Jasmine Star Discusses the Canon 35mm F/1.4 and the Canon 50mm F/1.2


 For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you'll know I received the Canon 35mm F/1.4 L lens last week. And Oh! My! Goodness! I nearly died from excitement. I've been waiting for this lens f.o.r.e.v.e.r but wanted to make sure it fit into my style and aesthetic. I used it for the first time at Meg+Tim's wedding and I loved it. L o v v v v e d  i t !  I causally joked it'd take the place of my 50mm F/1.2 L, but I'm happy to report I'm still sticking to the 50mm as my all-time favorite lens.



The 35mm is a perfect fit for what I wanted. I shot with the 24mm F/1.4 L, and while that's a phenomenal lens, it was much too wide for my preference. Since I shoot primarily with fixed lenses, I needed a lens that worked well with the lenses I use the most: 50mm F/1.2 L and 85mm F/1.2 L. The 24mm ended up being too much of a departure from my style, and I feel the 35mm fills the gap just perfectly.

Okay. So why is the 50mm F/1.2 L still my favorite? Well, I love its versatility. I can shoot within close proximity of my subjects, and if I want a wider angle, I simply step back. The 35mm gives close to the same effect, but because it's wider, it loses a bit of the editorial feel. Just a bit. I'm posting a few images and metadata to show what I mean.

I placed these two portraits of Meg side by side, to explain my preferences. The photo on the left was shot with the 35mm, and the focal point placed on her left eye. While it's a pleasant photo, it gives her a larger-than-life feeling. Which is fine, but it's just not my taste. The photo on the right is definitely more my style. I stood a bit farther from Meg, but shooting her with the 50mm allowed me to see her within the frame, instead of making Meg the frame itself.

Left: 35mm F/1.4 L, 1/1000 at ISO 200

Right: 50mm F/1.2 L, 1/2000 at ISO 200



Here's a photo of the bridesmaids, shot with the 35mm. I did some cropping because I shot it a little crooked, so it lost its full effect, but the idea is still the same. I would have preferred to have photographed this setup with the 50mm. The 35mm put too much space around my subjects, and made them pieces of the frame—not the main focus.

35mm F/4.5, 1/400 at ISO 200

I also shot this photo with the 35mm, and it's perrrrrrfect for what I wanted, which is a more candid, photojournalistic feel. Sure, I could've shot this photo with the 50mm by backing up farther from my subjects, but I feel I would have lost the intimacy and interaction I had being in close proximity of the girls, talking and laughing.

35mm F/4.0, 1/400 at ISO 200

Like always, I shoot a traditional formal portrait of the bride and groom. You know—for Grandma and Auntie Mae from Idaho. I could, of course, shoot a portrait of the bride and groom with the 35mm, but it would lose its traditional appeal because of the width of the lens. Which is its biggest asset, but I'll get to that in a minute.

50mm F/3.5, 1/320 at ISO 200


Speaking of losing its traditional appeal, the 35mm is perfect for just that. Which is why I love it. The 35mm allows me to stand much closer to my subjects and interact on a new level, thus producing an entirely different image, given the same environment. The portrait above and the photo below were shot with the couple in the exact same position, within seconds of each other, and the lenses yield such different results. And by this I mean the couple was standing in the same position. I swapped lenses and took two steps closer to them.

35mm F/1.4, 1/800 at ISO 200

Like always, these are merely my personal preferences and ideas. If I've offended you because the 35mm is your favorite lens, I'm sorry. We can have a shoot off when we next see each other. My opinion is worth nothing, but it's mine, and I thought I'd share. At the end of the day, I love the 35mm F/1.4. Love it. In fact, I shot an engagement session yesterday, and I adored how it fit into my shooting style so seamlessly. My only regret is that I didn't get it sooner. But don't tell that to my 50mm. It'll make her jealous.

Read more from Jasmine Star at her blog.


i agree with gabriel in the last comment. it's interesting that you shoot the wider shots (almost full body) with the 50mm and then you come close with 35mm. I would do exactly the opposite. you did it on both the couple and on meg shots. one thing - the girls in front of the house - the 35mm didn't put too much space around them :D you did.  i think you are used so much for the 50mm prime that you 'learned' to stand a specific distance from people to achieve your best results. just walk a bit closer and all the empty space is gone. images are superb, i'm sure your clients are always happy. one suggestion - try exactly the opposite actually. don't walk to the girls for tighter shot with the 35. do that with the 50 as you are used to. if you put the 35, use the power of it. it's wider, go even further from the people. show more of the beautiful house behind the people. or a garden next to it, or the sky above the house for few shots even if the girls are small(er) on the image. (maybe the 24mm would be great for those shots). all the images don't have to be super close ups. but again - great work

I thought the same thing and thought he had all his photos switched until reading yours and other comments. He seems to be using them in reverse. 50mm fills the frame more, and 35mm is better for environmental, yet he uses them completely opposite, which also creates more distorted facial features. I also prefer the FOV what he shot with a 50mm, but the 35mm would acheive that look better. Like you said, maybe its that they are used to standing in a certain place. 

Thanks for the review Jasmine, I'm learning a lot by reading your blog posts. I also love the 50mm a lot, but I also think the 35mm is great! I have to say though that your portrait comparison of Meg on her own could be a lot better if you would have shot the "almost full body" one with the 35mm and the tighter portrait with the 50mm (so in reverse as you did). That might have given much better results (I think).

Great images!

With that said, because you moved forward and backward with each lens switch to keep the subjects within the frameworks that suit your eye, I feel this was a poor comparison.

This didn't make my decision any easier because when you switched lenses for the last comparative shots, you also moved forward, changing the camera perspective. It would have been nice and the comparison would have been more accurate had you maintained perspective for each lens change.

I still enjoy your comparisons though, just some feedback that will hopefully help you illustrate more accurate comparative examples in the future. Happy shooting!

love the comparison! now i know that i will definitely buy the 35mm too! :)

Great post!

I'm two years behind too:)  Love the intimacy of the close-in 35mm shots. I've shot with the other 50mms for almost 6 years and sold all but the nifty 50. I got the 40mm pancake and really loved it's focal length but wanted extra light and DoF, which is how I found your comparisons. Great job, keep em coming! We need more real-life tests and less studio test labs.

Thank you sooo much for those examples! I love your work! I've been giving mself a headache trying to decide between buying the 50mm1.2 or the 35mm. I'm going to get the 50. I'm in love with primes lol.

Oh my just saw the date lol I'm two years behind!

Thanks, Jasmine. Putting some descriptions (like "larger-than-life" and "editorial") to the photos was surprisingly helpful and the shots give me an idea on how to apply both focal lengths.

Your last photo with the 35mm...I thought the DOF would be much thinner at this distance. How close were you to the couple? Or was the photo cropped?

Personally i prefer the 35mm lens in the 2 first pictures. I also agree  there are too many changes while comparing both lens. You changes the distance, you changed the way you framed the model and of course you changed the lens. So, they are totally different pictures about the same model. But in any way they are really great.

regards from Brazil!


 I was taught that you always focus on the eyes.


In the first photo and last photos, you changed too many things. The 50 would have filled the frame more than the 35 at the same distance.

I want the 35 for the more PJ look, and like the idea of more interaction with my subjects.

The reason to be careful with the 35 is the possibility of distorting body parts near edges.


from your left & right image comparison:

"Left: 35mm F/1.4 L, 1/1000 at ISO 200"

"Right: 50mm F/1.2 L, 1/2000 at ISO 200"

why in the world are you shooting still subjects @ 1/1000 & 1/2000 @ ISO 200??

especially since you're shooting wide open!

....exposure comprehension fail.

 Hi and thanks for the kind words!  :)

I shoot with the Canon 5DMII.

Like always, lens preferences are personal choices, but I truly am smitten with the 50mm, 1.2, the 85mm, 1.2 and the 35mm, 1.4.  I could pretty much shoot with these lenses all day!  :)

@Rob A  Jasmine is on a Full frame

@Leonard E Yes she uses the  5D 

@ Vince my 2 cents you will LOVE LOVE LOVE the 35mm1.4 L Since I got mine it has not came off my camera...

Full frame or APS-C???

 wow great timing! I'm in the market for a 24mm -I thought- and have fixed 85 and 50mm lenses like you (I'm gradually moving away from zoom). But because I focus on portrait photography, the 24 just seemed so wide, and studying many portraits just made me a bit uncomfortable. So I'll be looking at the 35mm now, it might be exactly what I need! One question, how far away would you say you'd need to be for a full-body portrait on a 35mm lens? With the 50, I tend to lose 'contact' with the model.


What camera are you using, you don't mention that in this article,

I assume it is a 5D, because you are obviously seeing the lenses the way they really are-Nice photos-.

Lenny Eisenberg

BH Online videos

You've got some great images there!

One note of caution with the big aperture lenses is that it's easy to inadvertently focus on the nose or ears and knock the eyes out of focus.  I know - I did it once with the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS.

That said, this lens looks great!

Charlie MacPherson