Difference Between 40mm lens and 50mm lens

The 40mm and 50mm Lens have been very popular competitors among photography enthusiasts over their course in the market. While the 40mm Lens is best suited for street photography, the 50mm Lens is perfect for portrait shooting.

While they appear to be similar in several features, when looked deeper, they boast an array of varied qualities.

40mm Lens vs 50mm Lens

The main difference between 40mm Lens and 50mm Lens is that the 40mm Lens is best suited and most used for unobtrusive street popularity, the 50mm Lens is widely used to capture some of the best portraits.  Both lenses have similar pricing, which adds to their competitive popularity.

40mm Lens vs 50mm Lens

The 40mm Lens has been deemed to be the Best Lens for Street Photography and Everyday Use. This distinction comes as a result of many of its outstanding features, including a Portable Pancake Design and a Fast and Quiet AutoFocus which results in Pin-Sharp results.

The 50mm Lens (popularly known as the ‘Nifty-Fifty’) has been deemed to be the Best Lens for Portraits and Full Frame Cameras, particularly because it has an 80mm effective focal length on Advanced Photo System type-C (APS-C) cameras. Being one of the cheapest lenses in the market, it offers a very wide maximum f/1.8 aperture.

Comparison Table Between 40mm Lens and 50mm Lens

Parameters of Comparison40mm Lens50mm Lens
AffordabilityThe 40mm lens is PricierThe 50mm lens is Cheaper
ApertureThe aperture is f/2.8The aperture is f/1.8
Focal LengthThe focal length is 28mmThe focal length is 35mm
ApplicabilityMainly in Unobtrusive Street PhotographyMainly in Portrait Photography
Build QualityBetter plastic quality; metal mountingComplete plastic build

What is the 40mm Lens?

The 40mm Lens has a portable pancake design, which grants it the ability of easy portability. It effectively captures very sharp images with a fast f/2.8 Maximum Aperture for low-light shooting and a Closes Focusing Distance of 11.8 inches (0.3m). its quick and quiet AutoFocus provides us great image quality across the frame.

When using a crop sensor (APS-C) camera, the 40mm Lens is an excellent choice, because the apparent focal length will then become 64mm. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 will offer a shallow depth of field while remaining razor-sharp throughout.

Being small as well as shorter, it especially performs well in the tight spaces of street photography. Street photographers, photojournalists, documentarians, and photo walkers alike swear by the 40mm lens for being the best in unobtrusive street photography.

Additionally, when shooting movies on compatible cameras, we experience a smooth and quiet STM focusing.

This quieter motor design and smooth focus system enable us to achieve near-silent focusing when shooting videos.

Finally, with all of the aforementioned qualities and a fast and quiet AutoFocus that provides pin-sharp pictures, it is safe to say that the 40mm Lens is the most preferred choice for street photography, thanks to its quiet sharpness, fast autofocus, and unobtrusive, easy-to-carry size. 

What is the 50mm Lens?

The 50mm Lens, popularly known as the ‘Nifty-Fifty’, is one of the most popular portrait shooting lenses to date. A very wide aperture of under f/1.8 explains the ‘Nifty’ part, whereas the ‘Fifty’ refers to its Focal Length.

When the closest you can get to the human eye is indeed a fast 50mm Lens, you’re sure to achieve a similar field of view and a low amount of distortion.

Deemed to be the best lens to capture portraits, it is one of the cheapest lenses but still houses a vast array of features. It is known to offer value for money quite exceptionally, hence its ‘Nifty-Fifty’ title also refers to its high performance and optimum affordability.

It offers a minimum focus distance of 1.15 feet (0.35m) and a very wide maximum aperture of f/1.8. It is best suited to be used with Full Frame Cameras because it grants an 80mm effective focal length on APS-C cameras.

As opposed to street photography, it is more suited for portrait photography because of its low light capabilities and depth of field. However, for amateur photographers on some kind of strict budget, it proves to be a good buy in most situations.

Main Differences Between 40mm Lens and 50mm Lens

  1. The 40mm Lens is best suited for Unobtrusive Street Photography whereas the 50mm Lens is widely used for Portrait Shooting.
  2. The 40mm Lens boasts a better build than the 50mm Lens, as it has a body built of better plastic along with a metal mounting, but the 50mm Lens has a completely plastic body which has somewhat been deemed to be inferior in quality.
  3. The 40mm Lens is pricier than the 50mm Lens, probably because the 50mm Lens’ build quality suggests that it is cheaper to produce.
  4. The 40mm Lens offers a fast f/2.8 Maximum Aperture, whereas the 50mm Lens provides us with a very wide aperture of f/1.8.
  5. The 40mm Lens has a pancake design which grants it easy portability, whereas the 50mm Lens being longer loses out to the 40mm in the aspect of being handy.
Difference Between 40mm lens and 50mm lens


Once we’ve taken a detailed view of the many features that both – the 40mm and 50mm Lenses boast, it is quite evident that they are close competitors and altogether, for good reasons.

Starting from the build material, quality and design, both lenses are differentiable in many aspects which ultimately determine their domain of applicability in the world of photography.

While the 40mm Lens has a very handy design that allows the prospect of easy portability and offers ease-of-access to Street Photographers, the 50mm Lens though longer, is a favorite in respect to Portrait Photography.

Both lenses possess advanced machinery and have been optimized throughout the years to retain as well as improve their functioning and popularity.

The 40mm Lens’ fast and quiet AutoFocus provides a different level of comfort to photographers aiming to capture the hustle of ordinary people in cityscapes and street views. 


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924424713004135
  2. https://lia.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.2351/1.4938279
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