The Cheap, Versatile, Fast Fifty

I don’t feel like writing today, so let’s just celebrate the 50mm f/1.8 lens. It costs about a hundred bucks, but you can do a lot with it.

Grab it and shoot. The 50 f/1.8 is sharp, focuses fairly close, and loves low light. That makes it a perfect lens to keep on the camera for opportunistic shooting.

Traveling? The 50 is small and lightweight - easy to carry around all day.

Shooting portraits? On a cropped sensor like my Nikon D300, the 50's angle of view is similar to a 75mm lens on a 35mm camera. This provides a nice working distance for 3/4 portraits.

Out on the town? You'll need a very expensive camera to work in low light - or a hundred dollar 50mm f/1.8.

Need depth of field control? Working under overcast skies? 50 to the rescue.

Grab shot opportunity? Sure, you could work with a standard zoom. Or you could take a couple of steps forward or backward with the 50.

Did I mention low light? Well, it's worth mentioning again.

With a fixed focal length lens, there's no second guessing the framing while you fiddle with the zoom ring. You move to where the composition looks right and you take the picture.

Modern zooms are fantastic, but a fixed focal length lens makes you think about composition more. That's a good thing.


Filed under Camera Gear, Low Light, Portraiture, Travel and Vacation

8 responses to “The Cheap, Versatile, Fast Fifty

  1. Suez

    Have you tried the 35mm f/1.8? More like a real-time 50mm. I wonder if the quality is the same.

    BTW, damn you for making me compare the D300 to my D80. Now I’m stalking it on eBay.

  2. Suez

    And from you! Long time…

    Now I’m looking at the D90 vs. the D300.

    Oops, veering away from the 50mm blog content.

    I’ve been getting into prime lenses lately. Cheap and fun!

    • I’m responding from my phone, so must be brief. D90 is highly regarded, but if you can swing a d7000, you’ll be set for a long time.

      • Suez

        ‘A long time’ these days translates to…….?

        Damn you again, now I’m researching jail time for knocking over a liquor store. Don’t have any strikes yet, jails are overcrowded, hmmm….

    • Actually, a d90 would have image quality equal to or better than my d300, but I thought they were getting hard to find. I’ve been very happy with the d300, but I’m always seeking better high ISO performance for theater and dance photography.

  3. Suez

    I’d be happy with the d300 too if I took photos as nice as yours. The d80’s high ISO performance is dismal. I do like the 100 ISO on the d7000…

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