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Thread: why is a 50mm a must have?

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    why is a 50mm a must have?

    i've been reading around and there are many places where people say that a 50mm lens is a must have. why is this?
    i know they are fairly cheap but i don't quite get why a fixed focal is a must have?
    any thoughts?

    cheers

    Andrew

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    I think because they come in very fast apertures, which serves nicely in low light, at a good price?



    I got one.....but prefer my 35mm f2....which is closer on my cropped sensor to 50mm than my 50 is lol


    Good thread....I'm curious too
    Last edited by Kerrie; 27-04-2012 at 4:19pm.



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    why is a 50mm a must have?
    ??? Who have said that

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day Andrew

    Back in film camera days when the 50mm lens was 'standard' ie- it gave an image about life-size, portrait 'togs found that the 85mm lens gave a 1-1/2 sized image which provided them with a 'nice looking' image from a distance that a) gave separation from the sybject, and b) was not too far away needing shouted instructions

    With dSLR's and their cropped sensors where you get 'about life-size at about 38mm [within your 18-55 lens] it means that a 50mm lens now creates an image much the same as the old 85mm lens did years ago. Thus many 'togs into portraiture are discovering that a rebranded 50mm lens [now branded a "nifty-50"] has become an interesting addition to their armoury

    Whether you need one is totally up to you ... many 'togs I know of just use the 18-55 locked into 55mm
    Regards, Phil
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewvid View Post
    i've been reading around and there are many places where people say that a 50mm lens is a must have. why is this?
    ... but i don't quite get why a fixed focal is a must have?
    any thoughts?
    1. Never heard of it myself, unless it's a good focal length to put "nifty" in front of. That has catchphrase value at least.
    2. Wouldn't have a clue why THEY'd say that, but it would be a reasonable portrait focal length on a crop body.
    3. A "fixed focal" would have the potential to have fairly well optimised optics compared to a zoom.
    4. ???
    Am.
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    Quote Originally Posted by andylo View Post
    ??? Who have said that
    i have seen quite a few articles that explain the usefulness and convenience a 50mm has to offer and that it is a 'must have' arcording to them.
    Life is short, Keep snapping!
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    Member KeeFy's Avatar
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    I reckon why it's a "must have" is because of the cheapness of it and the ability to explore fast apertures and shallower DOF than the kit lenses. Well canon is cheap, nikon is almost double the price.. but double the build quality as well.

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    Ausphotography Regular junqbox's Avatar
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    Not neccessarily sure 'it's a must have' but, as said above-

    -is generally regarded (on 35mm format) as similar to what the eye see's. A 35mm would be the equivalent on a crop sensor body.
    -using a single focal length lens (non-zoom) can help you work more creatively, by having to re-adjust your position or the subject to acheive the result you want.
    -fixed focal length lenses often have higher aperture openings (smaller number, eg- 1.2, 1.8, etc) so you can work in environments with less ambient light.

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    I too have seen the word "need" and "50mm" coupled pretty often online, places such as digitalrev (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwmCrGVS3ZQ)

    I think it's the fact that they're so affordable due to being produced in such mass quantities, for most it's the first lens after kit lenses.
    Such a high aperture, makes them very usable in low light, and achieving incredibly narrow depth's of fields naturally is another one of their big draw cards.

    as to why their is such a bigger market for budget 50mm's as opposed to to 35mm's is beyond me. Most people using a 50mm on a full frame will use a 1.4 or 1.2, whilst most people on a tighter budget with an APS-C camera will have the budget 1.8. Would seem logical to have the 35mm mass produced and sold at <150 dollars since most people buying such a cheap lens will have an APS-C camera and 35mm is much more usable on a crop body.

    according to DWI:
    Canon EF 35mm F2.0
    Price: $344.00 AUD

    Canon EF 50mm F1.8I
    Price: $123.00 AUD
    Canon 60D - 24-105 F4 L - Sigma 10-20 - Kit lenses - 50mm F:1.8 - Tamron 90mm F:2.8 Macro - 430 exII _ Extension Tube Set


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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewvid View Post
    i've been reading around and there are many places where people say that a 50mm lens is a must have. why is this?
    i know they are fairly cheap but i don't quite get why a fixed focal is a must have?
    any thoughts?

    cheers

    Andrew
    I have no idea what you've been reading but chances are that most of it refers to FF (35mm) bodies, film or digital. This is where the 50mm lens is the 'standard' lens. A 50mm lens is NOT a must have on any format other than 35mm, that is if you even consider it a must have in the first place.

    50mm, on a 35mm camera, gives you an image which is about equivalent to that which you see with the naked eye. So, if you have your right eye in the viewfinder and the left eye open (and looking at the same subject) then the 2 images will appear approximately the same size. Of course this is NOT the case when the 50mm is on a crop camera (where it becomes a short tele lens) or for that matter medium format (where it becomes a wide angle lens).

    As 50mm lenses are extremely cheap, yet extremely good, there's little if any reason NOT to have one. That's probably the best reason to consider one a 'must have'.

    Re the fixed focal length part of your question. You can buy fast lenses, such as F1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.8 or F2 in fixed focal lengths (or primes) which are simply not available in zooms. For example you won't even find an F2.0 zoom for the 35mm format where an F2.8 zoom is considered fast. You can buy an F1.4 50mm lens for less than $150 quite effortlessly (if you have a camera that allows the use of Alternative or Legacy lenses) because there are plenty of lenses from the film era which can be used on modern digital bodies.

    Manual focus Industar 50-2 fitted to Canon 5D2


    Fixed focal length lenses also allow a high standard of image quality at a relatively low manufacturing cost. For example, I have an Industar 50-2 (a 50mm F3.5 lens) which is sharper than the 24-70/2.8 zoom (at 50mm) which cost about a 100 times more (although it's not a fair comparison, the zoom is far better in many respects)!

    A 50-60mm macro lens is a nice alternative to a normal 50mm lens. They are normally much slower, from F2 to about F4, but the added close range ability can make them very handy indeed.

    JJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewvid View Post
    i've been reading around and there are many places where people say that a 50mm lens is a must have. why is this?
    i know they are fairly cheap but i don't quite get why a fixed focal is a must have?
    My personal opinion is that 50mm is definitely not a 'must-have'.

    I find it the most boring and utterly useless focal length in the known universe.

    <teenager leet-speek mode>
    It is teh suckz0r!
    </teenager leet-speek mode>

    50mm is neither wide nor long, and it shows me the same sort of framing I see naturally with my own eyes; in other words, within the confines of a 3:2 frame, it doesn't give me a sweeping vista, nor narrow in on the details of distant subject matter.

    I don't have the focal length in either prime or zoom format. I don't want it and would never use it. :-)

    My advice is not to worry about what other people consider to be a 'must-have', and concentrate on what you consider to be a 'must-have' for your photography.

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    Historically 50mm on a 35mm film body was a standard less because it was supposed to give a view similar to the human eye.
    50mm lenses we supplied as the kit or standard lens of the day.
    My first SLR was a Pentax MX with a 50/17 lens ~1976
    I still have both and use the 50/1.7 sometimes.
    Sometimes I put some macro extension tubes and use it for the odd bit of macro work
    Last edited by Kym; 28-04-2012 at 12:15am.
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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I like 50mm ... the only problem tho is that it's one of those focal lengths I hardly ever use!

    I'm either at 45mm or less, or 55mm and beyond

    Why I ever bothered to get two 50mm's is beyond me ... they make for pretty ok macro lenses tho(if you have the right lens type).

    seriously, as already said .. cheap .. and good IQ.

    I hardly ever use primes, but they are a very good way to discipline yourself to see before you shoot, rather than zoom(in or out) and shoot.
    Harder in many ways to make the photo interesting, so it teaches you to see better.
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    it used to be the lens of choice for student photographers. partly because primes have have better optics and are fast.
    mostly because they were cheap and students have no money
    I'll bet few use the 50mm range outside of study/street photography.

    if you're on a tight budget but still want good glass....then I guess it is a 'must have'. it'll run rings around any kit lens.
    ...also make for a great paperweight.

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    I got it because it was cheap and I actually love it! It was the cheapest lens I could get when I got my 7d body and I just wanted a lens on there to practice with until I purchased the 100mm macro!! I use it for food photography and such and will continue to do so I believe as my lens buying continues lol!!
    I did hear once that it was a 'must have' for beginners because it taught them to compose with their feet rather than rely on zooms!
    Cheers and Happy Shooting
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    Ausphotography Regular junqbox's Avatar
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    btw, further to my post above.
    About the only thing I use mine for is product photography in a fixed environment to help maintain scaling etc.

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    Ha ha ..... See I was on the right track and didn't even know it lol!

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    I think that there are a few aspects...why I have a 50:
    1. I wanted to shoot in ridiculously low light but didn't have the ISO capabilities or expensive glass. (Fading light trying to identify a tornado is a pain in the backside)
    2. I think they are fantastic at forcing me to compose my images in a more attractive way - I tend to shoot my zooms like primes in the majority anyway now probably because of this, but I really think zooms are the worst thing you can give to a photography beginner. - I would say 50mm equivalent is probably the better terminology.
    3. Panoramic stitch: Short telephoto on crop = fantastic low distorting lens for panoramic compisitions.
    4. The light hiking lens - if I had to take one lens it would probably be my 50 mm - I can achieve most things I need to with it if I have to using either composition or a few old tricks. If someone made a light ultrawide I might go there instead but its just not there atm.
    Last edited by Xebadir; 27-04-2012 at 11:12pm.
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    50mm on a smaller chip camera is a pretty useful lens as a medium length portrait lens.On a full frame,I would have to agree it's a pretty boring length and my 50mm gets used very rarely.

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    theres not many 1.8 lenses that you can buy for $300....plus its light...qood IQ and sharpness { I only know Nikon}...Id love a Nikon 50mmF1.2 manual focus Lens...its a gem..
    Last edited by Tommo1965; 28-04-2012 at 12:11am.
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