I'm in a bit of a pickle here...

I own a Nikon D7100 with a 18-200mm lens. But the image stabilization started to act up a week ago and long story short: my lens has to be sent to Nikon to have it fixed and it's going to take at least 4 weeks until i have it back leaving me with no lens at the moment. :(

So my solution to the problem...buying a fairly cheap (and my first) prime lens! And the contenders are the 35mm or the 50mm. Already read a bunch of articles, posts, watched a lot of video's but i just can't decide which one to buy...

I bought my camera a month ago and i am trying to turn my photography into a side job at least. I must say i'm not exactly a real beginner since i've been a professional cameraman for quite some time and worked with slr's during my studies, but far from a pro either...still have a lot to learn. (and working very hard doing so) My goal is to become a good wedding photographer on the long run.

Right now i'm loving taking pictures of landscapes for which i believe the 35mm would be better and portraits...for which the 50mm would be awesome. If i go through my shots in lightroom, i noticed i tend to take more shots at 35mm than 50mm, but then again, my best portrait ones are at 50mm. Since it's the only lens i will be able to use for some time, i believe the 35mm would be the choice, since it's more versatile (tight spaces and such). But that's where my mind starts to make a u-turn. First off, since i'm going to try to make money with my photography, chances are pretty big i'll buy a FX body in the future and the 50mm will translate better to it than a 35mm (it will be a true 50mm). And once i have my other lens back, i'll probably use that one for landscapes (wider angle) and as a walk-around lens instead of the 35mm. So i don't want to waste money on a lens that i won't be using a lot in the future. (except on low light indoor conditions) Of course, it is my first prime lens and i might be baffled by the sharpness compared to the zoom lens i have/had. Still, right now i'm leaning more towards the 35mm than the 50mm, but i was wondering what you guys think of all of this. Am i missing something?

The other thing is, i think owning a 50mm will be quite fun to learn to use and will improve my portrait skills in the long run, more than the 35mm will. And the long run is quite important for me since i want to do what i love (and i just love taking pictures!!!) instead of working a boring dead-end job. Anyways, that's it for now, thanks for reading my wall of text and i'm quite curious what answers i'll get.

Have a good one,


  • 1
    Sounds like you know you'll get more benefit out of the 50mm. It's such a personal choice there is no way we can really help - you seem to have summarized all the key points, so you are in possession of all the information you need IMO, and not knowing you it would be pointless for random strangers to advise you further. – MikeW Jun 16 '15 at 22:37
  • Buy what you'd use the most. I had the same quandary, realized I shoot most things at 50mm or more and ditched the 35. So now I own both. Upgradeability should not be a consideration. The cost of either a 35 or 50 is negligible compared to the cost of a pro body. If you're going to spend a few thousand making that upgrade, you can afford another $200 for a proper 50 at that point. – Ivan Jun 17 '15 at 2:28
  • There is no correct answer to this. You should find a discussion board to start a dialog about it. – A K Jun 17 '15 at 3:21

Raising and keeping your skills and results to a level where people are willing to pay for it is a long never-ending quest, so you better get started as soon as possible. In this regard, the 35mm seems to be a better match.

Based on my experiences, 50mm on a crop body is an uncomfortably long focal length as sole/main lens for indoor event photography, forcing you too long distance away from any shot of multiple people. Sometimes, the wall just isn't far enough for you to go, and there could be obstacles such as furniture or guests forcing you to run long detours while you should be taking pictures.

For landscapes, wider is the classical preference, as you've already admitted. On that future full-frame body, it will be even better suited.

The 35mm is indeed too short for headshot portraits, but perhaps this would be a good time to practice some upper-body or full-body shots. You could try including some relevant background telling a story about the subject - turning the width of field of view to be an advantage.

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