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The first time you buy a new camera lens, it can be challenging to know which one is right for you. This decision will impact the photos that you take, so it's essential to get it right. In this article, we'll help you compare 50mm vs. 85mm lenses.
A 50mm lens is a classic and versatile tool for both portrait and street photography. It allows you to take photos that look natural as if the viewer was standing right there with you.
An 85mm lens, on the other hand, is best used when your subject matter requires more compression, which makes it excellent for portraits.
The photographic services industry is anticipated to rise to $44.07 billion in 2025. The more you practice, the better you'll get. You must improve your abilities to attract new clients and schedule bookings, and learning the differences between these lenses is a step forward.
The 50mm lens is a wide-angle lens that views the subject reduced to 50 percent of its natural size. The short telephoto perspective makes it ideal for photojournalism and unobtrusive documentary photography. It mimics human sight because we view the world with such lenses, making us seem closer together than we are.
A 50mm lens is well suited for street photography because you can take photos without drawing much attention. Because of its wide angle, your subjects will feel like they're part of the scene and not immediately aware that you're photographing them.
Its effective focal length is 75mm on an APS-C camera, making it suitable for everyday use since this is the standard kit lens that comes with most DSLR cameras. Alternatively, you can use an adapter to make it compatible with full-frame cameras too.
The zone inside a photo that appears in focus and sharp is known as depth of field. In each shot, there is a focal point (where you focus your lens).
An 85mm lens can be best described as a long telephoto lens. It makes your subjects look as if they were magnified by about 1.6x their original size, making it great for portraits.
The compression effect makes your subject pop out in the frame and draws more attention than using a 50mm lens. Many photographers use 85mm lenses to photograph people because they can blur out distractions around them that might otherwise take away from their portrait.
It's equally suitable for portraits when taking photos in dimly lit environments. Its wide aperture of f/1.8 also lets you compensate for the lack of light and capture detailed shots with a shallow depth of field.
One of the most debated topics in portrait photography is what lens to use for a particular shot. From 50mm up until about 85 mm, it is somehow impossible to say which one will give you that perfect look. However, there are still many opinions among veteran photographers.
Between 50mm and 85 mm, there isn't much difference between them, so that it could depend on personal preference. Nevertheless, let us look at why someone might want both perspectives.
It's challenging to choose just one type of camera or even another because every photo has particular areas requiring special attention, such as close-ups versus wide angles. However, we will try our best here to look at their differences.
An 85mm lens has a narrower angle of view, so you have to stand further away from your subject for it to fit into the frame. This is fine if you're photographing static subjects such as buildings, products, and landscapes.
A 50mm lens, on the other hand, is better since you can get up-close. If you want to be unobtrusive, then this lens will let you do that without being too conspicuous about it. It's helpful when photographing moving objects such as people and animals.
An 85mm lens is not very versatile, so it's best to use it when taking photos of people and not much else. This can be problematic if you plan on photographing random subjects that you come across during your daily life.
A 50mm lens is better suited for taking pictures of objects from a distance. 50mm is an excellent all-purpose lens. If you're traveling, 50mm will allow you to capture the whole scene without distortion. The same applies if you are taking group shots or photos of your family.
If you're shooting in a well-lit area, then a 50mm lens performs just as well as an 85mm. However, if you're taking pictures in low-light conditions, the 85mm lens has a significant advantage.
A 50mm lens has a wide aperture of f/1.8, is ideal for low-light photography, and lets you take those dreamy "bokeh" shots.
The 85mm works best if you're trying to photograph objects at a moderate distance. It's better than a 50mm lens for shooting portraits and wildlife since it lets you get close to your subjects without getting in the way.
If you don't know what you're doing, stick to a 50mm lens since you can get great pictures without worrying about controlling your depth-of-field effects. It's unsuitable for taking pictures of moving subjects since it has a slower autofocus speed and doesn't produce much background blur.
If you don't plan to take candid shots of people (in low-light conditions), then an 85mm lens is better suited for taking pictures indoors at night. If you're shooting at a basketball court on the sidelines, a 50mm lens will work well.
The 50mm is a cheaper alternative for everyday photography, while the 85mm lens gives you more magnification so that you don't have to get too close. This ultimately boils down to how much money you want to shell out and your requirements when photographing people with your DSLR camera.