Okay, we are going to come clean right now and say that there is no one lens that is the “best.” Depending on what you are photographing and your personal style, any lens could really be declared the “best.”
However in a (very informal) poll of our favorite pros, there was one lens that stood out as the best. The lens that if you could only have one in your bag, would be IT. And it’s the nifty fifty.
The 50mm focal length is a dream for both seasoned professionals and the newest amateurs alike. Today we are sharing just a few of the reasons that you should get your hands on this beauty today.
Did someone say BOKEH?!
When we first decided that we needed “fancy cameras,” what we really wanted was to see bokeh in our photographs. Bokeh is that pretty blur you see in the background of your favorite pictures and the 50mm delivers it beautifully.
Bokeh is created with a combination of aperture, focal length, and the distance between your subject and the background. With a maximum aperture of f/1.8, the 50mm is well equipped to create beautiful bokeh while the other two factors can vary greatly.
Of course, you will want to be careful shooting wide open because no one wants only one eye in focus! That said, if gorgeous blurry backgrounds are what you are after, the 50mm is hard to beat.
It’s as reliable as your best friend
If you have ever shot with a lesser lens, you may have had some frustrating experiences. Slow to focus. Missed focus. Noisy. We’ve been there too.
But the nifty fifty isn’t going to let you down. Our pros shoot with a variety of camera bodies and have 50mm lenses from a variety of manufacturers. And guess what? They ALL agree that the nifty fifty is one of the most reliable lenses out there.
How is this possible? Maybe it’s magic photography fairies. Maybe it is because the industry has been perfecting this focal length for the past several decades. Whatever the reason, we are really happy that this lens is a sure bet every time we put it on our cameras.
THE NIFTY FIFTY
What do you shoot? The 50mm can do that!
It’s not a wide angle lens. It’s not a telephoto lens. Rather, the 50mm is the perfect middle-of-the-road focal length to take care of a variety of shooting needs.
And this is why such a wide range of photographers love it so much! The 50mm is the closest to how our eye naturally sees the world. This makes it just as adept at creating beautiful portraits as it is at capturing sweeping landscapes.
That kind of versatility makes it an easy choice when you can only carry so much gear. And for the beginner photographer, it allows you to try shooting any number of subjects as you figure out your style.
It’s a big bang for your buck
Photography isn’t cheap. But the nifty fifty lens? It is!
Yeah, we can’t believe that something that works so well isn’t a gazillion dollars either. But we aren’t complaining and are in no hurry to tell the lens manufacturers that we would pay double for how much we love this little guy.
It’s not rare that a lens as versatile and reliable as the 50mm will run for thousands of dollars. It’s nice to know that for a couple hundred bucks we can have a tool that does it all.
It has superior low light capability
Remember that wide aperture that gives you pretty background blur? It also allows you to take photos in lower light situations.
The aperture is how wide the elements inside of the lens opens. When it opens wide, it lets more light into the camera in any given light situation. An aperture of f/1.8 is pretty wide meaning that you can let more light in without sacrificing ISO or slowing your shutter speed down to much.
Pair the nifty fifty with a camera that has great low light performance and you will have no problem shooting in the trickiest of light situations. Volleyball at the middle school gym? Piano recital? Dusk portraits? None of them are too much of a challenge for the nifty fifty!
It’s the purse dog of the camera world
You know those adorable little toy dogs you see women carrying in their designer bags as they shop at Bergdorf’s? Well, we like to think of the nifty fifty as the lens equivalent of those cute pups.
That’s because the 50mm is lightweight and small, making it the perfect carry-around lens. You won’t have aching shoulders after a day of shooting. You won’t look like a paparazzo with a giant lens protruding from your face. And the combo is easy enough to tuck into your handbag should a disapproving salesgirl look your way (because now we are dreaming of shopping at Bergdorf’s…).
So we won’t officially declare the 50mm the BEST lens ever (because we love all the lenses, really). However, we can’t deny that it truly is a miracle of the photography world.
If we could only have one lens, we would want it to be dependable. We would want it to perform like a champ. We would want it to perform in any light situation and give us gorgeous bokeh. And we would want it to be as cute and purse-friendly as a little chihuahua.
And for those reasons, we are here to declare that if there is one lens you should have in your bag, the nifty fifty is IT.
Tell us why YOU love your nifty fifty in the comments below!