THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, 35MM OR 50MM?

If you are considering (or have ever done so) launch yourself in the search and capture of a fixed focal point, first of all, congratulations, you cannot have made a better decision :-). Now, sure that diving through the millions of forums and blogs have seen that two of the most recommended objectives are 35mm and 50mm and you are in a sea of ​​doubts so, throughout this article, I will try to reveal the main differences between one and another.

Now, let’s not build the house by the roof, let’s start at the beginning:

WHY A FIXED OPTICS IF I CAN HAVE A ZOOM?

Probably if you are here it is because you bought a brand new SLR or similar with a goal of the kit, which at first seemed like a pass. Probably comparing it with your old compact or your mobile phone, if it were. But over time, the more you dive and admire other fans or professionals through the networks, the more you learn and sharpen the eye, you see that something happens, something does not work in your zoom, you lack that sharpness or that bokeh or that amazing Shallow depth of field you see in some images. Yours is not bad, but you want something better, right? Well welcome, because you have a fixed focal face and you will not regret it :-).

The fixed focal points are light and discrete

BRIGHTNESS

Fixed focal points have many advantages, but above all they stand out for their brightness . Just as in a zoom it is very complicated to reach really wide diaphragm openings (type f / 1.8, f / 1.4 of / 1.2), at prices at which you do not have to sell a kidney, in fixed focal points it is common, and affordable , find targets with a lot of light.

DEPTH OF FIELD

The aperture of the diaphragm (f values) is directly related to the depth of field , which determines the amount of area focused on the image (more depth of field, more focus area and less depth of field, less focus area). With open diaphragms such as f / 1.8 the depth of field is smaller than with more closed diaphragms such as f / 16.

RELIABILITY AND QUICK FOCUS

The fixed optics are focused on being good in a single focal range (the zoom must try to be acceptable in many distances), so it is difficult to specialize and perform at their best. The results do not have to be terrible, but the difference is quite noticeable with respect to a fixed focal point.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Although fixed optics sound great disbursement, the truth is that these two objectives (35 and 50mm) can be found at a very good price in most brands.

WEIGHT AND SIZE

They are very light, so they have many advantages: they do not intimidate, are comfortable to transport and are very discreet.

MORE RESISTANT THAN ZOOM

The zooms have more gears and crystals than a fixed optics. In the objectives of the kit, these are usually of low quality to achieve a competitive price, so it is not strange that, over time, they end up giving problems. On the other hand, fixed optics are simpler (less crystals that can cause aberrations … and less gears) and, therefore, more resistant.

50mm optics

NOW, LET’S GET TO THE POINT, 35MM OR 50MM?

Well, let’s go to the usual: it depends. What a rage that there is no magic formula that assures you that you will never err, right?

I will start by telling you that both versions are very good choices, so making mistakes is going to be difficult. Both exist in very bright and economically affordable versions (versions f / 1.4 or failing f / 1.8, much cheaper).

  • They also have a very small weight and size , and a similar price.
  • They have a very good optical quality .
  • Both exist in very bright versions allowing us to work in low light conditions without abusing the ISO, for example.
  • … But it is clear that they have some differences, if not, this article would not exist

MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A 35MM AND A 50MM

  • The most obvious difference is the focal length , which for practical purposes means that the 35mm has more angle or, which is the same, is capable of capturing a larger portion of the scene around the main subject than the 50mm. Or put another way, the 35mm “pulls us away” and the 50mm “brings us” something else. Although if you move back and forth, with one and the other, you can get practically the same scene with both objectives.
  • Background compression also varies from one to another. The 35mm seems to move the bottom away, while the 50mm brings it closer.
  • The blur of both objectives is also different. The 35mm produces a smaller and softer blur than the 50mm. In contrast, the 50mm stands out for its ability to extremely blur the background, allowing you to isolate the protagonist in a more pronounced way .
The blur is one of the features that give more play in the luminous focal

WHAT DO THESE DIFFERENCES TRANSLATE TO?

We have already advanced that the main difference between the two is the angle, but we are going to see a few specific situations and try to determine what would be the best objective for each specific case.

1. PORTRAIT

For example, you want to make a portrait. With the 35mm you will have to get much closer to the subject than with a 50mm, since having more angle and less focal length, this “moves us away from the scene”, so if you want a close-up, you should get quite close to what You want to photograph. Instead, the 50mm allows you to keep a greater distance with your subject, which is much less intimidating and comfortable when photographing a person.

You will also be able to better isolate the subject with 50mm than with 35mm thanks to its greater blur , which is also very useful to highlight the protagonist.

2. LANDSCAPE

In landscapes, what we usually want is to have the greatest angle or portion of the scene within our frame, so the more angle the better . That is why, a 35mm will be more versatile in this type of scenes than a 50mm because, although we can move away to cover more angle and thus mimic a 35mm, the truth is that it is not always possible to go back enough.

3. STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

Street photography requires placing our protagonists related to the street environment, so a 35mm optic is ideal for this type of photography in which in principle we do not want close-ups but to relate the protagonists to the world around them .

However, if you prefer more closed planes, the 50mm is still a very good option.

4. SOCIAL EVENTS

For more general scenes such as group photographs , weddings, baptisms, birthdays, etc., a 35mm will be very helpful, since to be able to cover scenes with many people, or where the environment takes on special prominence, a greater angle will offer you more possibilities. Although, remember, for close-ups you will have to get very close to the protagonist, which can be annoying. If that is the type of photography you have in mind, better a 50mm.

5. FASHION

Fashion has evolved so much and has so many styles that it is sometimes difficult to know which optics are better for this type of photography. Although, personally, I would bet on 50mm to be able to have that extreme blur that can provide us with wide openings and, above all, because it does not force us to get as close to the model to obtain more closed planes as with a 35mm.

6. ARCHITECTURE

A priori , a lens with more angle will be more useful when we want to photograph buildings in its entirety externally or internally, although a 50mm can also match us and does not create distortion in the lines as they do more angular objectives (although It is easily editable in an image editor like Lightroom).

So, in short:

BUY YOURSELF A 35MM YES …

  • Do you want to cover events
  • You make many group photographs (family, companies, etc.)
  • Landscapes
  • Street photography
  • If you do not plan to make a leap to the FX (full frame) format it is a very versatile objective if you take into account the multiplication factor of your camera that usually converts it into an approx 56mm

BUY YOURSELF A 50MM IF …

  • You are going to focus on the portrait
  • You will make the leap to an FX team in the future (in the long run, in full format you will be more versatile than a 35mm) since with an APS-C sensor camera it becomes approx. 80mm But an effective 50mm focal length is very versatile.

WHAT OPENING TO BUY?

If you have a budget, I would not hesitate, I would go for the 35 or 50mm aperture f / 1.4 , since both are relatively affordable (compared to other objectives of similar quality) and their quality and possibilities are worth every penny. Although if your budget is more tight, any of the two in f / 1.8 version is still a great purchase (and a great saving compared to 1.4).

And finally, some extra readings :-):

  • Life, in 35mm
  • Life, in 50mm
  • The king of the objectives: 50mm f / 1.4
  • The prince of the objectives

I know that deciding is always difficult, although I hope I helped you to do so. What is clear is that, whatever you decide, there is little room for regret ;-). Both are very good optics with very similar features. If you go from a zoom of the kit to one of these, you’ll be amazed at the possibilities that open up before you :-).

I hope you liked this article, if so, please do not hesitate to share it on Google +, Facebook, Twitter or, now also on Instagram. Regards and until next time.


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