Long Lens vs Wide Lens

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One of the most confusing things I encountered as a beginner photographer, was the overwhelming amount of different lenses that exist on the market. 

The pricing ranged from the hundreds to THOUSANDS which, at the time, seemed OUTRAGEOUS!! 

I had no idea what made these lenses different from each other.

Which lens was best for the type of photography I was trying to achieve?

And the most important question: WHAT LENS SHOULD I BUY FIRST?!

If you are just starting out, you are probably in a similar boat. But do not worry, I am about to simplify this for you!

I wrote this entire blog post explaining the differences in lenses and how they will affect your photos!

Hopefully, this will help you figure out what your next purchase should be! 

So let’s dive right in shall we?

Focal length

One of the main differences that affect the final result of your image is the focal length of your lens. There are long lenses, mid-range lenses, and wide-angle lenses. Each of them will allow you to create different effects in your images. 

Long lenses include the 85mm, 100mm, 135mm… (basically anything above 85mm)

Mid range lens – 50mm

Wide lenses Include the 35mm, 24mm… (basically anything below 35mm)

If this all still sounds pretty confusing, keep reading 🙂

Long Lens vs wide lens

A wide lens will not only capture a wider range of what’s in front of you but also will capture more of the details.

A long lens will capture a smaller section of what’s in front of you and will focus mainly on the subject while creating a blur in the background (which will result in fewer details). Long lenses also compress the background which also results in fewer details.

The longer the lens the blurrier the background will be.

Here is an example of images that were taken seconds apart in the same spot and with the same light but with different lenses.

Socal family photography dad and little girl

On the right, you can see the photo that was taken with the 35mm lens (wide lens). in that photo can see more in the frame and not just the subject aka a wider shot. There are also more details (leaves on trees).

In the photo on the left that was taken with the 85mm, the background is compressed (it looks like it is closer to my subject even though they didn’t move) and there are also less visible details.

Here are a few more side by side comparisons:

San Marcos family photographer dad and baby
Socal family photography mother and baby

So what should you get?

The type of lens you should get depends on the type of photography you do. Wide lenses are my favorite to use during my indoor sessions. They give me more freedom to move around and allow me to include more in my frame. Being able to capture more of the details around my subject is an important factor for my storytelling photography style. My winner for indoor photography is the 35mm 1.4 (if you have a crop sensor camera, I would recommend something wider like the 24).

Long lenses are my favorite for outdoor portrait photography. They allow me to showcase my subjects better by creating a creamy, blurry background. Blurry backgrounds make my subjects pop and I love it! I wouldn’t use a long lens for my indoor sessions simply because I probably won’t have enough space to use it properly. These lenses are also very helpful when there are a lot of distractions in the background and I am looking for a “cleaner” look. 

You can view some examples of the way I use long lenses to eliminate distractions in my “How to take amazing photos in crowded locations” post!


At the end of the day, I highly believe that you need a mix of both in your bag. I typically use a minimum of two different lenses in my sessions and many more on wedding days. Using different lenses allow me to create variety in my clients’ galleries. But if you are just starting out and trying to figure out what lens you need first, I would ask myself: “What do I want to start photographing first?”

If your answer is indoor photography I would stick to something wide (24mm,35mm)

If you are doing mostly outdoor shoots I would start with middle range (50mm) or long lens (85mm, 100mm, 135mm, 200mm…)

So there you have it, now you know the difference between the different lenses and hopefully you have more clarity on what to get next!

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February 25, 2021

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