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why 50 mm is one of the most versatile lenses in Photography?

The 50mm lens is often considered one of the most versatile lenses in photography for a number of reasons:

Photographed by Munish Khanna

Normal perspective:

The 50mm lens produces images with a normal perspective that closely matches what we see with our own eyes. This makes it a great all-around lens for a variety of shooting situations and relates very closely to the view that we see in our day-to-day life.

Photographed by Munish Khanna

Photographed by Munish Khanna

Wide aperture:

Many 50mm lenses have a wide maximum aperture, such as f/1.8 or f/1.4. This allows for a shallow depth of field, which can create a pleasing bokeh effect and isolate the subject from the background. This also allows shooting in low-light conditions

Lightweight and compact:

Compared to other lenses, 50mm lenses are often lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry and use. When ever there is a choice to be made to take along only one lens, 50mm is usually the choice of a majority of photographers as one can do a lot of versatile shoots with this single lens.

Affordability:

50mm lenses are often more affordable than other types of lenses, making them a great option for photographers on a budget. Amongst these also there are variations in terms of the maximum aperture that is offered by these. The 50mm lens may come in variants of f 1.2, f1.4 or f1.8 for example. This allows the photographers to choose from a very cheap variant to a more expensive variant of the same focal length. Being the most basic lens, even the cheapest version of the lens is quite good in terms of quality.

Low-light performance:

Due to their wide aperture, 50mm lenses are able to perform well in low-light situations, making them a great choice for indoor and low-light photography.

f2.2 1/6o 50mm Photographed by Munish Khanna

Even though this was not strictly a very low light condition as office spaces are generally well illuminated but still in photographic terms when you are used to shooting with strobe light, the ambient light was quite low and f2.2 was a bonus to shoot with.

50mm Equivalents for Different Formats

When we talk about the "Normal" perspective, we are generally referring to the 35mm format. When we talk about a Medium format camera, for a sensor size of 6x7 cm, a lens with a focal length of 105mm is considered Normal. For 6x6 cm ( Hasselblad) or 6x 4.5 cm ( Mamiya 645) the Normal lens is 80mm

Basically, the normal lens is the focal length equivalent to the diagonal of the film / Sensor size being used. 35mm in the case of the APS-C sensor is the normal lens, the equivalent of 35mm of a "Full frame camera"


Overall, the 50mm lens is a great all-around lens that can be used for a variety of shooting situations. Its normal perspective, wide aperture, lightweight and compact design, affordability, and low-light performance make it a versatile and popular choice among photographers. It's great to invest in a prime 50mm focal length lens but ofcourse one can make the best of the perspective offered by this particular focal length while using a Zoom lens. In a zoom lens, you wont be able to get all the exclusive characteristics of a dedicated 50mm lens. You may checkout the comparison between a Prime and a Zoom lens!


Do check out some more useful Photography tips.

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