In the world of photography, choosing the right lens can make all the difference.

We’re often caught in the debate between 35mm and 50mm lenses, each offering its unique perspective on the world.

The 35mm lens is hailed for its versatility, perfect for capturing expansive landscapes and bustling street scenes.

On the flip side, the 50mm lens, known as the “nifty fifty,” is prized for its closer, more intimate framing, ideal for portraits and detail shots.

We’ll jump into the strengths and weaknesses of both, helping you decide which lens best suits your creative vision and shooting style.

Pros And Cons Of 35mm Lenses

When we’re on the hunt for a lens that truly captures the essence of a scene, 35mm lenses often become the go-to choice.

They’re renowned for their ability to replicate a field of view similar to the human eye, providing a natural sense of space and perspective in films.


Versatility is the name of the game with 35mm lenses.

We find them perfect for a wide range of scenes – from sweeping landscapes that encapsulate the grandeur of an environment to the bustling intimacy of a crowded street that comes alive in documentaries or feature films with a need for a dynamic sense of place.

  • Great for establishing shots and medium scenes,
  • Mimic natural human vision.

The compactness and lightweight design of 35mm lenses mean carrying them around during long shoots is less strenuous on our crew.

Quick setup and ease of movement ensure that we don’t miss a beat when that perfect shot presents itself unexpectedly.


But, for every advantage, there might be a trade-off.

35mm lenses can sometimes introduce distortion when subjects are too close to the camera.

This could potentially make characters or elements within the scene appear unnatural, which takes away from the immersive storytelling that we strive for in film.

When working in tight spaces, a 35mm lens may also limit our framing options.


While they are excellent for capturing a broad view, we might find ourselves constrained when trying to isolate a subject or focus on the finer details, which could stifle our creative vision during certain kinds of shoots.

Even though these considerations, we consistently rely on the diverse applications of 35mm lenses to deliver vibrant and compelling visual stories.

Whether it’s for an indie feature or a commercial shoot, the 35mm lens can be an indispensable component of our filmmaking toolkit.

Pros And Cons Of 50mm Lenses

The storied 50mm lens, often referred to as the “nifty fifty,” has its own set of advantages in the film-making world.

Known for its natural perspective, it closely replicates the human eye’s field of view, resulting in images that feel intuitively balanced to viewers.

In the realm of cinematography, a 50mm lens excels at creating a shallow depth of field.

This attribute is pivotal when we aim to isolate a subject from its background, drawing the audience’s focus where we intend.

On the practical side, 50mm lenses are typically faster, offering wider apertures like f/1.8 or f/1.4.

A wider aperture means more light can enter the lens.

It’s an essential feature for low-light scenarios and achieving a creamy bokeh that filmmakers covet for poetic visual effects.


But, 50mm lenses come with their drawbacks:

  • Limited field of view in cramped spaces,
  • Potential to flatten the image, reducing a sense of depth Unlike their 35mm cousins, 50mm lenses can be less forgiving in tight indoor scenes. Their narrower field of view makes it more challenging to capture expansive shots without ample room to work with.

Also, because a 50mm lens offers a more compressed perspective, it may not always create the dynamic visual interest that a wider lens can.

While it’s excellent for portraits, it might not always convey the sense of space and context we seek in complex scenes.

These nuances make the 50mm lens both a cherished and a debated tool in our cinematography gear bag.

Its ability to deliver clean, focused narratives is as compelling as it is restrictive, reminding us of the artful balance required in choosing the right lens for the story we wish to tell.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Between 35mm And 50mm Lenses

When selecting the right lens for your filmmaking needs, understanding the inherent characteristics of 35mm and 50mm lenses helps in making an well-informed choice.

It’s crucial to recognize that lenses have a profound impact on visual storytelling.

Focal Length shapes the aesthetic of the scene.

A 35mm lens, with its wider field of view, is superb for capturing more of the environment and can be ideal for interior shots or capturing landscapes.

On the flip side, a 50mm lens offers a tighter frame, perfect for intimate portraits and mid-range shots.

Aperture plays a significant role in low light conditions and depth of field.

Lenses with a wider aperture allow for more light, so performing better in darker situations.

This capability is vital in filming environments where we can’t control the lighting.

Considering the distortion resulting from different lenses can affect how the subject is perceived.

A 35mm lens may induce some perspective distortion when the subject is close to the lens.


Whereas a 50mm lens generally produces images that are true to the scene, without noticeable distortion, giving a more natural look to the subjects.

Mobility and Versatility are also important.

We often find ourselves shooting in a variety of locations and scenarios:

  • Tight spaces may benefit from a 35mm lens,
  • Controlled settings like a studio may favor a 50mm lens.

Finally, think about the type of project you’re working on.

Are you shooting a fast-paced documentary or a stylized commercial?

The 35mm lens lends itself well to dynamic scenes requiring movement and the inclusion of context, while the 50mm lens shines in situations where subject emphasis is key.

Examples Of Photography Styles Best Suited For 35mm Lenses

In the realm of street photography, 35mm lenses reign supreme.

Their wider field of view captures the hustle of city scenes and chance encounters without distorting the subject.

These lenses also shine in documentary work.

They offer a field of view that approximates the human eye, making them ideal for immersive storytelling.

When photographing landscapes, 35mm lenses allow us to include ample environment details without sacrificing the subject of our composition.

Their versatility balances foreground interest and expansive backgrounds beautifully.

For those passionate about travel, a 35mm lens is the workhorse of visual diaries.

It’s compact and unobtrusive, ensuring our ability to shoot freely and capture spontaneous moments.

Here are some photography styles where 35mm lenses excel:

In environmental portrait work, 35mm lenses help us introduce subjects within their context.

This fosters a connection between the viewer and the photographed scene.

For lifestyle photography, the natural field of view of the 35mm lens supports a candid approach.

It helps us depict life as it unfolds, authentically and engagingly.

When covering events, mobility is key.

Our ability to move quickly and adapt to changing scenes is enhanced with the 35mm lens’ flexibility.

Finally, in reportage, the need for subtlety and speed is paramount.

We find the 35mm lens’ discreet profile enables us to capture events as they happen without drawing attention.

Examples Of Photography Styles Best Suited For 50mm Lenses

When we jump into portraiture, the 50mm lens often becomes our go-to choice.

It’s renowned for producing a flattering perspective and allowing sufficient space between us and the subject, creating a comfortable working environment.

In the realm of filmmaking, we find its application equally impressive.

The 50mm lens is perfect for intimate shots where we want to highlight emotions and expressions without distortion.

About product photography, the natural perspective of a 50mm lens ensures that products look true to life.

This lens is ideal for capturing sharp images with beautiful background blur that makes the product stand out.

When we step into the world of low-light photography, we leverage the typically wide apertures of 50mm lenses.

These apertures allow more light into the camera, enabling us to capture clearer images in dim settings without sacrificing quality.

For those passionate about creating beautiful bokeh in their images, the 50mm lens’s shallow depth of field is a valuable characteristic.

The resulting effect can transform a mundane scene into a stunning photograph with a dreamy, professional quality.

We can’t overlook fashion photography, where the 50mm lens shines:

  • It captures the human figure without distortion,
  • It emphasizes details in clothing and accessories with its sharpness.

Finally, in cinematic projects, a 50mm lens can mimic a natural field of view similar to human sight.

This quality makes it a staple for scenes that require a viewer to feel present in the moment.

Films such as Psycho and Paths of Glory utilized this lens to great effect, immersing the audience in the unfolding drama.

35mm Vs 50mm Lenses: Choosing Your Perfect Fit In Photography – Wrap Up

We’ve explored the unique strengths of the 50mm lens and how it excels in various photography scenarios.

Whether we’re capturing the essence of a portrait, the fine details of a product, or the ambiance of a dimly lit scene, the 50mm lens stands out as a versatile tool in our photography kit.

It’s clear that for those moments where we aim to produce work with a natural perspective and an emotional impact, this lens is often our go-to choice.

Let’s embrace the 50mm lens for its ability to bring our creative visions to life with precision and artistry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Advantages Of A 50mm Lens?

A 50mm lens offers a natural perspective closely resembling human vision, which helps produce images that are relatable and tactically appealing.

This kind of lens is excellent for creating a shallow depth of field, allowing for beautifully blurred backgrounds and attention to the subject.

How Do 35mm And 50mm Lenses Differ?

The main difference lies in their field of view; the 35mm lens has a wider angle which is suitable for capturing larger scenes, while the 50mm lens is more zoomed in, creating a more intimate frame.

The choice depends on the desired composition and the setting in which you will be shooting.

What Photography Styles Are Best Suited For A 50mm Lens?

A 50mm lens excels in portraiture, product photography, low-light settings, creating bokeh, fashion photography, and cinematic projects.

It captures flattering perspectives, highlights emotions, produces true-to-life images, clarity in dim conditions, detailed bokeh, and a filmic field of view.

Why Is A 50mm Lens Recommended For Portraiture?

A 50mm lens is preferred for portraiture because it captures a natural, distortion-free perspectives and focuses on the subject, creating an emotional connection.

It also allows for a shallow depth of field, which can beautifully blur the background and make the subject stand out.

Can You Use A 50mm Lens For Filmmaking?

Absolutely, a 50mm lens is a great tool for filmmaking.


It mimics the natural field of view of human eyes, making the scenes look realistic.

Its ability to handle low-light situations and create appealing bokeh makes it a go-to choice for creating a cinematic look.

Is A 50mm Lens Good For Low-light Photography?

Yes, a 50mm lens is typically faster, meaning it has a larger maximum aperture, which allows more light into the camera.

This makes it an excellent choice for low-light photography, where it can capture clearer images without the need for high ISO settings.