The 35mm Lens Renaissance Is Upon Us, and It’s Wonderful!

Nikon Z Mount 35mm

The 35mm lens Renaissance is long overdue, and it’s finally happening.

There’s a sad and unfortunate problem with the lens world. Typically when camera systems and reviewers want something, they need it ASAP. But the camera and lens world is often a few years behind. They’re adapting to consumer needs rather than creating them. And years ago, I felt we needed more 35mm lenses. But now, we’re experiencing a 35mm lens renaissance. This is truly awesome. There are currently more 35mm lens options in the camera market than I can remember.

Let’s think about this right now based on March, 2021. 

  • Canon RF: one 35mm lens
  • Nikon Z: one 35mm lens
  • Sony FE: seven 35 lenses
  • Fujifilm: three major 35mm lens equivalents
  • L mount: four 35mm lenses
  • Micro Four Thirds: a whole lot!

This is genuinely wonderful. Remember how everyone was saying you should get a 50 years ago? But the industry started to change. Now, almost no one says you should get a 50mm lens as your first. Loads of folks tell you to reach for a 35mm. I was saying this before the Canon 5D Mk IV was out (around 2016 or 2017). Since then, camera manufacturers have been playing catch up. They’ve been getting their mirrorless lineups situated. So if I want to be picky, they’re behind by about five years. That’s half a decade. And in today’s time, that’s a large span of time. I could’ve started college, finished my Bachelors Degree, and come out to a market that only then wanted to cater to my needs. 

Isn’t that nuts to think?

Now, we’ve got more 35mm lenses than we know what to do with. For some reason, they’re still not at kit lens level, but there are loads of affordable 35mm lenses on the market. This 35mm lens Renaissance is fantastic, but at the same time, I think we’re behind. We need a variety of focal lengths, and we need something different. There needs to be more innovation. And it needs to happen faster. Camera manufacturers aren’t dictating the market anymore: they’re adapting and still fighting the megapixel and high ISO wars. While there’s a market for that, if we’re going to keep fighting that way, cameras need to become luxury devices. For sure, the prices are hinting at that.

What’s next, though? We need vibrant app environments for sure. Third-party support for cameras should be paramount. One of the worst decisions I think Canon made was shrugging off Magic Lantern years ago. Now, they give consumers what they want. Canon isn’t alone in this. Fujifilm still refuses to work with third parties, and Sony killed their PlayMemories app store. Cameras need to become an integrated part of our lives. And camera manufacturers need to find a way to do this again. 

The megapixel and high ISO war isn’t going to solve that. Instead, they need to look at the apps. Augmented reality is a sure win! So is connectivity. They need to do a lot more, and I’m not sure that slow and steady will win the race. Of course, that could change if they just brand themselves as being more of a lux experience. Looking at and understanding what gathers photographers together for meetups can help with this.

So while we’re experiencing a wonderful 35mm Lens Renaissance, I don’t think it will help us in the long run. But, I could be wrong and just pessimistic.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.