35mm vs 50mm FX

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by pittosporum_tobira, May 10, 2014.

  1. I have a 20mm 2.8 and 80-200mm 2.8 af-d (fx body) and am looking for a lens to fill the gap. Which fits better: 35mm or 50mm?
    The mean of the focal lengths (20mm+80mm)/2 gives me 50mm.
    But looking at the angle of view (90°+30°)/2 gives me an average of 60°, which corresponds to a 35mm lens.
    Or should I find a 40mm... :p
  2. It really depends what you want to shoot. If you find the 20mm just a little too wide, then the 35 would suit you better. If you find the 80mm end of the zoom is a little too tele, then the 50mm might be better. You don't want to take an arithmetic average - if you think about the geometry, a geometric average is more appropriate; ie sqrt (20 x 80), which is 40mm. The 35mm is closest to that. There is no point in having a lens you won't use, so really think about where your needs are. If cost is a constraint, you can get a very reasonably priced 50mm f1.8.
  3. mm depending on what you want to spend a 24-70 f/2.8 or a 24-85 F/2.8-F/4.0 zoom ???
  4. I would suggest the 35mm is the better option
  5. From 20mm to 35mm is 1.8x zoom. From 35mm to 80mm is 2.3x zoom.
    From 20mm to 50mm is 2.5x zoom. From 50mm to 80 is 1.6x zoom.
    The 35mm lens is clearly more in the middle of the range from 20-80mm than the 50mm is.
  6. I think you are letting the math get in the way. There are no gaps. There is only what you would enjoy doing. Both your choices can be a source of enjoyment. If you like faces and all manner of people closeups you might like the 60mm macro. The new G model is really good, according to just about everybody. It doesn't have to be "just" a macro lens. 50mm is always good to have. You can do a little bit of everything with it. 35mm, same story. I got a Voightlander 40mm just a couple of days ago, and I am getting more pleasure using that thing than the law allows. It comes with a nice little closeup attachment, and the closeup adaptor does duty as a hood. It is really a do-everything kind of lens. But forget about speed. It is manual focus.
    Nikon has two new semi-affordable choices in the 28mm f1.8G and the 35mm f1.8G. You might want to consider those. But whatever you get, don't look back. Take what it gives you and enjoy it.
  7. Nikon has two new semi-affordable choices in the 28mm f1.8G and the 35mm f1.8G.​
    Just to be pedantic, no they don't: the 35mm f/1.8 is a DX lens, and the shooter has an FX body. Though I'd look at the 35mm Sigma if that's really the focal length you want.

    As others have said, it's entirely down to preference. Cartier-Bresson would obviously say that 50mm should be your choice, although that may have been due to what was available to him. Personally I find normal focal lengths a little dull, and err towards a 35mm, but that's entirely my choice.

    Perhaps we should be discussing which lenses as well as which focal lengths?

    The 50 f/1.8 AF-D is very cheap, but outdated and extremely soft shot wide open (but extremely sharp stopped down). The bokeh is a bit ugly, but it's about as tiny a lens as you can get without going manual focus.

    The 50 f/1.8 AF-S is a little pricier, but significantly better at wide apertures. It's also a good bit bigger.

    The 50 f/1.4 AF-D has lovely bokeh but really isn't very sharp away from the centre at wide apertures, if you care.

    The 50 f/1.4 AF-S is much sharper but appreciably more expensive and has significant chromatic aberration. Some aren't too sure about its bokeh, either.

    The 58mm f/1.4 AF-S is not particularly sharp, has really nice bokeh, and costs... a lot.

    The current 50 f/1.4 Sigma is pretty good at wide apertures and has nice bokeh, but really falls apart at wide apertures in the corner of the FX frame. I absolutely recommend it to people for DX use.

    The impending 50mm f/1.4 Sigma "art" appears to be exceptional, but it's moderately expensive (between the f/1.4 AF-S 50mm and 58mm). It's not yet available, but previews are appearing, at least on Canon bodies.

    The 55m f/1.4 Zeiss Otus is one of the best lenses by most measures available. It also costs more than almost every body Nikon makes, and it's manual focus. Other, vaguely decent, manual focus options are available.

    The 35mm f/2 Nikkor is... okay, by all accounts.

    The 35mm f/1.4 Nikkor is decent, but quite pricey for what it is.

    The 35mm f/1.4 Sigma has had glowing reviews. It's a pain to focus, though - you really need to get the USB dock and tune it.

    The 35mm f/1.4 Samyang (manual focus) is also allegedly pretty good, give or take a bit of field curvature. It's cheap.

    The 35mm f/1.8 Nikkor doesn't have coverage for an FX frame (you'd lose the corners).

    Personally, I own both 50mm f/1.8 Nikkors (the AF-D for size, the AF-S after it was launched and I realised that the AF-D didn't do my D800 justice). I don't consider the f/1.4 Nikkors to be worth the money for the optical compromises - but you'll have to make up your own mind there. I care too much about the corners to want the current Sigma, but I'm very tempted by the Art lens - or at least, I'm awaiting Nikon-based reviews. I have the 35mm Sigma, though I've not got around to tuning it with the dock and mostly rely on live view for focus with it.

    I got the 50mm lenses because they were cheap and small, not because I like 50mm. The new Sigma may cure me of that. All else being equal, I'd go with 50mm if I was just "filling a gap" and didn't know what I wanted, because the AF-S f/1.8 is a bargain. If I thought I'd be using this a lot, I'd get the 35mm Sigma. You can always crop to a 50mm field of view. But it's really a judgement call determined by your own preferences.

    Can you try shooting with your 20mm, crop the result to each size (e.g. put the camera in DX mode), and see what you prefer?

    I hope that helps.
  8. 50 mm if you mostly photograph people.
    35 mm if you mostly photograph places.
  9. Andrew, there's a new 35/1.8G FX.

    Pittosporum: this is a bizarre way of analyzing the question. You don't get a lens to have a number in your bag. You get a
    lens to take photos with. What you need to decide is what you want to shoot with, not what method of averaging to use.
  10. Andrew, there's a new 35/1.8G FX.​
    Well, that's embarrassing. Do you know, I thought there was, but my go-to dealer in the UK doesn't list it. I thought I'd successfully searched for it on B&H and only came up with the DX version, but clearly my paranoia wasn't quite paranoid enough.

    Apologies for the misinformation. Though for the 50% premium in price, I'd probably still think very closely about the faster Sigma. (For the record, Nikon have a habit of updating primes just after I've bought a third-party one. The 85mm f/1.8 AF-S appeared soon after I'd bought the Samyang, and I believe the 35mm f/1.8 got announced very shortly after I bought the Sigma. The latter wouldn't have changed my mind, though I do now own the 85mm Nikkor just because autofocus is welcome.)
  11. Apologies for the misinformation. Though for the 50% premium in price, I'd probably still think very closely about the faster Sigma.​

    No problem. I had the Sigma, and it is as good as everyone says it is. It is also as large as the specs say it is. However, I think it is a great specialty lens, and it does things nothing else can do, if your camera is up to the task. On balance I think the Nikkor would be a better choice for me, but I think it is a bit over-priced. I understand the Sigma price. They threw in every bit of engineering and machining they could get into that thing. And I think this is what they have to do to generate a separate market for the lens. But Nikon could produce what they did for a little less, maybe 50 or 100 dollars, IMO. Still, it is much more manageable than the Sigma, and it does have good optics. On the other hand, the manual focus action is not anywhere close to the Sigma. There are enough pros and cons to sway a choice toward either lens, I think.
  12. Really, only the OP can answer this as it all depends on what you photo, and how.
    Kent in SD
  13. I am quite sure the Sigma 50mm lens is made in Japan while all Nikon 50mm lenses are made in China and thus the price difference.
  14. BeBu: Huh? Sigma do, resiliently, make everything in Japan. However, the current 50mm Sigma is a significantly more complex design (8 elements, 6 groups, aspherical) than the 50 f/1.4 AF-S (8 elements, 7 groups, China) or AF-D (7 elements, 6 groups, China since 2000), and the 50mm "Art" Sigma (13 elements, 8 groups) is appreciably more complex than the 58mm (9 elements, 6 groups). Sigma have historically been a budget brand - they're charging more than Nikon for lenses in this bracket because they believe people will buy them despite Sigma's slightly iffy reputation a decade ago. Nikon have bulk manufacturing facilities in China, so the items that are worth making in large quantities tend to get made (more cheaply) there - though what Nikon charges for them is what it thinks it can get away with, as with any company. The items made in Japan are still the cheapest way Nikon could make them - otherwise it would make them in China as well - but for a small production run of a lens that's likely to sell lower quantities, they can make them more efficiently in Japan. Sigma are under-cutting the 58mm Nikkor, but to be honest I've no idea how well that's selling - I suspect not in vast quantities. They're under-cutting the Zeiss, but to be honest, so does everyone not based in Germany. For me, Sigma's pricing works - I'd have dreamed about owning an Otus but never get around to saving up for one, whereas the Sigma is within reach (eventually).

    At least, that's my understanding of things. And I certainly don't subscribe to KR's use of "quality" to identify whether something came from China or Japan.
  15. Edit: I once told myself that I shouldn't buy lenses costing between £400 and £1000. (Given the tax rate and import costs on optics, you can pretty much say $ = £ if you need to translate.) Lenses cheaper than £500 tend to be designed pessimistically, and only do what they need to do. Lenses over £1000 tend not to be designed to much of a budget, and therefore have enough money thrown at them to do what they need. Lenses between the two tend to have ambitions to do clever things, but are designed to a budget that doesn't allow them to do it.

    That's a gross over-simplification, and hasn't entirely stood the test of time. It came from my discovery that my 90mm Tamron, 50mm f/1.8 and 28-200 were actually pretty good, my 14-24 is pretty good, and my 135 f/2 and 150-500 were disappointing. I now have far more sample points, including some exceptions (the 300 f/4 is pretty decent, for example, as is the 150mm Sigma macro) and agreements (any 80-200 I've tried wasn't worth it, I didn't get on with the current 50mm f/1.4 options).

    The 35mm Sigma is, in my experience, an exception. But remembering this "rule" does make me thing I should check carefully before buying the 50mm Sigma A. If only Sigma had charged slightly more for it...
  16. I am a huge fan of the 50 mm F/1.8D. You can get one for about $100.00 and sell it for that just as quickly. I find it more than acceptably sharp at F/1.8 and razor sharp at F/4. Why throw a c-note at it and see what you think. If then you want to spring for something more expensive you will have answered your question about focal length.
    By the way, your FX camera should have a DX mode so you could use the cheap 35. I just don't see much point for what is usually an insignificant difference.
  17. clearly, 35mm is the better choice for FX. i dont buy the argument that's its not for people, since i shoot people all the time with my sigma 35/1.4 and fuji x100. i think its more of an all-around focal length than 50mm, and nice for environmental portraits as well as landscapes. 50mm can be a flat focal length unless you work hard to get some 3-dimensionality into the shot. also i think a 35 pairs with your current lenses better than a 50 does, which is to say the 35-80 gap is less significant than a 20-50 gap. the 20 will always be an ultrawide, while a 50 can be both not wide enough and not long enough. also the gap between 35 and 50 is not that much, and rendered moot by the cropping ability of today's high-MP sensors. the thing is that you can always crop a wide picture but you cant widen a tightly-framed pic.. that said, a lot depends on shooting style, and there are some ok, some decent and some really good lenses in both focal lengths.
  18. If the question is about "filling gaps", my answer will be "buy the 35mm". This way, you`ll have then a gap between the 20 and the 35, and another between the 35 and the 80-200; you will have then new gaps to be filled... :)
    Gaps aside, if you use to shoot indoors, or groups, or into narrow streets, I`d say buy a 35, if you move in the nature, or in open spaces, or you tend to shoot details or portraits, I`d choose a 50mm. This is the way I use them.
  19. Rick: The 50mm f/1.8 AF-D is... okay for sharpness at f/1.8. I've seen worse. The corners are pretty awful at larger apertures - it was poor enough that it was useless for checking my D800 for the left focus point. The bokeh is a bit on the ugly side too. But it's a bargain and tiny, so there's only so much criticism that it's due. It absolutely does sharpen up significantly at smaller apertures, though - though it's still improving at f/4. The AF-S is significantly better if you want to use it at larger apertures; if you don't, the AF-D is fine.

    Are you seriously suggesting buying a 35mm DX lens for an FX camera? With the crop factor, that'll take you back to 50mm, a stop slower (for depth of field) and with half as many pixels. If you've already got the FX camera, a cheap 50mm is surely a better idea than a 35mm DX lens.

    I'm not sure that 35mm is "clearly" the better length for FX, but I do agree that 50mm falls between "interestingly wide" and "isolating the subject". And you can crop (more easily than you can stitch).
  20. "I have a 20mm 2.8 and 80-200mm 2.8 af-d (fx body) and am looking for a lens to fill the gap. Which fits better: 35mm or 50mm?"​
    Early in my photographic career, the two lenses I used most often were the Nikon 35mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8. I also used a 20mm f/3.5 when I needed wider and a 180mm f/2.8 when I needed more telephoto. All were manual focus lenses.
    Later, I added 80-200mm f/2.8 and a 50mm f/1.4 auto focus Nikon lenses. I liked the auto focus and extra f/stop of the 50mm but I preferred the angle-of-view of the slower manual focus 35mm. When I replaced the 35mm with a faster f/1.4 version, I rarely used the 50mm again.
    Therefore, in answer to your question, the 35mm does a better job filling the gap for me.


  21. The 35mm f/1.4 Sigma has had glowing reviews. It's a pain to focus, though - you really need to get the USB dock and tune it.​
    this actually hasn't been my experience at all, using the sigma 35/1.4 with a D3s, i've gotten some great action shots of flamenco dancers which would have been framed way too tight with a 50mm. Shooting flamenco is a real litmus test for focusing, as the movements are wild, unpredictable, and sudden.

    I'm not sure that 35mm is "clearly" the better length for FX, but I do agree that 50mm falls between "interestingly wide" and "isolating the subject".​
    sorry, should have clarified that i was kidding (sort of). it's all subjective, but my experience parallels John's--i havent used my 50/1.4 much since getting the 35/1.4.
    OTOH, i did choose the 50mm-equivalent 35/1.4 for my Fuji mirrorless system over the 35mm equivalent 23/1.4, despite the latter's stellar reputation, but mainly because i didn't want to duplicate the 35mm FOV of my x100. i also have a 21mm-equiv. 14/2.8 for the Fuji system; on an upcoming planned trip to Mexico, i plan on bringing a bag of primes along with an x100 and maybe a Nikon J1 w/ two zooms. i anticipate using the x100 in tandem with the 14mm mounted most of the time on the XE1, while the 50/1.4 equiv. Fuji will probably be the main low-light lens.
  22. just want to illustrate the difference between a 35 and a 50 here. in the attached shot of a flamenco performer, i used vertical/portrait framing to get the dancer's hands and feet inside the frame. a 50mm would be cropped 30% tighter, so you'd likely lose one or both.
  23. I echo what a couple others have stated: only the OP knows what will be most useful. Pittosporum, maybe rent a lens for a while or just purchase a couple used lenses to pay around with. Personally, before digital came along, I used just three lenses with my Nikons: 24 or 28mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4, and 105 f2.5. I used the wides the most for casual shooting, and the 105 for portraits. Didn't use the 50 that much after I got the other two lenses.
  24. Maybe consider both? Or perhaps a 28 and a 50 instead?
    I know many say the 35 and 50 are both 'normal' lenses, but in my opinion they're quite different and I use both. They're my two most-used focal lengths, actually.
    Granted I'm something of a minimalist when it comes to gear, but I've done quite a bit of documentary and journalistic work with just 28, 35 and 50mm lenses. This includes professional work on assignment as well as my long-term projects. I don't shoot sports so really this is all I carry most of the time. I shot an entire assignment for a national news outlet the other day with just a 35mm. It's a really great focal length since it can feel wider or more 'normal' depending on how you use it.
    The new 35/1.8G FX lens is a very good lens. I never liked the Sigma 35/1.4, honestly the sharpness didn't blow me away at infinity and the rendering and color never really impressed me, but of course this is a personal opinion and also I might have tried a bad copy. There seems to be a lot of variation. I had been using the Zeiss 35/2, but now I'm happily using the Nikkor. Nikon seems to be focusing more on the look--the color, contrast and rendering of their latest lenses more than absolute sharpness, and I think that's a great decision. That's not to say they're not sharp. The Zeiss 35/2 is said by many to be one of the sharpest 35mm lenses out there. I tested them side-by-side and the new Nikkor is sharper at every aperture right out to the corners.
    Your needs might be different from mine, it's really a matter of personal taste. My point is simply that the two focal lengths you mentioned are not always redundant. I'm not sure what your budget is, but the 50/1.8G is pretty affordable, so maybe it combined with a 35/1.8G or 28/1.8G (also a very good lens) would give you more options.
    But if you really just want to know what fits in better between 20 and 80mm, I'd say 35mm if you consider the look of the images instead of the numbers.
  25. I have the Sigma 35 and I can endorse the positive comments above. I use it on a D800 and have had focus issues, but seem to have fixed them with a fine tune. It is big, but for anyone who has experience with the big f2.8 zooms it handles just fine.
    I also agree with the comments to the effect that the choice between the 35mm and 50mm focal lengths is highly personal. For my part though I'd probably go with the 50.
    Andrew, I'm sure HCB probably started shooting with a 50, screw-mount and therefore not instantly interchangeable, and any other focal length on his Leica would have required an auxiliary finder. All of which would undoubtedly have influenced his preference. Nonetheless much has been written about the 50mm focal length matching the natural perspective of the human eye.
    I tend to agree that pictures of people are better with focal lengths longer than 35. I'm aware that this is an enormous generalisation and that literally millions of successful portraits have been taken with angles of view greater than 60 degrees. It's just that in my own experience it is very easy to have unwanted distortion at the edges of shots taken with wide angle lenses, even as moderate as 35mm. I find too that when using a 35mm lens it is all too easy to have vertical lines either diverge or converge as a result of the camera not being perfectly level. I guess what I'm saying is that the 35mm focal length is more demanding of careful technique than the 50.
    You also don't have to get quite as close in order to fill the frame. Eric, if you'd been using a 50 you might have taken a step back, and then your dancer wouldn't have a spider hanging from her right elbow!
    Andrew, I for one really appreciate your concise and informative synopsis of the available lenses.
  26. You also don't have to get quite as close in order to fill the frame. Eric, if you'd been using a 50 you might have taken a step back, and then your dancer wouldn't have a spider hanging from her right elbow!​
    lol, that's not a spider, that's her hair! i dont know if you've ever shot flamenco, but the hair is often subject to as fast/unpredictable motion as the arms, head, and legs. you really do need to not crowd the frame as the movements can be sudden. also, stepping back would have been impossible as this was a seated show and i was at the front. light was low enough that i needed sub-2.8 just to get a decent shutter speed, so i didnt use the slower 24-70 zoom. so the 35/1.4 proved the perfect lens for this task. FWIW, i've shot a lot of live performance with a 50 too, and it's great when it works out, but there have been many times the hand or foot was outside the frame in an otherwise great shot. if you dont shoot things that move fast often, this may not matter as much, but for me it does. BTW the dancer liked the pic so much she used it for a flyer for a workshop she was teaching.
  27. Eric, I've actually attempted to photograph Flamenco myself, ironically also with the Sigma 35 f1.4 but I was too far away. You did a great job.
  28. thanks Alastair. i'm wondering if the sigma 35's reputed focus issues are specific to the D800. i used a D3s.
  29. A D800 will make any focus issues show up in ways a D3S will not. When I went from a D700 to a D800 I had a few
    lenses I thought were perfect that I had to go and fine tune.
  30. I will echo the folks saying it depends on his vision and what he shoots. I can shoot all day with a 35, 85 and 135. I use a 50 when I am in tight quarters for the 85. Both have killer bokeh. Rent a 28-70 and shoot the way you like then check the metadata. I like the 35 for environmental portraits. Like someone said above, the 50 is ok but the 85, so useful and the 135 my headshot and personal favorite.

Share This Page