8 Versatile 35mm Lenses That First Time Prime Buyers Should Consider

35mm lenses may be the most versatile primes you can get your hands on.

There’s a good chance that, if you recently got your first camera, or have been using your first camera for a while and grown tired of the kit lens it came with, you’ve already started looking into the vast world of lenses. If you were to ask a seasoned photographer which lens to buy first, the response you’re most likely to get would be a 50mm f1.8. While that would be a good choice, we don’t think it’s the best. 35mm lenses are more versatile than nifty fifty’s and they incredibly affordable. In this roundup, we will take a quick look at 35mm lenses that all first-time prime buyers should take a closer look at.

Captured with the Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f1.8 S

So what makes 35mm lenses so great? There’s simply no other prime focal length on the market that reaches the levels of versatility the 35mm focal length offers. These lenses are perfect for street photography, wedding photography, event photography, journalism, documentary photography, environmental portraits, food photography, landscapes, and more. If you were to get a 35mm lens, you will find it would rarely leave the front of your camera. Best of all, these lenses are incredibly affordable. Tale a look at eight of our favorite 35mm lenses below.

Fujifilm 23mm F2 R WR (35mm equivalent)

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Good image quality
  • Seriously and surprisingly fast focus. This lens is officially Fujifilm’s fastest
  • Fast focus on the X Pro 2, X-T2 and even the X Pro 1. The latter completely shocked us
  • Nice colors
  • Compact size
  • Weather sealing
  • Turning the aperture ring feels nice and smooth until the clicks come in. It’s a lovely tactile experience
  • Sharp images
  • Fairly nice bokeh
  • Affordable price point

Cons

  • Something about this lens just doesn’t have the magic that the 23mm f1.4 R does

Buy now: $449

Olympus 17mm F1.8 M.ZUIKO (34mm equivalent)

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Very good image quality
  • Focus ring with full-time manual focus override and distance scale
  • Superfast autofocus

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • No lens hood included
  • Chromatic aberrations are visible in most high contrast situations

Buy now: $399

Rokinon 35mm F2.8 FE

35mm lenses - Rokinon 35mm f2.8 FE

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Sharp image quality
  • Good bokeh
  • It focuses pretty much as close as the Sony version. It isn’t as accurate in low lighting or as fast though
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Weather sealing would have been nice but we understand why it isn’t there
  • Focus motors can be a bit loud at times with later cameras

Buy now: $299

Captured with the Canon RF 35mm f1.8 USM IS

Pro Tip: 35mm lenses are fantastic for food photography thanks to their ability to grab focus up close to your subject. If this is a genre you want to pursue, you owe it to yourself to learn about this quite lucrative market. This guide will teach you all there is to know about the business side of food photography, and it will show you how to prepare your shots so that they look spectacular every time you hit the shutter button.

Canon 35mm F2 IS

35mm lenses - Canon 35mm f2 IS

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Excellent build quality. It feels better than the L version
  • The addition of IS is a nice touch
  • Fast aperture
  • Fairly compact size
  • Excellent image quality
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Perhaps the absolute best lens for every wedding photographer on a budget

Cons

  • A tad more pricey than we’d prefer

Buy now: $549

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 USM IS

35mm lenses - Canon RF 35mm f1.8 USM IS

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Fairly fast to focus
  • It’s a lens pretty much designed to be always on your camera
  • Image stabilization, which is very much needed in the system
  • Gorgeous bokeh
  • Sharp enough for most users but not as sharp as most L glass I’ve seen and used. Still, it’s a shocker

Cons

  • We would gladly pay more money for Canon to weather seal this lens

Buy now: $449

Nikon 35mm F1.8 G

35mm lenses - Nikon 35mm f1.8 G

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Solidly built and feels great in the hand
  • The lens focuses both quickly and quietly
  • The lens is sharp wide open, but drop it down to f5.6 and you’ll be amazed
  • Great color tones, especially for skin

Cons

  • There is a little vignetting but it’s easily corrected in post

Buy now: $166.95

Captured with the Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR

Pro Tip: One thing you will have to keep in mind is not all of the 35mm lenses listed here are weather-sealed like the Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR. Most of these lenses will hold up just fine during a light sprinkle, but if you want to get out into heaver rains or snows you’ll need to protect your lens. Fortunately, you can pick up some camera and lens rain sleeves for very little money. Grab some of these rain covers and keep them in your camera bag just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse while you’re out and about.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm F1.8 S

Nikon Z Mount 35mm

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Robust weather sealing
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons

  • More expensive than competing Full Frame 35mm f1.8 lenses, though it can be argued that it is the most feature-packed and the best

Buy now: $696.95

Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM

portrait lenses

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Extremely sharp
  • Fast-focusing
  • Stellar build quality

Cons

  • May need some micro-adjustment out of the box
  • No weather sealing

Buy now Canon: $634

Buy now Nikon: $649

Buy now Pentax: $649

Buy now Sony: $649