35mm vs 50mm: Which Prime Lens Should You Choose in 2021?

35mm vs 50mm

Both 35mm and 50mm lenses are a great choice for medium-range to professional photographers with the best contrasts they offer alongside stupendous speed shootings and more.

A 35mm lens captures a variety of distant photos, and it works best when traveling to the mountains or a beach, and for wedding shoots in tight spaces.

On the other hand, 50mm is more or less a standardized lens with optimal aperture and low distortion in close frame clicks. The best thing about a 50mm is its affordability and convenience. It weighs less and is faster than 35mm most of the time.

It’s never easy to verdict on what lens is best for whom. It depends upon the application, budget, and the camera body (full-frame or crop-mode) on which the lens is to be mounted.

Both lenses share commonalities and distinctions in abounding aspects. Let’s find a few to get things started:

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Difference Between 35mm and 50mm

All the lenses are not made equal. Sometimes, it’s better to get a wide-frame lens to absorb more details in action. The other times, all it requires is a subject zoomed conveniently with a fast aperture and shallow depth of field for a perfect shot.
Features35mm50mm

Angle of view:

Wider, up to 54.4 degreesNarrowed to 39.6 degrees

Cost Analysis:

A bit expensive Cost-effective

Crop-mode capacity:

Up to 60mmUp to 80mm

Productivity Scale:

Best for wide-angle/group shootsBest for portraits/indoor shoots

Distortion Scale:

Lesser distortions More distortions

Size:

CompactExpanded

Viewing Field:

Mild blursDeep blurs

Buying a top lens recommended by a professional photographer may not be the best one for you if it doesn’t fit right to your expectations and/or the camera mount.

Here’s a compiled list of the best 35mm and 50mm lens types that are worth considering before you buy:

Nikon:

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G – wide-angle lens frame with edge-to-edge sharpness for contrast-rich landscape photography in bright and cloudy conditions. The maximum viewing angle is 63 degrees with FX-format bodies.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens – offers beautiful lens blurs alongside shallow depth of field. Nikon AF-S 35mm is great for family photographs as well as landscapes.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens – impressive aperture speed and autofocusing in dark and lit modes. The bokeh effects achieve a natural depth of field with a colorful viewing perspective at all aperture stops.

Canon:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens – offers a shallow depth of field with its wide f/1.4 aperture range and ultrasonic motor for brisk autofocusing. 8 elements in 6 groups brighten photos at night while keeping the colors and contrasts intact.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lensminimum focusing is 1.15ft for deep hues and meticulous portrait shoots. The stepping motor keeps everything smooth and noiseless in video modes. EF 50mm is exceptionally lightweight, inexpensive, and travel-friendly.

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Wide-Angle Lensoffers peripheral vision with a widespread 63-degree viewing angle. Aspherical elements deliver rich contrasts and refreshing hues in low-light situations. Canon’s Optical Image Stabilization optimize shakes and blurs effectively with its 4-stop design.

Sony:

Sony – FE 50mm F1.8 Standard Lensf/1.8 expanded 7-blade aperture defocus backgrounds perfectly at a fixed length. Ergonomic design and lightweight body for portability. The minimum focus distance is 0.45m for portraits and macros.

Sony – FE 35mm F1.8 Large Aperture Prime Lensmounts on Sony FE and Sony E cameras. 9-blade diaphragm together with aspherical elements creates stunning bokeh effects with rich contrasts and sharp edges. Internal focusing dexterously refines the subject alongside correcting field curvature.

Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens – built-in image stabilization for videography. Concentrated viewing angle with 0.15x magnification ratio for portraits and indoor photography.

35mm Lens Pros

A wider viewing angle and symmetrical optics make 35mm a perfect choice for landscapes and street photography. The photos taken with a 35mm lens are sharpest and better equipped for editing purposes.

The distortion-free dynamics together with tightly knitted graphics make 35mm a fantastic addition to your portfolio.

Here’s why 35mm is best for you:

  1. Speed and Accuracy

35mm let photographers live the moment with its swift point-and-shoot algorithms. The speed is surprisingly faster than anticipated in 35mm prime lenses, thanks to the snappy deftness and superior graphics strength of its portfolio.

  1. Life-sized Photography Experience

The lens symmetry perfectly captures anything in its original form and size. 35mm lenses are awesome when it comes to life-sized photography. The subjects appear as they really are with a wide field of view and short focal length. Alongside portraits, 35mm lenses tend to squeeze in landscapes and indoor spaces to its 54.4-degree viewing angle.

  1. Razor-sharp Focus

35mm recreates wide-angle landscapes and street shoots with its brilliant focusing and depth of field. Feel free to frame a family photo or a scenic landscape without getting optical stretches, which distorts the original size of the subjects. A 35mm comes to the rescue when minimal foreground and background blurs are needed in a large-frame photograph.

  1. Perfect Focal Length

Unlike nifty fifties, 35mm lenses offer an exquisite vision beyond what could be seen with a naked eye. The extended viewing field neither zooms in extravagantly to stretch and distort the originality or squeeze in too much as in fisheye lenses. An ideal balance restores photos in between both extremes, and you can always crop later to get a 50mm frame.

35mm Lens Cons

35mm lenses are great in capturing a variety of landscapes, street, and indoor photographs except for a few shortcomings:

  1. Pricey

Better the quality, the greater the price. 35mm are designed and equipped with pristine glass elements and top-notch processors. The processing speeds are highly responsive, consequently adding more to the production costs. With all the refractive elements and flawless glass structure, 35mm adds a few more hundreds than a 50mm would cost.

  1. Inoperable for Portraits

The wider viewing field restricts users to capture portraits as in 50mm lenses. With no zoom, you must get fully closer to the subject for a bokeh-styled blurry background. If you are more into portraits and close-up photography, 35mm does not fit the bill.

  1. Stay Away if you are a Beginner

35mm is not for absolute beginners. If you are about to start out with photography, better buy a cheap zoom lens or keep playing around with a kit lens before investing in a professional-grade prime lens. 35mm features heavy-duty elements and equipment to serve the seasoned ones. It won’t be of substantial use if you are a novice to the photography world.

50mm Lens Pros

A concentrated focal length of 50mm fits seamlessly with the naked eye. The viewing angle creates crisp photographs without cutting the corners and with better graphics strength than a human eye could perceive.

Here are the reasons why a 50mm lens could be your firsthand choice for medium-range photography:

  1. Deep Blurs

50mm lenses deliver thrilling defocus at its fixed focal range. Together with the optimum lens elements and filters, the end results are crisper, sharper, and precisely concentrated from center to corners and back.

A shallow depth of field in 50mm fares way better than the sharpest 35mm lenses because of its immaculate subject isolation at high apertures. The built-in algorithms defocus everything except for the subject and produce a beautified soft blur to make subjects ameliorated and refined in portraits and landscapes.

  1. Compact Frame

The frame width angles at nearly 40 degrees. This makes objects appear larger and better optimized for post-capture editing sessions. The nifty fifties clutter the undesirable corners without zooming in or requiring the photographer to fidget around to get the best shot.

For DX-type mounts, the viewing scope is further trimmed to better angles and focused clicks. Make your action photography or portraits worth a wall with 50mm.

  1. Affordability

Not all prime lenses cost a fortune. 50mm lenses are lighter on the purse for amateurs and beginners to test and improve their photography skills. For novices, an inexpensive 50mm is a cheap steppingstone towards the heavier and costly professional lenses later.

  1. Tiny and Lightweight

50mm comes in handy when traveling. Adding a few ounces to your backpack, 50mm proves a remarkable choice as a second lens for close-up photography. Simply swap with your zoom lens when required in a snap without burdening the luggage.

50mm Lens Cons

Like any other lens ever designed, there are a few systematic shortcomings in 50mm that are worth mentioning here:

  1. Unfit for landscapes

Landscape photography demands wider viewing angles which cannot be produced with a 50mm prime lens. On a full-frame camera mount, 50mm delivers a maximum 39.6-degree wide angle. The distant objects either get blurry or eliminated. It’s better to look away for another lens if you are a landscape enthusiast.

  1. No Zoom

Prime lenses do not carry the hefty zoom elements and related circuitry, making them light in weight and faster than usual. It means you must move towards and away from the subject to zoom in and out when shooting. With no zoom at all, videography modes are compensated with added optical stabilization that will not be necessary otherwise.

  1. Optical Stretches

A lens with limited viewing periphery stretches the subjects as they appear in real-time. The stretching up distorts the natural alignment of photos, distorting the natural view and reshaping the original length and breadth of focused subjects.

35mm vs 50mm: Street Photography

Street photography requires a broad viewing frame with a sharp depth of field to capture the most out of the eventful bustle.

Comparably, 35mm is far more suitable for street photography than 50mm, all praise to the former’s wide scope and greater depth of field outdoors.

To get the most out of a wide-angle lens, a standard 35mm comes along with narrow aperture settings than 50mm lenses.

A wider viewing field eases off while moving back and forth with a non-zoomable prime lens. With a 25mm, pick a favorite place and start shooting right away with convenience.

35mm vs 50mm: Wedding Photography

Wide-angle prime lenses offer great help in event photography. Especially for weddings, the tight spacing indoors leaves a little room for error when capturing group photos.

A 35mm makes perfect sense for indoor wedding photography. You can easily move around to cover everything completely inside the frame with a 35mm.

Moreover, 35mm deliver tack-sharp results that do not require much post-click editing work. A 35mm is versatile and handy when shooting subjects closer to the lens with exactness in size and form.

50mm, however, zooms in, stretches, and softens exaggeratedly for a portrait-friendly photo. For individual wedding portraits, 50mm is way better than 35mm.

35mm vs 50mm: Full Frame Cameras

Full frame photography entails filling in more environment inside a frame with adequate depth of field (though lesser than 50mm) and sharp dynamics. Lenses with wide viewing angles cater best to full-frame shooting purposes.

When it comes to a 35mm vs 50mm bout, the former would win by a distinction for its extensive space and quality in clicking cogent photos without sacrificing the width and breadth of a full-frame setting.

On full-frame cameras, 35mm offer a wider perspective and shallow depth of field than what we normally see with a naked eye. The combination works best in travel and event photography.

A 50mm is compact and inexpensive and performs accordingly with a mediocre frame width and limited angle of view. 50mm works great when shooting portraits in a full-frame camera but lacks quality and range in wide-angle photography.

35mm vs 50mm: Crop Sensor Cameras

Crop sensor cameras offer restricted viewing angles and thus below-average image quality when used with a 50mm lens. The magnification ratio extends up to 1.5x in crop-sensor cameras, making it impracticable to click street photographs even with a 35mm.

If you are looking for a 35mm focal length for an APS-C type camera, a 24mm lens would be a perfect choice (considering the 1.5x crop factor). A 35mm lens on a crop sensor camera works the same as a 50mm on a full-frame. Likewise, a 50mm is equivalent to 75-80mm in crop-sensor mode.

35mm vs 50mm: Which Lens Should You Choose?

To answer which lens should you choose out of the two, reflect on what purpose the lens would serve and on which camera it is going to be mounted. Both lenses are specialized in respective applications i.e., 35mm offers the widest angles and aperture ranges. Retrospectively, 50mm worked great for portraits and macros.

50mm is cheaper, lightweight, and convenient for beginners and amateur photographers. Its focal length and viewing angle look a lot like the human eye. When mounted with a full-frame sensor, it captures similar to what we normally see.

On a crop sensor camera, a 35mm lens equates to a 50mm viewing angle. 35mm lenses are expensive than 50mm. They offer sophisticated perspective and crystal-clear optics when compared with 50mm lenses. if you are into landscapes and street photography, 35mm on a full-frame camera must be a prime choice.

35mm is lag-free and sharper with impeccable optical stabilization for videography and sports photography. Also, the ISO and aperture range brings stellar performance when shooting the milky way at night as well as capturing every bit of photon to sharpen subjects in a broad daylight.

Frequently Asked Questions

It all depends upon the usage and affordability. A 50mm lens shoots dazzling portraits with deep background blurs and high contrasts. 

Conversely, a 35mm widens the scope and practicability with a wide viewing frame apt for landscapes, tight spaces, street photography, and events. 

For budgeted photographers, 50mm is good to go lens. If the budget is not a problem, a 35mm makes greater sense.

A 50mm lens, by all means, is better in capturing portraits than a 35mm. It is less expensive, creates a zoomed-in standpoint when focusing on a single subject, and creates greater contrasts with minimal distortions when snapping a portrait.

35mm lenses extend versatility and perfection at wide angles with their fast aperture speeds and cutting-edge processing power. The quality and pixel strength are phenomenal when capturing distant objects with clarity and sharpness.

For action videography, both 35mm and 50mm lenses fit the description. A 50mm delivers more details while closely focusing on the subject. The image stabilization works best in 50mm in tripod modes. 

50mm cancels out the distractions happening in a wider view and focuses solely on the subject to be filmed. 35mm, however, allow users in capturing the moment in its entirety and the amenity to crop out later if not required.

Both the lenses work fine in street photography modes. If I have to choose one, it would be 35mm. The shades and contrasts blend in perfectly alongside sharpness and a wider viewing angle in a 35mm lens. 

The balance is remarkable between both the extremes, neither too wide nor too close to the subject when shooting the streets. A 35mm is a BIG YES if you are planning to buy one for street photography.

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