Travel Photography Tip: Comparing 35mm vs 50mm Lenses

If you’re just getting started with travel photography and have been browsing around for some tips on the best lenses to use, this 35mm vs 50mm comparison should help.

Are you an aspiring travel photographer who can’t decide between 35mm and 50mm lenses as the better choice for the job? In case you’re still looking for tips and resources, Australian fashion and portrait photographer Julia Trotti comes to the rescue with a quick comparison video for both focal lengths during her recent trip to Gdansk in Poland. Since Trotti specializes in portraits, it’s only proper for her to begin the comparison with a bunch of portrait shots. She works mostly with prime lenses given her genre of choice, hence the focus on 35mm and 50mm prime lenses for this comparison. She also shot with the Full Frame Canon 5D Mk IV, so keep in mind that you’ll get different results if you shoot with a camera with crop frame sensor. Since this is about travel photography, she made sure to give examples for portraits we’d typically shoot during a trip: mostly half body or full body shots with careful attention to  include the landmarks behind or around the subject. Apart from portraits in both half body, full body, and close up, Trotti also provided some examples for other popular subjects in travel photography: food and landscapes.

From these examples, we can see a noticeable difference between the two focal lengths. As Trotti pointed out, the 35mm gives a more realistic or editorial look to the photos because it captures more of the scene. Meanwhile, the 50mm compresses the scene and creates some sort of “romantic” feel to it. Another way to put this is that the 35mm gives you the big picture, while the 50mm allows you to zoom in on the main subject of your scene. It’s also great that she showed us what it’s like when shooting with these lenses in tight spaces or when you don’t have a lot of room to move around. Given the wider field of view of the 35mm lens, it’s the better choice when you have to include more of the scene without having to get farther away — or stand up from your seat when shooting food!

So, based on Trotti’s comparison results, we can conclude that 35mm is the more versatile of the two focal lengths. Still, it ultimately depends on the look and feel you’re going for, and even the scope of the scenes you’re capturing. So, it wouldn’t be so bad to use both in your travels! Check out Julia Trotti’s YouTube channel if you want more of her photography tips and tricks.