Choosing a Fixed Focal Length Lenses for Your Camera
In this article, we are going to tell you about the most popular lenses with fixed focal length.
We hope that this short review will help you to understand more and make the right choice in favor of one or another lens.
What is the benefit of fixed focal length lenses?
One of the main benefits of such lenses is that they are faster than zoom lenses. Even the cheapest FFL will have an aperture of 1.8. As it is known, the fewer barriers the light should overcome on its way to the matrix, the faster will be the lens. As FFLs don’t have a lens unit, responsible for zoom, they are more compact and lightweight. It is considered, that FFLs are more durable, as they don’t come loose and don’t collect dust inside. Moreover, fixed focal length lenses have rather a good price/quality/speed ratio.
How to choose FFL?
For sure, everyone will be choosing a lens according to his/her requirements; we will only give a short review of the four most popular lenses with focal length of 35mm, 50 mm, 85 mm, and 100/105mm. Remember, all the above-mentioned characteristics will be accurate only for a full frame camera, in case of a crop, a focal length should be multiplied by crop-factor. As a rule, various manufacturers can also offer as low-cost so more expensive models, that are faster and more powerful.
The most widely used among amateurs, so among the pros are lenses with the following focal length: 35 mm, 50 mm, 85 mm, and 100/105mm. And we are going to tell about them in this article. Others such as 200 mm or 14 mm, 24 mm are not so popular among photographers as they are rather expensive and have specific characteristics.
The focal length of 35 mm is one of the most popular not only by amateurs but by professional photographers as well. In spite of the fact that it can be achieved only with the help of a wide range of zoom lenses, the demand for the lenses of such focal length is still rather high.
All the “magic” of 35 mm lens happens because of its viewing angle, and this is almost 63 degrees (full matrix). Versatile focal length provides greater creativity – a lens can be used almost for all genres of photography, from portraits to reportage and landscape.
Nifty fifty is considered the most popular FFL. Its main advantage, among others, is its small size and weight, and furthermore it is multipurpose, can be used for any occasion. For comparison: 50mm f/1.4 G 278 g 85 mm f 1/4G 595 g 35 mm f 1.4 G 600 g.
Usually, it is considered, that an image made with such lens is the most correct from the point of view of the human eye. In "classic" 35 mm film photography (aka full matrix) such a lens is considered "normal," because its focal length is approximately equal to the diagonal size of the frame, and the angle of view is from 40 to 50 degrees.
A small angle of view slightly restricts the photographer, but at the same time makes you think and move to look for a better camera angle. Zooming, in this case, simplifies the process too much, you just stand on one place and do not think about composition. Moreover, the nifty fifty will help you to avoid any unnecessary information in the shot, that can create chaos.
The following benefit of the 50 mm lens is its speed, that outgoes the capacity of any zoom. It should be mentioned that even the cheapest lens of the series will have a maximum aperture of 1.8 mm. Furthermore, nifty fifties are cheaper than their competitors.
This is a classic portrait lens. 85mm lenses are notable for its almost complete lack of distortion. They are perfect for portrait photography; you don't need to stand too far away from your model or get too close. It gives a nice clear picture without distorting the perspective and an amazing bokeh.
Despite the fact that the lens is primarily meant for portrait photography, it can also be used to make photos outdoors when you want to remain unnoticed or simply have no desire to come close to the object. It is not recommended to use this lens as the main one, because of its limited functionality.
100mm / 105mm Lenses
Nikon and Canon produce lenses with a focal length of 105 mm and 100 mm, respectively. Their characteristics are similar to 85 mm lens. Perfect perspective, wonderful bokeh and beautiful, clear picture. Manufacturers advertise these lenses as well as macro lenses.
Which lens to choose?
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that each photographer has his/her own preferences. Probably the most reasonable advice is to try everything in practice. If you decide to purchase an FFL, then, first of all, try to test a zoom lens and choose the focal length you will be most comfortable to work with. And only then make your final decision.
We recommend collecting a line of optics with a certain difference in the distance. The examples of the recommended lines:
- 24mm (landscape), 50mm (genre), 100mm (portrait + macro)
- 35mm (landscape + genre), 85mm (portrait)
- 50mm only (budget option).