One camera, one lens, one year

I have dreamt of this for a long time, but the paid assigments and camera reviews prevented me from using just one lens. However, I arranged my life (our life, with my wife) a bit and decided to travel the world for a bit longer. We sold our house, cars and a few other items, so there is nothing to worry about while away. While traveling, I can’t do reviews and I probably don’t do many assigments either, so I can use what ever camera or lens I desire.

I don’t think this qualifies as a photo project, because I think photo project has something to do with the content, not the gear. Using the same gear can be good for producing uniform content, but I still think photo project has to be somehow defined by the content.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Nevertheless, I think this is still very interesting and useful. I have always preferred simple technical approach to my photography and have often thought how cool it would be to use just one lens. By one lens I mean one focal lenght. That might be possible for a working professional, but then you’d have to specialize or do certain type of images. For most of us that is just too much of a stretch. For personal shooting the situation is very different, because only I can decide what, when and where.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

There are many benefits of using just one focal lenght. I can concentrate on the content better, because there is hardly any equipment to think of. No changing lenses or zooming, which both can be very distracting. If I have multiple lenses with me, it always feels like I have the wrong lens on. If I have 85 mm on my camera I see wide angle shots everywhere and vice versa. Zoom, on the other hand makes me lazy, I just zoom in or out for framing instead of walking. Of course I can’t walk to my subject if that is a flying bird or some other faraway thing, but then a zoom might not be enough either.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

With one lens I’m only looking for images that fit to my lens. That can sound limiting, but it’s not. A fact is that I can never capture everything, no matter how many lenses and cameras I have. I belive I would only loose moments while fiddling with my equipment. With my only lens I know what I get all the time, even without looking through the viewfinder. I know exactly what to look for and I’m fast.


I’m traveling light, so there is also a practical reason for simple equipment. They weight very little. I didn’t choose the lightest gear, but reasonably light for the performance I get. Besides, I already owned the gear and didn’t have to buy anything. That is very important.

3 kg
My camera, lens and laptop

What did I choose? I chose the Sony A7RII and the Zeiss Loxia 2/35 mm. That is a very nice combination with great image quality and light weight. The manual focus might turn some people away, but I’m fine with that and it suits well with my shooting style. The Loxia 2/35 is not the sharpest lens available, but it has characteristics that I like a lot. I’ll get to that in another post later. The A7RII on the other hand is a controversial camera that many like, but as many dislike. For me it does so many things right, it’s compact and the files are just amazing. If I was using autofocus I’d miss touch screen, but I’m not.

I’ve been on the road only for about two weeks now, so it’s just a beginning and although I’ve done some photography, I feel I’m only adopting to the current conditions, being on the road and being able to do what I want almost all the time. It’s also reassuring that I have no hurry. It doesn’t matter if I don’t shoot anything for a week, although that is very unlikely. I intend to shoot a lot, but there are moments when I want to leave the camera behind and just enjoy other things.

3 thoughts on “One camera, one lens, one year

  1. This is a very interesting project. I only wish you had posted more photos. The photo in the fish market is very good. I tried a project like this a few years ago with my Canon 7dii and a nifty fifty lens. It was fun and I got some very good photos. I have a Lumix now and may try this idea again, possibly with a 25mm lens. Using only one lens is a very interesting experience, I would walk down the street and pictures would flash into my mind. So in a sense, composition with one lens is a lot easier then with a zoom. You just have to get used to using the one lens. Remember the early days of 35mm photography? A photographer would set out with a Leica and a 50mm lens to photography the world. So it certainly can be done. What 25mm lens would you recommend for my Lumix G85 for a one lens, one year project?

    1. Thanks for your comment. I wanted to post photos that I really like and there are not that many, I’m sorry. With Lumix I’d probably take the Lumix G 25mm f/1.7.

  2. I do it often in a similar way – just one (prime) lens fo a walk, a day or some weeks. After a while I begin to look in the focal length, I am not interested in a bird far away, I may recognize but I will not have the impuls to take my camera. I can “live” in 15mm (mft) for a while and I start feel more and more comfortable with it. It focuses my kind of looking into the world. And after a while I can leave it and I may start the same procedure with a different lens some time later. Having a lot of experience with it, I am often very sure how to picture something. When I have a Zoom lens along with me, I often adjust the zoom before looking through the camera. And in most cases I am happy with the decision of the focal or adjust it only very little. The concentration to a certain focal length to a certain prime lens is perfect to sharpen the view to the world. I do photography just for personal use. So there is no advantage to take pictures from everything. If I am in the mood of wide angle my Tele lens photos are usually not good or ok but seldom wow!

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