The delightful 35mm lens is a favorite for many reasons. It is a lens for many moods and for many seasons capturing the best and worst of human emotions for years. You would be surprised to know that it is one of the oldest lenses to be around, often preferred by professionals for their relative ease of use and simplicity. It gives a near human eye perspective when mounted on a 35mm single lens reflex camera. In this ode to the 35mm lens we shall be looking at the top reasons why you should invest in one and never leave home without it.
Summaron 3.5/35 (1952) on Leica IIIf | Photo: Vercoquin
You will be lost for choices as every DSLR manufacturer makes several variants of these beauties. 35mm prime lenses come in both auto-focus and manual focus varieties and optimized for both full frame and APS-C DSLRs. Depending on your camera type you can choose the one you need. However due to the crop factor your APS-C DSLR will convert a 35mm lens into something around 50mm. So caveat emptor rules folks!
One thing that a 35mm prime definitely does to your photography skills is improve them. The other great thing that you can do apart from joining a good photography class is buy a 35mm. Shoot with it constantly never taking it off your camera for at least six months. At the end of it, and if you have been consistently shooting with it, you will have improved your skills of composition, framing and mastered the basics of exposure immensely.
Another thing that you will have done is that you will also be able to see a picture in its final shape even before clicking it. Thanks to your constant use of the same lens and the same focal length for such a long time, it will have become an extension of you.
For shooting videos
If you have a full frame DSLR and you love to shoot videos, a fast 35mm prime would be the perfect companion for your camera. A slow auto-focus lens which rides the standard contrast detection or phase detection technology of your DSLR will be slow and in low light situations will fail miserably. The solution is to use manual focusing; and if you are only going to use manual focusing in indoor shoots then why not invest in a 35mm manual focusing prime?
It’s small, compact and is very easy to carry
The 35mm primes that Nikon and Canon makes are exquisite pieces of glass. They are a joy to shoot with and carry in the bag. They are light as there are no complex mechanisms to zoom and thus you are saved from carrying that extra load.
DOF and out of focus area
A 35mm lens offers a shallower depth of field (DOF) on a full-frame DSLR than when mounted on an APS-C DSLR. This has practical uses like when you are shooting videos. Additionally they being primes usually come with very fast maximum apertures. It yields excellent Bokeh for your still compositions. Though they sound similar, these two terms are different and refer to complimentary aspects in photography. Beyond the DOF is the region of Bokeh.
Photo: Frank Tasche
Photo: mor gnar
Leica M9 Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH | Photo: Tobi
Fujifilm X100S | Photo: Andrea Donato
EOS 5D II, EF35mm f/1.4L | Photo: Daniel Stark
EOS 5D II, EF35mm f/1.4L | Photo: Andres Miguez
Photo: 仁仔 何
Photo: Moose Winans
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF35mm f/1.4L | Photo: Alexander Rentsch
Some popular 35mm lenses & Cameras
- Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM (Amazon | Adorama | B&H)
- Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM (Amazon | Adorama | B&H)
- Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G (Amazon | Adorama | B&H)
- Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8G (Amazon | Adorama | B&H)
- Sigma 35mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM (Amazon | Adorama | B&H)
- Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 (Amazon)
- Fujifilm X100S (Amazon | Adorama | B&H