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Best Lenses: The Nifty Fifty

Best Nifty Fifty lens

The Nifty Fifty is the perfect lens for everyday photography. With its 50mm focal length providing a friendly 47-degree field of view, the Nifty Fifty is just as comfortable shooting portraits as it is capturing your holiday snaps.

But what makes the Nifty Fifty so special is its price. Despite its convenient field of view, background melting large aperture, and razor-sharp optics, a Nifty Fifty can cost less than $150. Thus, the nifty fifty’s cost-performance ratio is off the scale and the perfect upgrade if you are looking to improve on your kit lens.

What is a nifty fifty

For a lens to qualify as a nifty fifty, it must,

  • provide a field of view similar to a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera (47 degrees).
  • be optically excellent
  • have a large aperture equal to or exceeding F2
  • be cheap
  • be small and compact

What’s the purpose of the nifty fifty

From classic portraits and group photos to street photography – the compact, lightweight nifty fifty is the ideal lens for everyday photography. Furthermore, it represents the cheapest route to amazing image quality and glorious background blur.

As a result, the nifty fifty is an ideal upgrade for those still using their convenient, but flawed kit lenses. For every camera I’ve owned, I have had a nifty fifty. And you should too!

About Equivalent focal length

Because camera sensors come in different sizes, the field of view presented by a 50mm lens differs. For example, a 50mm lens delivers a 47-degree field of view on a camera with a full-frame sensor.

However, if you mount the same lens to a smaller sensor APS-C based camera, the field of view narrows to 34 degrees, becoming less useful for everyday photography. Compare different sensor sizes

Therefore, this guide presents you with the lenses that provide the same or similar 47-degree field of view regardless of sensor size or focal length. Learn about Focal Length

Need to know a little more about lenses?

If you would like to understand some of this articles terminology in greater detail, check out these guides to..

Browse nifty fiftys for

Nifty Fifty Lens for Nikon

Nikon FX (Full Frame)

Cameras: Nikon D6nn, D7nn, D8nn, Dn, Df

Shop for Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G

The Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G is an outstanding lens. It’s sharp enough at its maximum F1.8 aperture and crazy-sharp by F4. Unlike the lighter, cheaper, and older Nikon AF-D 50mm F1.8, the AF-S 50mm is not so troubled by lens flare and ghosts.

On the other hand, the older Nikon AF-D is almost half the price and is smaller and lighter than the newer lens. And while the AF-D 50mm is a little soft at its maximum F1.8 aperture, it is just as sharp as the new AF-S 50mm at F4 and smaller.

Nevertheless, I would push you towards the newer, more expensive AF-S lens since it is far less troubled by stray light and is much sharper at its maximum F1.8 aperture. See review.

Nifty Fifty lens for Nikon: Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G

Shop for Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G

Nikon DX (APS-C)

Cameras: Nikon D3nnn, D5nnn, D7nnn, and D500

Shop for Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F1.8G

The Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8G DX is compact and affordable whilst delivering razor-sharp image quality. Thanks to its large F1.8 aperture, the Nikon DX is ideal for shooting in low light and melting away those backgrounds for eye-popping portraits. See review

If you are used to using your 18-55mm kit lens, switching to the 35mm DX is revelatory experience.

Nifty Fifty for Nikon DX: Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F1.8G

Shop for Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F1.8G

Nikon Z Mount

Cameras: Nikon Z5, Z6, Z7

Shop for Nikon Z 50mm F1.8S

While Nikon has the outstanding Nikon Z 50mm F1.8S, it’s far too large and expensive to be nifty.

However, Nikon has teased a smaller and lighter 50mm lens on its most recent Z Lens road map. Advertised as a compact 50mm micro, it might just have the close-up chops many of the other nifty fifty’s lack.

As a subscriber to my mailing list, you will be alerted to new product releases as well as the latest deals on cameras, lenses and software.

Shop for Nikon Z 50mm F1.8S

Nifty Fifty lenses for Canon

Canon RF mount

Cameras: Canon R5, R6, EOS R, EOS RP

Shop for Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

With its impressive minimum focus distance and customizable (ISO, Aperture, Focus) control ring, the Canon RF 50mm STM is a next-generation nifty fifty. Although the exotic Canon RF 50mm F1.2 stole all the headlines, the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 is just one-stop slower, 6 times lighter, and 10 times cheaper (seriously!). Whats a stop in photography

Nifty Fifty for Canon RF: Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Shop for Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Canon EF mount (full frame DSLRs)

Cameras: 6D, 5D, 1D

Shop for Canon EF 50mm F1.8

The compact Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM can melt away those backgrounds for less than $150. Therefore, there is no sensible reason not to buy this lens unless you absolutely must have the 3-times more expensive F1.4 version.

Nifty Fifty Lens for Canon: Canon EF 50mm F1.8 STM

Shop for Canon EF 50mm F1.8

Canon EF-S mount (APS-C DSLRs)

Cameras: Rebel/Kiss, nnnnD, nnnD, nnD, 7D

Shop for Canon EF-S 28mm F2.8 STM

Unfortunately, Canon never made a nifty fifty for its EF-S mount. Although you could mount a full-frame EF 35mm F2, it’s much too large and expensive to be considered nifty. Alternatively, you could look at EF-S 24mm F2.8 or EF-40mm F2.8.

However, both feature smaller apertures, and neither get near that 47-degree field of view. On the other hand, both lenses are very extremely compact and good value.

Nifty Fifty for Canon EF-S: Canon EF-S 28mm F2.8 STM

Shop for Canon EF-S 28mm F2.8 STM

Canon EF-M mount

Cameras: M100, M200, M50, M5, M6

Shop for Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN

Like the EF-S mount, the lens line-up for the EF-M mount is somewhat poor. As a result, the best Nifty Fifty for Canon’s EF-M mount is a Sigma.

Unlike the other nifty fifties, the Sigma has a large F1.4 aperture for better low light performance and superior background blur. While the Sigma is a little larger and a bit more expensive, it’s still great value considering the Canon equivalent, the EF-M 32mm F1.4, costs twice as much.

Nifty Fifty for Canon EF-M: Sigma 30mm F1.4

In contrast, the tiny EF-M 22mm F2 may present a wider field of view but represents amazing value and is a no-brainer for many owners of M cameras.

Finally, there is the EF-M 28mm F3.5 macro. Although the 28mm lens offers a similar field of view, it’s quite expensive. And with its smaller F3.5 aperture, the 28mm is less effective in low light and will struggle to blur backgrounds.

However, the compact EF-M 28mm F3.5 can photograph subjects at their actual size and features image stabilization. So whilst the EF-M 28mm cannot be considered a nifty fifty, it’s an interesting lens nevertheless.

Shop for Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN

Nifty Fifty Lens for Sony

Sony FE Mount

Cameras: A7, A7r ,A7s, A9 (all ‘Mark’ versions).

Shop for Sony FE 50mm F1.8

For years, the only 50mm lenses Sony users could buy were excellent, but expensive Zeiss and ‘G’ 50mm lenses. Then came the Sony FE 50mm F1.8.

Although the Sony lens lacks the surprise and delight of its Canon RF equivalent, it remains as solid as any nifty fifty whilst costing less than $200.

Nifty Fifty lens for Sony FE: Sony FE 50mm F1.8

Shop for Sony FE 50mm F1.8

Sony E Mount

Cameras: A5xxx, A6xxx, NEX series

Shop for Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN for Sony E

Since Sony’s E 35mm f/1.8 OSS Lens costs nearly $500, it does not qualify for nifty status. However, since most Sony E cameras lack sensor-based image stabilization, the Sony 35mm’s optical image stabilization adds a lot of value.

A more nifty option is the Sigma 35mm F1.4. Although it lacks the Sony’s optical image stabilization, it’s sharp, has a larger, brighter aperture, and costs half as much.

Nifty Fifty for Sony E Mount: Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN

Shop for Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN for Sony E

Nifty Fifty Lenses for Fuji

Fuji X Mount

Cameras: All Fuji X Cameras

The Fuji XC 35mm F2 is Fujifilm’s genuine nifty fifty. At less than $200, the XC costs half as much as the X 35mm F2 despite being optically similar. Therefore, there is no need to upgrade to the more expensive XF 35mm F2 WR for the sake of image quality.

However, the Fuji X 35mm F2 remains good value thanks to its aperture ring and a metal, weather-resistant body.

Nifty Fifty Lenses for Olympus

Micro Four Thirds

Cameras: Pen F, OMD-M10/M5/M1,

Shop for Olympus 25mm F2.8

The tiny, lightweight Olympus 25mm F1.8 is a little expensive for a nifty-fifty but is a very sharp, well-made lens. If the Olympus is stretching your budget, the cheaper Panasonic 25mm F1.7 costs much less.

Because of the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor, a 47-degree field of view is achieved using a focal length of 25mm. And since smaller focal lengths provide a deeper depth of field, neither 25mm lens is great for blurring backgrounds. Learn about depth of field

However, if you are willing to increase your budget four-fold, the large aperture Olympus F1.2 pro will blur those backgrounds to butter.

Nifty Fifty Lens for Olympus Micro Four Thirds: Olympus 25mm F1.8

Shop for Olympus 25mm F2.8

Nifty Fifty Lenses for Panasonic

Micro Four Thirds

Cameras: Gn, GXn, G-Hn

Shop for Panasonic 25mm F1.7

The Panasonic 25mm F1.7 is a very compact, affordable lens. For a little more, you could go with the Olympus 25mm F1.8.

As stated in the Olympus section, a lens focal length of 25mm is a little short for heavy background blur. If you consider background blur a priority, you can either choose a longer focal length (changing your field of view as a result) or choose a 25mm lens with a larger aperture. Options include the Olympus 25mm F1.2 Pro and Panasonic Leica 25mm F1.4.

Nifty Fifty Lens for Panasonic Micro Four Thirds: Panasonic 25mm F1.7

Shop for Panasonic 25mm F1.7

L Mount


Shop for Sigma 45mm F2.8 for L Mount

Unfortunately, no nifty fifty exists for the L mount. The closest thing the Sigma 45mm F2.8. Which, despite the smaller aperture, is too large, heavy, and expensive to be considered nifty.

Nifty Fifty Lens for Panasonic L Mount: Sigma 45mm F2.8

Nifty Fifty Lenses for Pentax

K Mount (Full-Frame)

Cameras: Pentax K1 mk 1 & 2

Although Pentax does not offer a nifty fifty, it does have a curious offering in the Pentax 50mm F2.8. Although the 50mm is too expensive to be nifty and suffers from a smaller F2.8 aperture, it does offer a 1:1 macro reproduction ratio for full-size subject magnification. However, whether this makes the Pentax a good value or not depends on how much you like macro photography.

Alternatively, there is the Pentax’s compact, large aperture FA 50mm F1.4 which is nifty in all aspects except price.

K Mount (APS-C)

Cameras: K70, KP

Although its F2.4 aperture is a little slow, the small, lightweight Pentax 35mm F2.4 features a dirt-resistant front-lens element and can be had for much less than $150.

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