Rules of 35mm lens

If you research about street photography from library, websites, news or asking street photographers, many photographers recommend you to take street photography with 35mm focal length. You can also use kit lens with 35mm focal length to take street photography!

But do you know why many photographers prefer using 35mm lens to photograph on street? Why don’t they recommend you to use 50mm lens? This article has answers.

35mm lens is wide lens that you can take anything you want, but isn’t too wide than you need. If you use APS-C camera, use 23 or 24mm lens. If you use M4/3, use 17mm lens. Using 35mm lens to take street photography is simple and easy to snap anything you need when you pass them. For kit lens or zoom lens that have 35mm focal lens, adjust 35mm focal length first, but zoom lens isn’t friendly for strangers who are walking.

If your lens has autofocus feature, BINGO! Your photography is too simple. You can photograph without seeing live view or viewfinder. I’ve tested photographing with 23mm focal length at Yaowarat Road and I will show results to you.

So, what are rules of 35mm lens? Let’s check them out.

Photograph to someone who is doing something.

That’s so simple. And you may ask me “What are you recommending? You teach me to photograph without permission!” Don’t care about permission because you are taking photos with nice posture, not ugly moments. Street photography is the art of photograph without permission. It’s art of sudden decision. And it need your luck to get best moment.


Street photography isn’t landscape photos. So you need someone or some pets to walk or do something at your photos. And not only them, you must adjust your camera angle to get great composition. With 35mm lens, it can create your great street photography.

WARNING : At Japan, Taiwan or South Korea, there are law that someone who are photographed without permission can call to police due to you’re voyeur. Photographing without permission in these countries is risk.

Zone focus first (if you use manual focus lens.)

35mm lens is wide lens that you cannot create depth of field as same as 50mm lens or greater. Duty of wide lens is capture everything in each photos. Blurring isn’t matter. So adjusting more aperture gauge is best choice. Adjust aperture to f8 or greater that you can use zone focus.

Zone focus is the fastest focus that has been used since rangefinder film camera. Famous street photographer at film camera era used zone focus to capture great moments they had seen and impressed.

Using zone focus, you see video below and you get it.

But zone focus cannot use with all manual focus lens because some lenses are written with wrong scale. I try to use zone focus, but result is blurred. Lens that can use zone focus must be branded name lens, such as Leica, Voigtlander, etc.

35mm lens isn’t for serious portrait or landscape

That means you cannot photograph architectures, landscape or portrait well. If you photograph architectures, you need wide lens or tilt-shift lens. If you photograph portrait, you need normal or telephoto lens to blur background.

35mm lens is designed for telling stories. Look at video below.

Actually, Fujifilm X100F uses 23mm f2.0, but this lens equivalent to 35mm. So this can be great rangefinder compact camera. But this video show how to take photo with 35mm well.

Composition is too important!

Art of street photography with 35mm lens is sudden moment inside rule of 35mm lens. Open rule of third grid and let objects, people stay at the line of grid.




Many new mirrorless camera, there is rule of third grid feature you can enable. If you enable it, adjusting composition is really piece of cake. Not only be simple, but it keep your photos to be valuable.


35mm lens is wide lens you can take street photography and your photos can introduce story themselves without you describe to anyone first. Remember, 35mm lens is the lens of telling story, not lens for portrait or showing landscape that let mountain, architecture to be protagonist.


But if you think 35mm lens is to expensive, use your kit lens at 35mm focal length. That’s usable.


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