What Makes a 50mm Lens So Special, and Why You Should Use It?

As we mentioned in our 35mm post, we are going to be taking a look at various focal lengths, describing what makes them unique from the others and for what reasons you may want to use them in your kit. 35mm was a great place to start, but today we are moving on to the 50mm lens. It is one of the most popular and most common lenses there is, and that is for a reason, and here is why.

Why The 50mm Focal Length Is Special

Ask anyone in photography what their first lens upgrade was, or what their first lens upgrade was suggested to be, and many times over you will hear the 50mm focal length pop up. Similarly to the 35mm focal length, 50mm is also widely attributed to being somewhat similar to what the human eye can see, just tilted more towards the telephoto side, then on the wide side like 35mm is. What this means is that 50mm, similarly to 35mm, is very versatile for all forms of general photography; we are talking everything from portraits to landscapes.

For many photographers, the 50mm focal length is a go to for portraits, even over the 35mm, thanks to its borderline telephoto capabilities. This means you get more compression and better separation between subject and background at almost every aperture. 50mm lenses by their nature are usually fairly neutral in terms of distortion, but especially with modern lenses these days these are about as good as you can get as far as that goes.

So whether you are up close shooting a headshot or portrait, or farther away trying to get a mountain range or street corner, a 50mm will serve you well.

Why You Should Consider 50mm For Your Kit

Well, again the common theme with these last two focal lengths has been versatility, and in many ways, the 35mm and 50mm can be used interchangeably in that respect – the 35mm where having more environment or less space to work in is more important to you, or the 50mm when more separation or getting in tighter is more important to you.

But beyond the versatility, 50mm lenses are about the most dirt cheap lenses you can find for your kit. Even more so than most 35mm lenses, meaning you can easily add one of these to your kit on the cheap, and still get a ton of use out of it. Whereas a lot of other really cheap and affordable lenses will often outlive their usefulness to you, or you will outgrow them sooner than you may like (which works out to wasted money). You will always be able to find a use for your 50mm lens, and there is a reason why everyone recommends them.

In general, 50mm lenses will be great for many forms of portraiture (I shoot almost exclusively with a 50mm field of view for my boudoir work), weddings, landscapes (depending on the subject, generally wider lenses are better for this), even some sports where you are close to the action like the sideline of a basketball game or something along those lines.

A Few Of Our Favorite 50mm Lenses

Just as we did with the 35mm focal length, now that we have explained what makes the 50mm focal length special and why you should use it, we wanted to share some of our favorite lenses in this category.