Last Updated on 01/16/2019 by Mark Beckenbach
35mm lenses are perfect for the everyday photographer thanks to their light weight and versatility.
If you’re the type of photographer who loves to carry their camera around with them every single day so that you can capture moments and events that would otherwise flutter by, 35mm lenses are for you. Thanks to their light weight, small footprint, sharp images, and their ability to capture everything from street photography, to portraits, and landscapes, to documentary style images, they’re perfect for everyday use. Join us after the break to see which 35mm lenses we recommend for the everyday photographer.
Whether you partake in a 365 day photography challenge of some kind, or if you just like to document moments from everyday life, the last thing you want to do is carry around heavy equipment all day. The beauty of 35mm lenses is that their small size makes them perfect to walk around with for hours on end.
The great thing about 35mm primes lenses is that they’re incredibly sharp, and they’re fast to focus which makes them incredibly useful for documentary photography. They also usually have wide apertures which makes them great for portraits and work in low light situations. You really don’t have to spend a fortune to get a solid lens either. Let’s take a look at bang for your buck 35mm prime lenses that are perfect for the everyday photographer.
Fujifilm 23mm R WR
Fujifilm shooters are truly blessed when it comes to affordable prime lenses. The 23mm f2 R WR is a weather sealed lens that’s super sharp, focuses like a rocket, and is lightweight. It’s perfect for the everyday photographer, and the best part is that this little gem is under $500.
In our review we said:
“The speed when focusing with this lens on the X Pro 2 is very impressive. It’s by far the absolute best lens in Fujifilm’s lineup for street photography and candid shooting due to its autofocus speed.”
The Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR has an equivalent focal length of 35mm when placed on any Fujifilm X mount camera thanks to the crop of 1.5x. With a weight of just 0.39lbs, and with such a small footprint, you can carry this lens on any of the lightweight Fujifilm camera bodies all day long with no issues. Inside the metal body of the 23mm R WR you’ll find ten elements in six groups, along with nine rounded aperture blades. Two of the elements are aspherical which help keep things nice and sharp, and pretty much distortion free.
When shot wide open at f2, images are incredibly sharp in the middle but the sharpness does fall off a little towards the edges. Stop it down to f5.6 and your images will be sharp enough to cut. As you would expect from a Fujifilm lens, colors rendered are really nice, but will change based on what film simulation you may be using.
In terms of distortion, color fringing, and chromatic aberration, you’ll be pleased to know that all of these are kept at bay, and any issues are easily fixed in post. You’ll not struggle with focusing either as this lens is a speed demon. Even in low light situations this lens is on point. You won’t be left wanting more in terms of performance.
Fujifilm has really re-written the book in regards to what you can expect from cheap lenses and their overall build quality. The 23mm R WR is weather sealed, which is a feature usually found on lenses that cost twice as much as this lens. Take it out in the rain or snow and you’ll still be able to snap away. Just make sure your camera is weather sealed too. It feels nice in the hands thanks to the metal body, and the focus and aperture rings are pleasant to use too.
The 23mm f2 R WR is a fantastic choice for the everyday photographer. It’s affordable, super sharp, and it likes to play in the rain. If you’re a Fujifilm shooter, this lens should not be ignored.
Buy now ($449): Amazon
Fujifilm 23mm R WR Image Samples
Pro Tip: As an everyday photographer you need to be prepared to shoot in all kinds of conditions. Not all lenses and camera bodies are weather sealed. To combat this carry around some of these weather proof camera and lens covers in your camera bag so that you can shoot no matter what the weather is doing.
Rokinon 35mm F2.8 FE
When we say we’ll show you bang for your buck 35mm lenses, we mean it. For under $300, this Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE lens for Sony Mirrorless cameras offers extreme value for the money. You’ll be getting a lens that produces sharp images, renders gorgeous colors, and focuses like a champ.
In our review we said:
“The Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE comes in at a significantly more affordable price point than what Sony’s offering is–and the only major difference is its lack of weather sealing vs it’s Sony counterpart.”
While Sony’s own 35mm f2.8 sports weather sealing, in terms of raw performance it’s no better than the fantastic Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE. Inside the plastic housing of the Rokinon 35mm f2.8 you’ll find seven elements in six groups, and seven aperture blades.
The optics in this very affordable lens are capable of producing incredibly sharp images with nicely saturated colors. If you’re a lover of bokeh, you’ll be pleased to know that if you focus nice and close to your subject at f2.8, you’ll find that the lens produces gorgeous bokeh. Even more of a testament to this lens is that during our testing we could not find any issues with chromatic aberration or distortion either. The level of performance you’re getting out of this sub $300 lens is phenomenal.
The Rokinon 35mm f2.8 is a good overall performer when it comes to autofocusing. Autofocus is snappy in most situations, but you will begin to notice some hunting in lower light scenarios. The overall build quality is great too. The 35mm f2.8 is made out of plastic but it doesn’t feel cheap; it feels pleasant when being held. The Rokinon 35mm certainly feels like a lens that should cost a lot more than it does. This lens is as light as a feather too. It weighs just 0.18lbs!
For the price, this lens is hard to beat. The 35mm focal length is a classic one and loved by many. It’s the perfect focal length for the everyday photographer. If you shoot with a Sony, and want a very affordable lens that will deliver sharp images and great colors, this is the lens that should top your shopping list.
Buy now ($279): Amazon
Rokinon 35mm F2.8 FE Image Samples
Pro Tip: Carrying your camera and lens with you all day will subject it to all kinds of dirt and grime. If you keep a basic cleaning kit in your camera bag, you’ll be able to wipe away whatever grime becomes attached to your gear with ease.
Canon 35mm F2 IS USM
The Canon 35mm f1.4 L II IS USM is a fantastic lens for the everyday photographer. From it’s excellent build to its outstanding image quality, the Canon 35mm f2 IS USM is the way to go if you’re a Canon shooter. Throw in image stabilization, and the fact that this lens is under $600, and you can understand why it made our list.
In our review we said:
“Want some really wonderful bokehlicious photos? Then the Canon 35mm f2 IS delivers to satisfy your thirst. It isn’t as nice as its 35mm f1.4 L brother, but it is still excellent for what it is. Beginners slapping this lens onto the camera will perhaps get stuck in a bokeh-addictive syndrome.”
The overall build quality of the Canon 35mm f2 is excellent. While the body may be made out of plastic, don’t let that fool you. This lens is tough as nails and has a premium feel about it. The textured finish feels nice in the hand, and its small footprint and light weight (0.7lbs) means it’s easy to use all day long.
Inside the lens you will find 10 elements in eight groups, along with eight aperture blades. The optics Canon used in this lens are capable of producing beautiful, sharp images, even when shot wide open. The colors rendered are very natural looking, with skin tones being a particular highlight. The bokeh produced by the Canon 35mm f2 is really quite stunning. Open this lens up to f2 and you’ll be whisked away into a bokeh-filled dream world.
Autofocus performance is excellent. No matter what we have done with this lens, it was fast and deadly accurate at all times. Point, half press, and faster than you can blink, focus will be locked on. The image stabilization works very well too. The image stabilization is good for an extra four stops, so shooting in low light situations will become even easier for you.
This lens is perfect for documenting everyday events, environmental portraits, street photography, weddings, and so much more. It is perhaps the most well-rounded lens on this list. At just $549 it’s a steal. The everyday photographer who shoots with a Canon will love this piece of glass.
Buy now ($549): Amazon
Canon 35mm F2 IS USM Image Samples
Pro Tip: As an everyday photographer you’re ready to snap pictures at a moments notice. Make sure that you have enough reliable SD cards on your person or in your camera bags at all times. The last thing you want to do is miss out on the opportunity to snap a keeper.
Tamron 35mm F1.8 Di VC
Tamron really makes some great lenses, and the 35mm f1.8 Di VC is another great one from them. It may be a little larger than some of the other lenses on this list, but its sharp images, weather sealing, and overall performance make this a perfect candidate for the everyday photographer who shoots with a Canon, Sony A mount, or Nikon body.
In our review we said:
“This lens has weather sealing and at a $599 price point, who can beat that for a DSLR lens? Beyond this, the lens has incredible color quality, beautiful bokeh that will make you want to shoot wide open all day.”
The Tamron 35mm f1.8 is very well engineered. From the luxurious feeling texture on the body, to the weather sealing that will stand up to mother nature, Tamron has created a lens that will stand up to the rigors of being used day in day out. You can just put it on your camera and forget about it. Inside the housing you’ll find 10 elements in nine group, as well as nine rounded aperture blades. Tamron lenses have always produced really nice images, and this lens is no exception.
Overall the image quality is very nice. While there are hints of fringing, it doesn’t take anything away from the overall sharp images you’ll produce. Any fringing issues are easily fixed in post with Capture One 12 or Lightroom, so it’s really no big deal.
The nine aperture blades inside this lens help a lot when it comes to producing nice bokeh. When shot wide open and close to your subject, the bokeh is really pleasing. Colors rendered are superb as well. You’ll create images with nice saturated colors, and that have a pleasant, warm tone to them overall. The image stabilization works very well too. There’s no doubt that, should you find yourself in a low light situation, the vibration control will help enormously.
Weighing in at 1.05lbs, the Tamron 35mm f1.8 Di VC is the heaviest lens on our list. Thanks to the gorgeous design though, and the truly amazing texture of the body, you’ll forget all about that extra weight. This is one of the nicest feeling lenses to have ever graced our hands. If you’re a fan of Tamron lenses you’ll really like this one. The beautiful colors it can render will make your images pop, and the weather sealing means you can take it everywhere, and that’s exactly what the everyday photographer needs in a lens.
Buy now Canon ($599): Amazon
Buy now Nikon ($599): Amazon
Buy now Sony ($599): Amazon
Tamron 35mm F1.8 Di VC Image Samples