Which Is Better 35mm or 85mm?

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For every camera, you need a different lens for every occasion. The 35mm lens is a wide-angle lens while the 85mm lens is for close-up shots. Before you choose any of them, you need to know which is better: 35mm or 85mm.

Which Is Better: 35mm or 85mm?

Choosing between the 35mm and 85mm lenses will heavily depend on the kind of photography you will be doing. Photographing landscapes and incorporating the background with your main subject is better accomplished with a 35mm prime lens. The 85mm lens is considered the best portrait lens since it adds little to no distortion to your main subject’s face.

Black camera lens close up

35mm Lens

The 35mm is a prime lens with a fixed focal length. It’s a very versatile lens, which can be used in a lot of situations. It has a wide field of view, allowing you to capture more of every scene.

This lens usually comes with a relatively wider aperture of f/1.4, f/1.8, and f/2.0, and it gives you a shallow depth of field. The 35mm focal length means that it is not too wide or narrow, opening up many avenues for photographers out there.

The 35mm is a fast lens that has a fast focus and captures sharp images. It can be bought at a low price and has a very light weight which you can carry around easily.

What Can the 35mm Lens Be Used For

The 35mm lens is known as one of the most versatile lenses. Its wide field of view and wide aperture make it a great choice for shooting from landscapes to candid shots and portraits.

Travel Photography

The 35mm lens has a focal length that is a good bridge between wide-angle and standard lenses and is great for capturing travel or lifestyle photographs. Its field of view is close to what a human eye sees. Thus, you can shoot as you go.

Also, it comes with a relatively wider aperture and hence you can capture people with the background blurred out. Its very light weight makes it easy to carry around while traveling and its compact size makes sure that it can easily fit in your luggage.

Moreover, with the wide-angle, you can capture more of the scene. Its wide aperture allows you to capture photos in low light and operate the camera at faster shutter speeds of around 1/200 seconds.


The 35mm lens is great for photographers who capture portraits and want to include more of the background in the picture. This lens comes with a relatively wide aperture which allows you to blur the background while focusing on the person in question.

However, the wide-angle might lead to lens distortion. This can ruin the whole photo.

Black camera lens on a white surface

Wedding Photography

The 35mm focal length and the wide aperture that usually comes along with it make it great for capturing portraits at weddings. Also, the wide field of view allows you to capture group photos as well as the event itself.

Granted, you have to move closer to the attendants instead of zooming in because of the fixed focal length. It gives you the opportunity to get interactive photos. Moreover, the light weight ensures that you can move around without getting tired.

Landscape Photography

The wide-angle on the 35mm allows you to capture more of the scene. With this lens, you can capture both the foreground and the background. Thus, you can have the mountains, sky, and fields, all in a single photo.

However, due to the relatively wide aperture, and the lack of autofocus, the whole scene might not be focused.


The field of view that the 35mm lens provides makes it apt for capturing videos. The focal length makes sure that there is no camera shake while not allowing you to focus on the subject too. The lens can give you cinema quality when you use the lowest aperture.

This lens does not come with an autofocus feature and you have to rely on manual focus, which means that the video might go out of focus, but you can fix that by moving closer to the subject. There are also some issues with sound quality, as with other DSLRs that are used for making videos.

The great balance between the background separation and focal point, and the natural framing make the 35mm lens great for capturing videos.

Advantages of a 35mm Lens

  • This lens is very versatile. It can be used for everything ranging from landscapes, portraits, product photography, and a lot more. This is because it has a size that fits all, it is neither too wide nor too narrow.
  • This lens usually comes with a wide aperture which makes it great for capturing pictures in low light settings without tripods or flash. Hence, you can use it indoors or during the night.
  • The focal length allows you to get more in the picture without moving away from the subject. This helps you capture group photos and a lot more.
  • It is a compact lens that is also lightweight so you can carry it anywhere you want and use it all day long without getting tired.
  • It is a low-priced lens compared to similar ones on the market.
  • A single focal length brings consistency to your photography.
  • This lens has a good resale value and lasts longer if the right protection is used.
An image of 35mm lens

Disadvantages of a 35mm Lens

  • This lens has a fixed focal length which means you cannot zoom in or out. Thus, you have to move around a lot to get close or far to the subject.
  • There are some versions of this lens such as those with an aperture of f/1.4 which are expensive.
  • It is a wide-angle lens and thus there are problems of lens distortion when trying to capture portraits. It can distort the face if you get in too close or the arms if you are a bit far. This could be both optical and perspective. You can get around this through editing.

85mm Lens

The 85mm lens is a prime lens with a fixed focal length, which means you cannot zoom in or out of photos. On the 85mm lens the minimum focus distance from your subject is 2.8 feet from your intended focal length. This is the minimum distance a camera needs to focus.

It comes with wide apertures too, allowing you to capture a shallow depth of field. The wide aperture also makes it a good lens for capturing in low light conditions.

This lens is priced lower than its counterparts. Also, this lens has a heavy weight which might make it tiresome to carry it around all day.

What Can the 85mm Lens Be Used For?

An 85mm lens has a narrow field of view making it one of the best options for capturing portraits. Besides that, its narrow field of view, wide aperture, and fast auto focus make it a good option for sports photography, low light conditions, and a lot more.


The 85mm lens provides the most versatility for capturing portraits. The narrow field of view means that you have less lens distortion in your photos. Also, the 85mm lens allows you to capture detailed headshots thanks to the closeups it provides.

Its focal length has a long minimum focus distance which requires you to stand further away from the subject while capturing portraits. This lens comes with a wide aperture which gives you a shallow depth of field, allowing you to blur the background and focus on the person.

An 85mm lens

Low Light Conditions

The wide aperture range of f/1.2 to f/2 that this lens comes with, works well in low light conditions. The wide aperture lets in more light into the camera, this allows you to capture at high shutter speeds of around 1/200th of a second and ISO levels below 500.

All of this would make sure you can capture aesthetic shots during the night or indoors without ruining the quality of the photo.

Fashion Photography

The 85mm has the ability to capture closeup and sharp images making it a great choice for fashion photography. Its sharpness helps capture the details of the subject dress as well as the makeup, hair, and jewelry.

Sports Photography

Although it is not specifically made for it, the 80mm lens has a great intermediate length which can allow you to capture the action, without getting too close to it. Though it might not be so useful in outdoor sports, it can work great in indoor ones.

The wide aperture will allow you to capture photos at high shutter speeds from 1/200 seconds to around 1/4000 seconds and this will prevent motion blur. Its AF settings are very quick and track down sportsmen easily.

Also, the wide aperture would also counter the low light settings of indoor sports. Moreover, the 80mm lens is much cheaper and more compact than either the 135mm lens or 200mm lens which are specifically made for sports photography.

Advantages of an 85mm Lens

  • The 85mm allows you to capture close-up and full-length portrait pictures with no lens distortions.
  • The depth of field that can be captured with an 85mm lens is detailed, deep, and beautiful. It allows you to capture great Bokeh effects.
  • The focal length allows you to control your background.
  • This lens normally comes with a lower price tag than lenses of similar quality.
  • The single focal length brings a lot more consistency to your photography.

Disadvantages of an 85mm Lens

  • It has a fixed focal length, and you cannot zoom in and out of the subject.
  • You get a wide aperture with this camera; however, this comes with poor focus. This makes it difficult to capture fast motion pictures.
  • These lenses are very large and heavy, thus can be tiresome to carry around.
  • The lenses have a high minimum focus distance. This means that you have to stand away from the subject to focus.

Differences Between the 35mm Lens and 85mm Lens

  • There is an apparent difference between the focal length. This leads to a different minimum focus distance too. The 85mm lens has a higher minimum focus distance.
  • The 35mm is a wider-angle lens and gives you a larger view of the foreground. On the contrary, the 85mm lens is a narrow-angle lens that provides a comparatively narrow perspective to images.
  • The 35mm has a broader field of view and it helps focus across the frame. Whereas the 85mm lens is a better camera for isolating the subject from the background and focusing on it.
  • The wider field of view in the 35mm can lead to distortion around the border while the 85mm lens has minimum lens distortion and vignetting.
An image of 85mm lens

Similarities Between the 35mm Lens and 85mm Lens

  • Both the lenses have a fixed focal length which does not allow you to zoom in and out of images.
  • These lenses come with wide apertures with a slightly different range. This provides both lenses with a shallow depth of field. This also makes them great options for capturing photos in low light conditions.

Related Questions

Do I Need an 85mm if I Have a 70-200mm?

A 70-200mm lens is a telephoto lens that allows you to zoom in and out of images. When comparing the two, the Bokeh effect, the wide apertures, and low light situations must be considered.

When comparing the Bokeh effect, the 85mm prime lens comes out on top because it gives a creamy look to Bokehs, which is unmatched by the 70-200mm lens. However, the 70-200mm lens comes with an image stabilization feature, which might give it a slight edge in some situations.

Moreover, the color, sharpness, and contrast are a bit lighter on the 85mm when captured at wide apertures. However, the 85mm at f/1.2 lets in 250% more light than the 70-200mm at f/2.8. Hence, if you are shooting in low-light situations, the 85mm lens would come in handy.

Is 85mm or 50mm Better for Portraits?

  • The longer focal length on the 85mm lens increases the minimum shooting distance and thus you have to stand further away from the subject. On the other hand, this is not the case for a 50mm lens.
  • The 85mm lens is good for outdoor portraits because this allows you more space to move away from the subject, while the 50mm lens works great indoors thanks to its focal length.
  • The 85mm lens allows you to minimize any distracting background details when the background is not good-looking. This makes the subject more prominent. On the contrary, the 50mm lens is made to incorporate more of the background in your pictures.

Which Prime Lens Should I Buy First?

There are tons of options, most prominent of which include the 85mm, 35mm, and 50mm prime lenses. Among these, the 35mm works great for capturing everyday subjects that move unpredictably. The 50mm lens is more involved in framing shots, while the 85mm is great for portraits.


Between the 85mm and 35mm lens, the 35mm is a better lens because of its versatility. Its focal length and wide aperture make it great for capturing portraits, landscape photos, making videos, and a lot more.