How To Choose The Best 35mm Lens For You

The 35mm focal length is popular for all sorts of photography niches, from weddings to boudoir to wildlife to landscapes. This makes your choice of 35mm lens extra important because you are likely intending to use it in multiple scenarios. You don’t want to spend more money than you need to, and certainly, don’t want to waste money by having to buy another lens should you skimp out too much. So in this post, we are going to talk about things to consider and how to choose the best 35mm lens for you.

What will the light be like when you are shooting?

Are you going to be shooting with strobes, controlling everything to do with your images? How about shooting in natural light or in a dimly lit church? Shooting the night sky?

The biggest determining factor with a prime lens like a 35mm will be how much light you need it to gather and focus onto your sensor. If you will have powerful strobes and intend on meticulously controlling your light, then you can probably stand to get a 35mm lens that may not gather as much like – maybe and F2.8 or something. But if you intend on shooting outdoors in varying light, or in dimly lit rooms, then you will want to pick up the fastest 35mm lens you can afford, something in the F2 or F1.4 range.

Bokeh, Do you want it?

35mm lenses aren’t exactly known for their bokeh, but they are certainly capable of producing a creamy out of focus background many are most likely looking for. If this is the case, and you are a bokeh whore, then you will also want to get the fastest lens you can – regardless of light gathering potential.

As we all know, or should, the lower the f-stop the more bokeh potential. So if bokeh is your thing, then definitely make sure to pick up the fastest lens you can.

Weather Sealing, deal breaker?


Are you planning to be indoors mostly or out in the elements? Chances are a little of both, so we recommend getting your hands on a weather sealed 35mm lens if you can afford it. This way you can take your lens out with the peace of mind knowing that a little rain or some dust won’t end up causing you and your wallet a headache later.

While we recommend going with a weather sealed lens if you have the choice, it is hardly a necessity. Very popular lenses like the Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART have no weather sealing and they have been used by professionals in a ton of situations. If you don’t or can’t get one with weather sealing, just be smart about how you use it. Make your best effort to keep it protected when in the elements and you will likely be fine (just make sure you have insurance on it).

Manual Focus is a thing, but is it for you?

What are your photography interests? Do you plan on shooting portraits or weddings? What you plan to be doing with the lens will be key in determining some good options for you. If you are shooting people or situations where there isn’t a ton of movement, maybe consider getting a manual focus lens to save some money.

However, if you plan on shooting anything with much movement then definitely grab a lens that has AF and can match the speed of your subjects (though we don’t expect many of you to be shooting fast action sports at 35mm).

Some Recommendations

So are you ready for our recommendations? Perfect, because now it’s time for us to share them. You should definitely still do your own research, but these are some lenses that we can offer you to begin your research with.

Good luck with your search, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.