News Flash: I Still Love the 50mm f/1.8

Even when the subject is not at the brightest area of the stage, the 50mm f/1.8 snaps into focus.

For the first few years I shot theater performances, the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 was my go-to lens. Lately, I’ve been craving more speed, so I use my prime lenses whenever possible. All else being equal, an f/1.8 lens lets me shoot at less than half the ISO setting I would use with the f/2.8 lens. Lower ISOs prevent noise and loss of dynamic range. Last week I photographed a dress rehearsal for the Ojai Art Center Theater’s production of Never Too Late. With a test audience in attendance, I decided to settle into the front row with my three fastest lenses: 35mm f/2.0, 50mm f/1.8, and 85mm f/1.8.

Good sharpness, color and contrast, for about a hundred bucks.

It was a Goldilocks experience. The 35 was too wide, the 85 was a little too tight, and the 50 was just right. I got some good shots with the 85, but due to age or electronics or gremlins, it just doesn’t focus reliably. The 50, however, focuses quickly and crisply. I still marvel at the quality of this, the cheapest lens in Nikon’s lineup.

The 50 also does a great job with out-of-focus areas, which are rendered very smoothly.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Dance and Theater, Low Light

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