In portraiture, it is common for people to think of longer focal lengths, such as an 85mm or 135mm. But the reality is that these days many portraits and hybrid photographers choose wider focal lengths for their portraits; focal lengths such as 50mm and 35mm. With so much of the education and literature out there on the topic approaching it from the perspective of shooting with longer lenses, how is one to know what lenses they should consider if they are looking into wider fields of view?
In this guide, we will be looking at some excellent lenses well suited for portraiture in the 35mm focal length. These lenses will, in general, be suited for more environmental portraiture or images where you want to provide some context to the environment and the person within it. Ready? Let’s jump into it…
Canon 35mm F1.4 L II // Canon Shooters
Canon is still the top dog is still the top dog in the photo world, and so since many of you are likely looking at this guide in regards to your Canon kit, we will start here. In our review of the Canon 35mm F1.4L II we had the following to say:
“Let’s be very concrete here for a second: this is a bloody fantastic lens. The Canon 35mm f1.4 II L USM can render great image quality, beautiful bokeh, and will most likely appeal to the photographer who is smitten with Kodak Portra or Fujifilm Astia. If you were more of a Velvia, Kodachrome, Ektar, or Ektachrome person, then you’ll find yourself reaching for the big third party offerings. The autofocus is great in most situations, and this lens has weather sealing. As an actual lens, there is a specific market for this audience that will be very happy with the purchase.” – Read The Full Review (Buy One)
The 35mm F1.4L II is no doubt an excellent lens and a great choice if you want to shoot 35mm portraits. However, we don’t blame you if it is a bit out of your price range, so let’s have a look at some other lower cost alternatives…
- Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art – The price to image quality king if you are interested in a fast 35mm alternative to the Canon offering.
- Tamron SP 35mm F1.8 VC – If you can live with a F/1.8 aperture (with the added benefit of IS) than this is a killer alternative for significantly cheaper.
Zeiss Sony 35mm F1.4 // Sony Shooters
Given Sony’s popularity lately, there is also likely a lot of you who are looking into building out a Sony Mirrorless kit and maybe you are in need of a 35mm lens for that kit. If so, we think the Sony/Zeiss 35mm F1.4 is a great option for you.
“The Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4 is a hefty lens with fast autofocusing abilities, beautiful bokeh, sharp image quality, a solid build and a heck of a price tag. It’s a beautiful lens that you’ll never want to put down, but we only recommend it if you’re planning on going pro.” – Read our Full Review (Buy One)
The Sony 35mm f1.4 is an excellent option, but as with the Canon pick above, it may be out of your price range. So if that is the case, here are a few other good options for you…
- Rokinon AF 35mm F1.4 – Rokinon makes AF lenses for mirrorless, and their 35mm F1.4 is actually a really great alternative to the Sony option at a much more paletable price.
- Rokinon 35mm F2.8 – If you prefer something smaller and lighter, and don’t mind the mediocre F2.8 aperture, than the Rokinon 35mm F2.8 is also another excellent choice; and very affordable at that.
Nikon 35mm F1.8 G ED // Nikon Shooters
Have no fear Nikonians, we have not forgotten about you. In the case of Nikon, we actually really like their 35mm F1.8 G ED offering, it is an excellent choice that is still very affordable; a nice change of pace from the expensive picks for Canon and Sony. In our review we said:
“Nikon’s 35mm f1.8 G ED is a lens that won’t excite those who always reach for higher hanging fruit, but it will surely satisfy the appetites of those looking for a fairly affordable 35mm prime lens. Best of all, this lens is designed for full frame cameras as opposed to the last one which was for APS-C DSLRs. The company’s lens is sharp enough for most uses, has fairly good bokeh, color that can be reworked to be even better due to Nikon’s RAW file versatility, and contains focusing motors that really made it a joy to use all around.” – Read our Full Review (Buy One)
So since we started out with a cheaper option this time, here are a few alternatives for you Nikon shooters who are looking to spend a little more money…
- Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art – The price to image quality king if you are interested in a fast 35mm alternative to the Nikon offering.
- Nikon 35mm F1.4 G – Probably the best 35mm you can get for the Nikon system, however it will cost you.
So there you have it; nine excellent, full frame, 35mm options for those of you looking to shoot some 35mm portraits in the near future. Do you have any lenses that you would add to this list? Drop a comment below and let us know!