A 50mm prime lens (also called a fixed focal length lens) is a must-have piece of equipment for anyone starting out in photography. It’s versatile, affordable and great for shooting all types of photos. In this blog, I will outline the benefits of a 50mm lens and why you should invest in one.
Many of the leading camera manufacturers have different types of 50mm lenses, but the one I recommend is the basic, entry-level 50mm F1.8 lens. This will give you a noticeable upgrade in image quality over kit lenses and standard zoom lenses. Canon and Nikon both produce 50mm lenses and they are the cheapest in their lens ranges.
Top five advantages of a 50mm lens
- On a full-frame digital camera, a 50mm lens offers a similar field of vision to our own eyes, meaning you have the ability to shoot what you see. However, when you begin to use fixed focal length lenses (such as a 50mm lens), you might have difficulty fitting every element of the composition into the image. Using a 50mm will require you to think creatively about your composition and will help to improve your composition technique.
- 50mm lenses can produce high-quality photos which can often rival the quality of much more expensive professional-grade lenses. Compare a 50mm lens to a typical standard zoom lens and you will see a sharper, higher-contrast image with the 50mm lens.
- A 50mm lens is small, light and easy to carry. This allows you to have a very compact setup (especially if you are using a small digital camera), which is ideal for travel and street photography.
- 50mm lenses are fast lenses with a fast maximum aperture. The most basic 50mm lenses are typically F1.8 - a very wide aperture. This means they are great for low-light photography (e.g. low-light portraiture or indoor shooting) as they allow more light into the camera’s sensor. In fact, a 50mm lens allows approximately five times the amount of light into the camera’s sensor than a consumer-grade zoom lens. This enables the use of lower ISOs and faster shutter speeds so you can freeze motion and eliminate camera shake.
- The high speed and wide aperture of a 50mm lens can also provide shallow depth of field. This gives you huge creative scope to blur out backgrounds and focus attention on your main subject. 50mm lenses also give attractive out-of-focus highlights (also known as bokeh). Combining shallow depth of field with a pleasing bokeh can result in some very professional-looking photos.
A 50mm prime lens is a simple, versatile lens and is great for all types of photography. When you become comfortable with a 50mm lens, you can think about moving to a 200mm or 300mm lens or even a fixed wide-angle lens. Using a fixed focal length lens has many benefits and can really help to improve your photography skills.
Can you think of any other advantages to using a 50mm lens? Please let us know in the comments.