Monday, July 4, 2011

Shoot With a Fixed 50mm F/1.8 (Improve Your Photography)

Shoot With a Fixed 50mm F/1.8

This one is for all the DSLR users out there. If you’re still using a compact digital camera (and that’s fine!), keep this in mind when you upgrade to your favorite DSLR; use a fixed 50mm f/1.8 lens for your digital camera. I say this for a few reasons, the most important of which, is image quality for the dollar. I’ve used both the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Both lenses work remarkably well.

If I’m shooting with one of my Nikon DSLR’s or my Canon, I always have a 50mm f/1.8 lens in my bag. I use some good lenses, but these little guys usually rate at the top when it comes to quality. Additionally, the lenses are tack-sharp whether you’re shooting wide open at f/1.8 or closed down to f/22. Additionally, my 50mm f/1.8 is one of my favorite portrait lenses. Teamed up with a DSLR sensor with a 1.5X or higher crop factor (like you’ll find in the Nikon D90, Canon 50D, Canon Digital Rebel and most digital SLR cameras that aren’t full frame), you get an actual 75mm portrait lens. If you’re using a full frame sensor DSLR, you’re getting the standard lens.

In any case, you’re getting top quality for about $100 USD. That’s quite a bargain given the quality you’ll get with these lenses. In this example, I used my second camera that I carry when shooting the occasional wedding. A Nikon D80 fit with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens. I shot without flash, hand held, through a window. After getting the images from the wedding into Lightroom for a closer look, I was amazed at the color and sharpness of the lens. I like to shoot my portraits with this lens whenever possible.

In addition to shooting portraits, weddings and candid photo's with a 50mm f/1.8, I like to shoot my still life and flowers with the lens. In studio or outdoor situation, it’s my best flower lens.

The positives:
  • Tack Sharp: Due to the fact that the manufacturers of these lenses don't have to add a lot of glass to be used for zooming through a large range, the design is fixed, and simple.
  • Value For the Money: For around $100 U.S., you just can't beat the dollar-for-quality value of these lenses.
  • Small and Lightweight: Both the Canon and Nikon models are small and weigh about ½ of your kit lens.

  • No Zoom: We're spoiled these days. In the past, when we shot with fixed focal length lenses with our film cameras, we did zoom, but we did it by “using our feet”.

In summary, if you're a DSLR user and you don't have one of these little babies, give it a try. The cost of the lens is minimal, and the benefit of tack-sharp images far outweigh the negative of not being able to go wide-angle to telephoto in one lens.

by: Kevin L. Moss

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