I'm not the best toy photographer by any means, but I think the size of the lens matters a lot less for toy photos than a lot of other stuff, like how close you can shoot to the figure and whether you have a setup that will let you shoot without a flash (either because you have sufficient light to shoot without one or because you have a tripod set up). I think rigging up the cheapo lightbox that's on here in an older thread will have more of a visible impact on your photos than changing lenses.
I assume you're talking digital? The 35mm is equivalent to a standard camera 50mm, so it won't shoot with any distortion, but a decent 50mm will work just fine as well. For portrait-type shooting, zooming in slightly makes things look a bit better anyway.
A lot of the best photos on here and elsewhere seem to be taken with the zoom lenses that come with most digital SLRs. I don't think you'll do badly with either lens, but unless you're trying to go pro, I don't think you'll need to spend the cash to get a dedicated lens for figure photography.
EDIT: Here's a tutorial from an older thread about toy photography. The only time he even mentions lens size is when he talks about doing outdoor shoots, where he talks about using a "nifty fifty" (50mm f1.8 lens), but I think it's because it's fast (i.e., no flash if you have decent light), lets you get in reasonably close to the subjects, and gives you LOTS of room to play with depth-of-field.
EDIT x2: This tutorial is linked from that first one, and is even more helpful in terms of the brass-tacks of doing good toy photos. He gives you instructions on how to take good photos with a point-and-shoot digital!
Generally, I like wide angle for action shots, Normal focal lengths for realizm, and Teli for Hero portraits. If you are layering in photoshop,
try to keep alll the images you use in the same focal range.
Hi Dusty, your choice of lens will be dictated by 1) what you are shooting and 2) what you want to show in your final image. Without further information regarding either of those, I really can't be of much help to you.
However, as was alluded to earlier, most modern digital SLRs have a 1.5x lens magnification ratio. This is because the CCD ("light-sensitive chip") within most modern digital cameras is only 75% the size of traditional 35mm negatives. In practical terms, what this means is that a 50mm lens on a digital camera will produce an image with the same perspective and angle of view as a 75mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Therefore, whenever you install a lens on the front of most digital cameras (such as your D5000), you must multiply the focal length by 1.5 in order to attain the actual focal length. i.e: your 35mm lens suddenly becomes a 52mm lens and your 50mm lens, as already established, becomes a 75mm lens.
Are you confused yet? So what you need to know as a photographer is ultimately how this affects your image. Without going into too much detail, basically, there are 3 different categories of lenses: wide-angle, normal, and telephoto.
A normal lens produces an image with an angle of view and perspective similar to the human eye - this is your 50mm lens (or in your case, your 35mm lens on your D5000 = 50mm). Normal lenses tend to be favoured by street photographers and photojournalists to record what is seen.
A wide-angle lens is anything with a shorter focal length (i.e: smaller number) than 50mm. Wide-angle lenses have a wider field of view, thus allowing you fit more into the image. Wide-angle lenses also exaggerate perspective, making things nearer to the camera appear bigger and those further away appear smaller. Wide-angle lenses lend themselves well to landscape and travel photography as they allow you to fit as much as possible into the image.
A telephoto lens (as you may have guessed at this point) is anything with a focal length longer than 50mm. Telephoto lenses do the opposite of wide-angle lenses by compressing perspective. Telephoto lenses also have a much narrower field of view and a higher magnification ratio, making them better for singling out details within a scene (and hence their preferred use in portraiture, wildlife, and sports photography). In your case, your 50mm lens on your D5000 is now a 75mm lens.
Most photographers these days use zoom lenses which allows the photographer to cover a wide range of focal lengths (and thus perspectives) without changing lenses or location. Zoom lenses certainly have their advantages and I use them frequently. Fixed focal length (or prime) lenses, however, are far superior in many regards. They typically have wider apertures and often far superior optical clarity than similarly-priced zooms.
In short , without any additional info, and assuming you want to use these 2 lenses to photograph your figures, I would suggest you use the 35mm to photograph the figure as a whole, and the 50mm to focus on specific details.
Best of luck with it and PM me if you want further advice.
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