For a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, having a 50mm lens is one of the best decision you can make in terms of lenses due to a few strong reasons, therefore, why do you need a 50mm lens in the first place?
A 50mm lens is a very versatile lens, inexpensive, sharp, fast and amazing in capturing low-light photographs. The 50mm focal length works marvellously for most niches in photography and you cannot go wrong with it.
I owned several 50mm prime lenses for my Nikon cameras, both for full-frame and DX sensor versions, where this became shortly my favourite focal length. In this post, I want to share with you 7 reasons why you need to buy a 50mm lens for your DSLR or Mirrorless camera.
The first reason why you need to have a 50mm lens would be the aperture
In general, a 50mm lenses come with a very wide aperture, above anything a zoom lens with this focal length can offer. A wide aperture such as f/1.8, f/1.4 or even f/1.2 is not required only for low-light performance but to obtain a shallow depth of field and amazing bokeh as well.
When you buy your first DSLR or mirrorless camera, they usually come with a stock lens, which probably would be the 18-55mm. This lens suffers from having a narrow aperture, the main reason to move away from it and try a 50mm lens.
You will never be able to obtain beautiful bokeh or depth of field with a stock lens but for the inexpensive prices of a 50mm lens, you can take your photography to the next level and have your first prime lens with a very wide aperture.
The bokeh obtained with a 50mm lens will look marvellous and natural, and owning your first 50mm lens would be the beginning step in creating stunning forms of art.
The second reason why you need to have a 50mm lens would be the focal length
The focal length of a 50mm lens (mounted on a full-frame camera) would be similar to what you see with your own eyes. This focal length is often used in special in portrait photography and it is amazing for a few good reasons:
- Natural focal length – The images taken with a 50mm focal length would look natural and not distorted at all, where a wider focal length or telephoto would create the image slightly distorted and the subject or scene will appear closer or further as they really are.
- There are many niches where you can use the 50mm lens and this being the reason why is so widely used by photographers. From portrait to 50mm landscapes & street photography, this lens is very versatile.
- From a fine-art lover, I see this focal length as being the best in creating fine-art. If you want to read more, please check our other post “Fine-art photography with a 50mm lens“
The third reason why you need to have a 50mm lens would be the price
We all know that the price of a good lens can go up even beyond the price of a DSLR and this affects in special the zoom lenses and some prime lenses.
Because of the 50mm focal length and the fact that this is a prime lens, you can find 50mm prime lenses for prices as low as £130/$150 with amazing performance and sharpness.
Why are those lenses so cheap though? Due to the fact that a prime lens has less glass in it compared to a zoom lens where more glass is required to perform the zoom function, the production cost is cut and better quality glass is used for the same reason.
I bought my Nikkor f/1.2 50mm lens with £650. That is not cheap for a prime lens, where the Canon version goes over a grand. But keep in mind the quality of the glass on cheap lenses is very good, on those more expensive 50mm prime lenses, the quality goes beyond almost anything you can find on the market (more or less), highlighting these lenses as being a high-end product.
The 4th reason why you need to have a 50mm lens would be the low light performance
One of the main reasons a 50mm lens would be amazing for any photographer to have in the arsenal is the capability of low-light performance.
Due to the wide and very wide apertures, these lenses are able to capture a much larger amount of light during the night than any zoom lenses, making it a very good choice for people who love evening and night photography handheld.
Yes, compared to many zoom lenses, a 50mm prime lens would be the perfect choice for a photographer to use during many low-light scenarios, this includes indoors photography.
Keep in mind that wider is the aperture, more light the lens can capture. As an instance, you are able to capture with 50mm prime lenses f/1.8 images where lighting is difficult and a zoom lens with an aperture of f/3.2 will fail to do so.
The 5th reason why you need to have a 50mm lens would be fast autofocus
With an exception of the manual focus lenses such as my favourite Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 manual focus lens, I found that about all the 50mm lenses I owned had amazing autofocus capabilities even in low-lighting conditions.
This, of course, depends a lot on your DSLR or mirrorless camera and how good your autofocus is, but in good lighting condition and with a good camera, most of the 50mm lenses I owned managed to focus extremely fast in a fraction of second with no room for errors.
The 6th reason why you need to have a 50mm lens would be the sharpness
Sharpness is probably one of the most important if not the most important factors we expect from a brand new lens. All the 50mm lenses I owned and tested had an outstanding sharpness overall, from the centre to the edges.
Why is the sharpness so good on these lenses? The main reason behind is that a prime lens has less glass in it, as not only for the price but better quality glass is affordable on prime lenses than zoom lenses. This goes out not only with 50mm focal length but with the majority of prime lenses.
You will find yourself very pleased even with the cheapest 50mm lens you can find on the market. Of course, I was not able to test anything beyond the Nikon product range but upon my researches on other 50mm models from other manufacturers, there is no room for disappointment.
The 7th reason why you need to have a 50mm lens would be size&weight
Compared to a big bulky DSLR camera, a 50mm lens would be so tiny and lightweight that you even forget you have a lens attached. Ha! Joking, but mostly not joking at all.
The heaviest 50mm lens I had (and still have) is the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 as the above mentioned and still, by the weight and size, is smaller than any zoom lens I ever tested.
Therefore, if your main area of concern is the weight and portability, and this goes in special when using gimbals or travelling, a 50mm lens would be the perfect solution for you.
I can say that a 35mm lens would fall more or less under the same category, but many other even prime lenses I had, were a bit bulky and heavy compared to what a 50mm can offer.
In the past year or so, I sold nearly every lens I had and kept my 50mm f/1.2 lens. Why? Because I simply love it, I fell in love with the focal length and the sharpness is the best one I found in any lens I ever had or tested.
Even if someone would pay me to work with another focal length, I will gently refuse. I cannot let go of my 50mm lens and became the main lens I use for about 90% of the times I am photographing.
Therefore, do I recommend it? Absolutely yes! There is absolutely no reason you should not have a 50mm lens in your arsenal.
With this, I have to say thank you for remaining until the end of the post and I hope to see you around. Take care and go-grab your nifty fifty and shoot!
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