For many photographers, a 50mm lens is a golden tool on their arsenal. Due to the quality, cheap price, sharpness and versatility of the lens, this makes it possible to be used across from the first buyers to professional photographers. There is always room for improvements and extra tips to improve our experience and knowledge of 50mm photography.
Therefore, in this post, I want to share with you 13 tips to improve your 50mm photography
13 tips to improve your 50mm photographs.
- Know your composition. Select your elements
- Create panoramic images with 50mm photographs
- Use a prime lens instead of a zoom lens with the 50mm focal length
- Learn the manual focus and master it.
- Shoot in RAW and not JPEG.
- Take advantage of the wide aperture
- Create bokeh as never before.
- Get started into fine-art photography with 50mm prime lens
- Take long exposures with a 50mm lens
- Master one niche but experiment with others
- Train your creativity with this lens
- Train your photographic eye.
- Memorise the scene before you capture it because you shoot in 50mm.
This post is focused around using a 50mm prime lens and not a zoom lens with this focal length. If you already have or you want to acquire a 50mm prime lens, you are in the right place. This does not mean that the tips do not apply for a zoom lens with this focal length. I recommend you to keep reading.
If you want to jump to a specific section of this post, please use the below table of contents to help you faster navigate.
1. Know your composition. Select your elements.
Because of the unique medium focal length, you have to know that there are only a number of elements you can frame and arrange into your composition.
The first step to improve your composition with a 50mm focal length is actually to practice as much as possible with the lens. After a while, everything will become natural and it will be much easier for you to work with it, in special if you never used a 50mm lens before.
Remember that with a 50mm lens mounted on a full-frame camera (the equivalent of 35mm on a DX-format camera) you photograph as close as possible to exactly what you see with your own eyes.
Your images, your composition, in general, will look natural as there will be a minimum perspective distortion as compared to wider or more telephoto lenses.
A 50mm prime lens is unique for a composition. Every focal length may be unique but as the photographs captured with a 50mm lens will mostly look very natural, you will be able to learn your composition and elements and to store them in our minds before to take the photographs.
2. Creating panoramic images with a 50mm lens.
Who said you cannot use a 50mm lens for landscape photographs or cityscapes? Although of the medium format of the lens, you are able to capture only a part of a scene or city, therefore, for a single capture, a 50mm lens would not be recommended that much (not always though)
But capturing multiple pictures over a city or landscape in vertical mode, one next to the other and next to the other etc., and when combining them into Lightroom, you can create outstanding panoramic images.
Your panorama will be a very high-resolution one, perfect for printing and exposition, results you cannot obtain with a wider focal length, nor with a telephoto one. Once again, a 50mm lens win over some panoramic scenes.
3. Why you should use a 50mm prime lens over a zoom lens with this focal length?
Oh, where do I start?
A 50mm prime lens is a single focal length allowing you to learn and master it, where, with a zoom lens, you are using a value between a minimum and maximum focal length (e.g.18-55mm). You will truly not be able to learn and master a 50mm focal length if you are using a zoom lens.
With a 50mm prime lens, you have a very wide aperture compared to zoom lenses. No zoom lens will match the aperture of a prime lens, which is amazing in capturing low-light images or photographs with bokeh and a shallow depth of field.
The sharpness of a 50mm prime lens is superior compared to most of the zoom lenses with this focal length due to the fact that less glass is used in manufacturing the prime lens where for a zoom lens more glass is needed in order to perform the zoom function. Because of this, better quality glass in a prime lens is more affordable and price-friendly.
As just spoken about the price, a 50mm prime lens would be very cheap and a good way to start your journey in 50mm’s.
4. Learning the manual focus and mastering of a 50mm prime lens
The autofocus of a 50mm prime lens is fast and good and never had trouble with any of the models I used or still using. But mastering the manual focus will open you a new area of opportunity and creativity.
I wrote a 30-day manual focus photography challenge where is a good point to start with and help you to master the manual focus not only for a 50mm prime lens but any focal length (more or less). A free e-book is also provided.
5. Shoot in RAW and not JPEG.
This is generalised per any type of photography niches or with any lenses, but I have to underline the fact that is very important to shoot in RAW and not JPEG, to be able to leave room for post-processing.
6. Take advantage of the wide aperture of a 50mm prime lens
As I did mention above, due to the wide and very wide aperture of a 50mm prime lens, such as f/1.8, f/1.4 or even f/1.2, you are able to capture amazing low-light photographs handheld.
A lot of light is allowed to fall into the camera sensor which not only will increase the shutter speed but you will be able to lower the ISO a bit to reduce the image noise which could be resulted from higher ISO.
Capturing images with a wide aperture will decrease the depth of field, blurring the background and mostly the foreground, where the subject will remain on focus. An amazing way to create artistic photographs with a 50mm prime lens
Moreover, one of the most beautiful parts of owning a prime lens with a wide aperture would be the possibility to create bokeh.
7. Creating bokeh.
Well, it is concluded that because of the wide aperture of a prime lens you are able to create bokeh, but how is the best way to do it?
Having a subject, a person or element in the scene where you want to focus but this being relatively close to you, the photographer, where the background is filled with different lights, you are able to create bokeh.
Bokeh will always look amazing where the background will have a dark tone. Moreover, to know, due to the unique medium focal length, the bokeh will look as natural as possible compared to any other lenses.
Please remember, the 50mm prime lenses are recognised of creating astonishing bokeh, even with the less expensive lenses. Why not take advantage of that?
8. Get started into fine-art photography with a 50mm lens
If you love fine-art photography, If you like to be creative and always take your photography to the next step of art, why not getting into fine-art photography?
Although some of the photographers may disagree this, I do strongly consider that a 50mm prime lens would be the best and golden tool to get started into fine-art photography.
There are many reasons why I personally choose and many other photographers as well, the 50mm prime lens for fine-art photography. I have written a full article “How to do fine art photography using a 50mm lens” if you are interested to get started with your nifty fifty lens.
9. Taking long exposures with a 50mm lens
We cannot deny how sharp a 50mm prime lens can be, in special if you step down the aperture. Among all the lenses I have ever owned or tested, I promote the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 manual focus as being the sharpest lens!. Many tests have concluded that, and its peak is when I take long exposures with that lens on an aperture of about f/5.6.
This is not related only to a single lens but widely among all the 50mm prime lenses I owned and tested. Taking long exposure with a 50mm lens when stepping down the aperture would highlight out of the ordinary sharpness and quality of the lens.
One another point I have to relate on taking long exposures with a 50mm lens is when capturing fireworks. Again, I could not find a better lens to capture fireworks than with my nifty fifty lens.
If you are interested a bit more about how to capture fireworks during the night in special with a 50mm lens as I mostly do, you can check out my other article linked above.
10. Master one niche but experiment with other niches.
One way to get professional into photography is to master a single niche, where, not only the experience and knowledge but mastering the niche with a single focal length would greatly benefit from it.
11. Train your creativity with a 50mm prime lens
Being creative in photography is probably one of the most important steps to succeed and frankly, how not to be creative with a 50mm prime lens?
This is not entirely related to the above point where I recommend getting into fine-art photography with a 50mm lens, but again, test your creativity and train it.
It is not an easy step to train your creativity, this being a skill or aptitude you will develop in time of practising and experimenting with photography but would never hurt to follow a few guides, tips and tutorials around the internet to use this in your benefit.
12&13 Train your photographic eye and memorize the scene.
These two points are altogether because they are largely related. Do you remember when I mentioned that a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera will capture what you see with your own eyes, not wider nor magnified?
Why not use that in your advantage? and with honesty, this is the only focal length you are able to apply these techniques I am going to share with you!
After using your 50mm for a longer period of time, you will come to realise that your eye-finder magnification would be around .65x to .80x with most of DSLR’s having it around .75x. That means that even if the 50mm captures what you see through your eyes, through the view-finder you will see everything a little bit zoomed out.
Understanding this difference you will be able to frame the scene in your mind before to look through the viewfinder. Basically, as you want to photograph something, it is easy to frame your elements, scene and the composition in your head before to put your eye on the viewfinder, and frankly, you will be able to see the image with your photographic eye before you even touch your DSLR.
How I do it after I understood the framing size of a 50mm photograph before to look through the eye-finder, I imaginarily created a rectangle shape with that frame in my mind, assisting me to frame the composition and the scene before I even touch the camera.
This is hardly not possible with wider lenses or more telephoto focal lengths. This can be accomplished only with a 50mm real focal length.
Now that you know what I am talking about, why not give it a shot the next time you get to shoot something with your 50mm lens, and you will see how easier than ever will be to capture anything with your nifty fifty and how much time it can save you.
Conclusion on how to improve your 50mm photography.
The techniques and tips I shared with you have real usage and will always help you to improve your 50mm photography. Keep in mind that you, as a photographer, are the final piece of capturing the best images with your 50mm lens.
Remember, only by shooting and practising with a 50mm lens you are able to take this to a whole another level. I love 50mm focal length and this is my absolute main to photograph most of the time. You will be able to find a lot more tips, guides and tutorials about how to improve”50mm photography” in our linked category.
For now, I have to say goodbye and thank you for remaining until the end of the post. Follow our blog for more content created for free only for you. Take care and hope to see you around.
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