Pho­to: Harold Wijn­holds / explorecams.com

Which lens do you think is the most ver­sa­tile: a pro­fes­sion­al f/2.8 zoom or a more com­pact but dark trav­el zoom? But no! “Fifty kopecks” can replace a whole scat­ter­ing of “glass­es” in your back­pack (unless, of course, you are going to pho­to­graph birds some­where in Mada­gas­car). In this arti­cle, we’ll talk about how you can use a fast 50mm lens and why it’s almost the per­fect next step after a whale lens.

What “fifty kopecks” will be discussed

Have you just pur­chased your first “fifty kopeck” or are you just think­ing about which lens to buy in your pho­to arse­nal? Make no mis­take about the deci­sion: this par­tic­u­lar fam­i­ly of lens­es can imme­di­ate­ly improve the qual­i­ty of your pic­tures if you know how to use these “glass­es” cor­rect­ly.

50mm lens­es are also referred to as “nor­mal” lens­es, as they pro­vide the most nat­ur­al per­spec­tive, close to its per­cep­tion by human vision.

In this arti­cle, a 50mm lens will refer to 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 on full-frame cam­eras and 35mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 on APS‑C, i.e. any fast “glass” with a 50mm equiv­a­lent focal length. All pop­u­lar brands have such mod­els: Canon (f/1.8, f/1.4) and Nikon (f/1.8, f/1.4), Sony (f/1.8, f/1.4) and Fuji­film (f/1.8, f/ 1.4). In gen­er­al, this mate­r­i­al will also be use­ful to those who work with slight­ly wider-angle fast lens­es with EGF equal to 35 mm.

Why fix

A prime is a lens with a fixed focal length. That is, unlike zoom, you will not be able to zoom in and out of the pic­ture by sim­ply turn­ing the wheel: to zoom in on an object, you will have to stomp your feet. But this “incon­ve­nience” has its pos­i­tive sides.

The world through the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 is one of the most pop­u­lar fifty dol­lars. Pho­to: Adam Hinett / flickr.com

A good prime lens can help you become a more thought­ful pho­tog­ra­ph­er: you will con­scious­ly choose your posi­tion, body posi­tion and cam­era posi­tion to get the com­po­si­tion and pic­ture you want.

There are also objec­tive advan­tages: ceteris paribus, fix­es (espe­cial­ly fast ones!) Give a more beau­ti­ful image than zooms. In addi­tion, lens­es with a fixed focal length are often more com­pact and lighter than the zoom broth­ers.

3 ingredients for bokeh

Many peo­ple like pho­tos with a soft blurred back­ground. Per­haps you’ve been want­i­ng to take these shots for a long time, but your kit lens (espe­cial­ly the 18–55mm) is sim­ply not capa­ble of this. So, the fast “fifty kopecks” is a real bokeh machine!

Because it has a fair­ly wide max­i­mum aper­ture, you already have the first of three ingre­di­ents for great bokeh:

  • Set your cam­era to aper­ture pri­or­i­ty mode (or man­u­al mode) and open the aper­ture to full.
  • Make sure you’re pho­tograph­ing the sub­ject close enough to the cam­era (for exam­ple, in a moun­tain range shot at f/1.8, you won’t have blur­ry clouds and dis­tant moun­tains in the back­ground).
  • Check that there is some dis­tance between the sub­ject and the back­ground (in par­tic­u­lar, if a per­son is lean­ing against a wall, f / 1.8 will not “blur” the bricks).
Blur­ring the back­ground with such a “glass” is easy. Pho­to: Tenis Dimants / flickr.com

How to maximize sharpness

If you read at least a cou­ple of min­utes on the Inter­net about lens­es, you will sure­ly notice that sharp­ness is their most dis­cussed char­ac­ter­is­tic.

Many novice pho­tog­ra­phers who have “grown up” with a whale lens look towards large pro­fes­sion­al zooms at f / 2.8. But before you spend your sav­ings, just take a look at the small “fifty” — it takes shots no less, if not more “sharp” than pro­fes­sion­al zoom mon­sters with a six-fig­ure price tag.

One of the great things about fast fifties, espe­cial­ly when com­pared to kit lens­es, is that you don’t need to close down too much to max­i­mize sharp­ness.

The “sweet spot” is what pho­tog­ra­phers call the aper­ture val­ue (or aper­ture range) at which the lens achieves max­i­mum sharp­ness. On a kit lens, this is usu­al­ly some­thing around f/8 or f/11. On a fast prime, the sweet spot can be around f/2.8, f/4, or f/5.6. But (even bet­ter) your “fifty” most like­ly shows amaz­ing sharp­ness in the cen­ter of the frame when the aper­ture is wide open or cov­ered one stop from the max­i­mum val­ue.

Cen­ter sharp­ness is a hall­mark of “nor­mal” large aper­ture lens­es (pho­to tak­en with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM). Pho­to: Gary Wol­sten­holme / ephotozine.com

Try shoot­ing wide open at f/1.8 or f/2 (for a lens with a max­i­mum aper­ture of f/1.8) to see how sharp the pic­ture will be in the cen­ter. And if you want edge-to-edge sharp­ness across the frame, set it to f/4 or f/5.6.

Darkness is not a problem — shooting in low light

With a nar­row max­i­mum aper­ture, the biggest lim­i­ta­tion of a kit zoom lens is its sharp­ness per­for­mance in low light.

On a sun­ny day, in this regard, you will have approx­i­mate­ly the same results. But, when you decide to shoot late at night or indoors, the fast aper­ture will be ahead by two heads.

The wider the aper­ture is open, the more light will hit the film or sen­sor. You can cap­ture your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er by can­dle­light in a restau­rant, take a pho­to of your child play­ing in a nurs­ery at dusk, or take a beau­ti­ful street shot under the light of a lantern.

When leav­ing the house with a “fifty” after sun­set, sim­ply open the aper­ture more and more to max­i­mize the amount of light pass­ing through the lens. And if it’s already maxed out and the shut­ter speed starts to get slow­er when blur­ring appears, increase the ISO to com­pen­sate.

Night street pho­tog­ra­phy is the ele­ment of high-aper­ture “fifty kopecks”. Pho­to: Iskra Pho­to / flickr.com

Also keep in mind that when shoot­ing at night with a tri­pod, you don’t need to open the aper­ture all the way (unless you want to get a shal­low depth of field). With a tri­pod, you can shoot in the sweet spot at f/4 or f/5.6 to max­i­mize sharp­ness in low light.

We shoot light

To take a great pho­to, you don’t have to con­stant­ly car­ry sev­er­al kilo­grams of lens­es with you (or one lens weigh­ing sev­er­al kilo­grams): you don’t need to try to cov­er all avail­able focal lengths from ultra wide angle to super tele­pho­to at once.

Take a fifty-kopeck piece and try to go out with only it — you will feel how lib­er­at­ing such an expe­ri­ence can be.

Now your bag for pho­to­graph­ic equip­ment will not cre­ate incon­ve­niences in trans­port or on a walk, and you don’t have to con­stant­ly think about which lens is best for this par­tic­u­lar shot.

You may feel a lit­tle unac­cus­tomed to not being able to zoom in, but it’s worth try­ing to start “see­ing” the world as a 50mm lens sees it (this is not dif­fi­cult, because its “field of view” is very sim­i­lar to a human). Visu­al­ize the frame and look for inter­est­ing scenes and objects that fit into it. This lim­i­ta­tion can be a great cre­ative tool!

Our top tip is to go and take pic­tures! Pho­to: photographytalk.com

A fast 50mm lens, when used cor­rect­ly, can cre­ate tru­ly mag­i­cal shots. This “fifty kopeck” is great for por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy (due to the pro­nounced bokeh) and for work­ing in low light — in the evening and at night, out­doors or indoors. Yes, it does­n’t have zoom or sta­bi­liza­tion, but it’s one of the sharpest lens­es you’ll ever own. It’s light, com­pact and will prob­a­bly take your best shots!

* In prepar­ing the arti­cle, mate­ri­als from the resource bhphotovideo.com (author — Todd Vorenkamp) were used


От Yara

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