recommendation for either a 50mm or 35mm

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by danielle_philbrook, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. Hello!
    I'm trying to decide which will be a better bang for my buck as they are pretty close in price. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor Lens

    Nikon 35mm AF-S DX NIKKOR f/1.8G Lens

    Thanks! Danielle
  2. Since you mention the 35mm DX lens, it's hopefully safe to assume you're using a DX-format Nikon body. I'll make another leap, and guess that you probably got that body with one of the bundled-in zoom lenses (say, an 18-55, or an 18-105, etc).

    If so, you've got the perfect laboratory to answer your own question. The two lenses you mention are, in most ways that matter, optical peers. They've both good lenses for the money, and lend themselves to shooting in lower light when you don't mind the shallow depth of field that comes with a wider aperture.

    But the reason to choose one focal length over another is because of the composition it supports. Let's say you're looking to shoot head-and-shoulders portraits. To make that person's facial features look right (nose not too big, etc), you'll find there's a certain working distance (never mind the lens ... this is about how far YOU are from the person, and how that makes them look to you) that just feels right. To avoid a lot of quality-killing cropping after the fact, you want to use as much of your camera's frame as possible while making that photo. And that means using a focal length that happens to frame your subject in the way you want to see it/him/her at that distance. A given focal length will be just right for that. Might be 35mm, might be 85mm. Depends on the look you're after.

    But since you probably have a zoom lens that already allows you to shoot at 35mm and 50mm, you can just spend some time with the lens set to those two focal lengths, and see what sort of shooting is best supported by those lengths.

    On DX, a 50mm lens is a short telephoto. To get a vertically oriented shot of a standing adult, you'd have to back off at least 15 feet. With a 35mm, that might be more like 9 feet (again, you can show yourself exactly this using a zoom lens, if you have one).

    That head-shot portrait, on the other hand, might find you at a comfortable 5 feet away with the 50mm, while you might be getting awkwardly close using 35mm, and risking some odd perspective artifacts ("odd" is only bad if you don't like them!).

    They're both very useful lenses ... but they both exactly the wrong tool for somethings, while being terrific for others. Can you comment more on what camera you're using, what sort of subject matter you're shooting, whether you have a zoom lens already (and which one), and what sort of limitations you feel yourself running into right now that have you lens shopping?
  3. SCL


    Danielle - it depends on what you like to shoot, whether you are using a cropped or full frame body, and what focal length you are most comfortable with. Either could be a good choice, depending on your preferences. I like a 35 on a full frame body, but prefer a 28 on a cropped body. I occasionally use a 50 on both, but more often use a 50 on a cropped body, as it gives an angle similar to a 75 on a full frame.
  4. If it's dX, I can say this.
    I have a 50 and love it, but since I got my 35, it's been on my camera maybe twice, and the 35 lives on the camera most of the time. But for a lot of uses, I must have the "normal zoom" range of the 18-70.
  5. As others have already stated, it depends on what you want it for. But if it's just for general photography because you want a faster lens than a zoom, the 35 is an all-purpose lens, the equivalent of the classic 50mm lens on a 35mm camera. On a DX camera, a 50mm lens is on the short telephoto side of things, and so it's a little more limited to specialized applications like portraits and such. For example, you can't take in as much of a room with a 50 as you can with a 35.
    Look at the EXIF data of the pictures you have been shooting, and see what focal length you ended up using most of the time with your zoom lens. That should give you some idea of where your needs fit.
  6. Thanks everyone! I have a D60 and I do have the standard lens that came with it a 18-55. I am looking to get those true photos and something easy to use. I shoot a lot of people and architecture and will be traveling this fall. I was able to try out the 50mm (older model) at the camera store but they don't have either of the DX models. I really appreciate all the feedback!
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Other than not having an AF motor insider the older 50mm/f1.8 AF-D and therefore no AF with the D60, the older 50mm should be similar to the latest AF-S in the sense that it provide the same angle of view (coverage) and aperture. If you like that, the AF-S would be fine for you and it can AF on the D60.
    BTW, only the 35mm/f1.8 AF-S is a DX lens. The 50mm/f1.8 AF-S is not a DX lens; it can cover the entire FX frame. Nikon sent me one to test last month, and after using it for 2 weeks, I bought one myself.
  8. Shun Cheung- what did you like best about the 35mm? I really want to try it in person but I'm still waiting for a store to get it in stock. I did really like the older 50 mm. Very easy to us. But having AF can be handy.
  9. Mmm, how about "in Between"? (Just inspired by Nikon's latest anouncement...)
    The all new 40mm 2.8, that throws in Macro up to 1;1 as an extra feature... ?
    I'll be inverstigating this lens for sure, so maybe, just maybe, you might also want to have a look at it ( next month that is...) .
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have used two copies of the 35mm/f1.8 DX AF-S. Its main advantages are:
    • Affordable
    • f1.8, great for indoors where your 18-55 isn't.
    The main drawback is some chromatic aberration (color fringing).
    Only you can decide whether the wider 35mm or the narrower 50mm is better for you.
  11. bang for the buck? they both cost about the same. however, 35/1.8 is a much more useful focal length on an APS-C camera, IMO. one reason for that is that, typically, low-light photos are taken indoors, where a 50 may be too long.
    the 50 can work for specialized applications, live like concert photography, but it's also just a tad short for head-and-shoulders portraits. a 35 is good for full-body portraits and general candid photography --it makes a great lens for street photography.
    if i were the OP, i would get the 35. you can always add the 50 down the line, if you need that focal length. but if you are really interested in focusing on portraits, it's probably worth it to look elsewhere, such as the nikon 60mm micro or the tamron 60mm macro, or, say, the tamron 28-75/2.8 BiM, which covers a wider swath of the portrait range.
  12. I have both of those 1.8 AFS lenses and the not-BIM version of the Tamron mentioned, and have used them all on a
    D90 and D7000. Since I got the D7000 the Tamron is my everyday lens (my copy needed AF fine tune, big time, and
    the D90 doesn't have that, but with fine tuning it turned into an excellent lens). My recommendation, as primes go - the
    35mm is probably the more useful lens for what you're talking about. Both are really nice, sharp, compact lensen that
    works well at large apertures and open up a lot of opportunities for low light shooting. I think the 50mm is a bit better
    as pixel-peeper-grade image quality goes, because it CA's a bit less and the bokeh is nicer (not that either of those
    factors have me complaining about the 35) but to me the 35 is the more useful focal length and the 50mm is more for
    my F100. But look at your own shots - if you do your best work on the long end of your 18-55 you mig prefer the
  13. The 35/F2 (NOT DX) lives on both my DX and FX cameras most of the time. It is a very sweet focal length. I have to force myself to use the 50mm (although on the DX it is probably the only option as a portrait lens, unless you want to go for the Tamron 60mm which also has macro (and good enough bokeh on the far end)).
  14. On dx, the 35mm...but I would rather have a zoom and the 35mm than a 35mm and a 50mm.
  15. Hi,
    If I were you I´d choose this:
    Esa Kivivuori
    Hyvinkää, Finland
  16. I was at a wedding last week with no flash and my only good low light lens being a 50mm. It didn't have the reach I would have liked for the ceremony and I had to be too far back for the reception. Personally I would go with the 35mm on a crop sensor body, though it really depends on your use. As a non professional I figure I can always crop if needed, but you can't make a picture wider than it was shot at.
  17. I'm loving my brand new (today) Nikon N90 D90 and 35mm f1.8 DX lens. I knew the thing was sharp from reading the reviews, but the dof is very nice too.
  18. GAH! That was meant to be D90 - also been loving my N80 lately. N, D, it's all good right? With a few "F's" thrown in for good measure.

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