Street Photography: Choosing your Focal Length (85mm, 50mm, 35mm, 28mm)

Have you ever been out and about, capturing the energy and essence of the streets with your camera, only to find that your shots just aren’t turning out as you envisioned? It might be time to reassess your lens choice. Focal length plays a crucial role in street photography, and choosing the right one can make all the difference in the world. Whether you prefer the compressed perspective of an 85mm lens or the expansive view of a 28mm, understanding the unique characteristics of each focal length will help you capture stunning street scenes with ease. In this blog, we’ll explore the benefits of different focal lengths and provide tips for making the best choice for your street photography.


Street Photography: Choosing Your Focal Length

When it comes to street photography, choosing the right focal length is crucial. It dictates how you see the world and tells the stories you want to tell. Whether you prefer the wide perspective of a 28mm lens or the more intimate view of an 85mm lens, your choice of focal length can greatly impact your work.

Initial Experiences with a 85mm Focal Length

Starting out with a 50mm lens on an APS-C sensor, which translates to approximately 85mm, allowed for a unique perspective. The ability to isolate subjects with a shallow depth of field was captivating, but over time, it began to feel limiting.

Transitioning to a 50mm Focal Length

Switching to a full-frame camera with an actual 50mm lens proved to be a turning point. The classic focal length struck a balance between subject isolation and contextual inclusion, allowing for a broader storytelling approach.

Adapting to a 35mm Focal Length

Exploring a 35mm focal length lens on an APS-C sensor opened up a wider field of view. This shift led to a transition from focusing on individual subjects to capturing entire scenes, embracing light, shadow, and spatial elements as subjects themselves. The versatility of the 35mm focal length made it a comfortable choice for street photography.

Embracing a 28mm Focal Length

Transitioning to an 18mm lens on an APS-C sensor, equivalent to a 28mm focal length, provided an even wider perspective. This allowed for capturing expansive scenes and adding depth to storytelling through context and environment.

Each focal length journey presented unique experiences, each holding its place in the evolution of capturing street photography. Whether it be isolating subjects at 85mm, finding balance at 50mm, widening perspectives at 35mm, or embracing expansive scenes at 28mm, the journey of finding the right focal length greatly contributes to the visual voice of a photographer’s work.

Embracing the unique characteristics of each focal length and understanding how it influences storytelling can greatly enhance one’s street photography. Whether it’s the intimate details captured at 85mm or the broad contexts explored at 28mm, the focal length truly becomes a defining element in portraying the world through the lens.

Street Photography: Choosing your Focal Length

What focal length is best for street photography?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question as it really depends on your personal shooting style and the look you want to achieve. Generally, 35mm and 50mm are popular choices for street photography due to their versatile field of view and ability to capture intimate scenes without being too intrusive. 28mm and 85mm can also be used but may require a different approach to composition and subject interaction.

What are the advantages of using a longer focal length like 85mm?

Using a longer focal length like 85mm allows you to capture distant subjects with a shallow depth of field, isolating them from the surroundings and creating a more compressed, intimate look. This can be great for capturing candid moments without being too close to your subjects.

What are the advantages of using a wider focal length like 28mm?

Using a wider focal length like 28mm gives you a greater field of view, allowing you to capture more of the environment and include more context in your street photos. It can also be great for capturing dynamic scenes with a sense of depth and immersion.

I hope you find useful my article Street Photography: Choosing your Focal Length (85mm, 50mm, 35mm, 28mm), I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

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

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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