Ah, the Nifty Fifty - a great lens for any photographer, but particularly so for someone that wants to make a good addition to their collection of glass.
But what makes a 50mm lens such a great option? Let’s find out!
Let’s face it, the budget is probably the most important factor here. Cameras, lenses, tripods, and other essential photography equipment are expensive, so when you’re able to add a good piece of gear to your camera bag without breaking the bank, it’s a good feeling.
A brand-new 50mm f/1.8 lens can be found for less than $200, and in many cases, for around $100. But, don’t confuse inexpensive with cheap - just because these lenses have a small price tag doesn’t mean they aren’t good quality.
Don’t want to buy new? Check out the deals on the used 50mm lenses here.
If you pick up an f/1.8 50mm lens, it will be eight times faster than a typical 18-55mm f/5.6 kit lens. That means you can shoot in low light conditions without increasing the ISO, meaning less noise, and you can use a faster shutter speed so you don’t have to worry about camera shake. Not bad!
A 50mm lens is a great walk around lens because it has so many uses. It can be used on cameras with an APS-C sensor to take excellent portraits. You can reverse mount it to your camera and take 1:1 macro shots as well. On a full-frame camera, a 50mm lens is also useful for street photography - it’s not so long that you have to stand a significant distance from your subject, but not so short that you have to get up close either. Heck, you can even use a 50mm lens for landscapes!
It’s Small and Lightweight
Lugging around a bagful of gear can get real old, real fast, so why not have a lens that’s small, lightweight, and versatile? Because they only weigh in the 3-4 oz. range, 50mm lenses are a perfect solution for when you want to shoot light and fast. Ditch your bulky wide-angle and zoom lenses and experience photography on the go!
Fixed focal length lenses have less moving parts and fewer elements than zoom lenses, which make them much sharper. Combined with a wider maximum aperture, which allows for a faster shutter speed as mentioned above, it’s a formula for tack-sharp pictures, even in poor lighting conditions. In short, you will get professional-quality sharpness in your images without spending a ton of money.
It Facilitates Learning
With a zoom lens, you can stand just about anywhere and make adjustments to the lens to get the shot you want. That’s not the case with a 50mm lens or any other fixed focal length lens for that matter. Instead, you have to zoom with your feet - move around to get the composition you want.
And, with much wider apertures (some Canon 50mm lenses open to f/1.2!), you have more leeway in playing with depth of field. You can get nice, blurry backgrounds and incorporate dreamy bokeh into your shots much more easily than with other lenses. Basically, the a 50mm lens gives you more avenues for creativity and developing your photographer’s eye.
It Helps You Identify Your Interests
Because it is so versatile, a 50mm lens is a great way to introduce yourself to various genres of photography. As noted above, you can take portraits, work in macro, photograph landscapes, and do street photography, all with one lens. So, if you aren’t sure where your interests are, give a Nifty Fifty a try and see what type of photography suits you best!