Why most own 50mm lens?


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Noakram

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Mar 13, 2007
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#1
Having read the forum for quite a while, I'm puzzled why most choose 50mm as the "must-have focal length" lense in terms of general usage.

I understand that for 35mm film, 50mm's field of view and compression level is the closest to what the human eye sees. But with most cameras at crop factor of 1.5x~1.6x, a 50mm lens would essentially become a short portrait lens for 35mm equivalent of 75~80mm. I would have thought that a 35mm might have been a better choice.

Am I missing something here?
 

Randius

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Mar 9, 2006
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#3
No, you are not missing anything here. People often recommend the 50/1.8 because it is the cheapest prime lens (not so for f/1.4 and definitely not the f/1.2L) and it is a good lens to start practicing composition but a 35mm / 28mm / 25mm should be better depending on the crop factor of 1.5x, 1.6x or 2x

It is just a good-to-have (if you like the focal length after crop factor) and not a must-have.
 

Garion

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#4
Price, size, weight are all additional plus points, optically speaking its a value for money lens...for the speed and sharpness that u get. Thus explaining why its a very popular lens and a 'no-brainer' decision amongst many photographers to own this lens. This is referring to the 50mm f/1.8 version.
 

Denosha

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#6
It really depends on which perspective you prefer. Some prefer the wider 35mm, some like the versatility of 50mm and some like the 85mm (i'm talking about actual btw). I wanted versatility and since I don't shoot portraits, i went for a 35mm on my 1.6x crop camera. But after shooting for a few years on that. I've realised that I would probably prefer the actual 35mm view. I need FF! :p
 

zac08

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Feb 21, 2005
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#7
Cheap, good, can use reversed... and best of all, practise your framing with a prime, it's good to learn how to do so early on...
 

Noakram

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#8
Glad to know that I didn't miss out anything here.

Price seem to be the key reason. As for practising composition/framing, I would think that both 35mm and 50mm would qualify.
 

Azure

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Mar 16, 2003
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#10
I do not own a 50mm prime either. I find no justification to buy one, since my other lenses cover the range and do the same job as well or better (suited to my way of shooting).

As Ortega put it - it is up to your personal preference.
 

raptor84

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Dec 6, 2005
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#11
I kinda prefer the 35mm on a 1.6x crop and if i do need a lowlight lens the 85 would be my choice instead. I guess its all up to your shooting style :)
 

Jan 23, 2005
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#12
Price seem to be the key reason.
Price alone wouldn't cut it if you wouldn't also get excellent optical quality along with it. Beyond sharpness, that also includes distortion and reduced risk of flare.

How useful the focal length is depends very much on one's personal preferences/style. I have a 50mm lens which overlaps with my "standard zoom", yet still consider it worthwhile. I don't use the lens too often, but every now and then it turns out to be the ideal tool.

If wide angle "primes" were more affordable, I believe quite a few people would happily forgo zooms.
 

#15
It's probably the warm and fuzzy feeling they got from having the lens on their first film camera. ;)

Compared to some kit lenses (I won't start a flamewar by mentioning names), a 50mm f/1.8 is a great uptick in quality. Obviously, a shorter focal length will do a better job but you can usually buy that 50mm for a fraction of the price of what used to be considered a wide angle lens. Some people will likely have one sitting near their film body and will want to use it. After all, taking several steps backward, you should have a similar view, as long as you don't fall into the ocean.
 

DeadEnd

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#16
Just wondering, does the Nikon's 35mm F2 suffer from, sharpness including?
The Nikon 35mm f2 sharpness is definately better than the 50mm f1.8 at wide open. But then, there is a 1/3 stop difference which is not noticeable.

The 35mm translate into a 50mm standard lens on a 1.5x crop DSLR which is a good and light walkabout lens if you shoot a mix of landscape and portriats.
 

Noakram

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Mar 13, 2007
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#18
After all, taking several steps backward, you should have a similar view, as long as you don't fall into the ocean.
Wouldn't the angle of view and compression level be different, even after taking a few steps back for the 50mm? Or is my perception incorrect?
 

Randius

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Mar 9, 2006
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#19
Wouldn't the angle of view and compression level be different, even after taking a few steps back for the 50mm? Or is my perception incorrect?
I assume you are referring to the perspective when you spoke of angle of view. Yes, perspective will change depending on the distance between you and the subject. But that is a major point in getting a prime lens, you force yourself to move around to find interesting compositions because of the change in perspective. Many times you will see someone with a zoom lens comes across an interesting subject but compose the picture standing at the same spot thousands had stood before him, not bothering to move around, zoom to fill up the frame, press the shutter and end up with the same cliche picture thousands had taken before him. Of course, moving around depends on the space available and if you are permitted to do so.
 

Noakram

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Mar 13, 2007
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#20
I assume you are referring to the perspective when you spoke of angle of view. Yes, perspective will change depending on the distance you and the subject.
Would the angle of view be the same if I:

a. use 35mm
b. use 50mm, but take a few steps back such that the subject in focus appear the same size
 

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