When it comes to choice of focal lengths, the 35mm doesn't always get the respect it deserves. I don't know why that it is, but if you're going to listen in on a group of photographers talking about primes, you will most likely hear them talking about 50mm, 85mm or fish-eye lenses.
That's what most of them use and love. But 35 millimeters is an ideal focal length for in many respects. Here are 8 serious reasons to own one.
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1. Environmental portraits
An environmental portrait is a photograph of someone doing something or posing in his natural element. Like a fisherman on a boat or a mechanic in his shop. You can take such a shot with a wide angle lens, but then you draw the attention away from your subject. A 35mm lens is ideal for this kind of portraits.
2. Great for low light
Most 35mm lenses, just like 50s, are very bright. The most popular versions are f1.8, f2 and f1.4. Portraits in low light conditions will no longer be a problem with one of these mounted on your camera.
3. The natural look
There is a particular feeling about photographs taken with this focal length. Back in my first years as a photographer I didn't know where it came from. But then I did a little research. The 35 mm lens is the closest to the perspective of the human eye. That's what makes everything look so natural. Sure, you'll have to move to get the right composition, but if you ask me it's totally worth it.
You can use a 35mm lens successfully for almost any type of photography. Portraits, landscapes, product photography, events, you name it. This is the ultimate lens to put on your camera and hit the road with nothing else.
Because of this versatility and the resemblance to the human perspective, this is a fantastic lens for photographers dipping their toes into the realm of video. In fact, it is one of the most widely used focal lengths of cinematographers in all movie history.
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6. The size
Most 35mm lenses are pretty easy to hold and carry. Unlike other primes, their weight is significantly lower. Weight is also important, and this lenses are comfortable enough to be carried around all day.
It is a very flexible lens, but it will often leave you wanting a little more or a little less. To compensate, you have to move around and interact with the environment. Ultimately, it means more work, but almost certainly better results as well.
8. Image quality
I've never heard of a bad 35mm lens, not even the cheaper ones. We'll talk about bad prime lenses some other time, but trust me, there are a few. No 35s though, and a sure bet like that has its perks.
If you need further proof that this focal length is useful, check out this video made by the guys at DigitalRev: