Been thinking about this after I read an interesting comment from someone. They said it was heresy but that they found that everyone recommends a 50mm lens but can never find anyone who actually uses one. I had 50mm lens of one type or another for 5 years. I think I can count on 1 hand the number of shots I took with it. So I sold it.
It's the most recommended lens, it seems, but I rarely see any shots posted anywhere using it. So... do you use a 50mm lens?
My understanding is that with the 50mm DX you get only the area covered with the 75mm lens but not the other characteristics & roperties of the 75mm. Right this moment I'm at a loss for the terms that would be very specific, but compression comes to mind. A straigt on face shot with a true 50mm would distort a person's features where the 75mm wouldn't.
I use mine several times a week, every week, from November through March. I use it to shoot basketball indoors with available light. It is the new AFS 50 f1.8, but before that, I used the previous AFD version. Along with the 35 f1.8DX and the AF 85 f1.8D, this comprises my basketball kit. The 50mm is perfect for shots under the basket, as it's fast, fast focusing, and sharp.
That said, before I started shooting hoops, my 50mm pretty much collected dust in my cabinet. I have also used it for wrestling and a few other misc indoor sports. Indoor sports are pretty much the only uses I have for it.
I have several lenses that cover this FL. I use the 35-70 f2.8 for portraits. I use my 16-85 VR for travel. I learned on manual focus primes, so I have taken many photos with 50mm lenses over the years. But,...with modern DSLRs, high ISO capacity, VR, and the quality of modern zooms, these days, I pretty much view the 50mm prime as a specialty use lens.
I use mine as portrait lens on my D200 - it has a similar look to a 75mm lens which is perfect for me.
However, there are many people who recommend the 50mm because it how THEY learnt photography 20 plus (or more) years ago. "Because I did it this way, then this is how everybody else should do it." These days the standard zoom is far more versatile and can be more forgiving and maybe should be recommended more often.
Well put. I would add that if you use the old "this is how you learn photography" rationale, then you should purchase the 35mm f1.8 for use on DX cameras. This will get you that 52mm field of view that is pretty close to the natural in-focus FOV of the human eye.
That is the point of why 50mm lenses became the "standard".
Yes the 50mm was a standard for film bodies. It had a near natural FOV, it was situated at just the right distance from the "sensor" so that you could use a symmetrical lens design, very robust and relatively easy to design without aberrations with fast apertures.
It's the "wrong" normal lens for DX. The 50mm also got pressure from the 35mm on FX (and now DX) when computer lens designs and aspherical elements started creating really superb f/1.4 designs. Now with Nano coatings and the like, the wider lenses are just as flare resistant as the 50's.
Very few 50's were really great wide open. The f/1.4 aperture was really a focusing aperture and not necessarily a taking aperture. The lenses were always better stopped down one or two stops, but the f/1.4 opening made focusing through the evolving SLR viewfinder much easier. I had a Leica 50mm Summilux manufactured about 1960 and with that lens you would look for excuses to use it wide open - it was really that good. Bokeh to die for. I've been buying 50mm Nikkors since 1968 and none before the AFS could match that lens for f/1.4 performance, not even the 50mm f/1.4 AFD (because of it's propensity to flare). Different design philosophies and price points.
I wouldn't necessarily insist that people start with a 50mm, that's a personal choice, but there is good reason why many people were very comfortable with their 50's. They were cheap, common, good and everything else was much more expensive, typically had significant field curvature and slower. The 50 typically delivered uniform performance across it's close/far focus range and it's aperture range and you can with modest bokeh separate a subject from the background at reasonable subject to background distances so it delivered pleasing half-body/group portraits at room distances. Now you can use a f/2.8 or f/4 lens and often the max aperture is a taking aperture, again different design criteria and you also have a lot of ISO latitude to counter that slower aperture - AF is excellent and you can depend on accurate focus at those slower apertures and it's not necessary to depend on the f/1.4 hole to cast enough light on the focusing screen to get close to focus in low light.
Equipment is obsoleted now much more frequently and not all photographers necessarily take the time to know their lens like many who were using those original 50's knew their lenses. When you know the ins and outs of a lens for a couple of decades you are pretty confident in it when you recommend it.
For FX: My 35mm is now my mainstay for a single lens when traveling, when I get home and my family gathers, the 35 comes off and the 50 goes on.
Roger It's still, ISO, aperture and shutter-speed, right?
This is my go-to lens for shooting bands in clubs. I'll usually shoot it at f1.4. I also use it for basketball on the floor, typically at f2. Also, nighttime walk-around lens. I get a fair amount of use out of mine.
I'm shooting DX, so it's a longer lens. I also have the 35 f1.8 and 85 f1.8 that I use. My lenses are mainly slow zooms and fast primes, so the primes come out when I need the "fast."
Since the Ai, the E, the AFD and now the AFS "G" version I've been using "extensively" this focal length...
I use primes, so I carry mostly the 35mm, the 50mm and the 85mm but when I travel light, or for the everyday stroll, it's often the 50/1.8 that's glued to the camera. I find it's nearly the perfect "multi purpose" focal length, or maybe my eyes see things this way
Jaques - I like all of your work, but especially your collection of informal portraits. You have a rare talent for getting people to be themselves while you have a camera pointed at them. I was taught that people have a defensive circle about them -- and that if you get inside it they will move away. But if you can do so, the intimacy quotient goes WAY up. You show you can do this. Superb!
Outstanding work, thanks for bringing it to our attention. You mention using the 50mm f/1.4G AFS, but "it's often the 50/1.8 that's glued to the camera". Can you say more about the AFS version? Are you finding it not as desirable in some situations?
Roger It's still, ISO, aperture and shutter-speed, right?
Sat 28-Apr-12 01:34 PM | edited Sat 28-Apr-12 01:35 PM by sfysh
I use mine a lot. It's my smallest lens, so I can toss my camera into a bag when I'm heading out to other things than shoot. Not so easy to do with an f/2.8 zoom. It's also less obtrusive and lighter if the main point of going out is a vigorous walking break in the local park for a work break. (Still, I'll get a point-and-shoot at some point so I can have a camera with me that much more often, including places that won't permit cameras with interchangeable lenses.)
Also, it will let me shoot a usable angle of view without flash in more light options than my f/2.8 zoom will. So it goes with me to family events, dinners, and the like more. Family appreciate flash-free get-togethers. (I used a 35mm f/1.8 for this on DX, and the 50mm serves the same role on FX. And at some point, I'll get a wider zoom for the same purpose.)
Personally I do not like the fov of a 50mm, so I gave away my 50mm f/1.4d. My 50mm f/1.4g sits on the shelf. I usually don't shoot much between 24mm and 85mm, but I sometimes use a 60mm f/2.8 micro and 35mm f/2d.
Recently my kit bag includes a D700, 24-120mm f/4 AFS VR and a 50mm f/1.2 AIS. I use the 50 whenever I can, especially if the subject will stand still for focus at f/1.2.
I like the focal length (50mm FOV) especially indoors, for groups, singles and events plus street and travel. The FL just seems to fit my eyes or my eyes have been trained over the decades to fit the 50.
I have a 35mm f/2 AIS that is frequently on my D2HS while the 50mm f/1.2 AIS or 50mm f/1.4 AFD is on my D700, then if needed I swap.
Roger It's still, ISO, aperture and shutter-speed, right?
I have the f/1.8D and an AI-S f/1.8. The AI-S is my primary lens on my older film cameras (FA, Nikkormat FTn).
The AF-D is more sparingly used, on my F100 or my D700, mostly because I have plenty of zooms that cover that focal. But on DX I did use the 35/1.8DX AF-S a lot... go figure.
Oh, and when I first started using a SLR, it was an Olympus OM-1 and I had only a 50/1.8 Zuiko mounted on it...
I seriously think that a 50 is THE focal: you can do everything from portrait to landscape with it. I think that anything wider makes you come too close for portraiture, and distorts, and is "too easy" for landscape. Anything narrower (an 85 springs to mind, or a 105) will definitely, for me at least, be too long for anything other than portraiture at a distance...
Hope this helps!
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As a DX user, my most common lens is indeed the 35mm, and if I'm going out with just one lens, that's the one.
However, if I'm taking two or more lens, the 50mm is the next most used one. With a FOV equivalent for 75mm (but still only 50mm DOF effects), I find it great for photographs of people or detail shots.
I'd say 50% of my pics are with the 35, 25% with the 50, and the remaining 25% are taken with tele or wide zooms.
http://egozarolho.blogspot.com 1. Good content, good aesthetics and good tecnique. On that order. 2. Light is more important than glass and pixels. 3. In the digital photography process, software is as important as gear.
Sun 29-Apr-12 11:16 AM | edited Sun 29-Apr-12 11:23 AM by ericbowles
My 50 f/1.4 sits on the shelf unused most of the time. But recently I used it for an event which started early in the morning on an overcast day. It was great for casual portraits, small groups, and other situations with relatively low light. I carried two camera bodies and three lenses - the 50mm, 16-35, and 70-200. But the 50mm was a good choice of casual portrait/street photos. Most of my images were with very shallow depth of field - around f/1.8 most of the time. If I did not use the 50mm, it was because I wanted more reach and used the 70-200.
While not a scientific sampling the results are interesting. The majority of 50mm lens owners rarely use the 50mm lens. I asked people who were using the 50mm to share how they're using it. Lots of great answers there.
It would be interesting to hear from those who have a 50mm who don't use it as to why they don't use it. I'll start. When I had a 50mm I never used it because I always had another lens that got me the result I was looking for better. Often it was the 85 f/1.4 that I would use instead of the 50 when I used the 50. The 24-70 had a lot of versatility, too, and I rarely needed the 1.4 aperture. So I would bring it with me to a shoot but never got around to using it.
I ended up selling it because I decided to no longer shoot weddings or things where the 1.4 would even be useful (which is also why Thursday I'm selling my 85 1.4). Since I used it for like ~10 shots in 18 months it was money just sitting on the shelf.
My D7k was stretching into some high ISO territory for my grandson's indoor soccer. I tried the OLDEST lens in my bag, a 50mm Nikkor-S 1.4 that was the kit lens for my first Nikon. Wow. After hundreds of shots, it went from an experiment to the go-to choice for these sessions. I miss the focus donut around the split wedge, but we can't blame the lens for that... I've also tried shooting sledding ~ after midnight during a snowfall that blasted the flash reflection off the flakes. Just went with ambient and at least had a lot of fun.
I am not surprised by the poll results because so many people have gotten used to zooms in the mid range and the fl on DX is primarily useful for portraits and really low light, which on Fx it is a better general purpose lens for walking around. On my d7000, I use the Sigma 50 1.4 almost exclusively for portraits but when the D800 is available, it will be used more for general shooting. As a general purpose walking around lens on Dx, the 35 1.8 is hard to beat in range of uses. One problem with usage is many people first tried a 50 1.8D which is not very good wide open although it gets very good stopped down. The 35 1.8G is quite good wide open so gives more of the sensitivity that buyers are expecting from a 1.8 lens. I've recently decided to adjust my lineup in prep for the D800 when it is available in a few months. I just bought the 24-70 2.8 to replace my 17-55 2.8. Next, the 85 1.4G will replace my 85 1.4D so I think I really have my greatest needs covered and will no doubt use the 85 a lot more on Fx than I do now. The Sigma 50 will serve a different purpose on Fx than it does now, as a general purpose, center mainly since it is not the best in the corners.
I bought a 50mm f/1.4 last year before my England trip. I have all of the zoom f/2.8s and wanted something for museums or buildings were flash wasn't allowed and I needed the low light capabilities without ratcheting up the ISO on the camera. I did not use it much but it is there for the occasional church wedding of friends who would like the candid shots.
>I am not sure why you would want to put a $100 lens on a $3000 >camera. Personally I would go for better glass...
There are more expensive lenses, but for many purposes I'm not sure there is any better glass than the 50 f1.8. (I own the more expensive 50 f1.4D, but I've heard some say that above f2 the 1.8 is better.) At any rate, I don't think you can say that lens isn't high-quality glass.
My last comment was a bit flippant, but it’s probably the main thing that annoys me about many photography forums: so much focus on the tools and not so much on the technique or the creativity. Drop a single prime on the camera, force yourself to ‘work it’.
This is an interesting topic as I think the 50 (both current versions) are under appreciated. The 1.8 version is virtually disposable from a cost and weight point of view; yet can net some very nice results.
"My last comment was a bit flippant, but it’s probably the main thing that annoys me about many photography forums: so much focus on the tools and not so much on the technique or the creativity" -rteremi2
This is, after all, a lens forum. so naturally you are going to have comments about gear.
I own 3 (not counting the el-nikkor) and use them often. I often find it's the right focal length when I see a particular subject. I was primarily a prime lens user for decades so I wasn't much into zooms. Now that I have the 28-300 I was surprised how often the 50mm ends up on my camera.
I just bought a second. An F1.8D from ebay to go on a film body when I sell it. This is the first lens I've had that is not AF-S and I noticed the noise straight away. My other one is the F1.4.
I've got the D800 on order but you probably won't see a set from the 1.8D on it from me as the AF-S is nicer (quieter) to use but that is not a good reason not to use the F1.8D if your body supports it! I'm sure it would be fine on the D800.
I had previously owned the 50 f/1.4G, but wasn't all that thrilled about it, so I sold it. Last night my 50 f/1.8G arrived and I took it for a quick spin this morning while on my way to work. I am very pleased with the results; this one is a keeper!
"Every moment in life is unique and will never be repeated. These are the moments that present the greatest opportunity for a photographer..."
As a DX, and mostly primes, shooter, the 35mm is my most used lens, but I frequently use my 50mm f/1.4 AF-D (thinking of upgrading to the AF-S G). Those two lenses, along with the 10.5mm AF-S DX f/2.8 are my current kit for street photography.
I like the 50mm for when I want a little more distance and shallow depth of field.
I do have the 50 1.4G and the old 1.8D. Love those lenses and use them a lot. From the last year, i try to go out with only one lens, no matter camera i take with me, and work with that lens the best i can. I admit that sometimes is quite difficult to get the results i want. The 50 1.4G now rests on my "new" D700, and the 50 1.8D gets more use on my F80.
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I pick up my first 50 a 1.8 d not to long ago. I have not shoot it as much as would like, but that's because of other new toys in the bag. I never bought it to be my primary 50, but rather a lens for my light kit. The thing is tinny. So far its a great lens in situations where you would expect good resaults, but my 27-70 will smoke this lens shooting into the light. I knew I would find more sort comings with this lens than most of the lens in my bag and that ok. I'm going to buy another one for my heavy kit, but not untill I know this one inside and out. I find sort comings can work to your advantage if you know exactly when and what your going to get.
I don't have a high end midrange zoom (like the 24-70 f/2.8). If I want sharper pictures at 50mm I'll use my 50mm f/1.8D. I've used it for shooting indoors in a college lecture hall when 85mm is too long and lighting is poor.
I have various Nikon bodies, D800 (incoming), D90, D7000, D40 and numerous DX lenses and three FX lenses -- Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VRII, 28mm f/1.8G (incoming) and the latest addition the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G.
I love this 50mm 1.8G on DX bodies. In low light, all the portraits it took look "dreamy". In medium light, the persons look better in the pictures than in real-life. I don't know how it will work with the D800. At the moment, with all the DX bodies, this lens is used most frequent.