What is the Difference Between a 35mm Lens and a 50mm Lens?

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With so many lenses on the market, it might be difficult to decide which one to buy. Whether you are a professional or an amateur photographer, understanding the distinction is critical as it may help you improve your photography. So, what is the difference between a 35mm and a 50mm lens?

What is the Difference Between a 35mm Lens and a 50mm Lens?

These lenses offer very different perspectives. The 35mm lens gives you a wide-angle view, which can be great for shooting landscapes. The 50mm lens, on the other hand, is more of a “normal” view, which makes it suitable for portraits and other types of photography where clear details matter.

Black camera lens with black background

However, it’s important to understand that this isn’t just an issue of focal length. It’s also about sensor size. You will get different results with these lenses on a crop sensor camera than on a full-frame camera.

35mm Lens

A 35mm lens is a great standard lens for full-frame cameras. Because of its wide-angle, you can use it for several different types of photography. A good 35mm f/1.4 lens is hard to beat.

A 35mm lens is also a very versatile focal length. It’s great for street photography, portraits, landscapes, and architecture.

When used on a full-frame camera, the angle of view of the 35mm lens is similar to that of human eyesight, making it ideal for capturing scenes in the same perspective as your eye sees them in real life. This is why it’s the most popular focal length for street photography.

What are the Characteristics of a 35mm Prime Lens?

  • Faster Aperture. Because prime lenses are more straightforward than zooms, they typically have an f-stop number of 2.8 or wider (lower number, more light). That means they can perform better in everyday light situations. They’re excellent for capturing images with a shallow depth of field.
  • Wider Angle. While not as comprehensive as ultra-wide angle lenses like 14mm, the 35mm lens offers enough range to capture subjects in smaller spaces like hotel rooms or public transit areas.
  • Better Quality. The optical quality of a prime lens is usually better than a comparable zoom lens because there are fewer pieces of glass moving around inside. If your study is thorough, you will discover fantastic bargains on used primes that rival the new ones.

Best Use Cases For the 35mm Lens

  • The 35mm lens is an excellent choice for pictures: it’s wide enough to capture the subject and environment. At the same time, it allows you to get close enough to the subject without being too close.
  • Street photography is one of my favorite ways to use the 35mm lens. It renders a similar perspective to our own eyes, making it easier for us to relate to images taken with that focal length, especially when shooting people on the street or in their homes.
  • Landscape photography is another popular way to use the35mm focal lens. It offers enough width to capture sweeping vistas while at the same time being able to isolate elements within those vistas.
  • The 35mm lenses are suitable for general travel photography and capturing creative urban landscapes, including some of the environment around your subject and the main focus of your image.

Advantages of a 35mm Lens

The 35mm prime lens is convenient for photographers who prefer to travel light and have only one camera lens. This lens type takes advantage of the full range of your camera’s sensor to give you a wide field of view, such as:

  • Wide Angle Capabilities. This lens allows you to capture more of your scene from one position. This can be great for landscapes and interior shots where space is limited.
  • Versatility. You can use the 35mm lens for a variety of situations. It’s great for portraits, street photography, landscapes, and even macro work. However, please note that this lens comes with a broad depth of field.
  • Another advantage of the 35mm lens is its size. It’s much smaller than other lenses, making it perfect for travel or shooting in tight spaces where large equipment would be impractical.
Camera lens on a gray concrete

50mm Lens

It can be tempting to buy every lens you desire when you’re just starting in photography. However, you could easily overwhelm yourself with too much gear.

With the photography market’s continuous growth, adding new lenses to your kit is ideal. The 50mm lens is an essential tool for many photographers. The prime focal length makes it the perfect versatile lens.

You’ll need it to capture portraits, scenic landscapes, and detailed close-ups. These lenses have a wide aperture that allows shallow depth-of-field (that blurry background you see in professional photos). They also produce sharp images, even when zooming in on a subject.

What are the Characteristics of a 50mm Prime Lens?

The 50mm lenses are direct descendants of the very first photographic lenses. First developed by Zeiss and Leica, 50mm lenses were the standard ‘kit’ lens for many years before being overtaken by zoom lenses.

  • Prime Lenses. The 50mm lenses are called ‘prime’ lenses because they don’t have any zoom capability. Instead, they offer a fixed focal length with a variety of features. Prime lenses often have far better quality than zoom lenses and are comparatively cheaper.
  • Depth of Field and Aperture. The depth of field of a 50mm lens is much shallower than that of a zoom lens. You can get breakneck shutter speeds without using a higher ISO setting, even when shooting in low-light situations like indoor sports.

The shallow depth of field also means you can isolate your subject from the background more easily.

  • High Image Quality. Instead of zoom lenses, 50mm prime lenses are sharp across their focal range. They don’t suffer from distortion or chromatic aberration. They also provide excellent contrast and accurate color rendering suitable for portrait, fashion, architectural, and product photography.

Uses for Your 50mm Lens

Many photographers consider the 50mm lens the best lens for photography. This is an excellent option if you are looking for an excellent quality lens.

Here are some of the best uses for your 50mm lens:

  • Portraits. A 50mm is the perfect focal length for portraits with a full-frame camera. You can get close to your subject and still leave enough room to make them feel comfortable. A 35mm lens will give you similar results to an APS-C sensor camera.
  • Landscapes. Because of its wide aperture and sharpness, a 50mm lens is perfect for landscape photography in low-light situations like sunrises and sunsets. It also works well during golden hour because of its ability to capture sharp photos with beautiful bokeh in the foreground and background.
  • Low Light Photography. Low-light situations are one of the main reasons many photographers love their 50mm lenses. It has a wide aperture, which lets in more light than most other lenses.

Advantages of a 50mm Lens

You might have heard people rave about the 50mm prime lens if you’re getting into photography. It is a fixed focal length lens with an aperture of f/1.8, an excellent choice for photographers looking to get started shooting portraits and low-light images without investing in high-end lenses.

An image of Canon 35mm lens

Here are some of the benefits of using a 50mm prime lens:

  • Fast maximum aperture. The maximum aperture for this type of lens is f/1.8. It can gather more light than other lenses and let you shoot in dim conditions without using artificial lighting.
  • Great for portraits. This type of lens is best for taking portraits because it offers a shallow depth of field, which allows you to blur the background behind your subject. Hence, they stand out from their surroundings. The 50mm lens also offers the same perspective as human vision, making it an excellent choice when shooting subjects up close.
  • Crisp image quality. A 50mm lens has a smaller FOV, which magnifies more. As the name implies, this lens generates a picture identical to what we see with our own eyes. Photographers love this lens’ bokeh because it gives photographs a pleasing smoothness.
  • Focal Length. A 50mm lens is considered the closest focal length of the natural eye, making it perfect for portrait photography. A wider focal length means that you can fit more of the scene into your frame, while a longer focal length means that objects appear more prominent.

35mm Lens vs. 50mm Lens

When it comes to choosing a lens, there are many options. One of the most common questions is, “What is the difference between a 35mm lens and a 50mm lens?”

These lenses are great for various situations, so let’s talk about their differences.

  • Angle: One of the more obvious differences between these two lenses is their angle. A 35mm lens will have a wider view than a 50mm lens. This means that you can get more in your shot with a 35mm lens. The 50mm will give you more of a zoomed-in look.
  • Depth of field: The longer the focal length, the smaller the depth of field. So with a 50mm lens than with a 35mm lens. You can use this to create nice bokeh backgrounds where only the subject is in focus.
  • Distortion: Because the 35mm has that wide angle, it can sometimes distort images called “barreling.” This happens when straight lines appear curved or bowed outwards in an image.
  • Weight and size: The 35mm lenses are usually smaller than 50mm lenses because they’re designed for crop sensor cameras.

Which Lens is Better and Why?

The photography market has seen steady growth, so investing in quality lenses is crucial. When choosing a lens for your camera, consider your camera system and your type of photography. The 35mm is excellent for everyday lifestyle shots, street photography, and other types of documentary work.

The 50mm is also an ideal popular focal length amongst photographers and videographers. It’s probably one of the most popular lenses used on YouTube if you watch any video tutorials or beauty/fashion content creators. 50mm is great for food and portrait photography.`

The 50mm features an f/1.8 maximum and f/22 lowest aperture. The 35mm has a maximum aperture of f/16, and the 50mm has a minimum of f/16. This gives the 35mm an edge in low-light and astrophotography, though it only translates to one-stop better exposure on your camera.

Do I Need a 35mm Lens and a 50mm Lens?

When you’re shooting a close subject with a 35mm lens, you’ll find that you can’t fit all of it into the frame. The edges of your subject get cut off, which can be frustrating. It would help if you moved further away from the subject to fit it into the frame and solve this issue.

A 50mm lens

On the other hand, if you’re shooting a far-away subject with a 50mm lens, you’ll find it hard to zoom in enough to fill the frame and get a good shot. To solve this issue, you need to move closer to the subject.

However, the difference between 35mm and 50mm is significant enough to warrant having both in your bag. As you become more experienced and know more about what types of photos you enjoy taking and what focal length best suits you, you will find yourself reaching for the most suitable lens.

Related Questions

What Lens is Best for Portraits?

The best focal length for portraits is between 85mm and 135mm. This will pull the background out of focus and make your subject stand out from their surroundings.

What mm Lens is Most Flattering?

A 70-200mm lens is usually the most flattering. You can get some beautiful bokeh with the focal length, and it also creates a nice compression of the background.

Does Bigger Lens Mean Better Pictures?

It is not the lens’s focal length that determines photo quality. It is just one of many factors that influence the characteristics of a lens.


Many photographers use 35mm and 50mm lenses. The most important implication is that 35mm lenses are broader than 50mm. This means that there will be a more significant difference in your ability to capture an entire scene or focus on particular objects’ details from background to foreground.