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50mm

23 Sep '14

In control

written by Nawid Sahebzadeh |  photo © Nawid Sahebzadeh

A few months ago I bought a 50mm lens because it was on sale and I had always wanted one. The first few weeks it was quite a challenge to work with. But I have slowly grown very fond of it.

Depth of field

One of the advantages of a 50mm lens is it’s wide aperture. This means that the depth of field of the lens is relatively narrow. This means that you can easily and beautifully extract your subject from the background. I especially love how it enables me to focus on the eyes of my model when shooting portraits. It’s a convenient way to get a great shot.

Bokeh

If you are as much a fan of bokeh as I am, you will certainly appreciate the 50mm for it’s narrow depth of field. This lens especially yields stunning bokeh effects. The wide aperture means that you can get approximately 4 cm of depth of field at 1 meter distance. Which is great for isolating your subject. You can see this effect in the picture below. As you can see her eyes are in focus but her ears are already starting to get out of focus.

 

Laziness

A while back I wrote a blog about how I like to be a lazy photographer. Unfortunately for my lazy character a fixed  focal length means you really have to zoom with your feet. So you can’t just sit back, you really have to walk around and move around your subject to get the composition you want. This however does mean that you really learn to look and study your subject which is a great plus for every photographer.

For me this means that I take less pictures but each one of those I take is much better than if I had done it any other way. Which in turn means I have less photo’s to post process, so laziness achieved once again.

50mm vs Zoom

50mm is pretty much the same as your eyes. So this means when you are taking a shot you are at the same distance to your subject as you would be if you were looking at it. This means that especially for street photography, you have to get very close. For me it makes the experience of taking pictures more intense as I feel disconnected when shooting with a telelens for example.

If I had to live the rest of my life stuck with one lens, I would definitely choose the 50mm. If you haven’t used one yet I encourage you try it for yourself.

  • Wim Verhoeve

    Nice article!

    At the moment the 50mm F/1.8 is my favorite too. Especially on my 70D, which has the possibility of AF Microadjustment. A very nice feature to solve my 50mm’s frontfocus. Now i finally can use autofocus using my 50mm..

    And if I take a look at the picture of your beloved, I think your 50mm is suffering frontfocus as well..unless you wanted to see her lips sharp, in stead of her eyes…

    • Bart van Maarseveen

      Nice indeed.

      But on the 70D the 50mm acts like a 80mm. Perfect for portraits, especially with 1.8 aperture. But to have the same view as with your eyes, you would need full frame or switch back to analogue. But sure, I love the 50mm as well. Both cropped as full frame.

  • Frank Laurens

    No expensive equipment. The car in which Vanessa was photgraphed was a Porsche Cayenne 😉 Nice article