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  • My first “good” lens was a 50mm f/1.4 that really taught me some of the advantages quality glass has over the $100 kit lens that came with my camera. I have recommended the 50mm to others so many times since. Now that I have an expensive zoom lens that covers that range I rarely bring the 50 out anymore. I probably should!

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Nitz and Daniel H. Bailey. Daniel H. Bailey said: Get the most out of your 50mm lens. http://tinyurl.com/5sw6lme […]

  • I am headed to Africa (not on a safari) in a few days and am debating about taking my 50 and a 75-300 (or a 24-105 and the 75-300) What would you recommend? (I’d have to rent the 24-105).

    The value of the 50 cannot be overstated though. I shot all of these street portraits with one: http://www.vimeo.com/18182990

    ~ Mark

  • Dan Bailey says:

    Mark, I’d definitely take the 50mm and the 75-300 also sounds like a good choice. Instead of the 24-105, though, what about getting, borrowing or renting a fixed 24? It’s smaller and faster than the 24-105 and more practical, since you already have the 50-105 range covered with the other 2 lenses. I’m a big fan of my 24, it also goes with me just about everywhere.

  • Dan Bailey says:

    Michael, I agree, that simple 50mm f1.4 is so much better in terms of quality and speed than many of the cheap kit lenses that come with camera bodies today. I always recommend that photographers buy a body only if possible and then build a good arsenal of lenses. I don’t take my 50mm everywhere, but it definitely has a place! Thanks for your comment.

  • Martin says:

    Thanks for This post… I agree with you. I think that every photographer should have 50mm lens as part of their gear. It was my only lens for years when my father got me into photography when I was about 10 years old. I had my Practica SLR for about 15 years. First 10 years with 50mm only and then I got 45 wide lens and 200 zoom! 🙂 50mm lens is not called ‘basic’ lens for nothing.

  • Peter Neale says:

    All great advice, but don’t forget that 50mm is only a “standard” lens on a “full frame” body. For a 1.5 or 1.6 crop body, a 35mm lens is more like a standard lens. I have a 50/1.8 which is a favourite on my F5, and occasionally as a 75mm equivalent on my DSLR. But I also have a 35/1.8 which is a great standard lens on the DSLR. Another of my favourites is the Voigtlander Nokton 58/1.4 which is manual focus but chipped for full matrix metering on later bodies. It is a great slightly longer than normal lens on my film bodies, and a brilliant short tele on my DSLR.

  • I agree a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera is an excellent combination. Because I’m one of those folks he can’t afford a full-frame digital camera, I invested in a 35mm a few years ago. It’s basically the same thing. You get a light weight, fast lens with a “normal” view. Good choice!

  • Dan Bailey says:

    Peter and Tom, thanks for your comments. You both have a point about the full frame aspect. Yes, the 35mm f1.8 is a good alternative to the 50 if you’ve got a DX or cropped sensor body, and it’s also a very economical lens, coming in at around $200. That said, on a DX body, the 50 ends up being a very fast 75mm, which can be a really nice for portraiture.

  • Wicked Vix says:

    I’ve used a 50mm in a number of concert venues with good effect on my 5dm2. One of the greatest values for money – a fast 50mm 1.4

  • Jonas says:

    Cool look at the landscape shot (and others!) DB, we got our Canon 50 1.4 last summer, and while we get the once in a while intended and usually stumbled upon portrait perfection out of it, it is proving to be a persnickety lil bugger! But then again, I am a digital SLR troglodyte that aspires to beautiful shots without the guess work. That being said, I figured out the best first step to take with this lens was to take images on the aperture priority setting, but that is all I got…

  • 50mm Lens says:

    There a lot of really good and affordable 50mm lenses out there, it really just comes down to which brand your prefer. They are all quite good.

  • […] Finally, if you’re still on the fence about whether you really need a 50mm lens in your camera bag, read my post about why I think they’re great. […]

  • Hi Dan, thanks for your insightful post. I’m a beginning photographer and am gobbling up such articles and information. I LOVE my 50mm lens and use it often as I’m a portrait photographer specializing in babies,children and families. My questions is this, I’ve noticed that I get great creamy photos with nice lighting some of the time and other times, like today shooting in the shade, a lot of my photos turned just slightly blurry, I could fix it in photoshop because I have mad ps skills, lol, but I’m really wanting to get to the point where I spend less time fixing photos. I’m shooting in aperture priority with a nikon D50 (saving up for the D7000) and sometimes I borrow a friends D300. I have a session with a fam tomorrow in the california afternoon fall sunset time, any suggestions?

  • Dan Bailey says:

    Sally, thanks for the comment. My only idea is that since you say this happens when you’re shooting in the shade where it tends to be darker, maybe your aperture priority mode is taking the shutter speed too low to make crisp, sharp photos. Try increasing your ISO setting and using a higher shutter speed. Good luck! -DB

  • Matt Fulkes says:

    I was going to get a 50mm 1.8 for my D90, but opted for the 35mm 1.8 instead, for the wider field of view. But as you mentioned, it functions like a 50mm on my D90 due to the crop factor of the DX sensor. I’d still like to get a 50mm, but I’ll probably opt for the 60mm macro, or better yet, the new 85mm 1.8 lens.

  • […] 50mm lens is a  highly versatile tool that will carry you through your entire photography life, and Nikon’s latest generation of […]

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    Terry Bourk

    I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

    Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


    Roger Sinclair

    You have done it again! Another triumph.

    Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

    Thank you, Dan.