If you had to peg one lens as the most underrated of them all, what would you pick?
I know what my pick would be - the trusty Nifty Fifty.
For my money, there's just not a better buy than a 50mm lens.
And you know who agrees with me? Peter McKinnon.
In the video above, Peter gives a quick rundown of why the 50mm is the best bang for your buck. Specifically, he reviews the Canon 50mm f/1.8.
He makes some excellent points about the 50mm's value, which I've outlined in detail below.
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The 50mm Lens is a Bargain
YouTube Screenshot/Peter McKinnon
The first lens I bought after getting my new camera was a 50mm.
And as Peter points out in the video, it should be the first choice for you, too.
That's true whether you have just a kit lens or you have a whole slew of other lenses as well. The 50mm is that good!
I'll get into why it's so good in a moment, but first, let's talk price.
At just $125 on Amazon, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM is a steal.
And don't think that because it's so inexpensive that it's incapable of helping you take awesome photos...
Instead, you get a top-notch lens that offers you tons of versatility. More on that next.
50mm Lenses are Incredibly Versatile
First of all, 50mm is a great focal length whether you shoot with a full frame or a crop sensor camera.
On a full frame camera, a 50mm lens is considered a standard lens, so you get a pleasing perspective on your subjects.
On a crop sensor camera, a 50mm lens acts like an 80mm (or thereabouts, depending on the camera's crop factor), which is on the short end of the telephoto range.
Either way, you get a lens that you can use for portraits, landscapes, architecture and street photography, and even macro photography if you reverse mount the lens to your camera.
Talk about versatile!
You Get Tons of Light
The 50mm f/1.8 has a huge aperture, which allows in tons of light.
That means a couple of things.
First, you can use these lenses even in dim lighting conditions, like taking photos outdoors at dusk or portraits indoors.
Second, all that light means that you can use faster shutter speeds, too.
So, instead of having to rely on artificial light or your flash to get enough light for a reasonable shutter speed, you can simply rely on the lens's huge aperture to collect a bunch of light.
With faster shutter speeds, you can shoot handheld in dim lighting and forget about your tripod, making it easier to shoot lean and mean without sacrificing image quality.
Sure, there are other 50mm lenses with even larger apertures (i.e., f./1.4 or f/1.2), but those lenses are WAY more expensive than the f/1.8.
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It's Small and Lightweight
YouTube Screenshot/Peter McKinnon
Another nice thing about 50mm lenses like the Canon f/1.8 is that it's super small and lightweight.
You can easily add it to your camera bag without taking up tons of room or being concerned about how much weight you have to carry around.
And that goes for when the lens is mounted to your camera as well.
Since it's so small and lightweight, you can work easier and for longer periods of time.
That makes it ideal for weddings, where you're on your feet for hours on end, as well as street photography, when it helps to have a smaller, less conspicuous lens as you take your photos.
And if you're the kind of photographer that gets a little rough with gear, this little guy is well-built and can stand up to some abuse. What's more, if you accidentally drop it or otherwise damage it, it's not like it's hard to replace without spending a ton of money!
The Bokeh is Beautiful
Another consequence of that huge f/1.8 aperture is that you can open up the lens and get beautifully blurry bokeh.
That's handy for all sorts of situations, but in particular for portraits.
By blurring the background, you help separate the subject in the shot, bringing more attention to them in the frame, as seen above.
Having the ability to blur the background is also advantageous if you're shooting in a location in which the background isn't especially attractive.
In other words, this lens is simply one of the best buys out there. Not only is it great for all types of photography, but it produces sharp, detailed images without blowing your budget.
What's not to like about that?!