People often ask us about buying more camera kit. Without fail we always recommend that the next piece of kit that anyone should buy after their camera is a 50mm f1.8 lens. Here’s why:
Narrow Depth of Field
The maximum aperture of f1.8 enables you to achieve a very narrow depth of field, i.e. with just your subject in focus and everything in the foreground and background blurred. This is a great look for your photos and will really make them stand out from the ordinary, and it’s something you can’t achieve with an entry-level zoom lens.
Compact and Lightweight
This compact and lightweight lens will reduce the overall size and weight of your camera kit, even when compared to a kit lens. Because your camera will be less of a burden to carry this means you’ll be more likely to take it everywhere with you. The small size also means it is less obtrusive and intimidating to those around you, which can be very useful for taking photos of people.
Incredible Image Quality
The 50mm lens has been around since the beginning of time and lens manufacturers have had forever to perfect its construction and it is therefore one of the sharpest lenses around. It’s as sharp as most professional level zoom lenses and noticeably sharper that your standard kit lens.
Crop of the hands from the portrait, still sharp.
Useful Focal Length
On a crop sensor camera a 50mm lens gives a slightly ‘zoomed in’ focal length which is an excellent focal length for portraits and can also be good for travel, street, architecture, pets, sunsets, wildlife, flowers and even landscapes. On a full frame sensor it gives a ‘normal’ angle of view, similar to how you see things. Basically, it’s a good all rounder.
Only having one focal length to use really simplifies things for a photographer. It’s one less thing to think about because you are forced to use the focal length of 50mm. This allows you to use your brainpower to think about other photography aspects such as exposure or composition. This is true of all prime lenses.
Although you may worry that you will feel constrained by a fixed focal length, you should find that it forces you to be more creative. By not being able to change your angle of view you will have to take pictures from different positions than usual, move yourself around to take up a more unusual viewpoint, or crop your photo differently than you would have done normally.
The large maximum aperture of the 50mm prime means that loads of light can hit your sensor, giving you an incredible advantage when you don’t have much light. The average kit lens has a maximum aperture of around f3.5, which means that a 50mm f1.8 lens can allow approximately 4 times more light into the lens. This enables you, for example, to use a shutter speed of 1/100s instead of 1/25s to achieve the same exposure which is very significant if you want to freeze motion or eliminate camera shake.
Using F2 allowed a shutter speed of 1/80s and an ISO of 1600 in a dimly lit bar.
Versions of Nikon’s and Canon’s 50mm f1.8 lens can be bought new for less than £90. Arguably the biggest value for money photography related purchase you’re ever going to make.
It Will Make a Difference to Your Photography
For all of the reasons listed above, a 50mm f1.8 lens will make a significant difference to your photography, which should always be a key test when thinking about any new piece of kit.