It’s not called the nifty-fifty for nothing

19 June 2018

The 50mm lens is genuinely a great all-rounder that every photographer needs in his or her camera bag. It’s perfect for the fashion blogger, portrait, street and travel photographers.

Compact, lightweight and affordable

To say that it’s great value for money is an understatement. The 50mm’s price range starts at a mere R1,495 for the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM with most f/1.4 versions of the lens selling between R4,500 and R6,000 depending on the brand. Because of it’s small, lightweight design you can easily carry this lens around for long periods of time without it getting in the way. And if you’re into street or travel photography, the nifty-fifty is the ideal lens to take along for taking everything from portraits to landscapes at a moment’s notice while still being able to keep your kit light.

Wide aperture – just what you want

  • It’s able to provide a fast shutter speed due to the fact that you can shoot wide open at a low f-stop. It’s excellent at obtaining correct exposure while minimising camera shake in low-light situations.
  • Due to more light passing through to the camera’s sensors (focusing and imaging) it also offers improved autofocus in low-light situations.
  • Improved manual focus due to a brighter view through the viewfinder and a shallow depth of field gives you a good idea of what’s in focus and what’s not.
  • Being able to shoot at a very low f-stop you can obtain a shallow depth of field that allows for beautiful blur and bokeh while placing emphasis on the subject.
50mm f/1.2 Manual focus

A 50mm lens generally has a very low f-stop that can range from f/0.95 to f/2.4, which comes with quite a few benefits.

Crop Sensor vs Full Frame

Let’s cover a very important factor, which is that a 50mm lens won’t provide the same look on a full-frame camera as on a crop sensor camera. When used with a full-frame camera like the Nikon D850, a 50mm lens will present its true value and mimics the FOV (field of view) of the human eye making it naturally pleasing to look at. But, even when used on a crop sensor camera like the Canon 800D, the 50mm produces excellent results.

Expected equivalent

  • Fujifilm mirrorless camera like the X-T20 – 1.5x magnification – 75mm lens
  • Nikon crop sensor like the D5600 DSLR– 1.5x magnification – 75mm lens
  • Canon crop sensor like the 800D DSLR– 1.6x magnification – 80mm lens

(Canon 80D DSLR camera & Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens)

Canon 80D DSLR camera with 50mm lens

(Canon 6D DSLR camera & Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens)

Canon 6D DSLR camera with 50mm lens

Our top 50mm lens picks:

About the Author:

Wouda Mc Micken is a self-confessed klutz and can be easily bribed with a stylish pair of jeans or good food. The privilege of doing interviews with professional photographers from all over the world is what makes her get up in the mornings, excited for a new day’s work.

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