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Which 50mm Lens is Best for Portraits?

Canon 50mm f1.4 lens

I don’t tend to read a lot of digital photography magazines but recently while sitting in an airport terminal bought myself a copy of the UK Digital Photo Magazine which had a good comparison test of 50mm portrait lenses.

The 50mm focal length is a personal favorite of mine so this was a test that interested me. I love the 50mm range both because on a DSLR with crop factor coming into play it’s the equivalent of a 75-80mm lens (which allows for getting in nice and close to your subject without them feeling like you’re sitting in their lap). Many of them are also really cheap, quite fast and of a high quality (as the test showed).

So which 50mm portrait lens was best according to Digital Photo Magazine? Here’s how they ranked them:


The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D beat the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM on the ‘value for money’ category (the Nikon is under one tenth of the price) but the Canon beat the Nikon on ‘features and build’ and ‘image quality’ (after all it is an ‘L-series’ lens which designates it as a Pro lens).

Of course all but the Sigma lens can only really be used on certain brands of cameras so comparing Canons with Nikons isn’t really going to help anyone decide which lens to get!

PS: For Canon lovers – there’s also a Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM lens in their range which is a great compromise if you’re looking for a higher quality and faster lens than the f/1.8 but can’t afford the hefty price tag of the f/1.2. I own both the f/1.8 and the f/1.4 and while the f/1.8 is brilliant for it’s price the f/1.4 is one of my favorite lenses and is always in my camera bag.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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