- Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens
- Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
- Nikon 50mm f/1.8G Auto Focus-S NIKKOR FX Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
- Nikon 50mm f/1.8D Auto Focus Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
- Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art
- YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8 Lens
The "nifty fifty" they call it. The 50mm focal length has been around as long as the 35mm format. In fact, a 50mm lens used to be supplied as a kit lens with most film SLRs in the past.
Today, the 50mm lens is still very popular, yet we think it doesn't see as much action as it should. For all you beginners and photographers considering buying one, here are a few good reasons why we love it.
It's a prime lens and that means it can be very bright. Even the cheapest 50mm lenses have a maximum aperture of f/1.8, which is enough to get you through most low light situations successfully. Mid-range lenses are brighter at f/1.4 and they're usually the choice of professionals. Put one of those on a camera no older than three years and the low light capabilities will be astonishing. The high-end 50mm lenses are as bright as f/1, almost brighter than the human eye. They will set you back financially, but you might as well sell your flash after getting one.
Here's a little secret. A $100 50mm f/1.8 is perfectly capable of being as sharp as a pro 24-70mm f/2.8. Find its sweet spot, which is usually at f/5.6 or f/8 and you'll be amazed at how much detail it can extract.
You can get a nifty fifty for $100, which is affordable for almost every photographer on the planet. If you want to get something really cheap, though, consider a Chinese knock-off like the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8. At $57, it gives you almost everything you get in more expensive lenses. The reason these primes are so cheap is that the optical formula is very easy to produce and very effective. This is, indeed, a timeless lens.
The Size / Weight
Even the pro versions are small and light enough to carry effortlessly. You won't have any trouble working a full day with a nifty fifty.
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This is such a popular focal length that it was used by the great masters for taking some of the most legendary works in the history of photography. You simply can use this lens for lots of stuff. It's a fantastic portrait lens and you can use it for landscapes, groups, street photography, close-ups, video, etc. Of course, all of this is true if you mount it on a full frame body. Once you put a 50mm lens on an APS-C body, the crop factor will turn it into a 75mm.
Bokeh lovers already know this, but it's worth mentioning one more time. All 50mm lenses have great-looking bokeh, even the cheap ones. That's why all portrait photographers have one in their bag.
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A limitation doesn't sound like a reason to get something, but the fact that a 50mm lens will force you to work more on taking good shots is definitely positive. Because it's a little longer than a 35mm, which is closest to the human perspective, you will have to take a few steps back and forth before you find the perfect composition. Ultimately, that will make you a better photographer.
These are our favorite reasons to buy a 50mm lens. It's one of those items you can afford to get even if you don't plan on using it that often. It will save you in low-light situations and it will be a pleasure to put it on after working with a heavy zoom.