6 Reason Why The 35mm Lens is BETTER Than The 50mm Lens!

6 Reason Why The 35mm Lens is BETTER Than The 50mm Lens!


So you've been shooting for a while. You used the lens that came with your camera as long as you could before upgrading and adding the 50mm 1.8 to your camera bag. The lens is great but at times can feel quite limited especially in close quarters but going back to the stock lens that came with your camera is not an option, so what lens should you get next? Great questions. Today I'm going to share 6 reason why the 35mm lens is BETTER than the 50mm lens. When you put them side by side and compare the 35mm vs 50mm lens you will see the 35mm lens has a lot of advantages. This blog post does contain affiliate links and is not meant to reflect negatively on the 50mm lens as it truly is a gem.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links and I will earn a small commission for any purchases made through my links.

#1 You’ll Get More in Focus.

What's that? You miss focus a lot when shooting your 50mm lens at f1.8? To know why your missing focus will help us unlock knowing how the 35mm lens will let us get more in focus. Focus is determined by 3 factors. Your subjects distance from the camera, the aperture your lens is set to, and the focal length of the lens. With a 50mm lens you may find that on a crop sensor camera, when you're indoors the lens may be “too zoomed in” or “too tight” and on top of that when you try to take someone's photo they tend to get too close to the camera and the camera won’t focus on them. That’s perhaps because they are within the lenses minimum focusing distance. Meaning your 50mm lens can not focus close enough to get a lock on your subject, leaving them out of focus. With a 35mm lens you can focus closer than the 50mm lens. Next the wider field of view allows for a deeper depth of field. Depth of field is the distance of how much will be in focus. If you focus a 50mm lens to 10 feet at f1.8 you will have 9.7inches of focus. Everything in front of that will be out of focus and everything behind that will be out of focus. The same settings on a 35mm lens will give you more than 20 inch depth of field. More than double the space to get your subject in focus!

More is in focus. Photo by Flickr User  Tobi Gaulke

More is in focus. Photo by Flickr User Tobi Gaulke

#2 It’s More Versatile

I’m sure you have been in a situation with a 50mm lens where you just can't back up far enough to get everything you want in the photo. I know I have and it sucks! The 50mm lens is considered a “Standard Lens”. It’s not wide, and it’s not too zoomed in. The characteristics are very close to what our human eye sees. This is not the case however when put on a crop sensor camera as the field of view becomes closer to an 85mm lens. 85mm is considered a telephoto lens. A 24mm lens is classified as a “wide angle lens” because it takes in much more than our eyes do, and to do that it creates distortion in the form of bowed lines. So 50mm vs 35mm, where does the 35mm come in? It’s like a wide angle standard lens. The 35mm lens is much wider than a 50mm lens but does not cause nearly as much distortion as the 24mm lens. Because of this it can be a wide angle when you want it to be and also a standard if you want it to be! You can go out and shoot wide landscapes, then just move in closer and still be able to shoot portraits. Something not possible with a 50mm lens.

Wide when it needs to be. Photo by Flickr User  gato-gato-gato

Wide when it needs to be. Photo by Flickr User gato-gato-gato

#3 It’s More Revealing

When was the last time you were 40ft away from someone and felt an intimate connection with them? I’m guessing it’s not often. That’s what it’s like with a 50mm lens. Sure you can isolate them but are you getting a clear view of who they are? The 35mm lens forces you to get close to your subject, to learn who they are, to get you into their personal bubble. This amplifies true emotions. If they feel comfortable with you, you will know right away from how relaxed they look, and if they are not comfortable it can create some tense images.

#4 It Tells The Whole Story

What does every story need? To know who, what, when, where, and why. We learned this in grade school. We can know the WHO with the 50mm just fine but when you start shooting with a 35mm lens you also open up the door to the What, When, Where, and even Why if you have a keen eye. It’s all context. With the 50mm you might get a picture of someone eating a disgusting looking corndog. With the 35mm you can see that your subject is at the state fair eating chocolate covered bacon wrapped corndogs at night in front of the beautifully lit and colorful ferris wheel. See the difference?  

Who, What, When, Where, Why. Photo by Flickr User   gato-gato-gato

Who, What, When, Where, Why. Photo by Flickr User


#5 Wide and Fast Make Photos that Stand Out

We have all seen beautiful wide photos that can perfectly fit a whole mountain landscape and we have all seen portraits with a shallow depth of field that perfectly isolates the subject while throwing the background out of focus. Well with a fast 35mm lens you can get both to create something that stands out since it’s not something we can see with the human eye.

Wide and Fast. Photo by Flickr User  Mike Monaghan

Wide and Fast. Photo by Flickr User Mike Monaghan

#6 Better for Travel

When traveling packing light is always a concern but so is having all the gear you need to take the best photos. This usually consists of every lens you own and a few you rent, just to be sure you don’t miss a single moment. But what ends up happening is that you get so wrapped up in taking photos that you are no longer present on your adventure. Then what good are the photos if you can only experience them after getting them printed (or worse, just uploaded to facebook)? The who, what, when, where, and why are what make a great photo. The technicals are just extra. That's why when I travel I just bring a 35 and an 85mm lens. And guess what? I rarely ever use the 85, the 35mm lens is the workhorse. Its ability to tell a story, shoot in low light, its versatility to be a wide and a standard, and be light enough to not break my back makes it a must own in my book and a better option than the 50mm lens more than 75% of the time.

Travel Photos to write home about! Photo by Flickr User Karl Stanton

Travel Photos to write home about! Photo by Flickr UserKarl Stanton

If you are looking for a new lens, and you don’t have a 35 in your camera bag, well look no further! Here are some links to amazon to pick up a 35mm lens for your camera system, in return for purchasing a lens through my link amazon gives us a tiny commission at no additional cost to you! All of the lenses below will work with both Crop sensor cameras AND Full frame cameras if you decide to upgrade camera body in the future!

The Best 35mm Lenses for Canon and Nikon

These 35mm lenses are for those who will not compromise on image quality and are Canon and Nikons flagship lenses. They offer features just for Pros like lower distortion glass and ultra wide apertures.

Great 35mm Lenses for Canon and Nikon

These are Canon and Nikon’s midrange 35mm lenses and are geared towards hobbiest or anyone serious about increasing the quality of their images but dont need things like weather sealing like the above lenses.

Cheap 35mm Lenses for Canon and Nikon

You may not be ready to spend several hundred dollars on a new lens. These 3rd party options will be the right choice for you and will make a great stepping stone until you are ready for a more robust 35mm lens in the future.

If you would rather buy a used 35mm lens check out KEH - the world's largest pre-owned camera store online!