Exploring 35mm F1.8 Further

The more I use the Sony 35mm F1.8 lens, the more I feel right at home with it. The perspective it produces was just nice (about 52mm focal length on 35mm equivalent format), not being too tight, having room for plenty of background, allowing the subject to have space to "breathe". Yet at the same time, it is not too wide, it allows for some very good close up shots if needed, and I get sufficient working distance between where I stand and where the subject is, and not being overly close until they feel uncomfortable. Usually I'd say standing about 2 meters away would be ideal, and being 1.5 meters away is still alright, but working at 1 meter and nearer, people would have that "WTF" look on their facial expression, something I try to avoid. What is the point of shooting portraits of people when they look as if they don't like to have their photos taken in the first place? 

Sony A350 and that 35mm F1.8 on my hands. 
Image courtesy of Shaun the Footless Fish, taken with the Voightlander 17.5mm F0.95 lens on his OM-D. 

All images (except the first one before this) were taken with Sony Alpha A350 and DT 35mm F1.8 lens

Vegetable seller

Morning laughter

Braving the rain

No umbrella

Hectic traffic

Vegetable buyer

Composition with the 35mm F1.8 lens was quite straightforward, really, the frame coverage is very similar to what the eye sees in real life. I like the ability to include more background, yet not being too wide, not including too many things at the same time. Kirk Tuck has recently written how his choice of working focal length was 50mm (35mm equvalent) or longer, and he complained how he also did not want to include too many things inside one frame, using too wide angle of a lens. I find myself agreeing to this in my own shooting needs and preferences, especially on the streets. Having too many things going on in the background can be distracting, and they will pull the attention away from the main subject. Yes, sometimes we do have exception and have the stronger background to amplify the story (depending on your style and choice of composition methods) but if poorly executed, wide angle shots will work against you. It is a lot safer, and more "natural" to produce images taken with normal primes, or longer focal lengths. The longer the focal length, the less you have to worry about the background, as it gets compressed or blurred into bokeh. 

I found the Sony 50mm F1.8 to be rather restrictive in some situations, but I personally love the lens a lot too. Shooting in the wet market of Pudu, it is more practical to use something wider, to fit the environment surrounding the subject, to tell a more compelling story. If I were to shoot just close up headshots, or half body shots of people, I'd pick the Sony 50mm F1.8 any time. Nonetheless having the similarly composed image in every image I made would be boring. I have read in one of the books written by Jay Dickman (a respected National Geographic photographer and Olympus Visionary) as he mentioned it is very crucial to establish the location. Creating a sense of space, or being in a particular place is very important to make some images work better, giving the set of images unique attributes. A portrait of a woman can be taken anywhere, but being a street portrait, it will make a more compelling shot if you can see what is going on around the subject. 

So there I was, having a lens, not too wide, and yet still wide enough to fit in what I needed.

That fishy smell

Selling cloths in the middle of a wet market. 

Waiting for the door to open

Hold it up

Wrapped like a bouquet of flower

Yellow Umbrella

Mixture of smell you get in a market

Having used the Sony 35mm F1.8 for a while now, I am very satisfied with the results it produced. The images are sharp, I would say sharper than the 50mm F1.8 lens. There are issues of corner softness and quite bad purple fringing, but lets not expect too much from such a cheap lens. Like I have mentioned, the Sony gear was for personal use and back up only. For my own shutter therapy session, it does not matter if the image exhibited that bit of chromatic abberation. The lens came with a plastic hood, which I did not use. I did not find any issues with flare, though I did not remember shooting against strong source of light just yet (you can see it was a rainy day). All in all, there really is nothing much to complain, but much to like about this Sony 35mm. It focuses very well on the A350, fast, and much more silent in comparison to the 50mm F1.8. I love the perspective, which is very versatile, and flexible in tight situations. 

One thing I wanted to comment apart from the 35mm F1.8 lens, is how this Sony A350 renders the color. I tried to add saturation to the color balance of my images, but to my horror it just did not work out very well. Somehow the color balance was not as "pleasing" and easy to work with in comparison to what I get from my usual Olympus system (E-520, E-PL1 and E-5). There is just something about the Sony color that did not seem quite right. I am not sure if you can see them in this entry, all images have extra boost of color saturation and contrast, mainly because the original images were a tad too soft, flat and uninteresting due to the cloudy, rainy weather. Perhaps I should have just left the images alone untouched. But we do get itchy fingers, don't we?

Fruit seller

Foreign worker

Another foreign worker

Love the plastic bag cap

Warm smile for a cold morning

I am loving the Sony 35mm F1.8 !! This lens was quite an unexpected one, I thought the 50mm F1.8 would be the lens to stay on camera and not leave it. I was wrong, and I was glad I made the rather spontaneous purchase of the 35mm F1.8, which now stays on the A350, almost all the time. 


  1. I am quite curious on how the people respond to you when you snap them direct on the face. Are there anyone who rejected you or scold you before??haha
    I am impress

    1. Not everyone will permit their photos to be taken. If they say no, just smile and walk away. There are other subjects waiting.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Yaya,but so far did anything crazy happen to you before??

    4. Nothing that I can recall. But be nice really, if the people you shoot do not like the camera pointed at them, just smile and move on. Don't provoke them. Their gesture is usually a sign of warning, take the sign, and apologize if need to.

    5. haha,yeah,true,waiting forward for next street reaction:)

  2. I was really waiting for you to go shoot with the 35mm and post some nice pics. I am not disappointed with the pics. The people seems to be friendly to photographers around there... Keep it up mate!

  3. sweet welcoming subject you've got robin...

  4. *hadi nik*
    Hi there...good review for d lens..now i know how d lens work..each type of lens has a different level with different result..for now i try to play with my new lens..its sigma 30mm f2.8..something new for me and still learn to use it..

    1. Hello Hadi Nik,
      May I direct you to a professional photographer whom I admire, Kirk Tuck. He recently wrote about the Sigma 30mm F2.8, very favorably.
      Link here: http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/2012/11/an-interesting-lens-not-sexy-just.html

      I hope you find it useful !

    2. Thanx a lot...very appreciatte

    3. Are you going to the Sony Alpha Gathering at Pudu Plaza this Saturday?

    4. Have a workshop on that day..ill try to go there after finish d workshop..see u there..
      *hadi nik*