The 28mm lens is reasonably odd. It’s a bit wider than 35mm and longer than 24mm. If you choose the 28mm focal length, you’re bound to not go for the longer or shorter options just named. You’ll get the best of both worlds, but it will be a master of none. So why would you choose a 28mm? We’ll explain why, round up photographers who use the 28mm lens, and lead you to the best options.
Understanding the 28mm Lens
The 28mm lens is sort of a weird focal length. It’s so close to the 35mm focal length, so why choose it? Many photographers opt for a 35mm instead, which gives better bokeh. But experienced photographers know bokeh isn’t everything. Instead, the moment and story in the scene can be far more critical. A 28mm lens will take what a 35mm lens does and expand on it just a bit.
Compared to a 35mm
We’re going to break this down even further.
- A 28mm lens has more distortion than a 35mm lens.
- A 28mm lens is bound to be larger than a 35mm equivalent lens.
- 28mm lenses should be used to tell a story of a subject and the place they’re in.
- They’re fantastic for street photography if you get close.
- They’re wonderful lenses for everyday shooting.
- You’ll get a deeper depth of field than you will with a 35mm lens.
28mm has more to do with how you use it. There’s also no point in owning both focal lengths; choose one or the other.
Photographers Who Use the 28mm Lens
We’ve interviewed a ton of photographers over the years. Here are some who use the 28mm lens:
- Carolin Unwrath uses it for documentary work.
- Pravin Tamang uses it for street photography.
- Photojournalist Cheriss May uses it as a major part of her work.
- Justino Lourenço does some trippy work with it.
- Ryan Noltemeyer shoots landscapes you’ll fall in love with.
Treat It Like a 35mm, Sort Of
Shooting a portrait with a 28mm lens? Well, expect to do something a bit wider. Don’t get in close, or you’ll cause unflattering distortion.
Documenting a wedding or an event with a 28mm lens? Expect to get in a bit closer. Turn on the compositional grid in your viewfinder to split it into the rule of thirds. It’s imperative to place your subjects around the center of the intersecting segments or directly on them. The center of the frame is where 28mm lenses tend to shine.
Want more bokeh from your 28mm lens? Get closer to your subject, center it, and stop the lens down.
It’s Very Good for Environmental Portraits (And the Best Ones)
I’ve often seen the 28mm shine with environmental portraits. Just keep your subject near the center of the frame and you’ll be able to do everything an environmental portrait requires. Here are a few more tips:
- Never get close up; always shoot half of the person or more.
- Keep the towards the center of the frame. This will flatter them.
- Build the scene around them. Think cinematically. Where are we?
- Use the scene to tell a story about the person.
Give these a shot when you buy your next 28mm. If you’re curious, we wrote a roundup of some of the best 28mm lenses we tested a few years ago. Check it out.