28mm vs 35mm Lens Battle: The Great Debate for Photographers

The debate of 28mm vs 35mm lens is often confusing for lots of folks.

The 28mm and 35mm lens focal lengths are oddly competitive. The 35mm focal length often wins for most who say they see the world this way. But some of us also see in 28mm. So for newer shooters, the decision can be a bit difficult. The best thing to do is to try both. Ideally, get a kit zoom lens and shoot with both focal lengths for a while. Then from there, pick the best one for you. We’re going to look at a few genres and tell you which one is better in our opinion. So let’s dive into the 28mm vs 35mm lens battle!

Portraits

The issue with portraiture has to do with distortion. Typically we’d embrace it, but it can make folks look pretty awful. So you need to be tactful. No one likes having an elongated or larger nose. And no one likes having a head that looks large. With that said, a 35mm lens is typically easier to work with. (We’re talking about a proper 35mm and not the field of view equivalent.) A lens like this can make people look great, just don’t shoot up close. Instead, go for something wider than half of their body. Also try to keep people within the center of the frame. Ideally, use this for environmental portraits.

Our Choice: 35mm

Street Photography

The old adage is f8 and be there. And with street photography, we’re pretty torn here. There are lots of times where we’ve enjoyed the 28mm lens. But there are also lots of times where we preferred the 35mm lens. 35mm lets you have a bit more distance between you and a subject. I think that’s necessary now. The old guard who said you should get close to your subject didn’t have to deal with COVID-19. And after a while, all the images start to look the same. Either way, go with a longer focal length. In the case of 28mm vs 35mm, go for the 35mm lens.

Our Choice: 35mm

Landscapes

The thing about landscapes and cityscapes is that any lens can work. Capturing a vast scene is easy to do with a wider lens. Essentially, you can zoom with your feet. Longer telephoto lenses let you really focus in on abstract details. But generally speaking, the wider your focal length, the more potential you have. I’ve never gone wrong with either lens. However, I’ve run into situations where I needed to be wider. And generally speaking, wider is better. In the battle of 28mm vs 35mm lenses, it’s better to have the extra millimeters and not need it.

Our Choice: 28mm

Candids

The candid shot is a tough genre. Personally speaking, I think having a sense of environment is very important. For that reason, I choose wider focal lengths. If you go to a party, a 28mm lens might be a better choice. You’re going to be packed in anyway. Since you’re that close, you should get more of the environment and what’s happening. If you were using a 24-70mm lens, you’d probably stay at the wider end. So, with candid shooting, 28mm is the best thing.

Our Choice: 28mm

Chris Gampat

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