What Makes The 35mm Focal Length Special, And Why You Should Use It

We talk a lot about various lenses for new announcements, recommendations, and other reasons. But what we don’t often touch on is the focal lengths themselves, the traits most lenses of that length share and why a photographer would want to use a given focal length. So, we are going to be doing a little series on various popular focal lengths, describing their traits, what they are known for and why you may want to make use of them in your kit. Today we start with our first, the 35mm focal length.

What Makes The 35mm Focal Length Special?

The 35mm focal length has a special place in many photographer’s bags, everyone from portrait and wedding photographers to street and landscape photographers. This is because it is one of the most versatile focal lengths that you will come across as an option for your lens. 35mm is the focal length most closely resembling the field of view that we see with the human eye depending on who you ask. This means that when you shoot at this focal length you are giving your viewers a vantage point similar to if they were on the scene, this is one reason why 35mm is so popular in film and video work. It is a view that many viewers of your images will find familiar. Mind you in cinema, they’re often working with telephoto focal lengths instead that give you better separation and focus on the specific subject.

These 35mm lenses are generally fairly free of distortion, while at the same time being wide enough to capture a scene and also allowing for you to get in close for a more traditional portrait. What this translates to in real world use is that one 35mm lens can be used for environmental portraits, headshots, standard portraits, landscapes, street photography and the list goes on. You can make the 35mm work for you in almost any situation, and this can’t be said of more telephoto options and certainly not of most wider options.

In recent years the 28mm lens has become more popular as well too–but 35mm remains the king for many photographers. Lots of the staff here prefer 35mm lenses.

Why Should You Consider The 35mm For Your Kit?

Thanks to the versatility and familiarity of the 35mm viewpoint, as noted above, you can find a use for your 35mm for almost any job you are heading into. As well, these lenses are also fairly compact and can often be more affordable than other options you may be considering.

But look at it this way… You want to have the best lenses in your kit to complete the work you are hired to complete. A 35mm lens will provide you with that familiar view that will help draw a viewer to your image, and thanks to the characteristics of these lenses, in general, you will also be able to use this lens for both wide environmental compositions and closer tight compositions. In effect, you can have this one lens in your bag and get a ton of use out of it. 35mm lenses are great for weddings, events, portraits (in most occasions) street photography, candids, food, etc. They’re not so great for sports, wildlife, etc. Essentially, think of it as a lens to capture everyday life as it has been adapted to humanity.

So not only are these lenses good from an image perspective, they are great from a bang for your buck perspective because you can find a use for them almost anywhere. This should be a big consideration for you if the budget you have to work with is limited.

Some Of Our Favorite 35mm Lenses

So now that we have talked up the 35mm focal length, how about we share some of our favorites that are out right now.

  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B00A35X6NU’ text=’Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0fa5636f-8814-11e7-bea0-2b8c30949855′] (Read Our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B014EOML6S’ text=’Canon 35mm F1.4L II’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’13d09662-8814-11e7-adfe-bb289ebb0d33′] (Read Our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B016S28I4S’ text=’Fujifilm 35mm F2 R WR’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1830201c-8814-11e7-9cb3-9fddca63d19e’] (Read Our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FSB79KU’ text=’Sony 35mm F2.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1d54a767-8814-11e7-b5b9-a78c3defb126′] (Read Our Review)

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.