The Basics: How to Choose the Right Nifty 50mm Lens for Your Camera

“What should I upgrade to after my kit lens?” This may have been a question you have asked recently, and if so, chances are that one of the popular answers given to you was a 50mm or Nifty Fifty. The reason for this is that you can get a fast lens with good image quality for cheap, and 50mm is a versatile focal length too, so it’s nifty. But as with all things, there are options to consider. So if you are wondering how to choose the right Nifty 50mm for you, you’ve come to the right place.

As noted, Nifty Fifty lenses are affordable and they are really easy to get your hands on. Most camera makers have one current model, with older models being available on the used market for even cheaper. The biggest thing you need to think about here is what lens mount you have because you can’t use a Nikon lens on a Canon body.

Given their price, we almost always suggest going with the latest model. However, if you are really budget constrained then an older model will still work well. It may just not have the same features or image quality. On mirrorless cameras, this choice can be a little harder because you can choose from virtually any 50mm lens ever made for modern lens mounts as long as you are ok with manual focus.

The other thing here that needs to be said is you may want to consider not getting a nifty fifty, and instead get an even better 50mm F/1.4. These come with better image and build quality, and they aren’t that much more than the Nifty 50mm. For most people, a Nifty 50mm will be fine, but if you plan on being serious about your photography it may make more sense to save a little longer and get the better lens. Either choice is fine, but it should be considered either way.

Assuming you do choose to continue looking into a Nifty 50mm lens and are considering multiple options you need to think about a few things: Overall Image Quality, Build Quality, Focusing Distance. Compare those criteria against your needs and how you see yourself shooting with that lens and you will be golden. Ideally you should go to a camera store and try out lenses you are considering. Test the image quality yourself, feel the lenses in your hands, etc. If that isn’t an option in your area look into renting them, it may add a little bit of cost to your end total, but at least you will know you have the lens that works best for you. As a third option, read reviews and look at image samples online, but make sure it’s from reputable sources and places you trust.

Additionally, should you decide to go the used lens route, ALWAYS make sure to buy from a reputable source if buying online. If you are buying local, make sure to test the lens thoroughly before handing over any money. If this is a problem for the seller then get out of there as no honest seller should have a problem with you testing out their lens before you buy it.


Here are our recommendations for Nifty 50mm lenses in each system. We recommend at least starting your research with these options, and then expanding out from that if you decide you want to have a look at other possibilities.

  • Canon: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00X8MRBCW’ text=’Canon 50mm F1.8 STM’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1c22f7dc-6d7e-11e7-95fe-4f74c2be370b’] (Review)
  • Nikon: [amazon_textlink asin=’B004Y1AYAC’ text=’Nikon 50mm F1.8G’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’211dfdd1-6d7e-11e7-b88e-f94ddb5f9698′] (Review)
  • Sony: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DLMD5O6′ text=’Sony FE 50mm F1.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’65d7d560-6d7e-11e7-bdc5-eb4d8b194590′] (Review)
  • Fujifilm: [amazon_textlink asin=’B016S28I4S’ text=’Fujifilm XF 35mm F2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6b8c6801-6d7e-11e7-adcb-fbd643bfa21f’] (Review)
  • Micro Four Thirds: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00HWMP0XG’ text=’Olympus 25mm F1.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’783167b6-6d7e-11e7-8ac2-8b4b103145f2′] (Review)

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.