Which 50mm lens is best for me

Which 50mm lens is best for me?

The 50mm lens is one of the most popular lenses on the market. When coupled with a full frame DSLR it provides a “human eye perspective” with a 46 degree diagonal field of view and x1 magnification.

The simplicity of its design usually means it is cheaper to manufacture than wide angle or telephoto lenses and is therefore a lens that most photographers tend to own.

50mm lenses are very sharp and have minimal distortions but more importantly they have large maximum apertures to let in lots of light and blur backgrounds.

When used on a crop sensor DSLR they give you a 35mm equivalent focal length of 75mm (Nikon) or 80mm (Canon) which makes them a great little portrait lens. So which 50mm do you invest in?. Canon have five to choose from (50mm F1.2 L, 50mm F1.4 USM, 50mm F1.8 II, 50mm F1.8 STM, 50mm F2.5 macro) and Nikon have four to choose from (50mm F1.4D, 50mm F1.4G, 50mm F1.8D, 50mm F1.8G). Sigma also have two offerings which are the 50mm F1.4 EX DG and the 50mm F1.4 ART.



As you can see it is quite over whelming with so many choices. I will now attempt to simplify it for you.

Canon users on a budget should purchase the 50mm 1.8 II more commonly known as the nifty fifty. It is extremely cheap but offers amazing image quality especially at F5.6. Its build quality however is not so good and its AF can be slow and inconsistent.

The 50mm F1.8 STM is the new version that has just been released and is sharper and better build quality and offers a faster AF motor which is also ideal for video. The dearer Canon 50mm F1.4 USM is a better choice if you want more background blur, better build quality and faster AF. Professional Canon shooters will usually jump straight to the 50mm F1.2 for its amazing shallow depth of field and L series build quality. It is a low specialist and has been the king of 50mm lenses for quite a while although it comes at a hefty price.

The Canon 50mm macro is obviously the choice if you want an inexpensive macro lens.

Nikon users on a budget will have to opt for the 50mm F1.8G if they own a consumer model DSLR such as the 3000 or 5000 series because these models need a G series lens that has the motor in the lens.

If they own a D70,D80, D90, 7000 series or any full frame Nikon DSLR they can go for the cheaper 50mm F1.8D series which has no motor in the lens but can be focused by these models which have the AF motor built into the body. They can of course also use the dearer 50mm F1.8G if they want faster and quiter AF which I would highly recommend. As with the Canon user the 50mm F1.4D and 50mm F1.4G are dearer than the 1.8 versions but will give you greater background blur. Just remember the cheaper D series will not focus on the 3000 or 5000 series of Nikon bodies.



Finally if you want the sharpest AF 50mm lens money can buy you should look no further than the Sigma 50mm F1.4 ART which is available for both Nikon and Canon mounts. This lens is quite simply stunningly sharp from the centre to the corners even at its maximum aperture of F1.4. All reviews place the Sigma ART at the top of the pile for image quality and it is only slightly behind the incomparable Zeiss Otus 55mm F1.4 (which has no AF and costs   4 x times more). Its only downfalls are its size and weight when compared to the Canon and Nikon 50mm F1.4 versions and it is also twice the price.

Whichever 50mm you choose you will be rewarded with a versatile prime lens that will offer you the ability to shoot in low light situations and achieve that professional shallow depth of field look that makes your subject stand out from the background.

One word of warning though……these lenses offer very shallow depth of field when used at their widest aperture settings especially when photographing close subjects so care will need to be taken when focusing to achieve the best results.

Which Canon 50mm Lens is Best?

Which Nikon 50mm lens to buy?

Dpreview of Sigma 50mm Art Series Lens

50mm lenses