I own both 35mm and a 50mm focal length. I sold the 35mm recently. But no matter which lens I owned and sold, I still have the focal lengths covered from 16mm and up to 170mm in my possession. The real question I believe anyone should ask is, which focal length (especially prime lens) you should own if it is the only lens you will buy.
As a person who professionally being paid for clients work, having a wide range of focal length options is necessary. The type of shoots required will generally determine my gear selection, but the answer is there is no supreme prime lens to rule them all. You can’t shoot a property with an 85mm lens, can you? Well, you can get away with a zoom lens, but this post is all about the prime lens.
As a prime lens user, I like to work with a pairing of primes. I have used the 35mm / 85mm combo, but over the years I am now gravitating towards 24mm / 50mm combo. It works well for events photography that doesn’t require any telephoto lens.
So which is which? Well, I like 35mm as I like to shoot environmental portraits. I want a photo of people with a little bit of breathing space in the composition, to show the environment and surrounding.
But, to make things complicated, 50mm is a unique lens. It’s a little bit tricky to compose, but once you get the hang of it, it is much better than a 35mm. You need to take a few steps back, and voila, you get the same view of a 35mm lens but with more compression and bokeh. The key to remember is, you can get the same view of a 35mm lens with the 50mm, provided you CAN take a few steps back. See, it is all about the working spaces that you have that will generally determine your preferred working lens, not which lens suits your vision more.
I believe, framing and composing with a 35mm lens is easy. Still, personally, I prefer 50mm focal length all the way. And since I am specialising more on beautiful art portraiture, I will favour 50mm any day. In a nutshell, 85mm for tighter portraits, and 50mm for everything else.
In the next post, I will write more about shooting in natural light and how sensor technology can be of great help in my photography.