50mm [1993]


50mm [1993]

Whenever people start getting into photography and they want to ask me for advice on what first lens to get (beyond whatever lens came with the camera that is) I ALWAYS recommend a 50mm prime, usually of the f/1.8 variety. It’s got basically the greatest price to performance ratio of all camera gear. It’s simple and not particularly versatile, but that helps make it ridiculously cheap for its quality.

So what are some of its main advantages?

  • The f/1.8 means it’s great in low light (a.k.a it’s super fast) and awesome for getting very shallow depth of field
  • Surprisingly cheap! Usually you’ve got to pay a lot for such a fast lens, but the simplicity of this lens gets the price very low. (When I got mine several years ago it was around $80. Sadly, its popularity has caused it to creep up a bit into the $110 range, but that still makes it one of the cheapest lenses you’ll find.)
  • 50mm is a very close approximation of your normal vision, so composing is quite a bit easier.
  • Plus, its lack of zoom is a great way to learn to move around when composing! It helps enforce a “zoom with you feet” mentality which is crucial when first learning photography. With a zoom lens, too many people get lazy and just stay in one place while fiddling with the lens. Moving around is one of the most important things you can do for finding the shot :-)

There’s a reason it’s got the nickname “nifty-fifty”.

Photo-a-Day: Year 6, Day 167 – Total Days: 1,993


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