The 50mm f/1.8 – Small Wonder!

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In this post guest poster Prajneet Singh from BeyondMegapixels takes a look at the humble 50mm lens.

In today’s digital world, technology has made everything easier to reach, with many devices working as more than one device, and universal remotes to control them. The simple purpose – convenience. And that is what happened with the advent of zoom lenses. In today’s date, with high zoom compacts flooding the market, and manufacturers making lenses that zoom in far enough to bring a bird sitting 50 feet away seem as if it is sitting in front of your lens, a lot of us are so used to zoom lenses that we simply cannot imagine having a lens without a zoom, however much it may be.

Discovery Lighthouse by wildpianist

Discovery Lighthouse by wildpianist

But, it is for a fact that the best optical quality is delivered by prime lenses (fixed focal length, no zoom lenses). Why? In simple words, because they use a smaller number of glass elements inside the lens, which means lesser loss of quality, and hence better pictures.

Anyways, this post is not to highlight the advantages of primes over zooms, but to highlight one particular prime lens that I feel is a must use for everyone with an SLR, at least for some time. I am talking about the 50mm prime lens – or the nifty fifty as it is rightly called. At this focal length, these lenses show the same view that you see through your eyes, and so are also referred to as normal lenses.


‘Phidippus princeps’ by Opo Terser

‘Phidippus princeps’ by Opo Terser


The 50mm f/1.8 is the least expensive lens at this focal range. And this, dear readers, is a marvel. I’ll keep it very simple… why the 50mm is a must:

  • At under $100 starting, it is very very cheap, and an easy buy for the hobbyist with a budget.
  • Don’t let the price fool you. The optical quality of even the cheapest 50mm is amazing to say the least, owing to its rather simple design. Much better than many expensive zooms even, this lens is loved mostly for its sharpness and bokeh.
  • The nifty fifty is light, small and so very convenient to carry around, whether in your bag, or on your camera.
  • Primes in general, and the 50mm especially, are fast lenses i.e. they have bigger apertures that allow you to shoot at high shutter speeds even in low light – one major aspect where most zooms lack. The fastest telephoto I’ve heard of has a max aperture of f/2.8, and the fastest prime I’ve heard of is a 50mm f/0.95!
  • Perhaps the most important attribute of all primes, after their optics, is the learning they offer. With a fixed frame of view, the only zoom you have at your disposal is your feet. With this ‘restriction’ one ends up being very careful, and also very creative, with their compositions, and also more involved in the whole photographic process. With time you’ll find that even with zooms, you’ll end up getting more ‘keepers’ because of this. In essence, primes are great exercise for your composition muscles.
‘Be Happy...!’ by carf

‘Be Happy...!’ by carf

Last but not the least, we bust the myth that the 50 mil is used only for portraits and street photography. Mentioned below are some points that show just how versatile this little wonder is:

  • Shooting in low light: As mentioned above, the wide aperture lets in more light, allowing you to shoot without flash in low light. This lens is great for shooting indoors where a flash sort of ruins the feel. Of course the wide aperture also means that you’ll have a very shallow depth of field, and hence you need to compose your shot such that you get the subject completely in focus.
  • The Reversed Macro: Not all of us can afford a dedicated macro lens. And the good news is that you can use this 50mm as a macro lens by reversing it. You’ll need a reversal ring for that. You lose autofocus, but that’s not all that bad when you’re getting a macro lens at this price. For more on reversing the 50mm for macro, check out this post on DPS.
  • The Wide effect: If you don’t have a dedicated wide angle lens, don’t fret. You might not get as wide an angle as with a dedicated lens, but you can still get a wide angle look by moving farther from your subject, and using a smaller aperture (larger f number). This covers a wider area and gives a larger zone of sharpness, just like a wide angle lens.
  • The Telephoto effect: Just like above, you can also simulate a telephoto effect by getting close to your subject and opening up the aperture. This gives a nicely blurred background which is a characteristic of telephotos.
  • Candid Camera: The fact that this lens offers a field of view just like that of the human eye* i.e. you get what you see, plus the lens’s small size make it a great lens for getting candid shots without getting noticed. In fact, since it sees what you see, you can even shoot without using the viewfinder. Simply point your camera in the direction you’re looking, and click!
  • DOF: The large aperture offers extremely shallow depth of field which is another creativity stimulator. One can get some very nice looking photos with imaginative use of the shallow DOF.
  • Portraits and Streets: This lens is by far most used for portraiture and street photography and gives some great results in both fields.
‘Today’ by Solcis

‘Today’ by Solcis

*The 50mm replicates the human eye field of view on 35mm film cameras or full frame dSLRs like the Canon 5D and Nikon D3. To get the same field of view on an APS-C camera like the Rebel XSi (450D) or Nikon D90, you’ll need to get a 35mm lens. But even then, the field of view of 50mm lenses on cropped sensors is very good to work with.

I’ve heard some people say that primes are made of cheap glass and are used only to take fancy pictures where half the objects in the frame are blurred. That is clearly the result of ignorance and lack of (correct) information. Agreed the 50 mm is affordable, but primes going up to 500 or even 600mm can be the most expensive lenses in your kit, if you can afford them!

Back in the old days, 50mm used to be the norm in lenses. Today, the zooms have gained mass popularity, and rightly too for the convenience offered. But even then, the 50mm remains a brilliant piece of optical engineering, and I recommend that you try it, especially if you’re a hobbyist or serious amateurs. It won’t cost you that much, and I guarantee that you’ll love it!

‘A Portrait in the Darkness’ by seanmcgrath

‘A Portrait in the Darkness’ by seanmcgrath

50mm Lenses to Consider

Canon 50mm Lenses

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Nikon 50mm Lenses

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor

Nikon 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

Other 50mm Lenses

Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM DT

Pentax SMCP-FA 50mm f/1.4

Check out more of Prajneet Singh’s work at BeyondMegapixels

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to dPS.
Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

  • reddy

    Here is my picture that I took with 50mm/1.8.It is a FABLOUS len and sharp too.

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2650/3749816619_8f99565f79.jpg

  • I’m rather disappointed to see that Nikon’s 50mm f/1.2 failed to make the list. I use mine nearly every day. At f/2, it is supposed to be one of the sharpest lenses Nikon has ever made. I absolutely love the feel that it gives images.

    Here’s an un-scientific but fun comparison of the DOF of a 50mm f/1.8 on a crop sensor camera (Nikon D100) and a 50mm f/1.2 on a full frame camera (Nikon D700):

    http://annemariecarson.blogspot.com/2009/05/50-vs-50.html

    A collection of images taken with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/annemariecarsonphotography/tags/50mmf12/

    So why leave this one out? As far as I know, you can still obtain one by special order through Nikon and they are still in limited production………

  • I have this lens and I will never take it off my Canon body. This lens helped me understand depth of field and aperture much more effectively than my kit lens.

  • Mike H.

    Expecting a baby in October, so just stepped up to a DSLR from a point and shoot. A professional photog. friend of mine helped me decided on the T1i for an entry level DSLR and also strongly suggested that I get the the 50mm f1.8 II to help me learn about manual settings. I’ve had the camera for just a few days but I have played almost exclusively with the 50mm over the kit lens. My very first shot with the lens (and my first ever shot in full manual mode) is linked. Already loving this lens and can’t wait to learn more with it.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24656256@N06/3769236453/

  • this is the lens i purchased together with my first D-SLR Canon 350D long time ago.. truly a wonder piece for its price.. it taught me a lot about dof and framing.. i just love it like other owners.. here me Canon.. if i were you, i would rather sell this lens as a kit with entry level D-SLR instead of 18-55 to make the buyer happy and loyal.

  • Togin Thomas

    hi there, I own Nikon 50mm 1.4 and uses with my D90 and many at time the I find the the pictures taken at 1.4 is not very sharp and tend to out of focus, I read somewhere that, these prime lenses have something like sweet focal points and f numbers. Is this true ? and also to a large extend when i tried with 3.2 and 5.6 the lens is more sharp and gives good quality pics. So please support me with some knowledge of Sweet focal points of these prime lenses and ideal f numbers.

  • Lauri

    Hi there I have just got a while ago the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor with a filter and lens hood just for £60 and it is brilliant. As a beginner photographer I find it very good to be restricted to one focal length. It forces you to think about your shots a lot more and as such brings down the amount of shots you take but bumps up their quality.

    The sharpeness is brilliant, but i must say you can get amaizingly sharp shots with the standard VR kit lens you get with the Nikon D60. The control of dof gives very nice control over the final result and a the possibility for artistic flare.

    Im a bit supriced about how everyone hypes how fantastic this is in low light. Yes it is very good in low light situations, but to be honest i find the standart 18-55 VR lens to be better. This might have to due with the fact with the Nikon D60 body you cannot auto-focus with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D and thus making very hard to get the shot focused.

    I gotta say this lens is a defenet buy for any one starting photography, with this lens ive learn so much more in short space than with the kit lens. All the limits bring out your own strengths! And it hasnt left my camera since I’ve got it.

    heres one of the pictures ive took with it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/larrycabin/3814025441/

  • Miki

    I only say: I’ve got the Canon 1.8 nifty fifty; the first series, MK I, from the ’87.
    Such a great lens.
    The only little problem is that on my 20D became an 80 mm.

  • Christine AKA Blink

    i just a few days ago got the 50 mm F/1.8 II and I am having a blast with it! It is amazingly clear and really forces me to move around to compose outdoor shots. I’ll be doing more of that today with snow on the ground and Fall colors hanging on. So far I have mostly taken shots of my cats, indoor, but look forward to taking pics of my grandkids next weekend. The cats are great practice and I am amazed at the beauty in their eyes that is captured!

  • acap

    hello everyone..
    i jz bought Nikon d90..
    can i buy this prime lense Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras.
    it is compatible with d90 body??
    which is more great?
    Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens or AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

  • sgbphoto

    at acap. Go with the 35mm. I have a D90 and the pictures are great with it. the 50mm is to telle on the DX format cameras. Cant beat the $200 price. good luck finding it in stock…

  • I disagree with the premise that the 1.8 is a better deal over the 1.4 simply based on price. When you factor in quality of images, the 1.4 wins hands down.

  • Larry Miller

    I totally agree with you about the 50MM. I feel it’s a selective lens. I used it this past weekend when my 80-200 was just too much of a telephoto to use on some wildflowers up close. I have a Nikkor 50 F1.8 AIS, made between 1981-1985 and focuses down to 0.45. The color saturation and contrast is remarkable. I believe this Nikkor 50 to be the best of all that Nikon has made. It’s hard to find but if you see it, get it. I’m a sharpness freak. If it’s not sharp, it’s gone!

  • Katelizabeth

    I just got my 50mm a few days ago and seem to be the only person having alot of trouble with it.
    I was advised to use it on Manual setting but the images all came out black or white, i have tried to change the fstops and shutterspeeds but the shutter is being much to slow and blurs dramatically. If i ever do geta fast shutter, then the image comes out black.
    If any one could give me some advise or a guide to set up for a proper image it would be very helpfull, thanks.

  • @katelizabeth: Exactly what camera and what lens are you using? It seems the aperture control is not working. Is your camera working fine with other lenses?

  • Katelizabeth

    @Sugata Banerji: I use a nikon D40x and a 50mm 1.8D Nikkor. I already know that the auto focus isint compatible. I have only started using manual with this lens, every other setting such as macro/auto/sport/landscape etc has been fine with this lens. I never used to try and use manual with the other lenses because it always came out black and i am just learning how to alter that.

  • @katelizabeth: I have not used that camera or lens, but I did look them up on the Internet. Seems the lens has an aperture ring. Does the ring allow aperture control from inside the camera, or do you have to rotate the ring manually? And does your lens aperture remain closed or at the position set by the ring when it is not attached to the lens? You have to read the manual and see how to use lenses with aperture rings. I feel this is the problem – your aperture is either too low (black photos) or too wide (white photos). I use aPentax K-7 and an old Pentax manual 50mm f/1.4. I have to use the ring to set the aperture in the lens, and the aperture stops down before the shutter ONLY in the Manual mode of the camera. In all other modes, you may set it at f/22 and it still remains open.at f/1.4 causing white photos in well-lit areas. So try with different modes, and check to see if there is an “A” mode on the aperture ring that you can switch to.

  • Laura Higgins

    Great article~ as always and I agree that the fixed lens sometime get a bad rap~ I purchased a Canon 50mm 1.4 and I was amazed at the image quality. For both portrait and landscape photography it is a great lens to have in your camera bag.

  • Dad03

    My wife purchased a discarded EOS film camera with a EF 50mm 1.8 with the metal mounting ring not really ralizing what she bought, just thinking, maybe it will be good for the kids incase they want to learn film. WHAT A GREAT GREAT LENS for all the reasons mentioned in the post; plus it was only $12.99 so I can’t be happier than that. It works just stellar indoors attached to my T1i.

  • This is one of the greatest lenses of all time.. Great content you have here.. The nikon 50mm 1.8 is pretty much good for any situation…. I wrote a review about this on my website.. I’ll link it back here too. Have a great day!

  • thank you so much for this i am definitely buying this one.. i recently lost my 18-55mm canon lens and was looking for a replacement 🙂

  • I’m happy with this little beauty, I don’t care about any comments regarding this lens, as long I get the shot the way I want, nothing else matters…

  • Victor

    Which lens is this article about ? I mean which brand…because the author doesn’t say which brand it is.
    Is it Nikon, Canon or Pentax lens ?
    I can see in the EXIF data from the picture samples in this article that the pictures where taken with a Pentax K200D but the EFIX data doesn’t reveal which lens brand it is.

    If this is a Canon or Nikon lens, how was it attached to the Pentax K200D body ?

  • Larry Miller

    I made a posting on this article back on 5/22/10, saying that the Nikkor 50 F1.8 AIS was the best that Nikon has made. I stand corrected. I bought the 50 F1.4 AIS a couple of months ago and it’s equal too or slightly better than the F1.8. Plus the 1.4 has Super Integrated Coating on the elements. That’s a great coating. It’s not the Nano coat but it’s the next best thing. I truly love the 50 focal length with it’s versatility..

  • Kim Clark

    Can someone tell me what the settings were on the “clown picture” above? I’m a newbie and am using the nifty fifty lens. I’m having trouble getting my focus right. For instance, if I had taken the clown picture, only a small portion of his face would have been in focus and the rest of his face, neck and clothes would have been blurred. Do I have some settings wrong or something? Also, a lot of my pictures are focused backwards, even though i am putting my focus point where I want it. The background is clear and the subject is blurred. help. thanks.

  • Rumple

    So If I want the nifty fifty look on a nikon d3100 I would actually have to buy a 35mm lens? Not a 50mm?

  • @Kim Clark: What you need to do first is set you camera, either to manual (if you already mastering manual mode) or Aperture Priority (AV), the aperture will be set depending on how far your subject is/are from your camera… That said, the higher the value of your aperture (f/22), you will get better focus of your subject, almost all background as well will be on focus… however less lights enter the lens so be aware of that. The lower your aperture value is set (f/1.8), you get more light but you get more shallow DOF (blurred background, even part of the subject) and also nice bukeh… play with your aperture value till you get the right focus that you are looking for… hope this help!

  • adithyavijay

    Excellent and very useful article.

  • K.

    Just what I needed!

  • vn

    now i can put my new sony 50mm/f.18 lens to optimal use

  • Amanda Hutchens

    You can also use some Minolta lenses on Sony dslrs. My prime is actually a Minolta 50mm which
    has been found to be better quality than sonys version. Something to look into.

  • Cookie

    How about a link for a 35mm for cheaper DSLRs?

  • PeterE

    I am on a tight budget so opted for the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens for my Canon EOS 600D and found the results very good, to the point that it is now permanently attached to my camera. I am enjoying the challenge of shooting just with this one lens and zooming with my feet!

  • test

    Learning about 50mm vs 35mm and was still confused about what should I buy, but today I have ordered my 50mm 1.8G after reading this.

  • arif nst

    for nikon user, you can purchase Yongnuo, its half the price of nikon but offers similar IQ

Some Older Comments

  • Ricky WILSON April 1, 2012 05:27 am

    @Kim Clark: Check this: Understand focal length and aperture value: http://www.syaiful.com/
    http://www.dailyphotographytips.net/camera-controls-and-settings/understanding-aperture-and-depth-of-field

  • Ricky WILSON April 1, 2012 05:21 am

    @Kim Clark: What you need to do first is set you camera, either to manual (if you already mastering manual mode) or Aperture Priority (AV), the aperture will be set depending on how far your subject is/are from your camera... That said, the higher the value of your aperture (f/22), you will get better focus of your subject, almost all background as well will be on focus... however less lights enter the lens so be aware of that. The lower your aperture value is set (f/1.8), you get more light but you get more shallow DOF (blurred background, even part of the subject) and also nice bukeh... play with your aperture value till you get the right focus that you are looking for... hope this help!

  • Rumple March 31, 2012 03:52 pm

    So If I want the nifty fifty look on a nikon d3100 I would actually have to buy a 35mm lens? Not a 50mm?

  • Kim Clark March 21, 2012 07:22 am

    Can someone tell me what the settings were on the "clown picture" above? I'm a newbie and am using the nifty fifty lens. I'm having trouble getting my focus right. For instance, if I had taken the clown picture, only a small portion of his face would have been in focus and the rest of his face, neck and clothes would have been blurred. Do I have some settings wrong or something? Also, a lot of my pictures are focused backwards, even though i am putting my focus point where I want it. The background is clear and the subject is blurred. help. thanks.

  • Larry Miller March 8, 2012 03:55 am

    I made a posting on this article back on 5/22/10, saying that the Nikkor 50 F1.8 AIS was the best that Nikon has made. I stand corrected. I bought the 50 F1.4 AIS a couple of months ago and it's equal too or slightly better than the F1.8. Plus the 1.4 has Super Integrated Coating on the elements. That's a great coating. It's not the Nano coat but it's the next best thing. I truly love the 50 focal length with it's versatility..

  • Victor March 6, 2012 06:10 pm

    Which lens is this article about ? I mean which brand...because the author doesn't say which brand it is.
    Is it Nikon, Canon or Pentax lens ?
    I can see in the EXIF data from the picture samples in this article that the pictures where taken with a Pentax K200D but the EFIX data doesn't reveal which lens brand it is.

    If this is a Canon or Nikon lens, how was it attached to the Pentax K200D body ?

  • Ricky WILSON August 28, 2011 01:44 am

    I'm happy with this little beauty, I don't care about any comments regarding this lens, as long I get the shot the way I want, nothing else matters...

  • Parveen Singh March 8, 2011 08:07 pm

    thank you so much for this i am definitely buying this one.. i recently lost my 18-55mm canon lens and was looking for a replacement :)

  • Peter Gust November 16, 2010 05:19 am

    This is one of the greatest lenses of all time.. Great content you have here.. The nikon 50mm 1.8 is pretty much good for any situation.... I wrote a review about this on my website.. I'll link it back here too. Have a great day!

  • Dad03 September 2, 2010 06:34 am

    My wife purchased a discarded EOS film camera with a EF 50mm 1.8 with the metal mounting ring not really ralizing what she bought, just thinking, maybe it will be good for the kids incase they want to learn film. WHAT A GREAT GREAT LENS for all the reasons mentioned in the post; plus it was only $12.99 so I can't be happier than that. It works just stellar indoors attached to my T1i.

  • Laura Higgins August 28, 2010 01:06 am

    Great article~ as always and I agree that the fixed lens sometime get a bad rap~ I purchased a Canon 50mm 1.4 and I was amazed at the image quality. For both portrait and landscape photography it is a great lens to have in your camera bag.

  • Sugata Banerji June 8, 2010 11:12 pm

    @katelizabeth: I have not used that camera or lens, but I did look them up on the Internet. Seems the lens has an aperture ring. Does the ring allow aperture control from inside the camera, or do you have to rotate the ring manually? And does your lens aperture remain closed or at the position set by the ring when it is not attached to the lens? You have to read the manual and see how to use lenses with aperture rings. I feel this is the problem - your aperture is either too low (black photos) or too wide (white photos). I use aPentax K-7 and an old Pentax manual 50mm f/1.4. I have to use the ring to set the aperture in the lens, and the aperture stops down before the shutter ONLY in the Manual mode of the camera. In all other modes, you may set it at f/22 and it still remains open.at f/1.4 causing white photos in well-lit areas. So try with different modes, and check to see if there is an "A" mode on the aperture ring that you can switch to.

  • Katelizabeth June 8, 2010 09:14 pm

    @Sugata Banerji: I use a nikon D40x and a 50mm 1.8D Nikkor. I already know that the auto focus isint compatible. I have only started using manual with this lens, every other setting such as macro/auto/sport/landscape etc has been fine with this lens. I never used to try and use manual with the other lenses because it always came out black and i am just learning how to alter that.

  • Sugata Banerji June 8, 2010 11:10 am

    @katelizabeth: Exactly what camera and what lens are you using? It seems the aperture control is not working. Is your camera working fine with other lenses?

  • Katelizabeth June 8, 2010 03:40 am

    I just got my 50mm a few days ago and seem to be the only person having alot of trouble with it.
    I was advised to use it on Manual setting but the images all came out black or white, i have tried to change the fstops and shutterspeeds but the shutter is being much to slow and blurs dramatically. If i ever do geta fast shutter, then the image comes out black.
    If any one could give me some advise or a guide to set up for a proper image it would be very helpfull, thanks.

  • Larry Miller May 22, 2010 02:35 am

    I totally agree with you about the 50MM. I feel it's a selective lens. I used it this past weekend when my 80-200 was just too much of a telephoto to use on some wildflowers up close. I have a Nikkor 50 F1.8 AIS, made between 1981-1985 and focuses down to 0.45. The color saturation and contrast is remarkable. I believe this Nikkor 50 to be the best of all that Nikon has made. It's hard to find but if you see it, get it. I'm a sharpness freak. If it's not sharp, it's gone!

  • Rick January 7, 2010 01:10 pm

    I disagree with the premise that the 1.8 is a better deal over the 1.4 simply based on price. When you factor in quality of images, the 1.4 wins hands down.

  • sgbphoto October 21, 2009 04:11 am

    at acap. Go with the 35mm. I have a D90 and the pictures are great with it. the 50mm is to telle on the DX format cameras. Cant beat the $200 price. good luck finding it in stock...

  • acap October 16, 2009 09:38 pm

    hello everyone..
    i jz bought Nikon d90..
    can i buy this prime lense Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras.
    it is compatible with d90 body??
    which is more great?
    Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens or AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

  • Christine AKA Blink October 13, 2009 01:14 am

    i just a few days ago got the 50 mm F/1.8 II and I am having a blast with it! It is amazingly clear and really forces me to move around to compose outdoor shots. I'll be doing more of that today with snow on the ground and Fall colors hanging on. So far I have mostly taken shots of my cats, indoor, but look forward to taking pics of my grandkids next weekend. The cats are great practice and I am amazed at the beauty in their eyes that is captured!

  • Miki August 21, 2009 07:21 pm

    I only say: I've got the Canon 1.8 nifty fifty; the first series, MK I, from the '87.
    Such a great lens.
    The only little problem is that on my 20D became an 80 mm.

  • Lauri August 13, 2009 12:27 am

    Hi there I have just got a while ago the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor with a filter and lens hood just for £60 and it is brilliant. As a beginner photographer I find it very good to be restricted to one focal length. It forces you to think about your shots a lot more and as such brings down the amount of shots you take but bumps up their quality.

    The sharpeness is brilliant, but i must say you can get amaizingly sharp shots with the standard VR kit lens you get with the Nikon D60. The control of dof gives very nice control over the final result and a the possibility for artistic flare.

    Im a bit supriced about how everyone hypes how fantastic this is in low light. Yes it is very good in low light situations, but to be honest i find the standart 18-55 VR lens to be better. This might have to due with the fact with the Nikon D60 body you cannot auto-focus with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D and thus making very hard to get the shot focused.

    I gotta say this lens is a defenet buy for any one starting photography, with this lens ive learn so much more in short space than with the kit lens. All the limits bring out your own strengths! And it hasnt left my camera since I've got it.

    heres one of the pictures ive took with it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/larrycabin/3814025441/

  • Togin Thomas August 8, 2009 06:09 pm

    hi there, I own Nikon 50mm 1.4 and uses with my D90 and many at time the I find the the pictures taken at 1.4 is not very sharp and tend to out of focus, I read somewhere that, these prime lenses have something like sweet focal points and f numbers. Is this true ? and also to a large extend when i tried with 3.2 and 5.6 the lens is more sharp and gives good quality pics. So please support me with some knowledge of Sweet focal points of these prime lenses and ideal f numbers.

  • simonsanthane August 7, 2009 03:00 pm

    this is the lens i purchased together with my first D-SLR Canon 350D long time ago.. truly a wonder piece for its price.. it taught me a lot about dof and framing.. i just love it like other owners.. here me Canon.. if i were you, i would rather sell this lens as a kit with entry level D-SLR instead of 18-55 to make the buyer happy and loyal.

  • Mike H. July 30, 2009 05:39 am

    Expecting a baby in October, so just stepped up to a DSLR from a point and shoot. A professional photog. friend of mine helped me decided on the T1i for an entry level DSLR and also strongly suggested that I get the the 50mm f1.8 II to help me learn about manual settings. I've had the camera for just a few days but I have played almost exclusively with the 50mm over the kit lens. My very first shot with the lens (and my first ever shot in full manual mode) is linked. Already loving this lens and can't wait to learn more with it.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/24656256@N06/3769236453/

  • Justine Loves! July 27, 2009 03:37 pm

    I have this lens and I will never take it off my Canon body. This lens helped me understand depth of field and aperture much more effectively than my kit lens.

  • Anne July 26, 2009 12:38 pm

    I'm rather disappointed to see that Nikon's 50mm f/1.2 failed to make the list. I use mine nearly every day. At f/2, it is supposed to be one of the sharpest lenses Nikon has ever made. I absolutely love the feel that it gives images.

    Here's an un-scientific but fun comparison of the DOF of a 50mm f/1.8 on a crop sensor camera (Nikon D100) and a 50mm f/1.2 on a full frame camera (Nikon D700):

    http://annemariecarson.blogspot.com/2009/05/50-vs-50.html

    A collection of images taken with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/annemariecarsonphotography/tags/50mmf12/

    So why leave this one out? As far as I know, you can still obtain one by special order through Nikon and they are still in limited production.........

  • reddy July 24, 2009 11:28 am

    Here is my picture that I took with 50mm/1.8.It is a FABLOUS len and sharp too.

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2650/3749816619_8f99565f79.jpg

  • Dave B July 24, 2009 12:53 am

    I can only comment on Sony/Minolta 50's as I own a Sony. Boy would I like to live in the U.S. Sub $100 for a 50mm lens? I WISH!!!! Over this of the pond you cannot get a Sony/Minolta 50mm for sub £250 unless you mug some poor soul of theirs.

  • The Arizona Photographer July 23, 2009 09:23 pm

    I have a great affection for my classic Pentax Takumar 50mm lenses. Sharp, contrasty results with beautiful bokeh. Still very useful lenses!

  • Tracey July 21, 2009 08:17 pm

    Thanks for this GREAT article - just the information I was looking for! I'm about to upgrade from my trusty compact digital and didn't know where to start, especially in the lenses department - but this has clarified everything and I'm sure of making an informed choice now rather than an expensive mistake. THANK YOU!!!

  • daniel July 18, 2009 12:19 am

    what's about Sony 50mm f/1.4?

  • KJ July 17, 2009 01:26 am

    I have the Sigma 30mm on a Canon 400D and it's more or less the only lens I ever would want to use. It's superb quality and versatility in low light conditions make it impossible for me to take it off.

  • reddy July 16, 2009 12:25 pm

    I got mine under amazon for 132 dollars and that 50mm 1.8 is an adorable lens. I start to leave my lens along with my D200 camera. I'm very eager to be on my vacation for 2 weeks starting the 1st of Aug due to my young daughter expecting to have her first baby. That will be my 3rd grandchild. I'm gonna take alot of photo with my new len.

  • Joel July 16, 2009 01:19 am

    Thanks to your article, I've decided to get a 50 mm equivalent for my Nikon D60. I'll go for the Nikkor AF-S 35mm since my camera has a cropping factor of 1.5.

  • Larry Miller July 15, 2009 01:53 am

    I surely agree with almost every poster here about the 50MM. I have a Nikkor 50MM F1.8 AIS and am entirely enamored with it. The colors and contrast produce pictures that make it seem like it has ED glass in it. I shoot landscape with the 28MM F2, the 50MM and the 85MM F1.8. Love that fast glass!! I've recently gone back to primes from zooms. I recently took a picture of a dock at F11 with some lobster traps in the foreground at sunset using the 50. The sharpness, the contrast and the colors were amazing. When I got the slide on the light table, everything just popped out. When you shoot vertically with the 50 it could almost pass as a slight wide angle. Anyway, if you're thinking about getting one, DO IT!!!

  • Kathy Burkman July 14, 2009 11:24 pm

    Jacq - B&H is in NYC. You can see all of their offerings on their website, as well as order a catalog. I researched the lens on the Pentax website, then ordered what I wanted. I hope it hasn't gone up in price! I wouldn't want to give you the wrong info. Good luck!

  • Sugata Banerji July 14, 2009 10:49 pm

    @jacq: B&H Photo is in New York City. I don't know where else they have their stores. I am excited about the K7 too!

    @Alan Nielsen: Yes, sometimes the DoF is too shallow at 1.4. See this shot:

    http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/ljANmj4a5dtj65GFMtUbVA?authkey=Gv1sRgCPPap_L65YLvoAE&feat=directlink

    If I didn't tell you, you would hardly be able to make out the Empire State Building in the background. On the other hand, it was almost dark when this shot was taken, and I was using 400ASA film, so anything other than 1.4 would not have worked, especially for a handheld shot.

  • Alan Nielsen July 14, 2009 10:36 pm

    This shot was done with my 50 1.8
    http://www.ninelivephotography.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/20090627_sarah-kevin_1069-web.jpg

    at 1.8 the DOF was too much, I had to bring it down to about 3.5 to still see the couple in the background.

    While I'd love a 50 1.4 or 1.2, this one still does me fine.

  • Jacq July 14, 2009 04:24 pm

    Oh Kathy really? Where is B&H photo? I am in SA but I am sure they will ship. I can get it locally for $580 but $199 sounds much better!!!! Nice to hear from you Kathy and Sugata - yes I too feel like I am on the outer with a Pentax. I love my K100D. It gets thrown in my hand bag and dragged everywhere and as it was not expensive I am not precious with it. I call it my practice DSLR as it's my first and I knew I would be trading up soon anyway.... I am excited about the K7!

  • mrsrobinson July 14, 2009 12:20 pm

    @ John
    "I’ve found that the best selling point is the quality of the shots. I keep sample images of the same shot from the 18-55 kit lens shot at ~50mm and the 50mm 1.8 (Canon). There’s a world of difference. I think the quality of the image is the main selling point. Everyone understands that."

    I'd be interested in seeing those comparisons...trying to convince the hubby of the difference between the nifty and the kit lens.

  • Mattie Shoes July 14, 2009 10:43 am

    Richard: The lens is certainly less sturdy than lenses 5x as expensive, but it's not so flimsy it'd break with normal use. If I had to drop my camera with any of my lenses on it, it'd be the nifty fifty. Sure, it'd wreck the lens, but it's the cheapest lens I own. I can't imagine having to have Canon remove it -- the release for the bayonet mount is on the camera, not the lens.

    Alejandro: The 50mm f/1.8 has a 5 bladed aperture, so it'd be impressive indeed to get hexagons ;-) Shooting wide open, you get circles. Shooting with a smaller aperture will get you pentagons. But shooting with nearly any lens with a reduced aperture is going to get you sharp pentagons/hexagons/septagons on out of focus specular highlights, yes? The bokeh may not be spectacularly good but I don't think it's particularly terrible either.

    I picked the harshest example of specular highlights I could set up -- it shows them at f/1.8 and f/4.5.
    Here

  • Teresa Boardman July 14, 2009 10:43 am

    The "nifty fifty" was the first lens I bought. I love it and recommend it to others. I like to use it to take photos of my kitty cat, and have taken some decent architectural shots and night shots with it too.

  • ERiCK July 14, 2009 07:16 am

    i considered buying a 50mm but Nikon just released their new 35mm f1.8 ... patiently waited for the availability but it's all worth it... prime lens are great addition

  • Lindsay July 14, 2009 05:39 am

    I just got this lens and it is like MAGIC. A must have for all levels of photographers.

  • Alejandro July 13, 2009 11:51 pm

    I have the EF 50mm 1.8, and bokeh isn't one of its strong points. Sure, you can get a small depth of field by using it wide open, but that's not the same as GOOD bokeh - what you get is harsh, edgy hexagons, not nicely rounded bokeh.

  • Mandy July 13, 2009 11:17 pm

    I've recently got a 50mm 1.8 lens for my birthday and I absolutely love it! The image quality is fantastic and it's incredibly sharp, and I love the bokeh I can create with it.

    I also shot all of my SoFoBoMo photo book project with it: http://www.sofobomo.org/2009/books/Mandy73/food-glorious-food/

  • Richard July 13, 2009 01:58 pm

    Despite all the rave reviews for the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, I'm afraid to buy it. Amazon has a lot of user comments that state how easy it is for the lens to break because of its cheap plastic construction. I realize that for the price, the lens is easy to replace, but that's not my issue. The issue is that in some cases, the lens breaks apart while attached to the camera body and then the lens is impossible to remove without sending the whole thing to a Canon service center. I cannot afford to risk my precious 40D with this lens.

    I'm considering the EF 50mm f/1.4, but it has a known tendency for AF malfunction.

  • Sugata Banerji July 13, 2009 12:13 pm

    @Kathy Burkman: Not at all! I am a Pentax lover too! My father bought a Pentax MX 35mm SLR just before my birth and the 50mm F/1.4 prime was his only lens for the next seven years. He surely took some amazing shots with that lens. I use that camera now and I really love that lens for its fast speed and shallow DOF. I plan to buy a Pentax K7 later this year and I plan to use this lens on that camera too occasionally.

  • Kathy Burkman July 13, 2009 12:05 pm

    I own a Pentax K100d. I ordered a 50mm f1.4 lens from B&h Photo. Cost was $199. haven't used it much, but I did last night, though, and was delighted with the ability to shoot in low light. I intend to use it lots more. Thanks for listing a Pentax lens. I feel like I am the only Pentax lover out there!

  • Reena July 12, 2009 10:21 pm

    @sheldonc: no, they are not. Amazon US charges $90 for P&P, do you still they they're expensive in the UK? I'm gonna buy in Amazon UK, no doubt.

  • sheldonc July 12, 2009 10:20 pm

    Very interesting article - been considering a prime lens for some time

    I'm using a Nikon D90 - if money isn't an issue would you recommend the 50mm or the 35mm?

    Unfortunately in the UK our lenses are much more expensive not that I've researched that much yet but the 50 is £119 & the 35 £219

    As money is an issue do I wait a while & get the 35 when I can or bite the bullet take the 50 and just end up with a relatively cheap quality lens?

    Thanks

  • George Servian July 11, 2009 02:12 am

    I don't use mine as often as I should; I'm inspired to give it some more love thanks to this article.

    I got terrific results at an indoor dance concert with my Canon 40D and the 50mm 1.4 USM lens combo.
    Check 'em out here

    http://www.servianphotography.com/gallery/8118404_BF7fd#529376631_HhxNq

  • Jacq July 10, 2009 09:00 pm

    Hmmm is it just me as I can't find a 50mm for my Pentak K100D for under $650 and that is getting it from the States? I was edging towards a Macro but the 50mm was my second choice, I think it is ahead after this great article I want to go get one tomorrow!

    "The 50mm f/1.8 is the least expensive lens at this focal range. And this, dear readers, is a marvel. I’ll keep it very simple… why the 50mm is a must:
    At under $100 starting, it is very very cheap, and an easy buy for the hobbyist with a budget."

  • koyok July 10, 2009 05:38 pm

    "Primes in general, and the 50mm especially, are fast lenses i.e. they have bigger apertures that allow you to shoot at high shutter speeds even in low light – one major aspect where most zooms lack. The fastest telephoto I’ve heard of has a max aperture of f/2.8, and the fastest prime I’ve heard of is a 50mm f/0.95!"

    There ARE zooms with max aperture of F2.0.

    Zuiko Digital ED 14-35mm F2.0
    Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm F2.0

  • kuhlphoto.ca July 10, 2009 03:36 pm

    Well, interesting topic I see! Bought my first DSLR a few months back and only got a 50mm 1.4 for it. Have used it exclusively since and ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! It is sharp and allows for so much creativity. Great value for money. Will probably pick up a 50mm 1.8 for my wife's new D90 eventually just because they are so affordable. She has a 35mm 1.8 left over from her crappy-sensored D60 (manual focus only for the nifty-fifties on this body) that she is just starting to use on the D90. So far it has been very impressive too, quality wise.

    In my honest opinion (we shoot a lot of portraits) the 35mm intrudes on the subject. For example if you like tight crops and are shooting young children, they will stop what they are doing and pay attention to the camera, becuase you are too close to shoot candidly. You could always crop in post, but that depends on your shooting preferences I guess. The 50mm on the DX sensor provides more room between you and your subject, which goes a LONG way if you prefer to shoot more candidly. The reverse is true though - the 35mm perspective on a DX sensor is so much better for a lot of street and all-round shots. While the image quality is pretty even, the creative and low-light abilities of the 50mm 1.4, to me, make very worthwhile. It doesn't do everything, but what it does - it does very well, and it is fun and simple to use.

    What I really miss actually is more the wide angle capabilities, rather than telephoto. I pretty sure that my next lens will be the 20mm 1.8. It's hard to go back to slower and lower image quality zooms once you've gotten used to the primes. 50mm totally sucks for group shots and even some full-body shots where you can't move back (ie: concert). It also will cause you to put down your camera and just enjoy the birds, rather than trying to capture them. I find that I always have my little compact Canon with me though and prefer this for extreme macros, zoom and convenience (for only $270!!)

    Overall, the 50mm 1.4 seems to me to be simpy the best all-round lens for quality and creatively oriented serious photographers. One question: does anyone else find that their camera's metering system over-exposes with the fast primes and that a correct exposure requires you to compensate on the light meter to what should be a under-exposure?

  • Edim July 10, 2009 12:43 pm

    You don't mention Sony/Minolta... their primes, their FF Sony A900 (only Can's and Nik's), APS-C cams either...
    Not fair and not good for you.

    Regards,

  • Ian Seddon July 10, 2009 09:03 am

    This is my favourite lens, I try to use it for all my live band work as it is excellent for low light situations !

  • Frank Thomas July 10, 2009 08:51 am

    While still in the "point and shoot" cocoon, it is hoped someday I can fly as a competent photographer.
    There is reluctance to buy equipment beyond what came with a Sony DSLR A350 with
    two lenses, mainly due to ignorance as how to make the best use of something.
    Most articles suggest a "nifty fifty" as passed its time, but what swayed me to buy one was that it is supposedly better in the "what you see is what you get department. Now comes the question what is the best use of the lens. The assumption is almost that it can handle my two main interests equally well, landscapes and city's, although using a Telephoto is probably best when long distances are involved.

  • Bruce July 10, 2009 07:33 am

    I shot with a Canon 40D and use a 70 - 200 f/2.8 IS L and a 24 - 105 f/4 L lens.

    BUT, value for money, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 CANNOT BE BEATEN. The sharpness out of the camera will beat any kit lens hands down. Simply put, I love this lens and use it at any opportunity, it is ALWAYS in my camera bag (unlike my 70 - 200 which is only taken when I know for certain it will be used).

    The 50mm prime is also a great tool in teaching beginners the basics of photography.

    And lets not forget that on crop sensor bodies, the 50mm prime is a FANTASTIC portrait lens and well worthy of the reputation they have gained.

    If you do not have one - go and buy one NOW.

  • Krish9 July 10, 2009 04:41 am

    After reading this, I think I must own a 50 mm f/2.8 for my Nikon D60.
    Thanks.

  • Georg July 10, 2009 04:38 am

    @Sergei:
    it might be that the human has a different view angle, but when I determine the zoom setting which corresponds to the naked eye view via opening the normally closed eye with the camera readied and searching for the zoom position with the least strain, I get 50mm. Since this is with a Nikor DX, it might actually disprove my point but I'm too untaught to wrap my brain around these numbers ;-)

  • Sugata Banerji July 10, 2009 04:24 am

    I have a Pentax MX and a manual focus 50mm lens. It was bought by my father before my birth and he has really taken some wonderful shots with it. I also use it from time to time for portrait and street, and also as a macro lens by reversing it.

  • Charlene July 10, 2009 04:23 am

    For those using Olympus 4/3 DSLRs the 25mm F2.8 pancake provides the same effect. It is a wonderful little compact lens! It has given me all new perspective to DSLR shooting.

  • Mattie Shoes July 10, 2009 03:31 am

    Mary: It depends on what lenses you already have and what you do with your camera :-)

    The f/1.4 is nicer than the f/1.8, particularly in that sub f/2 range. It's a more solid lens. But there's so many OTHER great lenses! For me at least, I'd rather spend it on something that gives me something more different, like the 35mm f/2.0 (or 35mm f/1.4 if you've got a hefty budget). Or the 70-200mm f/2.8 is a beauty. Or the 10-22mm superwide. :-)

  • Kathleen Kraft July 10, 2009 03:27 am

    Totally agree. My photography instructor convinced me to buy my Nikon 1.4 50mm and it is by far the best thing I have ever invested in (outside of my dslr digital camera body.) The sheer quality of the photos is unbelieveable. Keep on preaching!

  • Major Bokeh July 10, 2009 02:52 am

    The 50mm 1.8 is great. An amazing value. Was my first lens after the kit lens. Mine is a Canon and set me back $79USD. But it is very light and plasticky. After getting a few L series lenses I decided to upgrade my 50 to the Canon f/1.2 L. WOW. Ok very spendy at $1600USD, but did I mention WOW? Sharp as a tack and at 1.2 the DOF is razor thin. Plus low light shooting is incredible.

  • Tom Gill July 10, 2009 02:40 am

    Love my "nifty fifty". I don't use it as much as I should, but it's the absolute best when it comes to night landscapes since it's almost impossible to focus my 18-55 zoom lens in the dark. This lens has an infinity setting, so I simply move the ring all the way over and I have sharp focus.

    It also works excellent as a reverse ring macro lens.

    I'm motivated by this post to pop that lens on tonight at Chicago's famous Green Mill Jazz club and give it a real workout!

  • Mary Ann Mattox July 10, 2009 02:19 am

    I own a Canon Xsi and don't even use the kit lens anymore really... the kit lens is so versatile because of the zoom, but after seeing how bright and sharp the pics from my 50mm f/1.8 are, I just stick with that. I REALLY want the f/1.4 even more now, but it's such a big price difference [$89 for my f/1.8, and about $400 for the f/1.4].... I don't know if the end results are worth all that extra money. Anyone have experience with both?

    Here's my fave pic/pics I've taken with my 50mm f/1.8. I don't like flash photography, I love natural light [another reason I love this lens so much], so am amazed with how bright and sharp these pics turned out - no flash was used.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/maryannmattox/3580011735/

  • Ben July 9, 2009 04:58 pm

    @Nikonboy
    Try this search

    http://ben-sketchbook.blogspot.com/search?q=+50mm+F1.4

    Not all of them are great, but I like some of them.

  • Prajneet July 9, 2009 03:59 pm

    @Nick - Thank you for making the clarification there. I guess its just a difference of opinion, different perspective you see ;)

    @Steve - I was referring to telehoto zooms of course! Primes will obviously be faster. And even in telephoto zooms, the fastest is f/2.0 (Zuiko 35-100mm), which I learn after writing the article. This is of course going by the definition of telephotos being simply longer than 50mm. If we talk about focal lengths longer han 100mm, the fastest is still an f/2.8.

  • LProm July 9, 2009 01:50 pm

    The 50mm is a great lens. Anybody who owns a DSLR should own one! lol
    Heres some sets of shots I did using the Canon 50mm f1.8

    Nifty Fifty
    Cherry Blossom

  • Sudeep July 9, 2009 07:16 am

    @Prajneet
    Great post. It's good to see a detailed piece on something that's a good balance between price and quality. Looking forward to seeing more of you on DPS. Good luck!
    @Alex Feldstein
    I think that the use of the nifty fifty in street photography, according to the writer, is very high compared to other lenses; it might not strictly mean that it is "the most used lens, ever". It's more a matter of language than fact, imho.
    Also, with respect to every point, including its being a "normal lens", we must not forget that we're looking at a combination of inexpensive and effective here, which changes the standards of judgment a little.
    Most of all, let's welcome the new writer and thank him for his insights. I'm sure his posts will get better with time, as far as the grammar issues are concerned.

  • vije July 8, 2009 10:37 pm

    Hay.. Alex ..thank's for your suggestion..i know the question was wrong place.

  • Alex Feldstein July 8, 2009 10:13 pm

    @vije

    ...My planning is to buy a D300 but am thinking long term invest..for pro lenses such 24-70mm and 70 -200mm
    following my understanding those lenses only work well or fit on D 700 or D3...

    The question is off-topic, but either lens you mentioned is a great pro lens and both work well with a D300 (DX) and a D700/D3 (FX). I have a D300 and as a rule, I do not purchase DX-lenses anymore (only have two from some time ago), and all my newer (old old-Ai) lenses are full-frame so I can still use them in the future, should I buy a D700.

  • John July 8, 2009 02:57 pm

    I enjoyed the piece a great deal. For those just moving up to DSLR, the 50 is a terrific recommendation. One thing that I've found though in making this recommendation is that persuading people that the "foot zoom" is a substitute for the real thing is a hard sell. The problem is that there are a host of situations where I foot zoom is literally impossible. Examples: Zoos, sporting events, macro type shots (I know you can reverse, but for someone new to DSLR, the all-manual reversing trick is not really a selling point.)

    I've found that the best selling point is the quality of the shots. I keep sample images of the same shot from the 18-55 kit lens shot at ~50mm and the 50mm 1.8 (Canon). There's a world of difference. I think the quality of the image is the main selling point. Everyone understands that.

  • vije July 8, 2009 02:38 pm

    Hay..guest .,,i need your advise..i had a lens nikon 50mm f/1.8D.I.am still looking for a proper body. My planning is to buy a D300 but am thinking long term invest..for pro lenses such 24-70mm and 70 -200mm
    following my understanding those lenses only work well or fit on D 700 or D3..so my question is which one i have to choise.., cos am getting serious on that hobbies ..please help ,,

  • Alex Feldstein July 8, 2009 11:56 am

    @Jacky

    Very interesting but I have one question: do you mean 50mm on digital or any 50mm.
    If I use my old Nikor 50mm lens , it is going to be around 80mm… am I wrong ?

    It depends. 50mm is 50,mm no matter what. In a camera with a full frame sensor (FF or in Nikon parlance FX), it is the same as in a film camera (35mm negative). In a cropped sensor camera (APS-C or in Nikon parlance DX), the sensor is smaller so the distance and coverage is different on a same focal length lens. The ratio is roughly 1.5 so a 50mm lens used in a DX sensor (e.g. D90) will give you a similar coverage as a 75mm in a full frame (e.g D700). It is a little complicated but Wikpedia explains it better: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_factor

  • Mattie Shoes July 8, 2009 08:49 am

    Stuart: I've got the Canon 50mm F/1.8 and it's obviously cheaply made -- lightweight, thin plastic housing, auto focus isn't as smooth and reliable compared to more expensive lenses... The bayonet mount on it is plastic but it's a sturdy, heavy duty plastic -- I haven't had any problems at all. It has held up fine on the camera and in the camera bag, but any sort of accident will surely rip the thing apart.

    Of course, if you DO break it, you can replace it for under 100 bucks. You can drop more than that on a filter! The image quality is very good, it's quite fast, and the price is right. If you've already got a selection of fast lenses, maybe it's not terribly useful, but if you're on a budget like me... Well, it expands what I can do with my camera and for almost no money. :-)

  • jo July 8, 2009 08:33 am

    i'm using a 50mm f1.4 as well, i love the speed and dof that it offers me. i love it so much, i kinda totally abandoned the 18-55mm kit lens of my D40.

  • Jacky July 8, 2009 07:38 am

    Very interesting but I have one question: do you mean 50mm on digital or any 50mm.
    If I use my old Nikor 50mm lens , it is going to be around 80mm... am I wrong ?
    Thanks for the answer

  • Nick July 8, 2009 07:23 am

    Wow, those photos are amazing. I really been thinking to buy one of these small fast lens from Nikon for my D60 and do some experimenting.

    I totally will be buying one of the lenses you recommended from Nikon. Probably the f/1.8D

  • Reena July 8, 2009 04:05 am

    You've convinced me. I was thinking on getting a 10-20 because my kit lenses are a 18-55, so I already have the 50 mm on it, but the "don't use the viewfinder, just shot" point sounds really attractive to me.

    However, I don't understand what you say about the sensors. Yeah, some of friends have already tried to explain it to me but I'm silly. In this case I don't know whether I should follow one of the Amazon links you've posted or look for a 35 mm for my EOS 400D.

    Cheers!

  • Krysta July 8, 2009 03:27 am

    I have an Olympus E410... It's my first DSLR and I'm still just using the kit lenses. I really want to get a 50mm - especially after reading this article. Could you suggest a good lens for my camera?

  • Tyler Ingram July 8, 2009 01:17 am

    I love playing with my 50mm f1.8. Well typically I have my 70-200mm f2.8L IS lens on my camera, but occasionally I'll switch to my 50mm and force myself to rethink some of my photos. Granted on a crop sensor body its more of a 80mm lens, but still its still fixed focal which forces me to move my body in and out to composite a shot.

    I broke my first 50mm (camera fell over...) but got myself my 2nd 50mm for only $70cdn, brand new never opened. I LOVE the lens, and it makes for carrying my camera (+grip) around a lot easier too. easier to bring it to more social events than bringing the bigger 70-200 ;)

  • Stuart July 8, 2009 12:46 am

    First, another re-emphasis that on APS-C, the equivalent is roughly 33 mm.

    Can anyone comment on the construction quality of the cheaper "nifty fifty" lenses? I've seen some remarks that the mounts may damage the camera body over time and others that the lenses have practically fallen apart.

    Thanks!

  • Alex Feldstein July 8, 2009 12:08 am

    Although I agree with some of the points in the article, mainly that it is a great lens for the price, I have several issues with the writer and writing style.

    The author says it is a "normal" lens. What he fails to indicate is that this is in FF (FX) cameras and sensors. A 35mm (such as Nikon's 35mm/F2) is a "normal"lens in cropped (DX) sensors. In fact the 50mm FL is a little awkward in DX as it is not a normal lens, yet it is not a proper tele or portrait lens (where the 85mm/1.8 would be more appropriate).

    It is true, the lens' optical quality is excellent for the price (the mount is a cheaper plastic build, but you can't quibble for the low price). I have had this lens for years and it works as advertised, yet I find I use the 35/2 (or the newer 35/1.8) way more due to the focal length.

    The author states...

    "This lens is by far most used for portraiture and street photography and gives some great results in both fields."

    By far the most used? Care to back that assertion up? I am mainly a street photographer and I can tell you this is not the case with me (due to the DX FL issue mentioned above). I find in my case (and many other street photographers I've seen), that lenses such as the 24-70mm, 35/2 and 70-200VR are much more prevalent in street photography.

    There are also some copy editing issues with the article It should have been checked for grammar to keep the publication's high standards.

    In general, it is a good article, that conveys the points across but not up to your usual high quality standards.

  • Sandun de Silva July 8, 2009 12:07 am

    I agreed this is quite a good lens for the price. I've done many high end fashion work with the use of this lens. The only draw back I feel is with the Auto Focus and focus time. Sometimes it is a bit tricky. But optical quality is superb.

  • Francesco July 7, 2009 11:39 pm

    I fully agree with you! I've just bought one during my visit to NYC (Canon 50mm f/1.8) for a mere 90$ and get out to take some shoots... which lense can give you such a quality/sharpness for such an amount of bucks!?
    Question, adding image stabilization would make this lense even better?

  • noirbykang July 7, 2009 10:26 pm

    I cannot help but come into support for this article giving big love to the nifty fifty and most of all to prime lenses! It is so so true, that primes offer so much value for money, less complicated construction = easier to achieve great quality = great pictures at significantly lower prices!!!

    I used to be a believer in the big and bestter f2.8 zoomers but I have since sold them for two excellent prime lens which challenge my composition skills and indeed deliver top quality photographs.... and you know, I just love creamy bokeh and nothing delivers creamy bokeh like a great prime lens :)

  • hannes July 7, 2009 10:21 pm

    Nice Article, but i wont concider the Sigma 50 mm f 1,4 small ;) [but i have it and i love it!]

  • Nikonboy July 7, 2009 10:15 pm

    Hello Ben,
    I am considering buying a 1.4 instead of my Nikkor AF 50mm F/1.8. Could you show us some pictures you have made with your lens?
    Here is some of my pics I took with my 1.8

    http://laci.blog.hu/2009/05/15/bodor_adam
    http://m.blog.hu/la/laci/image/fotok/orult1.jpg
    http://laci.blog.hu/2009/07/01/bodil_niska
    http://laci.blog.hu/2009/07/06/unom_14

  • Ben July 7, 2009 09:36 pm

    I have Nikkor AF 50mm F1.4 ( non-D version). I love my 50mm. It's handy in many ways and make me very creative. I think 50mm F1.4D is still in production and I prefer that over G version.

  • Zack Jones July 7, 2009 09:14 pm

    Every DSLR owner should own a 50mm lens. In fact that's what I have mounted on my 5D which is sitting right beside me as I type this. The first question I ask when someone says they are planning to buy a new lens is "do you own a nifty 50?" If not buy that before you buy anything else. Too bad there's not a nifty 35 (sub $100 35mm for crop bodies).

  • Chris Lee July 7, 2009 08:53 pm

    Second lens i bought for my pentax k200d was an unbelievably cheap 50mm f/1.7 manual lens.
    I was blown away at the sharpness compared to my kit 16-50mm and sigma 18-200mm.
    After only using the lens for about 6 months i think it has made me a much better photographer too as the full manual forced me to learn about proper exposures and the lack of zoom made me slow down and think about the composure of the photo.
    Oh and did i mention it was cheap =D (only $40 aus)

  • Lorenzo Reffo July 7, 2009 08:42 pm

    Will be my next purchase! I was looking for a lens that allows me to take lighted indoor portraits and I've been suggested of using this one (the nikkor 50mm f/1.8).. I really think this is the best choice for quality and price!

  • WolfB July 7, 2009 08:12 pm

    I'm shooting with a Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 Mark I since almost 10 years now. I love this lens, even my most expensive L-Lenses are no match in sharpness. If you're planning to buy an EF 50mm 1:1.8 II, try to get a Mark I on Ebay (or elsewhere) first. You'll get an even better lens with metal body and bayonet-mount instead of plastics and it comes with a focus scale (for going hyperfocal and stuff)...

  • Donncha O Caoimh July 7, 2009 08:08 pm

    I bought the Canon 50mm f1/8 a few years ago and it's hardly ever seen service. Using my zoom is just too tempting, especially when out with the family.

    I'll happily take the reduced quality of the zoom because of the convenience offered. A bit of unsharp mask afterwards does wonders. Try walking back and forth with a prime when a 2yro is hanging off you!

  • Dmitry July 7, 2009 07:34 pm

    There is also an exellent 50mm from Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/50 which is available for canon,nikon,pentax and M42 mount. It lacks auto focusing, but I love it, cause I like to focus manually.

  • KLBO July 7, 2009 05:13 pm

    I love my Nikon 50mm f1.8, it was super affordable and the picture quality is great for the price point. Often times my 50mm is the only lens I keep on my camera. Because its fast and light. I love my 50mm, in fact right now I'm trying to strictly shoot with my 50mm and start a series on my flickr page with nothing but 50mm shots.

  • Kelcey July 7, 2009 03:52 pm

    I didn't even consider getting my XSi with the kit lens, I just straight up went with the 50mm f/1.8. I have never regretted my decision :]
    I am definitely a prime addict and when I look around for a new lens I almost never look at zooms. My next lens with either be the 50mm 1.4 for the 85mm 1.8.
    Glad to see the primes get some love!

  • Jenn July 7, 2009 02:25 pm

    I have a 50mm f/1.4 nikkor and I LOVE it, beautiful, easy shots, especially when shooting in manual mode. Best investment I've made so far.

  • TK July 7, 2009 01:31 pm

    Just a note that for reverse macro you don't need the lens of the same brand or mount type as the camera. Here's what I did with a Pentax 50mm on my Canon Rebel XT at f/2.8.

    http://thedreamerskingdom.org/photoblog/index.php?showimage=240

    And you don't need the latest and the greatest either. Take a look at the used camera shop for 50mm with aperture control, get reverse adapter and ready to be amazed.

  • Peter July 7, 2009 12:58 pm

    Sound advice here, i recently bought a 50mm lens and it was my purchase of the year!

  • MeiTeng July 7, 2009 12:31 pm

    I own a Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens. I must say it's a very affordable and good one. I recommended it to someone who was looking into purchasing his first DSLR.

    The B&W portrait is beautiful.

  • Mikel Daniel July 7, 2009 12:09 pm

    One of the first lenses I purchased after I got my first DSLR. At the time, recommended by numerous accolades and its low starter price of about 100 bucks, its still one of my favorite lenses to this date despite owning several high powered (and price) zooms/primes. If there is a MUST HAVE for your lens collection, this one firmly belongs in that list.

  • Scott July 7, 2009 11:56 am

    I couldn't agree more with this post. For my D90 I skipped the kit lens and bought the 35mm f/2 to give me a 50mm equivalent.

  • Sergei July 7, 2009 11:53 am

    Sorry, but 50mm lens does not offer you same field of view as human eye. Not of full frame, not on crop. Single human eye has angle of view of roughly 120 degrees, whereas 50mm focus - roughly 42 degrees. Two eyes intersected vision zone is about 32-36 degrees or so, so its not "sharp human eye" zone either. People should really really stop repeating that nonsense that someone put out on internet.

  • Peter July 7, 2009 11:38 am

    I must have one!

    thanks DPS...

  • Scott Higdon July 7, 2009 10:52 am

    The 50mm 1.8 was the first lens recommended to me and has been my favorite for many years. The results are incredible and some photographers who believe the 1.4L is the only way to go have been quite surprised by the results of this sub $100 lens. Still my favorite.

  • Mattie Shoes July 7, 2009 10:42 am

    It's quite possible to have F/0.95.

    Zeiss 50mm F/0.7 lens

  • Vilmis July 7, 2009 10:41 am

    http://en.leica-camera.com/photography/m_system/lenses/5915.html
    "After more than 30 years, Leica breaks its own record and introduces the world's highest-speed aspherical lens: the LEICA NOCTILUX-M 50 mm f/0.95 ASPH."

  • MRT July 7, 2009 10:31 am

    and the fastest prime I’ve heard of is a 50mm f/0.95!

    f/0.95 ??

    I believe that is impossible. Math and photographic optics FAIL.

  • WIlliam Rackley July 7, 2009 10:18 am

    Its true. My 18-200 VR (~800$) very rarely is the one on my d200. The 50mm 1.8 (~100$) spends much more time on the mount.

  • Ryan July 7, 2009 10:16 am

    Lets not forget about the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G

    I'm a newbie in the world of DSLRs and this was the first lens I purchased (after my kit lens), and it's brilliant. My 18-105 lens almost never leaves my bag now. The only downside I've found so far is that it doesn't have an aperture ring so doing flipped macro's is trickier.

  • TwitchingEye July 7, 2009 10:11 am

    For quite some time now, I'm using my nifty fifty partnered with a Canon 5D Mark II and I think it made my shots better than before. With 50mm lens, I was forced to always rethink how I would take my shots since I can only use 1 focal length. Change angle, find better subject and composition, etc. It might take several photowalks to get used to using 50mm but i think it will help you become a better photographer!

    Have a nice day!

  • Tim Marks July 7, 2009 09:46 am

    Not only was the 50mm the norm, when I bought my Minolta XGM back in 1981 or 82 (hard to remember) the 50mm came with almost all non-pro cameras as a kit. Yep great lens!

  • Mattie Shoes July 7, 2009 09:34 am

    I love my nifty fifty!

    Another use -- Astrophotography. Taken with my nifty fifty stopped down to F/4. Astrophotography is pretty demanding on a lens, and I had very little success at larger apertures. But to get the same clarity with a zoom, I might have to shoot 4x as long at F/8, and it still wouldn't look as good.

    And my favorite, a cane toad

  • Rolling Stone July 7, 2009 09:27 am

    Thank you Prajneet.
    I love my 50mm1.4! I wanted something to help make me more creative. It fits the job perfectly. Half the time I go out shooting, I take off my zoom and dedicate it to the 50. Nifty-fifty's are great learning lenses. Everybody should have one.

  • peter bang July 7, 2009 09:04 am

    nice helpful post! 50mm 1.8 is always the first lens i recommend to my friends getting a dslr.

  • Steve July 7, 2009 08:54 am

    Nifty fifties can be useful lenses, but I've got to ask whether the author really knows what they are talking about?

    > "The fastest telephoto I’ve heard of has a max aperture of f/2.8,"

    Really?

    I suppose it depends on your definition of "telephoto". But if we settle for a "telephoto" being longer than a "standard" lens then there's:

    the Canon 85mm f/1.2 and 1.8, 100mm f/2, 135mm f/2 and 200mm f/2

    plus the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 and f/1.8, 105mm f/2, 135mm f/2 and 200mm f/2

    All of which have a maximum aperture greater than f/2.8.

    Steve

  • Yazan July 7, 2009 08:29 am

    I'd argue against recommending the Nikkor 50mm f1.4G. It's the first lens I bought myself when I upgraded to an SLR. While the f1.4 is great, and it has a wonderful optical quality, there are a few things I don't like about it:

    1) Its much heavier than most nifty fifties.

    2) the lack of an aperture ring, thus it cant be used as a reverse macro lens.

    its probably great as a studio lens though.

  • Vilmis July 7, 2009 08:27 am

    Hi Prajneet,

    In flickr you wrote (about spider's photo): "was taken on some fall leaves with the 50mm reversed to some extension tubes". Could you tell which maker's reverse ring and extension tubes you are using ?

  • Beth July 7, 2009 08:08 am

    So glad you wrote this post, I have been throwing around the idea of buying one for months....now I am sold. Great advice.

  • Scott July 7, 2009 08:07 am

    I love my nifty-fifty and use it a ton. Even though I shoot a D300, I prefer this over the 35mm because of the sharpness.

  • Nick July 7, 2009 08:01 am

    # The Wide effect: If you don’t have a dedicated wide angle lens, don’t fret. You might not get as wide an angle as with a dedicated lens, but you can still get a wide angle look by moving farther from your subject, and using a smaller aperture (larger f number). This covers a wider area and gives a larger zone of sharpness, just like a wide angle lens.
    # The Telephoto effect: Just like above, you can also simulate a telephoto effect by getting close to your subject and opening up the aperture. This gives a nicely blurred background which is a characteristic of telephotos.

    When telling new users that they can substitute one focal length for another, it's irresponsible not to clarify the importance of understanding perspective. Moving back far enough to make a 50mm (especially on a crop body) give the same field of view as a wide angle radically changes the perspective, and thus the "look."

    Similarly, taking a shorter lens and using it for close-up work provides a "look" which is in fact the opposite of the "telephoto look," which is mainly characterized by distant perspective. To achieve a telephoto "look" with a 50mm, the best approach is to step back a bit and crop in, which will provide the same perspective and field of view one would obtain with a longer lens.

  • YJD July 7, 2009 07:56 am

    Just wanted to say thank you for putting a lens from Pentax!
    I have one and I love it... It does ask you to have more creativity because there is no zoom.

  • Ilya July 7, 2009 07:43 am

    I concur! Nifty fifty is indeed a fine little lens. Although it is little long for general purpose photography on a crop body on FF it is very handy. I frequently recommend this lens to people who are entering DSLR world as a kit lens or as a first second lens, none of them were disappointed. For canon shooters, I would recommend to get Mark I version of the NiftyFifty as it has better build and wont fall apart within a first year of use, although it might be little more expensive and harder to get.

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