15 November 2019

The humble 50mm f/1.8 lens "Nifty Fifty"

The humble 50mm f/1.8 lens "Nifty Fifty"
Almost all delegates and clients attending my photography training will have a 50mm lens in their camera bags. A 50mm lens is often bundled when a new entry-level DSLR camera is purchased.

Many photographers never use them as the fixed focal length (50mm) is a perceived challenge compared to the 18-55mm / 18-135mm / 24-70mm / 24-105mm focal length lenses.

One key specifications of these lenses is the fact that it offers a super-wide aperture of f/1.8 and it can be used up to f/22. Most of these consumer 50mm lenses are very sharp ito image quality across the aperture range.

All Canon 50mm lenses are compatible with both Full Frame and APS-C (Crop) bodies and will be effective in low light between f/1,8 - f/5.6).

The lens focal lenght is useful for people and animal portraits, close-up flowers and some narrower landscapes.

Various brands of consumer 50mm lenses (as cheap as +- R1 850) should be available for Canon / Nikon mount.

Herewith some examples: The first image images are from my workshop demonstration series and will show the lens used at f/1.8 / f/5.6 / f/16. Body Use Canon EOS 70D (APS-C). 50mm lens used: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Full series of images are available here.

On the crop body the lens becomes an effective 80mm lens. The focal length of lens is still 50mm, but the crop sensor provides for am 1.6x magnification. Hence the 80mm (1.6 x 50mm). Exif data in post processing will still show 50mm.

The Depth of Field (background blurriness effect) will become less and less shallow as the aperture is adjusted from i.e. f/1.8 to f/16. Most 50mm lenses will produce a very shallow depth of field between f/1,8 and f/5.6. Note: f/1.8 is not always the most effective aperture to use - it will depend on the area(s) the photographer want in focus.

The f/1.8 to f/5.6 range provides a very effective background blur (depending on distances between photographer, subject and background).

The fourth image was captured with the full frame Canon EOS 6D in rainy / poor light conditions at f/1.8. 50mm lens used: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM,

The last image was captured with crop body EOS 700D and the older EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens at f/5.6 and quite a large crop from the original image).


Aperture testing with Canon EOS 70D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens
Aperture testing with Canon EOS 70D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens

Aperture testing with Canon EOS 6D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens
Aperture testing with Canon EOS 6D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens

Aperture testing with Canon EOS 700D / EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens
Aperture testing with Canon EOS 700D / EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens

Close-Up Photography: Canon EOS 6D / EF 50mm STM Lens View