The humble 50mm lens, or nifty fifty, deserves a place in everyone’s camera bag. Not only do they offer outstanding image quality, but they are cheap and small to boot!
For years, I stuck by my kit zoom until I finally bought my first 50mm lens. And it was such a revelation, my kit lens went into the draw never to see the light again. So if you’re thinking about buying your own 50mm lens, here are 5 reasons to spank that credit card.
Table of Contents
- Need to know a little more about lenses?
- 1. 50mm lenses have great image quality
- 2. Background Blur
- 3. 50mm lenses are great for shooting in low light
- 4. 50mm Lenses are compact
- 5. The 50mm lens is cheap
- When a 50mm is not a ’50’
- Recent Posts
Need to know a little more about lenses?
If you’re new to lens-lingo, check out these guides.
1. 50mm lenses have great image quality
Do you think a $200 50mm lens can outperform a thousand-dollar zoom? Of course, it can. And compared to your camera’s kit lens, you’ll find the difference to be night and day. Therefore, expect sharper photos with superior contrast and gorgeous background blur.
2. Background Blur
Even the cheapest 50mm F1.8 lenses produce amazing background blur. Background blur is useful for three reasons. First of all, mixing a blurred background with an in-focus subject creates a 3D-like effect for a punchier image.
Furthermore, you can use heavy blur to hide distracting background clutter such as litter bins and crowds. And finally, it just looks great.
Of course, you need an expensive lens, right? Well, as the old saying goes, ‘no’. Even my old hundred-dollar Nikon AF-D 50mm F1.8 lens melts backgrounds to goo.
3. 50mm lenses are great for shooting in low light
Many cheap 50mm lenses are great for shooting in the dark thanks to their large F1.8 apertures. A 50mm F1.8 can soak up almost 10 times as much light as your F5.6 kit lens. As a result, you can keep your shutter speeds high to avoid camera shake and motion blur whilst avoiding high image-degrading ISOs. Read What is ISO.
4. 50mm Lenses are compact
On its own, the affordable 50mm lens is small and lightweight. But it also makes for a perfect jacket-pocketable companion for large superzooms.
This way, you get to mix the versatility of a super-zoom with the 50mm’s exceptional image quality whilst keeping your kit light and compact overall.
5. The 50mm lens is cheap
Of course, some 50mm lenses are absurdly expensive. But even the cheapest 50mm lenses punch well above their weight.
If you’re looking for the best bang-for-buck, you’re looking for a 50mm. Click here to find the right fifty for your camera.
When a 50mm is not a ’50’
On a full-frame camera, a 50mm lens captures a 47-degree angle of view. As a result, a 50mm is a great option for everyday photography.
However, mounting the same 50mm lens onto a camera will a smaller sensor will yield a smaller and narrower image. For example, mount a 50mm onto a camera with a smaller APS-C sensor, and your angle of view narrows to approximately 31 degrees. In other words, you end up with an angle of view much too zoomed-in for everyday photography.
Therefore, if you’re looking for that same 50mm lens-like 47-degree angle of view for your APS-C or Micro Four Thirds camera, choose a 35mm or 25mm respectively. To find a nifty fifty for your camera, check here
The 50mm lens might just be the best deal in photography. It’s cheap and compact whilst delivering amazing image quality and low-light performance.
As a result, the 50mm lens is great on its own or as a companion lens for a more versatile but image-quality poor travel zoom. If you are still using the affordable kit lens that came with your camera, try a 50mm lens and find out what your camera’s sensor can do. Find the best 50mm for your camera.