The Best Focal Length for Street Photography


Prime lenses are generally sharper and optically superior by the simplicity of their design. There are no moving elements and fewer layers of glass than in zooms therefore light gets to the sensor with less degradation. AfterShoot – AfterShoot helps photographers cull their photos faster, leaving them more time to spend on creative tasks. Tamron has you covered, with superior optics perfect for any situation. With weather sealing and advanced image stabilization, you’ll open up your creative possibilities.

If a 50mm lens was good enough for a genius like Bresson, then well….. I’d always encourage a photographer to opt for a prime lens when shooting street photography. A 35mm and a 50mm are popular choices for both new and seasoned street photographers.

Prime lenses have a fixed focal, they cannot zoom, instead you just have to get closer or further away to adjust your frame and composition. Don’t forget to join the Photofocus Community as well and share them our photography group discussions. Second, the 35mm lens is smaller and easier to focus on a Leica. I believe this article in Luminous Landscape that 35mm is the more ergonomic choice for rangefinders. I don’t understand why 50mm lenses are small on SLRs and 35mm lenses are small on rangefinders.

Sensors that are not full frame come in different dimensions. So, for example, if you attach a 50mm lens to a camera with an APSC sensor, you will see less than if you attach the same focal length to a camera with a micro 4/3 sensor. If you are not sure about how this works, please check out this article. Dedicated macro lenses are quite expensive, but you can use your 50mm lens innovatively to shoot macros too. You will need to buy or make a reversal ring that will allow you to mount your lens in reverse.

This will allow you to capture motion, but still keep a sharp image. Photographing at night at f16 will lead to blurry photos. Especially how do you say hello in ghana if you’re using shutter speeds bigger than one second. People coming through a train door is an ideal scenario for pre-focusing.

These are some of the reasons, most famous street photographers prefer using prime lenses for street photography. The next aspect you want to consider is the focal length of your lens. Ideally, in street photography, you want your lens to capture much of the scene as possible, without going so wide that it distorts. For this reason, we recommend a 35mm lens (on full frame – on crop sensor APS-C cameras, a 24mm will equate to the same). Although 35mm is the optimum focal length, there are times where a wider 24mm view or a narrower 50mm view can also be desirable, depending on what type of shot you are after. On a full-frame camera, a 50mm lens is considered to be a normal focal length because it provides a field of view similar to how we see.

Professional photographer, blogger, tea and coffee lover, frustrated cook and lately iPhone photographer. If you are a micro four thirds user you may also want to check-out my review of the best lenses for micro four thirds. It could be to shoot the street from a certain elevation or across the street saving you from getting run over by traffic whilst standing in the middle of the road.

I’ve used 4 different 50s…not sure why I keep buying them trying to force myself to like them and expand my photography. I prefer 35/40 for my “vision” of the scene, don’t have any use for a 50mm. Further, there is less distortion and chromatic aberration when using a prime lens given that the manufacturer only has to focus on controlling one focal length during the design stage. You can get close to your main subject and fill the frame, yet still show a lot of the background. This will allow you to capture moments with your camera that you just wouldn’t be able to get with a more cumbersome zoom lens.

To keep the discreet and manoeuvrable advantage of a lens such as the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM, it pays to strip back the rest of your kit to the bare minimum, advises Ejiro. “Too much choice can cause you to overthink things,” Ejiro says. “Even a standard kit zoom lens offers such a variety of focal lengths that it can sometimes slow you down.” Despite the lens’s affordable price it’s also a strong performer in low light, and is the ideal partner for a Canon EOS RP or Canon EOS R6. Its lens elements and coatings ensure shots are sharp from edge-to-edge, with superior image quality and colours. Ejiro Dafé shoots solely with a 50mm lens, so he was the ideal photographer to work with the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM first.