When shopping for a camera lens, you probably heard about the 50mm lens. Countless professional photographers use it for several reasons. Many articles also deem it a must-have for any shooter’s arsenal.
A 50mm lens is good for almost every type of photography. It offers a natural field of view that makes it great for portraits and street shots. It also usually has a wide maximum aperture for low-light shooting.
This article covers the other reasons to use a 50mm lens for photography. We will also answer some of your top questions about this lens type. But first, we will teach you the definition of a 50mm lens.
What Does 50mm Lens Mean?
A 50mm lens, also known as the nifty-fifty, has a fixed focal length of 50mm. It is the midpoint between a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens. That means you are neither too close nor too far from the subject you want to capture. It gives you flexibility in your photography.
A 50mm lens is a standard lens on a full-frame camera. It can capture an image close to what the human eye sees. As such, it is relatively easy to frame well. However, it offers a longer equivalent focal length on a camera with a crop sensor.
What Is a 50mm Lens Good For?
A 50mm lens is among the most recommended lenses for every photographer, and for good reasons. Below are the nine advantages of using the nifty-fifty lens.
A 50mm lens is good for almost every photography genre. It has the perfect focal length that you can use for a wide range of photography styles.
This prime lens brings you close to the subject but not too close. So while it is a great portrait lens, it can also capture stunning landscape and street shots. It is also ideal for food, nature, and travel photography.
And if you asked us to bring only one lens, we would choose the nifty-fifty in a heartbeat due to its versatility.
The 50mm lens is also an excellent option for those still unsure which photography style to use. It gives you the freedom to experiment with various genres to determine which is your favorite.
50mm lenses have a focal length that’s fixed, not like a zoom lens with a variable focal range. They offer a single field of view without the ability to zoom in or out. Since they do not allow you to change perspective as easily, they can inspire you to think more creatively.
These prime lenses let you think outside the box. For example, if you shoot in a small room, consider capturing the image from an elevated position. Doing so gives you more area to work with. You also get a dynamic composition that showcases the subject uniquely. You can rarely achieve this style with zoom lenses or kit lenses because they can quickly change the field of view.
Natural Field of View
A 50mm lens mounted on a full-frame camera offers a field of view similar to what our eyes see. This natural perspective makes it easy to frame the shot. It also allows you to fit important elements into the scene.
However, remember that the 50mm prime lens has a fixed focal length. As previously mentioned, you may need to think creatively about the image composition.
50mm lenses usually have a wide maximum aperture of at least f/1.8. Some high-end lenses can even go to f/1.2 and greater.
The aperture dictates the amount of light entering the camera sensor. It is expressed in f-stops with smaller numbers denoting a larger aperture.
Wide aperture lenses let more light rays hit the sensor. These make nifty-fifty lenses ideal when shooting in low-light environments. Consider them if you are into night or low-light photography.
Shallow Depth of Field
Besides the light entering the sensor, the aperture also controls the depth of field. It describes the area of an image that is sharp and in focus.
A larger or wider aperture (f/1.8 and lower) in 50mm prime lenses creates a shallow depth of field. That means the background is blurry and brings attention to the foreground.
It also produces out-of-focus areas known as bokeh to separate the subject from its surroundings.
A 50mm prime lens is a favorite among portrait photographers because it creates a shallow depth of field.
Photographers play a significant role in capturing sharp images. However, the type of lens they use also affects the final image quality.
A 50mm lens is a prime lens. This kind of lens can capture sharp images than zoom lenses for two primary reasons. First, it comprises fewer optical glass elements fine-tuned for only a single focal length. Second, it offers a wide aperture that lets more light inside the camera.
A 50mm lens ultimately allows you to capture better and sharper images than a kit lens or zoom lens.
A 50mm camera lens usually has a lightweight or compact design. It is easy to carry around, especially when you do a lot of travel photography. It saves your back and shoulders, so you do not feel sore after shooting.
It is also convenient to store away. You can fit it nicely into your handbag or baggage allowance while traveling.
Beginners in Photography
A 50mm has little to no learning curve. Since it only has a single focal length, it is easy to learn and master. There is no need to bother with complicated settings or switches on the lens itself.
Overall, a nifty-fifty lens is ideal for beginners and kids who are just learning photography.
The word “cheap” is subjective—what is inexpensive for you might be costly to another, and vice versa.
That said, 50mm lenses tend to be more affordable than wide-angle and telephoto lenses. They contain only a few optical glass elements, which lower their price.
The 50mm prime lens is ultimately worth considering if you are looking for a budget lens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a 50mm lens good for portraits?
Yes, a 50mm lens offers features that make it excellent for portrait photography.
First, this prime lens has a natural field of view. When used on a full-frame camera, it captures the subject closer to what your naked eye can see. It can prevent distorted faces.
The 50mm lens also has a wide maximum aperture. It allows more light to hit the camera lens to ensure sharp portrait photos even at night.
Finally, this versatile lens offers a shallow depth of field and bokeh effect. It can make the subject stand out from the background, which is essential in portraiture.
Is a 50mm lens good for street photography?
A wide-angle lens like the 35mm is usually the top choice of many street photographers. However, the 50mm lens is so versatile that it also suits travel and street photography.
It has a longer focal length than a 35mm lens. Hence, it can focus on the subject while still showing important background details.
A 50mm lens is also compact and lightweight. It is easy to carry around and maneuver quickly when traveling.
Can you zoom with a 50mm lens?
A 50mm lens is a prime lens with a fixed focal length. It is the opposite of zoom lenses. It does not allow you to zoom in and out to change the field of view. If you want to adjust the shooting perspective, you must physically move closer or further away from the subject.
That said, the 50mm lens is still worth considering for the reasons mentioned above.
When you ask photographers about their favorite all-around lens, they will likely mention the 50mm lens.
Also known as the nifty-fifty, the 50mm lens has a natural field of view. It suits most kinds of photography, like food, portrait, and travel. It also has other benefits, as we explored in this article.
Do you have more questions about 50mm lenses? Drop them on our contact page, and we will get back to you soon.