The Beauty Of The 50 mm Lens

Malibu

A
Malibu

  • 1
  • 1
  • 42
Rockwood Park-4

A
Rockwood Park-4

  • 0
  • 0
  • 46
Enamored

A
Enamored

  • 0
  • 0
  • 106
Kea'au Bike Flower

A
Kea'au Bike Flower

  • 3
  • 1
  • 159

Recent Classifieds

Forum statistics

Threads
180,518
Messages
2,490,978
Members
95,091
Latest member
gigidamico
Recent bookmarks
0

Sirius Glass

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 18, 2007
Messages
42,528
Location
Southern California
Shooter
Multi Format
heh -- I didn't realize that. It's not ethics. I use primes when I need faster and (usually) less distortion. I don't have any zooms that go to f/2 or wider and the ones I have often want an extra stop down from their wide open before they get as sharp as a 50mm prime at f/2. I also use them because they are smaller and lighter (usually) and for other personal reasons. But I have a crapload if zoom lenses, and they're great when they're great.

The core premise from the thread title -- that 50mm is great -- I guess that's philosophical. Yes, a 50mm prime is awesome, let me count the ways...

I understand and sometimes it is just fun to walk around with a 50mm lens for 35mm or 80mm for 6x6 taking photographs not thinking about changing lenses. That is the point of the thread.
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2003
Messages
13,074
Location
K,Germany
Shooter
Medium Format
This is a great way to think about it. And it isn't too far off what works for me.

For 35mm I've always shot Nikon. Digital and before. The 50mm 1.8 is an absolute miracle combination of cheap and super good image quality. The 1.4s are nice, too, though a touch more expensive if still pretty cheap.

I tend to always have a 50mm (1.4 for low light, but i have 1.8s too).

I have a 105dc for long. The 105 is a favorite lens for portraits.

For short I have a 28mm.

So 28 / 50 / 105... half / normal / double.

It's just a good formula. If I'm walkin' around I grab the 28, but have the 50 in my bag. if I'm going to be shooting people I have the 105, but have a 50 in my bag. For just general photography I always have a 50 on. Anything longer or shorter tends to be a specialty thing.

Don't get me wrong, I like 35mm, just like 28 better. I OWN an 85 that's a wonderful lens and I use it a bunch when I don't want to deal with the weight and size of my 105. But as I am thinking about what I do most, half / normal / double really is the core of my kit.

I sdopted half/normal/double for all my different formats and it never let me down; nice way to get away with minimal cost and weight and manufacturers seems to produce the best glass for that combo too.
 

Sirius Glass

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 18, 2007
Messages
42,528
Location
Southern California
Shooter
Multi Format
I sdopted half/normal/double for all my different formats and it never let me down; nice way to get away with minimal cost and weight and manufacturers seems to produce the best glass for that combo too.

I use different progressions:
  • 35mm: 20mm or 21mm 24mm 28mm 50mm 150mm 300mm ... [I never went further]
  • 120 film 6x6 30mm[Fisheye] 38mm[SWC] 50mm 80mm 150mm 250mm 500mm 1,000mm [500mm + 2XE]
  • 4"x5" 90mm 135mm 210mm
It is all about the horizon field of view for me
 

Arthurwg

Subscriber
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
1,740
Location
Taos NM
Shooter
Medium Format
Interesting that we're talking about a "normal" lens. Over the years I've avoided them, preferring something Wider for the most part, or something longer when needed. But lately I realize I need a normal lens for the landscapes I'm shooting, mostly because I'm getting too much foreground.
 

Bronson Dugnutt

Subscriber
Joined
Dec 29, 2018
Messages
666
Location
USA
Shooter
Traditional
Wider lenses often benefit from being used at a large height as to avoid foreground obstruction.

I picked up a 58mm f1.4 Nikkor recently that preserves perfect perspective through the viewfinder.
 

Kilgallb

Subscriber
Joined
Oct 14, 2005
Messages
634
Location
Calgary AB C
Shooter
4x5 Format
I used a 90mm and a 210mm on 4x5 for years. I recently bought a 150mm (normal) and seem to use it the most, or maybe it is just a novelty thing.

I also seem to shoot 35mm with just a normal 50mm.

Maybe my next adventure should be 300mm.

Has anyone here shot 4x5 with 300mm or more? Is it worth a try?
 

cliveh

Subscriber
Joined
Oct 9, 2010
Messages
6,536
Shooter
35mm RF
I use only a 50mm, as I think it is the nearest to eye vision.
 

momus

Subscriber
Joined
Jun 14, 2009
Messages
5,086
Location
Lower Earth
Shooter
Medium Format
I've never got on w/ 50mm lenses, it's really hard for me to compose the space w/ one. W/ an 85-135mm lens it's a lot easier, and I like the compressed space on the shots.
 

lxdude

Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2009
Messages
7,035
Location
Redlands, So
Shooter
Multi Format
I love how photographic enthusiasts consider the choice of lens focal length to be an issue of Ethics or Philosophy :D.
(note the sub-forum we are in).

Philosophy I can see. As for Ethics, I remember old guys from my youth who considered using zoom lenses to be cheating. Generally the same guys who considered cropping from full frame to be somehow dishonest.
 

lxdude

Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2009
Messages
7,035
Location
Redlands, So
Shooter
Multi Format
If I had to have just one lens (as I did for 3 years when I was just starting out), it would be a normal lens. I would not want to be stuck shooting just wide angle or telephoto, even a 35 or 80. The natural rendering of perspective, the fact that I can make it work for most subjects, including portraits, make it more versatile than any other focal length. The lens speed is marvelous- a 35 or 80/85 f/2 is "OOOooo", and a 1.4 in either is "WOW", but those speeds with a 50/55 is "Uh-huh". And that's not even considering cost.
I use a wide angle and telephoto more than my normal (with 135 format), but I'm never without my fast 50.
 

cliveh

Subscriber
Joined
Oct 9, 2010
Messages
6,536
Shooter
35mm RF
Philosophy I can see. As for Ethics, I remember old guys from my youth who considered using zoom lenses to be cheating. Generally the same guys who considered cropping from full frame to be somehow dishonest.

It is not cheating, but many who use zoom or telephoto lenses have no regard of perspective. As for cropping, why not compose within the viewfinder of your chosen format?
 

faberryman

Subscriber
Joined
Jun 4, 2016
Messages
4,814
Location
Wherever
Shooter
Multi Format
If you like shooting with a 50mm lens, shoot with a 50mm lens. If you prefer another lens, shoot with another lens. It is not about what lens you shoot with, it is about what images you make. A mediocre image made with a 50mm lens is a mediocre image. And the less said about the cult of the primes the better. So much dogma. Show me your prints.
 
Last edited:

mtnbkr

Subscriber
Joined
Jul 12, 2005
Messages
317
Location
Manassas, VA
Shooter
Multi Format
Zoom with your feet works great until it doesn't.

Like wanting that close-up of the tigers at the zoo. :D

"I'll just hop this barricade so I can rapidfire a few shots for that decisive moment...argh...they're bitey!"

Chris
 

flavio81

Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2014
Messages
4,962
Location
Lima, Peru
Shooter
Medium Format
I own over 50 lenses and none of them is a zoom.

I've owned some great zooms but at the end i preferred to replace them with one or two smaller primes. For me, it's a matter of size, and also of lack of distortion. Zooms often have distortion. (The really good ones don't)
 

momus

Subscriber
Joined
Jun 14, 2009
Messages
5,086
Location
Lower Earth
Shooter
Medium Format
I favor 85mm-105mm lenses because I like the slight compression it gives to the shots, and I just see and compose better w/ one. A 50mm lens means I can't get in close to certain shots, nor do head shot portraits. So while some may feel that a 50mm lens is a versatile lens, I see them as limited for what I do.
 
Photrio.com contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
To read our full affiliate disclosure statement please click Here.

PHOTRIO PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Ilford ADOX Freestyle Photographic Stearman Press Weldon Color Lab
Top Bottom