Ever wonder why everyone is obsessed with their 50mm lens? Here are our top five reasons every photographer should consider adding this to their camera bag!
It doesn’t matter if you shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony or any other camera brand, the fact is, every photographer should own a 50mm lens! The amazing thing about a 50mm lens is that it’s incredibly versatile! It is the most popular amongst portrait photographers, wedding professionals, and street/documentary artists. This prime lens has so many perks that it’s easy to see why most professionals reach for this lens first. It’s not too wide, or too long, meaning you can use it in cramped spaces (like a studio, or narrow street), or back up to get those killer wide shots of buildings and landscapes. It packs a real punch as compared to many other lenses! Here are our top five reasons for adding this lens to your camera bag!
1. It’s Cheap!
Let’s face it, camera gear in general is really expensive! What’s amazing is that you can get a brand new 50mm lens between $100-$200! Don’t let the small price fool you, it’s a great lens. Used 50mm 1.8 lenses are quite plentiful so if a brand new 50mm 1.8 lens isn’t in your budget, you can typically find them used for as little as $50. It’s definitely our go-to for a lens on a budget!
If you shoot with a Canon camera, check out this reference guide for more budget-friendly options!
2. It’s Fast.
Perhaps the greatest attribute of the little “nifty-fifty” is it is “faster” than the fastest of zoom lenses. Faster? In photo talk, the term “fast glass” refers to wide aperture lenses. The wider the aperture on the lens, the faster shutter speed one can achieve compared to a zoom lens. Even on a crop sensor camera, this lens is really great.
Let’s show you an example:
Let’s say you are trying to take some photos indoors at a church without flash, and you are using the 18-55 kit lens that came with your camera. At the long end of that range, the widest aperture is usually f/5.6. Therefore, if you have a 50 1.8 you will be letting in more than 3 full stops of light, giving you the ability to use a 8x as fast shutter speed. A 50 1.4 lens will give 4 full stops difference from f/5.6! Being able to superbly outperform all zoom lenses makes a 50 1.8 or 1.4 prime lens a must have tool.
3. It’s Small and Lightweight!
I am not going to lie, I hate having to lug around bulky heavy lenses like my 70-200 f/2.8 zoom and I love when I can put the big zoom away and shoot with my small 50mm prime lens. The best part is that it give your wrists and arms a rest! It’s not as obtrusive and noticeable which is great when trying to pack light and just “blend in,” without drawing much attention to yourself. You can toss this lens in a backpack or small bag and be on your way, without the extra bulk! The 50mm lens is definitely a great option for travel photographers for this very reason!
4. It’s Versatile.
This is especially true when used on full frame camera bodies like the D800 or Mark III. The 50mm focal length is a very versatile range. The 50mm yields a “normal” perspective and field of view similar to what we see from our very own eyes, which make it a great lens for photojournalists. It’s for this reason that on my most recent trip to Paris and Italy it was one of the 2 lenses I took with me, for a whole 10 days! It’s a great “walk-around” lens, but also can be great for portraits too.
On a wedding day, it is also great for getting ready shots, especially when we have to shoot at 1.4 to help blur out messy getting ready rooms! The compression that you get really starts to be apparent with this lens, which is really great considering the price. At wide apertures, you can get that creamy blur that makes photos look high end!
Another HUGE perk is that this lens is known for being great in low light scenarios! This comes in handy during indoor settings or after the sun has gone down on a portrait shoot!
Some types of photography where you can easily use a 50mm lens: Portraits, Weddings, Documentary/Lifestyle, Street Photography, Travel, Newborn, Studio Photography, and Landscapes!
5. The 50mm Will Make You a Better Photographer!
I am a firm believer that using prime lenses rather than zoom lenses force photographers to be more creative with compositions, more agile and overall “keep you on your toes” since you don’t have the luxury of zooming in or out for your shot. In addition to being forced to zoom with your feet, you are also able to shoot at wider apertures like 1.8, 1.4 and 1.2 (Canon) that allow for more creativity with use of depth of field that just simply isn’t an option with equivalent range zoom lenses.
There you go, those are my 5 top reasons why you need a 50mm lens! It’s cheap, fast, versatile, lightweight and gives you that professional look to your images that will keep you getting business. There are very few drawbacks to this lens, making it our top pick for both new and seasoned photographers!
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you already have a 50mm lens? If so, please let me know in the comments below what your favorite thing about your 50mm lens! What do you use it for, or want to use it for? What do you love about it, or wish was different? Do you have any questions about it? Please share your experiences!
As always…don’t be a stranger! Join us in our supportive Facebook group, Cole’s Classmates-Photo School to ask questions, get help with your photos, and learn from a diverse group of awesome people who love photography!