When it comes to street photography, there’s perhaps nothing better than 35mm prime lenses.
35mm prime lenses offer a perfect balance between not being too wide and not being too tight. On top of this, 35mm prime lenses are usually light, fast to focus, and they feature nice fast apertures. Thanks to all of these characteristics, 35mm primes lend themselves well to street photography. You can easily capture nice wide scenes of life in your city and fantastic candid portraits.
In this roundup, we’ve picked five of our favorite 35mm prime lenses for various systems ideal for street photography, portraits and more. None of these primes will break the bank, either.
Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM — Small, sharp and affordable
Canon did a great job with this 35mm prime for their RF mount mirrorless cameras. This lens is small and light, so you won’t stand out too much. The optics are fantastic; they render nice colors and can do macro work. It’s also a great performer when it comes to autofocus. In our review, we said:
“Overall, the autofocus performance of the Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM is very good. In good light, the lens is snappy and very accurate, I didn’t encounter any problems when using single point, expanded areas, and zones. The lens performed well when tracking as well.”
Gear Editor — Brett Day
Coming in at under $500, this 35mm prime from Canon offers an excellent way to get your hands on an RF mount prime lens. You won’t be disappointed with the images you create with it. The Canon 35mm f/1.8 will become your go-to option for fuss-free photowalks and street photography sessions.
Fujifilm XF23mm f/2 R WR — Bang for your buck performance
Fujifilm is known for producing brilliant prime lenses that don’t cost an arm and a leg. The Fujifilm 23mm f/2 (a 35mm equivalent) is a fantastic example of this. This lens isn’t just a beauty to look at. It performs well above its price point. It’s weather-sealed too, which makes it ideal for life on the streets.
The Fujifilm 23mm f/2 is ridiculously sharp, it renders gorgeous colors, smooth bokeh, and the stepping motor means it won’t miss any action. In true Fujifilm-style, this lens also features an aperture ring that enhances the overall user experience. Pair this lens with an X-Pro 3 or X-T4, and you’ll have a fully weather-sealed kit that easily captures life on the streets. The best part, it costs less than $450!
Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN — As close to perfect as 35mm primes get
The Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN contemporary is everything a fast, affordable 35mm prime should be. It features a gorgeous retro design, an excellent aperture control ring, and it’s beyond sharp. In our review, we said:
“When you consider the premium build quality along with the autofocus performance for stills, and the overall image quality, the asking price of under $650 isn’t a bad at all.”
Gear Editor — Brett Day
The aperture ring is a joy to use on this lens, and the fast autofocus performance and lack of chromatic aberration and fringing take it over the edge. For under $650, you can get a retro-inspired 35mm prime with some weather sealing that will deliver images with plenty of character and more. It’s available for both Sony E mount cameras and L mount cameras.
Sony 35mm f/1.8 — One of the best E mount 35mm prime lenses
The Sony 35mm f/1.8 is an unassuming lens that packs way more punch than its price suggests. The lens has a simple design; it’s compact and light, has a fast maximum aperture, and has weather sealing too.
This lens has a lot of character to it as well. The colors it renders are fantastic, and the bokeh is excellent, thanks to the 9-bladed design. This lens is also freakishly sharp. You’ll also find that this lens has a customizable focus hold button and rapid linear autofocusing motors. There are plenty of 35mm prime lenses for Sony E mount cameras; however, this lens is one of the best thanks to its feature set and price (it’s under $750)
Olympus 17mm f1.8 — A must-own for M4/3 street photographers
Micro Four Thirds street photographers are also spoiled for choice when it comes to 35mm equivalent lens options. However, the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 is one of the best you can get your hands on. The lens features a timeless design, weighs next to nothing (0.264lbs/120g), and it’s an autofocus speed demon.
Nine elements in six groups and seven rounded aperture blades help this lens produce images that look like they come from a much more expensive lens. When paired with a camera like the Pen F or the E-M10 IV, you’ll have a powerful, compact setup that will help you capture street scenes and more.