FeaturedPhotography gear review

The “Nifty 50” – what is the fuss all about?

By April 25, 2017 No Comments

The “Nifty 50” is the affectionate name given to what his almost certainly the worlds biggest selling lens – the 50mm f1.8 prime lens.

A prime lens is a lens that has a fixed focal length, or to put it another way, a lens that has no zoom.  Prime lenses are available in a variety of different focal lengths and are extremely popular for a number of reasons.

But why would I want a lens that cannot zoom?

This is probably the question I get asked the most when talking to people about prime lenses. Most people are familiar with zoom lenses as they have become standard kit these days, so giving someone a lens that cannot zoom can at first seem a bit limiting and frustrating to use.  Once you’ve spent some time using a prime you will actually find that instead of ‘zooming-in’ on a subject you simply use your feet instead, this (as most soon discover) will actually get you thinking more about composition and placement of the subject within the frame, and that’s certainly not a bad thing!

So what’s the point?

What prime lenses may lack in terms of zoom they more than make up for in terms of aperture with most prime lenses having a maximum aperture of around f2.8 – f1.2, and if you’re not sure what this means then you should definitely watch the video!

The lower the f number, the wider the aperture and the more light will be able to pass through then lens making a prime lens a useful lens to have when shooting in low light conditions.

What are the other benefits?

A large aperture will also give you a shallow depth of field, this a photography term referring to how much of your photos is sharp, or to put it another way – if you want blurry backgrounds in your photos, then a prime lens will certainly help you achieve this very popular look.

Watch the video ‘Is the Nifty Fifty the king of lenses?’

5 reasons you should own a Nifty 50

  1. Value for money
    The term “Nifty Fifty” usually refers specifically to the 50mm f1.8 lens because it is affordable and within reach of most beginner photographers and is probably one of the best photographic purchases you will ever make.
  2. Blurry backgrounds (and foregrounds)
    If you want blurry backgrounds (often termed Bokeh) then the 50mm f1.8 lens will be a huge step in the right direction.
  3. Great in low light
    With such a large aperture, the Nifty Fifty is great for when you want to shoot in low light without the hassle of setting up a tripod.
  4. Light and compact
    Compared to most zoom lenses, the Nifty Fifty is tiny, and great for street photography and carrying around for extended periods.
  5. It will improve your photography
    The lack of zoom will force you to move position, walk closer to some subjects whilst walking away from others. You will quickly find that your photography takes on a different look and feel.

Prime lenses are available in a range of different focal lengths and with different maximum apertures, the most popular are the 50mm f1.8, 35mm f1.8, 24mm f2.8 and 40mm f2.8.

So there you have it, just a few reasons why I think you should consider buying a Nifty Fifty and entering the world of prime lenses!

Happy shooting!

Paul from Photo Genius

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