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7 reasons every photographer should own the 50mm 1.8 lens

Updated on January 21, 2014
50mm 1.8 lens. the perfect starter lens
50mm 1.8 lens. the perfect starter lens | Source

6400 ISO low light

This photo shot with ISO 6400 with 50mm F/1.8 NO flash, No overhead light.  Note: her socks match her ipad "teal" cover.
This photo shot with ISO 6400 with 50mm F/1.8 NO flash, No overhead light. Note: her socks match her ipad "teal" cover. | Source
My holiday lights (front) in focus, neighbor lights had that " classic" blur.   iso 200 f/1.8
My holiday lights (front) in focus, neighbor lights had that " classic" blur. iso 200 f/1.8 | Source
wife's hand shot at 2 ft with Ipad blurred behind it.
wife's hand shot at 2 ft with Ipad blurred behind it. | Source

I get asked by many different people what lens is the best one to get. That is a very hard question to answer. There are many factors that go into the lens buying decision. Knowing that I will always be asked that question I decided to give it some extra thought. My goal is not to mislead someone and the most expensive lens out there does not always fit the needs of the person asking. After thinking about this for a very long time, I can comfortably say, I have an answer to that famous, often asked question:

What is the best lens to start off with?

The answer is short and simple.

If you are buying your first lens, or tired of the “kit” lens that come with many cameras. Or have a big heart and are trying to buy a budding photographer a lens to help start them out, Here is your answer.

The 50mm 1.8 lens is the best lens to start most photographers out with.

What you need to know before you buy this lens. 

F Stops
The first version of the 50mm comes with an F stop of 1.8. the cost is anywhere from $80-$130.
There is another version, the 50mm 1.4. this lens runs about $300 and it is not the one you need to buy. Stick with the 50mm 1.8

Body types
There is a “ made in america” version, and a “ made in Japan” version. I have used them both and you really cannot tell the difference so don’t let that option throw you. In the past I have paid as little as $70 for a made in Japan version.

7 reasons why the 50mm 1.8 ?

About 14 years ago when I was starting out, I had a kit lens and thought that with technology today, all the lens on the market must be the same quality! Why would they make something that is not so good? I then learned that yes, not all lens are created equal, and with a little reading you can figure that out. I bought my first 50mm 1.8 and realized why my shots were not sharp. For the first month I really felt like I was cheating the system. The 50mm takes some sharp photos with half the work of using a kit lens. 

 Here are my top reasons for getting the 50mm 1.8 lens.

  1. The 50mm 1.8 is fantastic for low light situations. if you need more light, any DSLR on the market has and ISO range that will help comfortably improve the low light range of the 50mm.
  2. The 50mm is a great lens for shooting people. Head shots, Portraits, Children….even Ebay. If you need a lens to start off with, the 50mm preform in many situations like at the park, in the church, at a basketball game, even at the beach.

  3. The range of light the lens allows in and the amount of space around the subject that the lens captures makes it a perfect “ all around” lens.

  4. Depth of Field (DOF)... A sharp subject and a blurred background is a classic shot that can easily be captured with this lens

  5. Once you get a feel for it you can make a purchase in the direction that you feel the lens is lacking. if you are shooting more in dark interiors, or need a wider angle or a longer zoom. Whichever lens you get will compliment the 50mm. You will never get rid of the 50mm. To this day, I still pull that lens out in many situations.

  6. The 50mm work with Landscapes and architecture both indoor and out. It may not be what the “Pros” use in every situation, but Remember for the “ one lens…? question, the 50mm can hold its own for these situations.

  7. The 50mm lens is a teaching tool. This lens forces you to frame your shots. You can’t just zoom in and out at will, so the position of the photographer and the angle of the scene all come into play. Once you lock onto your subject the ability to get sharp images is greatly increased with the 50mm, so more brain power can be used to work on the other skills, like timing, lighting, interaction with subjects and creativity.

    Bonus reason ** As photographers move more into the video realm, as the market demands more from us, the 50mm 1.8 makes for an outstanding video lens on your DSLR videos. Imagine one less item to buy as we expand our photography skills and offerings.

This is the first and sometimes only lens that classes use when teaching photography classes. there is a reason for that above.

Just to recap. What is the “ best” lens to start off with? it may not be the best but every photographer out there should have or at one time shot with a 50mm lens. believe me, Once you get it on your camera it is not taken off that easily. I have heard it called the “Thrifty 50” and also the “Nifty 50”. I agree with the names. I think it is a very good deal money wise and a great lens.

Please “like” or follow me if you enjoyed this article. I will post more as time allows.


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    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      5 years ago from Norfolk

      ChicagoPhotos - I have never used this lens myself but it was interesting to read your opinion about it. I look forward to reading your future Hubs - photography and the equipment used are subjects I very much like to follow.

    • ChicagoPhotos profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick John Warneka 

      5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.

      DzyMsLizzy, I guess it goes on a 'lens by lens" case basis. I am not sure about Pentax lens but with other makers the "old" manual lens are getting a resurgence as people find them to be sharp, less expensive and no AF to deal with. Makes sense to me. They are kinda like parachute pants, what old is new again! ..... no wait, forget that last sentence. :)

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      5 years ago from Oakley, CA 35mm film camera is a Pentax bayonet mount; I was told that the lenses were not able to be used on DSLRs, even it the mount was the same--something about internal optics and focusing planes being different, so I'm not sure they would work with video cameras, either. Interesting.

    • ChicagoPhotos profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick John Warneka 

      5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.

      DzyMsLizzy, ( love the name BTW) Thank you for your comment. It is amazing how many directions you can go with photography and the add on's that are out there. I like the 1.4 50 but it sometimes shows a little too much of a person's skin for my taste. Hang on to your manual lens, they are actually coveted by video shooters, for the reason that they do not AF in the middle of a shoot.

      Thank you for all the kind words about my article . This is a journey and I want to see where it takes me.


    • ChicagoPhotos profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick John Warneka 

      5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.

      Janinmus, Thank you for reading my post. I wish I could write much better than I do. I am trying to use this platform to improve it the best I can.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      5 years ago from Pune, India

      I have had an opportunity to use this lens for years. It is a great lens.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Good points. My 35mm camera came with a 50mm lens, but it does go to F 1.4. I grew up with a father who was into hobby photography, and even had his own darkroom, so I've been taking pictures since about age 8.

      Once I got tired of the standard lens, I started branching out; I got a tele-zoom wide angle to 200mm tele. ( don't recall offhand what the w/a portion is...been too many years). Then, I bought a doubler, so I could bet 400mm shots of the moon that didn't look so much like a little white dot.

      After that, I started having a lot of fun playing with the Cokin filter system, and creating all kinds of special effects, including beautiful sunsets that were not actually there on a foggy evening.

      Sadly, all of that equipment has been languishing on the closet shelf for at least 12 years, since the digital stuff went mainstream. It took me a long time to save up for each piece in that camera bag; film has gone out of fashion, and I can't afford to the price of a DSLR, so I'm stuck now with my little Nikon CoolPix, which is a fixed-focus snapshot camera. It does have a small zoom function, and a minimal video capability, but the zoom still isn't enough to get good moon shots....sigh.

      You make excellent points for beginners--voted up, interesting and useful--also pinned and shared.


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