I do own a 50mm as well as a 135mm, but to be honest I never use them. I fell in love with the 24mm which at the time belonged to my father. He eventually gave in and let me keep it after a year or so of continuous borrowing – It’s a Soligor F2.5, 55ø. I still use it and will hopefully be able to go on using it…I have dropped it a few too many times, but it’s still going strong after twenty years.
The 24mm to me is the perfect lens, not too wide but wide enough to allow you to play with the geometry within a frame and to have fun with the composition. I never seem to tire of the variety it offers me and the way I can so easily create both dramatic and subtle moods with the framing.
It is also important for me to always use prime lenses as it is too easy to become lazy when using a zoom. In the well known words of Robert Capa: “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”
Check for a smooth and fluid movement on the focus ring, and be especially aware of the possibility of sand in the mechanisms. Hold the lens up to the light and open the aperture right up and look for scratches, damage or mould on the elements. Then while still looking through the lens close the iris step by step making sure it works smoothly and consistently. Finally make sure the contacts on the back of the lens are clean and if there is a small spring loaded lever there, then make sure that is working too.
Whenever you can buy a lens with as wide an aperture as possible. Often this will mean it is more expensive but it will be worth it in the long run.