What Is a 50mm Lens Good For?

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Photographers usually own two types of camera lenses: a prime lens and a zoom lens.

A prime lens has a fixed focal length and it gives a fixed frame of your subject, while zoom lenses have focal length range and lets you zoom in and out. 

Prime lenses, like 50mm lenses, are very popular with beginners and hobbyists. Zoom lenses may offer flexibility and versatility. However, going through the different focal lengths can be confusing and overwhelming for people who are new to photography. 

What is a 50mm Lens Good For?

Most professional photographers would choose a 50mm while traveling as it is an all-around lens that is ideal for nature, portrait, and landscape photography.

Hand holding a camera with a 50mm lens

Reasons to Get a 50mm Lens

The 50mm lens offers a great wide-angle range, and it is a prime lens that can help you build your confidence as a photographer. It has the easiest focal length to frame and practice on. So what is a 50mm lens good for?

Improves Your Composition

Since the 50mm lens has a fixed focal length, most people believe it limits your choices on the pictures you can take, and it does not offer you any flexibility. However, over time, using the lens can help improve your composition. 

With the prime lens, since you can’t zoom in as it does not change its focal length, you will need to get closer to your subject and find a good angle. It allows you to pre-visualize the image before you start taking pictures. 

Prime lenses like the 50mm give you a chance to practice your skills and develop a good eye for images. 

Shoot in Low Light

The 50mm prime lens has an aperture between f/1.2 and f/1.8, depending on the brand of lens that you purchase. Having such a narrow aperture means that you can take pictures and film videos at night and in low light areas without having to worry about blurs and distortion. 

Beautiful Bokeh 

Bokeh pertains to the out-of-focus quality of the image. The quality of the bokeh relies heavily on a shallow depth of field. A shallow depth of field is the deliberate blur of either the backdrop or the image’s foreground for aesthetic purposes. 

With the 50mm lens, its natural wide aperture creates an attractive bokeh, and it results in a more professional and atmospheric result.

50mm lens

Travel Companion

Aside from its impressive features and ability to produce high-quality images, the 50mm prime lens is a favorite amongst travel photographers because of how small and light it is. 

The lens measures around 14 ounces to 2 pounds depending on the brand you choose, but it never goes beyond that weight range. Since it is lightweight, it is a great travel buddy, and it can easily be carried around all day. 

Take Picture Discreetly 

The 50mm lens allows you to develop a candid style instead of orchestrating a photograph. Since it has a fixed focal length, your lens does not create any sound when you take pictures, unlike zoom lenses with autofocus motors that let the subject know you’re there. 

With the 50mm prime lens, you will be less obvious, and you can capture more natural moments

Camera Compatibility

The 50mm lens works with full-frame and crop sensor cameras. This means if you upgrade your camera, you won’t have to purchase another lens to go with it, as you can just simply transfer your prime lens to your new camera

Also, you can use the same lens mount as camera manufacturers use the same lens mounts on new models. So if your camera is from 2017, there is a chance that you can still use your 50mm lens on a camera released in 2021. 

Versatility

A 50mm lens is a versatile prime lens, which is why it is a must-have for both professional photographers and hobbyists. You can take pictures of the sunrise, move to snap photos of your friends and family, capture images of weddings, mountains, and continue till sunset. 

No matter what the subject is, the 50mm lens got you covered, and each snap is clear and crisp. 

Vintage Canon camera with 50mm lens

Sharp Images

Prime lenses like the 50mm have fewer internal elements compared to zoom lenses. Since the inside of the lens has fewer elements, it can take clearer and sharper pictures. 

The focal length is not disturbed because it is fixed, the quality stays the same in each shot. This also means that it has less chromatic aberration and it has better color distribution, so the colors are accurate. 

Related Questions

Can You Use the 50mm Lens for Close-Ups?

The 50mm lens can be used for close-up shots despite not having a zoom option. You can get closer to the subject to get a better angle or you can attach an extension tube or an achromatic close-up lens to give a zoomed-in effect. 

Can You Use Filters on 50mm Lenses? 

You can attach filters on your 50mm lens, like the Neutral Density or ND filter. It can help minimize the exposure of your shot so you won’t need to adjust the lens settings. 

The ND filter will also allow you to use wider apertures and longer shutter speeds without compromising the quality of the image or overexposing it. It is very useful when you are taking pictures in broad daylight. 

Conclusion

The 50mm prime lenses are a great learning tool. You can’t frame up a different view of your subject because of its fixed focal length, so you’ll have to move around and work on your angles to get the shot that you like, honing your photography skills. 

The lens lets you think about how to compose your pictures and helps you grow as a photographer. 

Kaitlin Cooper is an active professional wedding and portrait photographer in San Diego, California at Kaitlin Cooper Photography. She is also a contributor to many large publications, including Bridal GuideBustlePixpaWith Joy, and Hello Giggles.