It’s tough to name a product that’s more iconic than the 35mm lens. Well, for photographers of a certain generation, it might be the 50mm lens. In 2023, a bunch of great 35mm lenses made their debut. We’ve done the most real-world lens tests of any publication still alive. And here, you’ll find the best 35mm lenses that the market has to offer that came out this year.
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How We Test and Choose the 35mm Lenses of 2023
- The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed in these roundups.
- If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. You can read more about our ethics on this on our Disclaimer page.
- When we test products we’ve got various things in mind. First off, we consider who might want to buy the product and what they might do with it. With that in mind, we try to tackle at least three genres of photography with that product in a variety of situations. For example, if a lens has weather resistance, then we’ll test it accordingly with a weather-resistant camera. We also test the autofocus of the lens in continuous mode, single mode, with exposure preview effects, without those effects, and then with all the major image quality parameters. These days, no one really makes a bad lens — but some are far better than others. And that’s what we’re trying to find in our reviews.
- In all of our roundups, we’re basing our findings on the reviews that we’ve done. We’re choosing a favorite, but we’re also giving photographers a bunch of others that they might like, depending on how they shoot.
Our Choice Amongst the Best 35mm Lenses of 2023: Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux M
The new Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux M is a beauty. The last version, made almost a decade ago, also had its charm. But there’s a lot to love about this one. Besides the built-in lens hood, there’s also the super close focusing ability for a rangefinder lens. Above all else though, the image quality is absolutely beautiful. No wonder we gave it an Editor’s Choice award.
Tech specs are from the Lensrentals listing.
- Angle of View: 63°
- Aperture Blades: 11
- Aspherical Elements: 1
- Autofocus: Manual Focus Only
- Brand: Leica
- Filter Size: 46.0mm
- Focal Length: 35.0-35.0
- Groups/Elements: 5/9
- Hood Included: Built-in
- Image Stabilization: No
- Item Type: Lens
- Lens Type: Wide Angle
- Max Aperture: 1.4
- Mfr. Model Number: 11726
- Minimum Aperture: 16.0
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.3feet
- Mount: Leica M
- Weight: 0.7 lb.
What We Think
In our review, we state:
The new Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux M takes what we loved about the previous generation and makes it better. It now features a built-in lens hood, which is more in line with the recent lenses. Most notably, photographers can now get even closer to their subject. But don’t worry, it’s still quintessential for street photography and an excellent all-around lens. It’s a joy to use.
3 of the Other Best 35mm Lenses of 2023
This year, many of the bigger brands didn’t come out with new 35mm lenses that were worth discussing. And for that reason, newer camera brands stole a lot of the spotlight. These other 35mm lenses are really incredible. And here they are!
Leica 35mm f2 SL
In our review, we state:
To be honest with you, I’m strongly considering buying the Leica 35mm f2 SL lens. That’s because it gives photographers everything that they’ve wanted from Leica for a while now. It combines Leica’s image quality with a small size, great durability, weather resistance, autofocus speed, and a fairly affordable price point for a Leica lens. During my period reviewing this lens, I didn’t ever want to take it off of my camera. It’s fantastic — and overall, it’s so good that I probably wouldn’t want to get the Q3 as an alternative.
Artralab 35mm f1.4 1980s Edition
In our review we state:
Using this lens is overall mostly a joy. Think of it as using an old mechanical lens without an electronic adapter on it. That’s to say further that you more or less have to be very dedicated to wanting to use it. Otherwise, most modern photographers can’t live without autofocus at all.
Viltrox 35mm f1.8 Z
In our review, we state:
Autofocus on the Viltrox 35mm f1.8 can keep up with fairly quick-moving subjects on the street, but I wouldn’t yet use it at a place like a sporting event. Eye-AF tracking is accurate most of the time. For a lens that was made without an official handshake with Nikon, autofocus is surprisingly good. And quiet. Oh so quiet. You can’t hear any movements inside during auto-focusing, and that’s pretty darn impressive.
Using This Guide to the Best 35mm Lenses of 2023
If you’re considering purchasing anything from this list of the best 35mm lenses of 2023, consider the following:
- All the product images and sample photos in these roundups are shot by our staff. In fact, we don’t talk about products at length in roundups like this unless we’ve done full reviews of them. But you can surely know that we’ve done all the research ourselves.
- The 35mm lens is best for general shoots. Photographers have used it to mimic the look of the human eye for years. Because of this, it’s favored by photojournalistic photographers. It’s fantastic for street photography, weddings, events, travel, and documentary photography.
- Canon, Nikon, and Sony all make great 35mm lenses. But in 2023, they didn’t come out with anything worth talking about in this genre.
- Leica 35mm lenses are pretty legendary. The one that we’re recommending is the more affordable version of the 35mm Apochromatic. But this more affordable one is really pretty great.
- Our tests of the best 35mm lenses of 2023 were all done in-house with our staff.
- The best 35mm lenses in this list are well-built. But only the Leica 35mm f2 is weather resistant.
- Two of these lenses have autofocus, and two of them don’t.
- We’d never recommend a product to you that we haven’t tested or that we really didn’t like. You can reference our linked reviews, for more information on this.
Picking the Right One For You
If you’re still a bit confused as to the right lens for you, here are some questions to ask yourself
- What’s your budget?
- How will you use the product?
- What lighting situations are you in, and how will that affect what you’re doing? Our reviews hyperlinked in this article can help with that.
- Are you traveling a lot with it?
- Will you be using it in a situation that’s a bit rougher?
- Who else uses this product? How are they using it?
- What’s so appealing about this product that I can’t get from what I have already or something else?
- When will I really have time to use this product?
- Where will I bring this product?
- How will this product help bring me joy and joy in my photography?
These are just a few of the questions that we ask ourselves, but we think that you should ask yourself these for sure.