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Old September 19th, 2014, 10:11 AM
JAshley JAshley is offline
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Shooting in 50mm prime

Introduction




Together with the 35mm lens a 50mm fixed focus lens is considered to be standard prime. The photography world is polarized between these two primes with each group having its distinct favorite. In this article we shall look at the 50mm prime lens and walk through some of its features and disadvantages.


Benefits


A prime lens is essentially a lens with a single focal length. Unlike zoom lenses, there’s simply isn’t a way to turn a ring and zoom forward. What you get, however, as a compensation for its inability to zoom, is a blindingly fast aperture. All those high speed photography freaks can hope to use shutter speeds of 1/4000th of a second and higher when pairing their full-frame camera with this lens. Additionally, the 50mm is the closest when it comes to the angle of view that the human eye has. Thus the name ‘standard prime’.


Practical uses on a full-frame DSLR



50mm lenses are usually designed and optimized for the larger sensor of full-frame DSLRs. These cameras have a sensor size that is the same as a 35mm film slide. In other words, the size of a full-frame digital sensor is 36mm x 24mm. When a 50mm lens is mounted on a full-frame camera it becomes an extension of the human eye, capturing everything from the perspective of how the photographer saw it. This lens is thus a favorite with street photographers.


It is also very popular among photographers who prefer the reverse lens macro technique for shooting creepy crawlies. This is because being a lens with no zoom ring it has less optical elements to deal with when reversing. Additionally, 50mm lenses such as the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 and the f/1.4 comes with an aperture ring on the lens barrel. When using the reverse lens technique, it is essential that you are able to change the aperture value manually as the lens loses the coupling contacts with the body and it is impossible to change it from within the camera.



Disadvantages of using a 50mm prime on a full-frame DSLR

Regardless of its popularity as a street photographer’s lens, it is a very difficult lens to shoot portraits with, on a full-frame DSLR. Filling the frame is essential for portraitures, i.e.; unless you are experimenting with negative space in your compositions. That being said, if you try to fill the frame with a 50mm lens, you will need to walk up to the subject (there’s no zoom ring). As you do that, the facial features are skewed and distorted.

Practical uses on an APS-C DSLR

An APS-C sensor, also known as a cropped sensor, has a size of 24mm x 16mm (Nikon cameras). The implication of this is that the image circle that a 50mm lens creates is not utilized in its entirety. Only the middle portion is used and the rest of the image is discarded. The image, resultantly, appears as if it has been shot with a slightly longer lens. This phenomenon is also known as crop-factor. Nikon APS-C lenses has a crop factor of 1.5x and Canon 1.6x (Canon APS-C sensors are usually 22.3 x 14.9mm). A 50mm lens thus becomes a 75mm lens on a Nikon APS-C DSLR and an 80mm on a Canon APS-C DSLR. This is why the 50mm is not that popular for shooting street photography. Though the lens is very popular as a medium tele for shooting portraits on APS-C DSLRs.
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Old September 19th, 2014, 03:17 PM
Russ Russ is offline
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Re: Shooting in 50mm prime

I'm seeing only little black X's where there should be images????
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Old September 19th, 2014, 04:36 PM
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IKuhn IKuhn is offline
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Re: Shooting in 50mm prime

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russ View Post
I'm seeing only little black X's where there should be images????
I'm not even seeing that much...I didn't know there were images on this post.
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Old September 19th, 2014, 07:23 PM
JAshley JAshley is offline
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Re: Shooting in 50mm prime

Let me check double, I can see the images.
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Old September 20th, 2014, 01:52 PM
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Chris Fulton Chris Fulton is offline
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Re: Shooting in 50mm prime

Good article. And nice to have a visual. I have always liked the articles posted, but it's always been better when there have been visuals to help convey a particular concept.
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Old November 16th, 2014, 07:19 AM
anshulsukhwal anshulsukhwal is offline
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Re: Shooting in 50mm prime

Nice review. All the points are very clear and the images helped us better understand the performance of the lens. Didn't know that APS-C Canon camera provides a crop factor of 1.6, that was new to me.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old November 18th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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mrchile mrchile is offline
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Re: Shooting in 50mm prime

2 Possible corrections/additions.

Angle of view from a 50mm lens may or may not be similar to human vision, but perspective of the lens compared to vision seems to be the same.
For myself, if I include peripheral vision, I can see a much wider angle of view, but what I can actually focus on seems similar to the 50mm lens.

With Nikon 50mm lenses, either f/1.4 or 1.8 should be from the D series of lenses to have an aperture ring. G series lenses will not have the aperture ring.
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