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35mm vs. 50mm lens

Navigating the world of 35mm and 50mm lenses...


35mm vs. 50mm lens

1. The 35mm captures a wider frame

35mm vs. 50mm lens: a battle of widths.

Simply put, a 35mm camera lens captures a larger part of what is in front of the camera. If you’re a photographer trying to capture a moment, the wider, the better.

2. The 35mm lens will have minimal distortion

Even better, a 35mm will offer you a much wider angle without the amount of distortion you’d find in a 50mm lens. While it’s true that you could pull back from your subject with a 50 mm lens, you’d still be dealing with distortion at the edges of your photographs.

3. A 35mm lens is similar to the human eye

35mm vs. 50mm lens: Beauty is in the eye of the viewfinder

While a standard 50 mm is a great lens under certain conditions, the 35 mm lens is a much more natural way to capture your subject, especially if you’re shooting a wedding or a portrait session on the street.

What your 35 mm lens captures will be very similar to how you see your subject, so framing, composition, and capturing those lightning-in-a-bottle moments become much easier when your field of view is similar to your camera’s.

4. A wide-Angle large aperture work well in low light

35mm vs. 50mm lens: large and in charge

While there are much wider lenses on the market, 35mm is still considered a “wide-angle” in the industry. Because of the wide angle and large aperture, your camera will let in more light faster. This allows the lens to perform well even in low-light scenarios.

Capturing organic moments is much easier when dealing with natural lighting. Yet, sometimes low-light performance is too poor for that to be the reality. A 35 mm lens is a great asset for low-light, natural shooting.

5. The 35mm lens allows you to get closer to the action

35mm vs. 50mm lens: there is no such thing as too close

If you’re a portrait photographer, then you should be well-acquainted with the 35 mm lens because of the intimacy it provides you. No one wants to have to stand feet away from their model, even if a 50 mm lens can capture their subject in startling detail.

6. The 35mm lens allows you to capture images with more emotion

The truth is portrait photography is all about feeling. Much of the time, to capture that feeling, you need to get in close. The 35mm is wide enough to get right up to your subject, get personal, and hopefully capture something magical.

7. 35mm lens is a versatile way to shoot

35mm vs 50mm lens: jack of all trades

Some of us aren’t relegated purely to portrait or landscape photography. Sometimes we do both, and sometimes we do them simultaneously.

However, if you’re using a true wide-angle lens for shooting a landscape, then you’d be hard-pressed to turn that around on a subject and get a satisfactory effect—a super-wide lens like the 20 mm captures a lot but forgoes a lot of detail in the process. Along the same vein, a 50 mm lens is a possible lens for close-ups but would fail miserably to try and convey the vastness of a landscape.

Luckily, the 35 mm lens sits comfortably in between both. It functions well for landscape shooting and portrait photography.

In the hands of a professional, it can even pass as a go-to lens for the kind of pure, simple, and nomadic shooting many photographers can only dream of.


The best 35mm lenses

A good lens is not a cheap one. Think of your camera as the home you build for yourself. Without furniture and appliances, it’s pretty useless.

Your camera lenses fill that void and give your camera the ability to harness its power. The better the lens, the more versatility you’ll have as a photographer.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

You can never go wrong with buying a Canon lens. The company doesn’t just produce reliable cameras—they make some of the best glass on the market.

The relatively new Canon EF 35mm is a stellar camera lens. It’s fundamentally high-end yet intuitive as far as lenses go. If you want sheer, expensive power that isn’t challenging to wield, this is your lens. I have personally borrowed this lens from a friend, and it is AMAZING. I am saving up for it; however, if you have the budget, I highly recommend it.

My Pros With This Lens:

  • 50% brighter than most models
  • With AC/DC adapter
  • Wide range of height options

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Higher price point

Sony 35mm F2.8 Sonnar T FE ZA

If you aren’t considering Sony the next time you consider your next DSLR camera, then now is the time. Sony has proven time and time again to the industry that they make great cameras and great mid-range lenses.

If the name Zeiss doesn’t interest you, people may wonder if you’ve been taking photos under a rock. This Sony lens is a great, inexpensive powerhouse that flaunts an extremely high-end name.

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Amazing bokeh
  • Crisp, clear images
  • Lightweight
  • Prime lens

My Cons With This Lens:

  • A bit pricier but worth the investment

Nikon AF NIKKOR 1923 35mm f/2D

Both Nikon and Canon go hand-in-hand when it comes to cornering the photography industry. However, Nikon has always skewed slightly cheaper while providing comparable performance to Canon. The Nikkor 1923 is no exception—it’s a mid-range lens that is priced a couple of hundred dollars less than its competition.

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Small
  • Well built
  • Focuses fast

My Cons With This Lens:

  • A bit soft at f2, but very nice from 2.8 on

The best 35mm lenses on a budget

Sometimes, you’re just starting as a photographer and just want to hit the ground running without making a huge upfront investment. That’s understandable, although photography is not a cheap hobby! However, there are some solid, budget-friendly 35mm lenses out there if you look hard enough.

Rokinon IO35AF-E 35mm f/2.8

This third-party lens is meant to fit Sony E cameras, and it is a great 35mm option that is a fraction of anything Sony will sell you. It’s durable, sleek, and will perform perfectly at a much lower-than-expected investment point for a camera lens of this magnitude.

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Sharp image quality
  • Good bokeh
  • It focuses pretty much as closely as the Sony version

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Not as accurate in low-lighting

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Wide-Angle

While not cheap by third-party standards, this quintessential Canon lens is still a great value for what you get: an extremely versatile 35mm lens that can do 100 things your 50mm can’t.

If you need a one-lens-fits-all option, this lens is a good start. This is the lens I use, and I have loved it since the day I bought it because it is so versatile. All the images in this post were shot with this lens!

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Sharp image quality
  • Speed of focus
  • Light and compact

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Not the f/1.4

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

While not as good as the aforementioned Canon lens, this 35mm lens by Nikon is one of the cheapest name-brand lenses on the market. It may underperform against similar lenses, but those similar lenses are a few hundred dollars more expensive. With this, you get what you pay for, which is affordable clarity and plenty of versatility.

My Pros With This Lens:

  • Bright aperture
  • Compact and light

My Cons With This Lens:

  • Some barrel distortion
  • Narrow, rough-feeling manual focus ring

We hope this guide helped you clarify the differences between 35mm and 50mm!

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