It doesn’t matter if you shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, FujiFilm or any other camera brand – fact is, every photographer should own a 50mm lens! Here are a top reasons why everyone should have a 50mm lens in the camera bag!
Lets face it, camera gear in general is expensive… the fact that you can get a brand new 50mm lens between $100-$200 is pretty awesome. Don’t let the small price fool you, it’s a great lens. 50mm 1.8 lenses are quite plentiful so if a brand new 50mm 1.8 lens isn’t in your budget, you can typically find them used for as little as $50.
Perhaps the greatest attribute of the little “nifty-fifty” is it is “faster” than the fastest of zoom lenses. Faster? In photo talk, the term “fast glass” refers to wide aperture lenses because the wider the aperture on the lens, the faster shutter speed one can achieve compared to a zoom lens. For example – lets say you are trying to take some photos indoors at a church without flash, and you are using the 18-55 kit lens that came with your camera, at the long end of that range the widest aperture is usually f/5.6, if you have a 50 1.8 you will be letting in more than 3 full stops of light, giving you the ability to use a 8x as fast shutter speed. Or even a 50 1.4 lens that will give 4 full stops difference from f/5.6! Being able to superbly outperform all zoom lenses, especially zoom “kit lenses” in low light conditions makes a 50 1.8 or 1.4 prime lens a must have tool.
I am not going to lie, I hate having to lug around bulky heavy lenses like my 70-200 f/2.8 zoom and I love when I can put the big zoom away and shoot with my small 50mm prime lens. Not only does it give your wrists and arms a rest but its not as obtrusive and noticeable which is great when trying to pack light and just “blend in” without drawing much attention to yourself.
Especially true when used on full frame camera bodies like the D800 or 5D Mark III, the 50mm focal length is a very versatile range. It yields a “normal” perspective and field of view similar to what we see from our very own eyes which make it a great lens for photojournalists. Its for this reason that on my most recent trip to Paris and Italy it was one of the 2 lenses I took with me, for a whole 10 days. Its a great “walk-around” lens but also can be great for portraits too. On the wedding day, it is also great for getting ready shots, especially when we have to shoot at 1.4 to help blur out messy getting ready rooms!
Makes You a Better Photographer
It’s a fact that using prime lenses rather than zoom lenses force photographers to be more creative with compositions, more agile and overall “keep you on your toes” since you don’t have the luxury of zooming in or out for your shot. In addition to being forced to zoom with your feet you are also able to shoot at wider apertures like 1.8, 1.4 and 1.2 (Canon) that allow for more creativity with use of depth of field that just simply isn’t an option with equivalent range zoom lenses.(via Cole’s Classroom)