The saying, “the right tool for the job” certainly holds true when it comes choosing a lens. Macro shots of nature and tilt-shift photography of cityscapes are only possible with specialized lenses. Dial it back even further; focal length can be a deciding factor in being the right tool for the job.

An abbreviated lesson on focal lengths would be; lower numbers like 16mm produce wider shots, while higher focal lengths like 200m produce “zoomed in” shots. So which one is best? Well, it depends on who you ask. Creatively, there is no wrong answer. You can get Instagram-worthy photos with any focal length, let alone any camera. So if you had to choose one, which would it be?

If I had zero knowledge of an upcoming project and had to pick a single prime lens, it would probably be around a 35mm lens. It’s still considered wider than “normal”, but I think this focal length is perfect for most situations you are thrown at. It’s wide enough to give you coverage, while still looking natural. If you walk closer to your subject, you can get a portrait with a nice blurry background without distorting the face too much. 35mm is a good balance of smoothness and perception of motion when incorporating camera movements like a slider or steady cam.

It really all comes down to what you like. I just seem to favor the look of the 35mm. I think if I averaged all the shots I ever took; it would come close to a 35mm. So is it the right tool for the job? Probably not, but that’s what makes it creative work.

What lens would you choose?