35mm vs 50mm lens for street Photography

35mm vs 50mm lens for street photography

Are u struggling to take the perfect street photo? Want a lens that will create stunning images? This article will explain the differences and advantages of both 35mm vs 50mm lens for Street Photography, so you can make the best decision. Take your street photography up a notch!

Some Facts About 35mm vs 50mm lens for Street Photography:

  • ✅ The 35mm lens is considered more versatile and suitable for capturing wider scenes, while the 50mm lens is better for portraits and close-up shots. (Source: FStoppers)
  • ✅ The 35mm lens is generally lighter and more compact, making it easier to carry around for street photography. (Source: Digital Photography School)
  • ✅ The wider aperture of the 50mm lens allows for better performance in low light conditions, but the 35mm lens can capture more of the background in focus. (Source: PetaPixel)
  • ✅ Both lenses have their own unique characteristics and it ultimately comes down to personal preference and shooting style. (Source: The Phoblographer)
  • ✅ Experimenting with both lenses can help photographers determine which one works best for their specific needs and style. (Source: SLR Lounge

Understanding 35mm vs 50mm focal length in Street Photography

Focal Length in Street Photography is key! It could be a game-changer for any photographer. Knowing what it is and how it works is essential. Select the perfect lens for a scenario and create awesome shots.

In this article, we will talk about the complexity of the focal length and how to use it in street photography.

Image of a man in a lake 35mm vs 50mm

Pros and Cons of 50mm Lenses for Street Photography

Learn the pros and cons of this lens in this section. Hopefully, it will help you to make an informed choice if you pick this lens and help you reach your photographic goals.

Comfortable Shooting Distances with 50mm Lenses

The lens choice is subjective. But, 50mm lenses offer a comfortable shooting distance. They’re small and unobtrusive, plus have a fast aperture and shallow depth of field. Perfect for shooting people and street portraits. 35mm lenses are better for wider shots and architecture.

Which lens should you use? Depends on the photographer’s style, to be honest. What I recommend If you are new to street photography is to get both 35mm and 50mm lenses. See which suits you best.

Little Distortion and Great Image Quality

A 50mm lens is popular for its lack of distortion and great picture quality. It was the lens of choice for the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliot Erwitt. It offers a similar perspective to what our eyes see, allowing for natural image composition and multiple layers. It’s also compact and affordable, which makes it great for photographers on the go.

35mm vs 50mm street photography

Compact Size of 50mm Lenses

They are ideal for street photography, being compact in size. They’re usually prime lenses, meaning the focal length is fixed. This makes you move closer to the subject and think about composition. Plus, 50mm lenses have a wide aperture, allowing for a shallow depth of field and flattened perspective.

It is important also to know what type of camera is used. Full-frame cameras have a different field of view than APS-C or crop sensor cameras. 50mm lens on those cameras feels more like a 75mm.

Consider the environment, subjects, and other elements in the scene when deciding between 35mm and 50mm lenses. To get the most flexibility, I like to have both in my camera bag. Experiment with both and see which one is more useful.

Very Affordable Prices of 50mm Lenses

When it comes to street photography, the lens you choose can make a huge difference. The 50mm lens is a common option due to its cost-effectiveness and sharp, layered images with straight lines and a narrow depth of field. You can find many options from different brands, I am a Sony Alpha shooter and luckily I have plenty of third-party options to pick a nice lens at a good price. I like Samyang lenses if you are on a tight budget. You can see my article about The Best Samyang Lens in 2023 if you are interested on them.

If you like to get close to your subjects, go for the 35mm. If you are shy and you like to be far go for the 50mm lens with wider field of view, or even with a 70-200mm lens for street photography!

Your choice between a 35mm or 50mm prime lens depends on your shooting style and preference. Some photographers use a 50mm lens for landscape photography so you are free to choose.

Occasional Issues with Shooting in Tight Spaces

Shooting in tight spaces can be really tough. Especially for street photographers who work in busy cityscapes. When it comes to lenses, the 35mm and 50mm are the two most popular choices. The selection between the two depends on personal preference. To make a better call, understand the pros and cons.

  • 35mm is great for those who want to get close to their subject. It offers a 35mm field of view, similar to human vision. It’s perfect for photojournalists and street photographers.
  • 50mm lens is used for portraits. It has a longer focal length and produces less depth of field.

When shooting street photography, the 35mm lens is more useful. You need to get close to your subject, resulting in more intimate and engaging photographs. The 50mm lens offers a different look and can be used for street photographs with a more isolated subject.

Pro tip: Try both lenses to see which suits you best. Invest in a zoom lens or one with a range between 35mm and 50mm to get the best of both.

Far-Away Perspective of 50mm Lenses

For street photography, a 50mm lens offers a distant view that captures the urban landscape but keeps a human touch to the subjects.

Compared to a wider lens like 35mm, 50mm offers a more compressed image and isolates subjects from their surroundings. A wider lens gives an immersive and dynamic perspective.

Less in Focus with 50mm Lenses

50mm lenses have a common characteristic of less focus. Street photographers work to achieve this look. Comparing 35mm to 50mm, the 50mm has a narrower field of view. That forces you to get close to the subject, it is a great resource for portraits and details.

Image of a coffee with a 35mm lens

Pros and Cons of 35mm Lenses for Street Photography

Learn the pros and cons of this lens here. It will help you to make an informed choice if you pick this lens and help you reach your oals as I have mentioned before.

Intimate Perspective of 35mm Lenses

The 35mm lens is perfect for street photography! It gives an intimate perspective of human subjects, and its wide angle allows you to capture the action up close. Its aesthetic is ideal for this type of photography. It is a really good all-rounder I personally use it for most of my trips when I want to travel light. This is one of the advantages of 35mm, it is also great for travel photography.

More in Focus with 35mm Lenses

35mm is good for confined spaces and it helps to get more things in focus in these tricky situations. Its wide field of view helps to photograph more of the scene within a limited space, making it easier to compose and frame your images in tight environments. It provides a natural perspective close to human vision, resulting in images that feel authentic and immersive as we explained before.

Compact Size/Light Weight of 35mm Lenses

A 35mm prime lens for street photography has the advantage of being compact and light-weight. This lets photographers carry their camera easily and take amazing pictures without feeling the load of the lens. This is great for street photographers who need to move fast to get the perfect shot.

The debate between 35mm vs 50mm prime lenses for street photography has been there for years, and probably it will continue for more. We all know how difficult and picky we are in choosing our lenses.

Fast Aperture Options for 35mm Lenses

I recommend exploring the fast aperture options available for 35mm lenses. You’ll be amazed at the creative possibilities they open up for your photography. When you start using lenses with apertures as wide as f/1.2 or even f/0.95, is a game changer for your creative vision. Trust me, give these fast aperture lenses a try, and you’ll see a whole new world of artistic expression in your work. It is important to keep in mind that the usually at f1.2 lens is much bigger and bulky than a f2.8 or f3.5 prime for example.

Potential Distortion with 35mm Lenses

Those who pick the 35mm lens and are close to the subject may get distortion in the image so this is something to keep in mind, although all new modern lenses have less and less distortions. However, this same distortion can be used creatively to add a unique mood to the shot. On the other hand, the 50mm lens is useful for capturing portrait shots or subjects from a moderate distance with no distortion.

35mm vs 50mm lens for street photography

Choosing Between 50mm and 35mm Lenses for Street Photography

So after so many words with pros and cons and you like ‘Street photography’ – which lens to pick? 50mm or 35mm? It’s a tough call. So, let’s help you decide. Here’s the scoop…

Personal Preference in Choosing Focal Length

The reality after all the advantages described before is that a personal preference in choosing a focal length between a 35mm or 50mm for street photography is the most important. Deciding between a 35mm or 50mm lens can significantly affect the outcome of your photoshoot and images. It’s not just about technical specs, but the style and the photographer’s vision too. Shooting with a 50mm lens is different from a portrait with a 35mm or a telephoto lens.

Some photographers like to use 35mm for shooting. This lens lets them get closer to their subjects and take a wider photo. 35mm is often seen as the best choice for street photography because it provides a natural field of view. Whereas, some prefer the 50mm lens. It gives a similar field of view as the human eye would see. Plus, you can capture more details from further away.

Ultimately, the photographer should pick the lens which provides the field of view they want and captures their vision. Researching and trying out both lenses is key and I personally thing both -buy a 35mm and a 50mm prime lenses are great even in an aps-c camera so I recommend getting the two lenses.

Need to Try Both Lenses and Determine What Works Best for You

When it comes to street photography, choosing between a 35mm or 50mm lens is subjective. The heading “Need to Try Both Lenses and Determine What Works Best for You” emphasizes this fact.

The 35mm lens is popular for street photography. It has a wide angle, allowing the photographer to capture more of the environment. Plus, it lets the photographer get close to their subjects discretly.

The 50mm lens is more versatile. It can be used for portraits and street photography, and has a longer focal length. This creates a shallow depth of field.

Final Tip: Consider renting the lenses before buying them to test them out if you are not sure after all this!


What is the difference between 35mm vs 50mm lenses for street photography?

This is a subjective topic and there is no one right answer. Some photographers prefer to shoot with a 35mm focal length because it is wider and captures more of the scene. Others choose a 50mm lens for street photography because it captures a tighter frame and offers a 50mm equivalent field of view.

Which lens should I choose for street photography: a 35mm or a 50mm ?

It ultimately depends on your personal preference and shooting style. If you like to capture more of the scene, a 35mm lens for street photography may be best. However, if you prefer a tighter frame and more subject isolation, a 50mm lens may be the better choice.

What are the advantages of a 35mm lens for street photography?

A 35mm lens is great for capturing more of the scene and allows you to get closer to your subjects. It also forces you to get creative with your compositions and can be more versatile in low-light situations

What are the advantages of a 50mm lens for street photography?

A 50mm lens has a longer focal length, which allows you to shoot from a distance and capture more detail. It is also considered a classic focal length for street photography and will give you a similar perspective as your eyes.

Which recommended 35mm and 50mm lenses do lens manufacturers offer for street photography?

There are many lens manufacturers that offer 35mm and 50mm prime lenses for street photography. Some traditional options include the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G and the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens for Nikon cameras, or the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM for Canon cameras. In 2023 with all the new AI autofocus systems and new mirrorless cameras and third-party lenses you have unlimited options. Sony, Sigma, Samyang even Tamron lenses are all good for this purpose.

Can I achieve both 35mm and 50mm perspectives with just one lens?

While it is possible to use zoom lenses or other prime lenses that offer a wider range of focal lengths to achieve both perspectives, it is generally recommended to use a lens that delivers the specific perspective you are looking for if you want optimum quality and sharpness. You can always switch lenses or use different lenses for different shooting situations.

I hope you find useful my article about 35mm vs 50mm street photography, I also recommend you to read my other posts on my blog.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

Juan Solis

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