10 reasons why everyone needs a 50mm lens in their camera bag

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50mm camera lens

A 50mm lens is one of my favorite lenses, and it has been mentioned many times when I wrote about camera lenses.

Once you have it, you will not take it out of your bag, and it will probably be the one that you will use the most.

Going back remembering when I started my photography journey, I was told about this lens, and for me, it was out of the question that I would buy a prime lens that would “limit” me. I had my two zoom lenses and got along very well without having to change lenses all the time.

That’s how I thought, until one day I realized that I missed something.

A 50mm lens is an extremely sharp lens, it’s cheap, it’s lightweight, so why then should I not actually have it?

Now I can tell you that buying a 50mm lens is definitely going to upgrade your camera bag and your photography skills.


What is a 50mm lens?

What Is A 50mm Lens?

The 50mm lens is a prime lens (lens with a fixed focal length) and comes in different versions and in various maximum aperture openings, with aperture versions of f/1.4 and f/1.8 and you can even find the Canon version f/1.2. Other versions come with f/2 shutter or much more closed shutters.

Of course, the more open the aperture, the higher the price of the lens.

In this post, the 50 mm lens will receive a general reference without a catalog by manufacturer or aperture key, since each of us has his/her own budget, and since even the cheapest lenses will not shame anyone.

When I’m asked what the purpose of a 50mm lens is and what type of photography is it best for?, I always answer that it is designed for everything; it’s just a very useful lens, because the 50mm focal length is equal to the focal length of our eyes, so it does not expand the visual field, does not constrain it and does not change the depth dimension of the image by a deep or flat perspective.

You can use it anywhere. It is small and non-threatening, so it is perfect for street photography and portrait photography, and the most prominent advantage is the open aperture that will bring you lots of light even under difficult shooting conditions.

A 50mm lens on a crop camera is equivalent to 75 mm (respectively).

Small note: In this article, I will completely ignore the crop and full-frame interest and will only discuss the advantages of the lens and its optical properties.

So, here are 10 reasons why you need a 50 mm lens in your camera bag.

A 50mm lens is very small!

black Nikon zoom lens on brown wooden surface

Many high-quality camera lenses – especially zoom lenses – come in large and heavy lenses and sometimes (many times) are cumbersome, but a 50mm lens is even smaller than a 18-55 mm lens – the kit lens that usually comes with the cameras.

This compact ability is almost always perfect, but especially in situations where it is not possible to wear a large, heavy and threatening lens. Street photography is a prime example of this because we need to be less threatening, and in addition, we have to move quickly, quietly and seize the decisive moment without unnecessary distractions.

A 50 mm lens makes it easy.

It is important to note that the F1.8 version will always be lighter than the F1.4 and F1.2 versions due to the quality of its construction, but the latter two will also give you the response required in these situations.

A 50 mm lens is a very sharp lens!

human eye in close-up photo

One of the most influential things mentioned about the quality of prime lenses like the 50mm lens is that they contain far fewer elements than zoom lenses.

With fewer elements in the lens, it means that the light goes through a shorter way, and therefore it breaks less and so we can get sharper images.

You can see this as a fact if you do a test and check a picture taken with a 50mm lens compared to a photo taken with a 18-55 mm lens.

Of course, if you did the test with a Nikon 50mm lens, then finish it with a Nikon 18-55 lens (or same for any other lens).

But wait … Bear in mind that if you do this, you will probably find yourself going to the nearest photography shop tomorrow to buy this lens. So, prepare yourself ?

One of the sharpest lenses available today in the 50mm range is the 50mm SIGMA lens from the ART series, which has aperture key f/1.4.

This is a very sharp camera lens at an “exaggerated” level, but that does not mean that even with the “simpler” versions of Canon’s f/1.8 or Nikon f/1.8, it is not possible to get very sharp images.

A 50 mm lens is a fast lens.

man ridding yellow and white motocross dirt bike

A “fast lens” is defined as a camera lens with a very wide aperture key, although the speed is allegedly related to the camera shutter rather than to the aperture.

That’s why this type of lenses is called “fast lenses” because it allows us to work with higher shutter speeds because the aperture brings in a lot of light.

(Incidentally, also, films with high ASA sensitivity are called “fast films” for the same reason)

This means that in low light conditions, you can shoot from the hand and rely on your results much more than kit lenses. Also, with a 50mm lens, you can allow yourself to use a lower ISO, so you get less granularity in the images, the colors will be richer, and the picture will be sharper.

A 50mm lens is a cheap lens!

For most people, the budget is the primary factor that is considered when buying a lens for a camera. Luckily for us, a 50mm lens does not require complicated optical work and therefore isn’t pricy.

It comes in a variety of prices, but all of them are not particularly expensive so they are significantly budget-friendly for our bank account.

A 50mm lens can be found in almost all manufacturers, including Canon, Nikon, and Sony, and can also be found in third-party manufacturers such as Sigma, Tamron, YONGNUO, etc. – so you can choose a camera lens that works best for you in terms of both the quality and price.

The cheapest is the f/1.8 version, depending on the model and the manufacturer. The f/1.2 versions (which only exist in Canon) and the F1.4 will be the most expensive ones, but not something that will break your pocket (compared to other high-quality camera lenses, of course).

This means that you can already have another camera lens in your bag – with minimal expense and maximum enjoyment!

A 50mm lens is excellent for poor lighting conditions

fireworks at night

A 50mm lens (and prime lenses in general) is great for shooting in harsh lighting conditions and will help you take great pictures in lighting conditions that are not ideal for you without external help or high ISO. You can also shoot with very weak light without the help of flash, in situations like candlelight, weak window light, telephone light, street lighting or car headlights.

I’m not saying that you will not need to use ISO at all, but using it will not ruin your images because, the lower the f/stop means more light will enter the lens, and you’ll also use lower ISO values.

It may not sound so significant to you, but if you’re shooting today with a 18-55 lens when it’s on a 50mm focal length, then its aperture is f/5.6; that means that with an aperture of F1.8 you will get an opening of 4 whole stops – I mean – 4 times more light!

Just think of all the possibilities you have even in poor lighting conditioning.

A 50mm lens is suitable for both the crop and the full-frame camera

Another aspect to consider when looking at this 50mm lens is that it fits both a full-frame camera and a crop camera, so if you’re shooting with a crop camera and one day you want to upgrade to a full-frame camera, you will not need to change the lens.

Another thing to know is that camera manufacturers continue to use the same lens connection to the camera even when they develop new cameras, so if you bought a lens in 2019, it is very likely that you can use it on a new camera produced in 2022.

As of today, this is, of course, true for all camera manufacturers.

50 mm is the perfect focal length!

The 50 mm focal length is the same as the angle of vision through our eyes, meaning that each number below is a wide lens and each number above it is a telephoto lens.

This means that when we are shooting with a 50mm lens, we get images at a natural angle of view without any changes in the perspective of the image, so this is an excellent lens for beginners who will see the scene in the camera as they see it in reality and this will help them learn the terrain better.

it’s true that the majority of novice photographers do not take pictures with full-frame cameras and the field of vision they get with a 50mm lens is a field of vision closer to the 75mm focal point, but still, the optics are the same optics and there are still no changes in the perspective of the image.

The only change is that you just have to move away from your subjects to fill your frame more.

A 50mm lens has a pretty good Bokeh!

white dandelion closeup photography

One of the most talked-about topics today in photography groups is the bokeh, one that cannot be overlooked when writing such a post.

For those who think Chinese at the moment, the word “Bokeh” refers to the blurry area of the picture – the one that is not in focus.

So why then, a 50mm lens has a pretty good bokeh that will improve the visibility of your images and blur areas that are less relevant if you use a shallower depth of field, for that reason, some define it as a “portrait lens”.

I see a lot of beginners who work very hard on Photoshop to get the “bokeh effect” after taking the picture and I always think to myself, “Why?”

Why should you need to do this in Photoshop when it comes so naturally?

A 50mm lens will help you to be much more creative!

woman holding brown umbrella

The easiest thing in the world is to buy a “all-in-one” lens, one that has a crazy zoom, one that can be taken with us anywhere and that we can capture anything we want with it, ranging from a wide landscape to an eagle that flies far away from us in the blue sky (or gray, depending on the day).

Camera manufacturers always make kits for novice photographers that include a camera with a basic camera lens. Usually, these lenses will be 18-55 Canon or Nikon 18-55 lenses, but sometimes they will be other lenses such as 18-105, 18-140, Etc.

The aim of the kits is to make it easier for the beginner photographer and to give him a variety of options.


Although a 50mm lens is not an “all-in-one” lens, and because of that precisely, it is a great learning tool.

It has a fixed focal length, and no zoom option, which requires us to zoom in and out physically to our subjects. That way, we have to move and work harder to get a better and more natural picture.

One of the most important thing is that when we physically approach, the perspective, and depth of field change.

This way, you will improve your skills as a photographer and will help you to understand what you really like to photograph and how.

It’s a very useful camera lens, so you can shoot almost anything without having to change lenses all the time.

A 50mm lens will make you take your photos with a lot more thought than ever before, it will help you grow as a photographer because you will always have to think about your pictures and the story in the picture.

A 50mm lens is the most useful lens you will find!

photo of DSLR camera gear

I have nothing to tell you except that if you add a 50mm lens to your bag, it will be another important step in your photography growth path.

You can take it out only to find out that you just used it to take pictures of your children and grandchildren with it, you can take photos of sunrise or sunset, your animals, and even toke a scenery photo.

Bottom line, when it’s inside your bag, it’s not easily beaten by other camera lenses.


The article can be summarized briefly:

If you go out for a shoot and do not know which camera lens to take with you,

If you start shooting and can’t decide which lens to start with,

If sharpness in pictures is something that is very important to you,

Then there’s no doubt you need a 50mm lens in your photo bag!

Photo of author
Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been photographing for the past 20 years and my mission is to simplify this misunderstood art of taking and processing photographs I love. I invite you to say “hey” on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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