Quick Tips on Getting The Most Out Of Your 50mm Lens While Shooting Portraits

Your 50mm Lens is one heck of a portrait optic

If there was one focal length that you could pin as the all-time most recommended focal length, chances are it would be 50mm. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the pleasing ‘normal’ field of view with a slight telephoto feel and minimal distortion to the affordability of fast F1.8 versions, and the simple versatility of the focal length for a variety of uses.

One of the 50mm focal lengths most popular uses though is portraiture; and if you are new to the 50mm focal length you may be wondering how you can get the best results when using one for portraits. If that is the case, you have come to the right place, and here are our tips for getting the most out of your 50mm lens.

Tip 1 | Practice Seeing The World In 50mm


Luckily 50mm is not all that far off from what you see every day with your naked eye. But it is different, and if you want to be able to maximize your use of the 50mm lens for portraits you need to be able to see the world around you to find ideal 50mm framing for your intended shot. You may have heard some photographers talk about ‘seeing the light’, well this is a similar concept, but rather than talking about light, we are talking about the framing and composition of your image before ever bringing the camera up to your eye.

Tip 2 | Resist The Urge To Always Shoot Wide Open

One of the cheapest lenses you will ever buy is likely to be a fast 50mm lens, likely an F1.8 or F2. But just because you can shoot these wide open doesn’t mean that you should in every situation. This is especially true if you are shooting at a closer distance to your subject because this will compound the depth of field causing issues, like parts of the face being in focus and parts out of focus.

Even just stopping down to F2.8 can help you get a more pleasing portrait with more of your subject in focus while still maintaining good background separation and bokeh.

Tip 3 | Watch Your Distance To Your Subject

If there is one flaw to affordable 50mm lens designs it is that the minimum focusing distance prevents you from getting incredibly close to your subject. It is important that you keep this in mind while you are shooting, especially if you are trying to shoot headshots or close-range portraits. If you get too close then you may not be able to grab focus where you want it.

50mm Lens Recommendations

So now you have a few tips from us on getting the most out of your 50mm lens. What about the lenses themselves? Which ones should you be considering? Here are some of our favorite 50mm lenses (full frame equivalent or close)…

  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JPL7CK6′ text=’Sigma 50mm F1.4′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’96193da9-c0cb-11e7-8cba-3bde1a0db5f5′] (Our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B016S28I4S’ text=’Fujifilm 35mm F2′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9bc3e52c-c0cb-11e7-9fd2-2b26ed4338cd’] (Our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B014ULAFMM’ text=’Tamron 45mm F1.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a153b0b5-c0cb-11e7-a518-8b6786403507′] (Our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B00X8MRBCW’ text=’Canon 50mm F1.8 STM ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a654aab9-c0cb-11e7-9258-17fbf3ca4c67′](Our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B004Y1AYAC’ text=’Nikon 50mm F1.8G’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ab937073-c0cb-11e7-9927-ab96165a726d’] (Our Review)
  • [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DLMD5O6′ text=’Sony FE 50mm F1.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b0ef5b55-c0cb-11e7-9b40-49050e4cff97′] (Our 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.