This is a guide covering the advantages of a 50mm lens.
In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:
- What a 50mm lens is used for
- Common questions when using the 50mm lens
- The advantages of using a 50mm lens
- And more
There are many uses of the 50mm lens in photography, despite its small appearance.
The 50mm lens is my personal favorite out of all the prime lenses and I have been able to capture many great images for clients with the “nifty-fifty.”
If you are interested in getting this particular type of lens, this article will discuss all the things you need to know before making the purchase.
Let’s dive in.
In this section, we will cover
- What a 50mm lens is used for
- If a 50mm lens is good for portraits
- If you can zoom with a 50mm lens
- Why 50mm lenses are on the cheaper end in terms of price
- The best 50mm lenses for each camera brand
Let’s dive in.
What is a 50mm Lens Used For?
A 50mm lens is a fixed lens, meaning that it does not zoom in and out.
Unlike zoom lenses, the focal distance of the 50mm lens cannot be altered.
If you have a 50mm fixed lens, you probably won’t be able to shoot landscapes and get the same viewing angle as an 18mm lens– even if you go back a long distance.
The results will be different. The main advantage of prime lenses is that they are, on average better quality than zoom lenses in the same price range.
Zoom lenses are built with a slightly more complex structure, which means it has more components within the lens.
In light theory, the more filters or objects light goes through, the lower the quality the final image will be.
Is a 50mm Lens Good for Portraits?
To answer the question briefly—Yes! 50mm lenses are good for taking beautiful portrait images.
All lenses are different and have their own strengths, but the 50mm lens is especially good at capturing focused images within its focal point.
This makes it a champion in at least two areas: low light photography, and photography which requires sharp focus (like portraits!).
Since this lens will focus at one specific point, images taken with 50mm lenses tend to have blurry backgrounds.
Think Michael Bay movies—low depth with strong object presence.
If you like that kind of style, 50mm photography is for you!
Usually, a 50mm lens has an f / 1.8 aperture.
With a large aperture, you can use a fast shutter speed so that it is included in the fast lens category.
Can You Zoom with a 50mm Lens?
Unfortunately, you cannot. 50mm lenses are amongst the fixed lens group, which means it is not flexible enough to perform functions like zoom.
The lens is more suitable for capturing a strong focal point, so while it cannot zoom, it certainly gives distance photography a different mood than a typical zoom lens.
However, if you want to give the lens its best shot, stick with portraits or close up objects.
50mm lenses are incredible for those purposes.
Why are 50mm Lenses so Cheap?
Let us begin by saying that ‘cheap’ is relative. What is considered cheap for one person may be expensive for another.
However, 50mm lenses are more affordable than other types of lenses.
This is especially true when talking about f/1.8 Lens, and not other premium brands like Canon.
The 50mm has larger parts so is simpler to assemble.
This is typical of manufacturers with years of experience with the product.
Also, because it is more straightforward, 50mm lenses are often already bundled with some photography starter packs, usually for free or as part of a discounted bundle.
Best 50mm Lenses for Each Camera Brand
As mentioned in the beginning, the “nifty-fifty” is my favorite prime lens of choice.
Here are the best 50mm lenses for each camera brand that I highly recommend you check out:
12 Advantages of a 50mm Lens
Let’s dive into the advantages of photographing with a 50mm lens.
1. Great to Play with Lights
Do you like fluorescent images?
How about moody ‘bokeh’ pictures that invoke nostalgia?
If yes, then a 50mm lens is the right partner for your photography journey.
50mm lenses are great in low light photography; this is because of the strong focal point and ability of the wide aperture to capture light.
This results in 50mm lens photography that has strong reproduction of bright colors and object presence.
2. Dynamic Photography
50mm lenses are also suited to capturing moving scenes quickly.
This is because the aperture of a 50mm lens can capture a lot of light before it closes and captures the image.
You can play more with your models to create dynamic photography that tells meaningful stories or is a strong attention grabber.
Speed photography can also be used at church services or other ceremonies like weddings and festivals, where we must capture quick movements to capture the momentum.
This also helps you should you want to be a citizen journalist as the image will have a strong focus to support your story.
3. Sharper Image
Okay, we are not talking about Sharper Image the store, but rather the lens’ ability to produce high fidelity images.
50mm lenses have the edge over zoom lenses because 50mm lenses produce sharp images due to the strong focal point within the 50mm Lens.
This can help you create photos with a strong focus on the main object or give a good sense of proportion and depth within the perspective of your image.
Either way, 50mm lenses are strong and great for experimenting with emotions and capturing tiny details.
4. Toy Photography
Now, if you happen to be interested in model kits or action figures like Marvel Select or DC Direct, fixed lenses are great for recreating your favorite scenes within the photos.
A 50mm lens makes the figures appear more like they are life-size rather than 5inch tall toys.
Lighting is one of the most important elements of this type of photography.
If taking outdoor photos, it is quite straight forward. You can simply use the available sunlight. In addition, you need to pay attention to the weather when you take a photo.
In particular, whether it supports the photo theme you want.
You can use the aid of a flash or reflector to fill in dark areas.
For indoor photography, it is a little more difficult because you need to prepare the lighting that you will use.
You can use a simple lightbox.
Do not use direct flash as shooting plastic objects at close range will not produce satisfactory results because the light is too harsh.
Or, if you want, you can make a simple studio to take pictures of your toys.
You can use the kitchen area, living room, or even the garage of your house.
Make it as creative as possible.
5. Good with Low Light
One of the advantages of a large aperture is low light!
Yup, in low light conditions, generally, we will find it challenging to take pictures, especially with a small aperture lens.
In low light, a 50mm lens is best for you!
However, with a 50mm lens, you do not need to hesitate to shoot indoors with less lighting.
One of the advantages, of course, is that we do not have to force a high ISO value later.
This helps you to take photos where lights are scarce or at nighttime.
6. Good with the Models
Lens focal length and crop factor are two things that are closely related, especially with the variety of sensor sizes that are applied to various digital cameras today.
The various sensor sizes will create different viewing angles when used on cameras with sensors of different sizes (assuming the lenses used have the same focal length and can be used in all cameras).
When the camera sensor used is smaller than the lens diameter, the angle of view we get will be narrower.
The size of the narrower part of the photo frame is what is then termed the crop factor (smaller, the image angle is more limited or cropped).
Well, this multiplier or crop factor varies according to the size of the sensor.
For a full-frame camera, of course, the crop factor is 1. This is because with the 18 mm lens we use on a full-frame camera, the image coverage area is 18mm.
Often it is also known as the selective focus method because the part that is focused on a photo is only a specific part (selective).
This can be achieved because we apply a small or narrow sharp field (shallow depth of field).
The more blurry or smoother the bokeh looks (often termed creamy bokeh), usually, the photo will look more attractive.
This blurry effect can be one of the tricks you use when shooting a model so that the photo looks artistic.
Whether your model is a professional or just an amateur, the results will look great!
This makes it great for studio shoots. You can freely adjust the coverage and capture a more focused image that strongly emphasizes the model rather than their surroundings.
7. Capturing Flowers
Flower photos are very similar to human portraits.
So, how do you bring out the best in flowers? How do you make each shot unique?
Luckily a 50mm lens and 50mm photography skills will give you what you need to succeed in this field.
When shooting in uncertain light and close proximity, some areas may be overexposed, causing details to be lost (“blown highlights”).
The Highlight Alert feature (also known as “blinkies” or “zebras”), alerts you to these areas by making them flicker in the black when in playback mode.
This is a useful tool that helps you to perform exposure compensation accurately. On some cameras, you may need to activate it first.
This is where 50mm lens strength is good. The ability to focus and capture sharp image can make your flora or flower photography exceed expectations.
For a performance that is unique to you, apart from adjusting the parameters of an existing Picture Style, you can also create a custom Picture Style, either in-camera or with Digital Photo Professional software, and save/upload your creation to the camera as a User Defined Picture Style.
This lets you preview the effect as you shoot.
8. Light Weight
It is certainly not an easy thing when hunting photos and carrying a camera plus a lens of more than one kg.
Fortunately, the average 50mm lens is lightweight.
You do not need to burden your shoulders when shooting and avoid feeling sore when shooting.
9. Blurry Photos
At an affordable price, you have a lens that can take beautiful blurry photos.
Due to the super large aperture at f / 1.8, it is straightforward to take beautiful blurry images.
In principle, bokeh photos are produced from the lens.
The lens should support the creation of bokeh thanks to a large aperture.
When you use a 50mm lens at its largest aperture, you will see for yourself the bokeh effects that this lens is capable of!
10. Good for Travel Photography
In today’s digital era, there are many travelers who upload their best photos on social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and others.
However, unexpectedly behind the beautiful landscape photos, there are skilled and creative hands.
One of them is a travel photographer. Most travel photographers take pictures of tourist destinations.
Then they upload these photos to social media with the theme of travel photography.
So, to get beautiful photos, there are a few tips that need attention.
Apart from landscape photos, there are also travel photographers who target objects with the theme of human interest, which is a local community activity.
For example, traders in the market or fishermen who are fishing.
To get their photos, you should first interact with them while asking permission to take their pictures.
This is a photography ethic that travel photographers need to perform.
When you travel, it is more efficient to carry compact photographic equipment.
So as not to seem heavy and difficult when you take the photo.
Make sure the bag you use is comfortable on your back.
The focal point is a goal the first time the eye looks at a photo object.
At least the photo you shoot has a POI (Point of Interest).
If your photo has a POI, then your photo will look attractive. This will make people want to see more of your work.
If you look at it again, you’ll realize that 50mm lenses are great for bringing with you when traveling.
They are small, well-focused, and easy to use with great sensitivity towards movement and depth.
11. Easy for beginners to learn
Yes, with its simplicity and strong utility, learning to use a 50mm lens and 50mm lens photography is easy and can be quickly mastered.
12. It’s Cheap!
Yes, as we have mentioned earlier, it is pretty cheap compared to a telephoto or wide lens.
So, you can learn from it when starting your 50mm photography journey.
I hope you enjoyed this guide.
Even though zoom lenses are currently at their peak, prime lenses continue to enjoy deep-rooted popularity.
Despite having a fixed focal length, prime lenses boast qualities that outweigh these disadvantages, some of which include “bokeh effect,” “shake-free image,” and “sharp depiction.”
Though its specialty is making fluorescent and blurry photos, the 50mm fixed lens is also dependable for shooting landscapes or landscapes.
The sharpness that is the basis of a landscape can be achieved flawlessly with this lens.
50mm lens and 50mm photography have served many photographers well.
It certainly will not disappoint you. The beauty of flowers or even streets and people can be recorded well even though we are using a lens that has a reputation for blurred images (bokeh).
In order to get a relatively large area to “accommodate” the desired objects, we often use one of the oldest photography techniques, which is still effective until now, namely by moving back and forth.
Well, for the sake of beautiful images, isn’t it worth it?
Now I want to hear from you!
If you found any of these tips/techniques to be helpful, or you have a tip that works for you —
be sure to let me know by leaving a comment down below!
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Nate Joaquin Torres is a portrait photographer based in Southern California. As a photographer, Nate loves testing different photography styles and gear to expand his skill set. Outside of photography, Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. Nate is also the founder of Imaginated.com, DEEP IN THE MIX, and Blue Hour Candle. Connect with him on Instagram.