Last week we asked you ‘if you were only allowed a single lens which would it be?‘ There were a large number of responses but probably the most popular lens was the 50mm at f1.4mm. The 50mm range of lens is probably the most affordable and popular prime lenses on the market.
The f1.4 costs £300 (Amazon link), which is out of the affordability range for many amateur photographers. The compromise is the exceptionally affordable 50mm f1.8 which only costs £88 (again from Amazon).
The “nifty fifty” offers a number of benefits, not only is it affordable the fact that it is a prime lens (i.e. no moving parts) means it is highly precise and thus offers superior image quality. Many photographers swear by prime lenses explaining that the massively superior photo quality is worth the lack of zoom.
The f1.8 could possibly be deemed essential given the low price tag. Manufacturers have made the lens affordable by making it with a plastic body and a metal mount but the maximum aperture of f/1.8 gives this lens the ability to create depth of field effects.
F1.8 also means it is particularly suited to low light photography on occasions when a flash isn’t appropriate. Professional music photographer Ramsey Cardy recommends the 50mm f1.8 as an essential lens for music photography (read the full article here).
This photo was taken during an intimate gig in near darkness, I had to forgo my 24-70 f2.8 as the 50mm f1.4 was the only lens capable of coping with the unbelievable lack of light.
I won’t even pretend to be an expert though and I am sure many of the Pro’s in the Seven by Five group will be able to offer a much better reason why the 50mm is an essential piece of kit.
I think the top reasons for owning the 50mm f1.8
1. Prime lens offers superior image quality.
2. A wide aperture offers brilliant bokeh effects (great for portrait work).
3. It is exceptionally light and portable.
4. It is exceptionally affordable.
5. Great for low light photography (e.g. music).