If there is something I would keep on doing, it’s shooting with a 50mm lens till eternity.
On the 12th of June 2015, I bought a Sony 50mm lens and it seems to have being the best decision I’ve made in 7 years of my photography journey. When I bought the Sony a200, I had a 35-105mm lens with it and I thought it was great. Until I began following Eric Kim and his street photography blog. He pointed out in one of his blog posts that the ultimate experience to street photography is shooting with a fixed lens, 50mm preferably and his reason for this belief in which the pros of street photography also went by decades ago wasn’t hard to find when I joined the fixed lens gang. Today I want to say to you, that the ultimate photography experience is in fixed lenses.
“The 50mm is like the human eye, it starts to see from where your eyes start to see”
What makes fixed mm lenses outstanding?
There are a lot of things that makes everyone outstanding. For some, it’s their beauty, some their brains, luckily for some a combination of both. Some a big heart, others a chatty lifestyle as for the 50mm lens and it’s compatriots, it’s a wholesome list.
It makes you work harder.
As a photographer, you might develop the lazy leg syndrome. What disease is this you may wonder. When using a zoom lens, majority of us are intentionally or unintentionally are forced to staying put in one spot and shooting our images just because we can zoom in and out. Actually, we need to understand that great images are taken when we walk closer to the subject. When you are shooting with a fixed lens, it just makes you walk, you have no other option. You know you just have to get closer to the subject to get better images.
Low light lens
Most fixed lenses are made for low light photography. This is enabled by their wide apertures, mine which opens to f1.8 seems to be a younger brother to other 50mm lens who posses apertures as wide as f1 and f1.4. These enables for great images in low light conditions where you may not even need a flash. In an image of my mom I shot last year I used 3 rechargeable lamps to light the low-key photograph. The aperture’s wideness results to great depth of field also and this is just what you need if you are a portrait photographer.
There is nothing that gives me an heart attack than having to walk with an heavy camera all because of a more heavier lens. The 50mm has given me a gift in its lightweight. It makes it easier for me to move around when I’m shooting events and it saves me from a lot of hand pains and shoulder pains.
OK, this is somehow a funny advantage now as I can’t ascertain what the market looks like because of Nigeria’s recession but I bought mine at a meagre $40 price tag in 2015. I last checked a 11mm Sony lens, was tuned in at $120 but it’s still cheaper than a 18-300mm heavyweight dude. The astonishing price at which you can get one is enough to make you want to fall in love with it the more.
There are a few jokes about the 50mm. Let me share some with you.
While shooting at an event mid last year, a photographer walked up to me and said I wasn’t a professional yet. I asked why, he told he I wasn’t using a professional lens. I asked, what’s a professional lens? He said that any lens that’s big and long is professional. At that point in time I felt like kicking his balls but then I realized that he wasn’t a professional, so I needed no advice from such individuals. His idea of a professional lens was the size. This isn’t his fault, the ordinary client out there would see an individual with a bigger lens to know his job well and expect better images. This is probably caused by what they’ve seen on TV screens and glamour magazine shoots with 80-200mm lenses etc but the truth is, every lens has its purpose and no matter the lens you using as long as you are good, your images will speak.
Fixed lenses are great for street photography, outdoor portraits, macro photography and events too.
Zoom and Telephoto lenses work for shooting extremely crowdy events such as political campaigns, sport competitions and wildlife photography.
Wide angle lenses if you are an architecture photographer
Fish Eye lens are for artistic feels but used mostly by lifestyle and architecture photographers.
Someone also said my camera looks too small with the 50mm lens and that would make my images bad. I’m like ‘Are you serious?’ Does camera size affects picture quality? People will never cease to amaze me.
Picture quality and others.
The 50mm lens for me has a very great picture quality, this will be enhanced by you and your camera body too. You need to shoot at great settings, have a nice composition and the lens should do the rest for you. Also the 50mm is a perfect fit for shooting videos. It’s wide apertures allows you to shoot your videos in low light without much worry about continuous lighting (but if you can get them in place, don’t hesitate).
The 50mm lens is a perfect teacher, be an obedient student too. Shot 50mm
Consistency – A rare gift.
Shooting with the same lens for two years is consistency achieved. Within this period I’ve discovered I posses the ability to know what my image would look like before I shoot, I know the whole focus mechanism of my lens because it’s like a marriage, am committed to my wife. It also saves me the stress of changing lenses in between events, it saves me an heavy bag when packing. You too should try to be consistent, buy a single lens that you think can take care of your photography needs and marry it.
PS: If your camera is an APS-C sensor, your 50mm will be a 75mm equivalent while a 35mm will be a 50mm equivelent on a full frame camera.