Thursday 29 July 2010

Shooting at 50mm

By far the most popular fixed focal length for lenses is 50mm. This focal length is closest to the natural human field of vision and just about suitable for portrait, medium distance and landscape pictures. There are a number of flickr groups dedicated to pictures at 50mm and they show off the wonderful versatility of these primes.

Check out:

I have a  personal preference for fixed, rather than zoom, lenses. And, among those, 50mm is my favourite, too.
Finish The Roll
  • At 50mm you need to get a little bit up-close and personal with the subjects. They lend themselves really well to portraits and closer work and when I am shooting at 50mm I always feel as if I am more involved in the picture.
  • I prefer a fixed lens to a zoom because a zoom always adds a few seconds to framing a shot, picking the right focal length and trying to think simultaneously about the depth of field available (longer focal lengths have a shorter depth of field - the zone of what is in focus is shorter). I like to shoot on-the-fly with a minimum of fuss and use what time I have to think about exposure and focus more than anything else.
  • When a photographer uses the same fixed lens for a period of time the feel of the lens and what it is capable of becomes instinctive and the camera begins to function more as an extension of oneself. Because of its approximation to the human field of vision, 50mm is very intuitive.
  • Because I use it more than any other, I have confidence that with 50mm I can make a decent job of most subjects. I think that people choose zoom lenses because they worry about not having enough options and missing an opportunity; but I would encourage anyone to stick to 50mm for a good period of time and get used to it - overcoming the challenges could bring out the best in you.
Stick that lense on now and keep it on for a month, be disciplined, explore the possibilities, look at what other people are doing with it, and in time, perhaps, you will start to feel like using your zoom or frequently switching lenses is cheating.

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