for a trip to Europe, it seemed that if I could only carry one lens and one camera, I should probably have a good zoom lens. Turn out I had a few hours to get on a direct flight to Germany when I decided to go for a Sony a7r iii. For that scenario, the zoom was a great choice. But for work? No.
For work, I prefer to use 2 cameras and two lenses only. Preferably a fixed focal length. One wide-angle and one telephoto.
Sony lenses are much lighter and seem even sharper. If you notice, both of these images have great quality. The left image was taken with the full-frame 24-70 2.8f G Master and the right image, as you can see by the size of the image was taken with an APS lens. It's a sharp little pancake lens, perfect for assignments.
In my wishlist is the Sony 24mm 1.4f G Master lens, but I'm waiting for a 35mm 1.4f to go into production for the FE mirrorless full-frame cameras. Hello Sony? Does anyone have any rumors on this? I know there is a Zeiss out there, but, G Master lenses are spectacular. Seriously.
I miss the 35mm experience; there is nothing quite like it. If I get desperate and cave, I'll most likely sell my 24-70mm 2.8f G Master lens, but not without crying a little. The thing is, this lens has a lock. So you can lock it at 24mm (usually for transport), but it is fully functional. Well, I keep the lock on at all times.
I very rarely zoom with this lens. So why carry around this massive zoom lens when it's always locked at 24mm? Besides, a 1.4f aperture is fun to play with, especially during weddings. So if the 35mm is MIA by 2021, I will be purchasing the 24mm and selling the 24-70. While the 20mm is an excellent inconspicuous lens, it's not as sharp, and it's not full frame. However, it's perfect for travel, documentary work, and street photography.
Why do I use fixed focal lenses?
1. No distractions
Honestly, I do not care for distractions. I feel that zoom lenses are a distraction. With a 35mm on one hand and an 85mm on the other, there are zero distractions during photoshoots, weddings, and other events. Keep a macro and a special effect lens, like a lens baby in a bag, but I promise you, you will not use them. It is a joy to work this way!
2. Minimal equipment
Let's be realistic. How many times do you want to change your lenses during a session or an assignment? 2 cameras, two lenses: that is all you need. Except for extra batteries and memory cards, my camera bag is empty during an event or wedding. I don't even worry about it. And if I have my Domky fanny pack on, I have all my bases covered. Cameras and lenses are on me, and so are my extra batteries and cards. Perfect.
3. Did I mention no distractions?
Zooming in and out can also distract you from "seeing" better compositions. Zoom with your legs! Walk toward your subject and get close. Getting close feels organic, zooming-in can feel weird - compressed - like a paparazzi image. Try it! And let me know how you feel about working with just two fixed focal lenses.