When I started learning photography, I used the standard 18 to 55 mm kit lens for a year and a half. It was a good lens for a beginner, but when I upgraded my camera I purchased the new one with a 50mm f/1.8 lens instead. In hindsight, it was most certainly a good decision.
The nifty fifty is my go-to lens for most occasions. I do use a zoom for when I specifically need a wide angle lens and the ease of using varying focal lengths (like when I’m shooting interiors), but using the 50mm has really changed how I take photographs. The biggest challenge with a fixed lens is that it really makes you think about your framing and composition, while the biggest advantage is the wide aperture that lets you shoot in low light and get some great bokeh.
In this video, Kai from DigitalRev TV gives five reasons why you need a 50mm lens in your camera bag. The one I most identify with is, as aforementioned, that it forces you to pay attention to what you’re shooting instead of shooting without giving it a second thought. “With a prime like the 50 you’re spending a lot of time thinking about what’s in the frame,” says Kai. “You pick things that look right in that 3×2 box . Zooming makes it all to easy to just point and shoot without making sure the bits in the frame look right.”
I’ve used the 50mm to shoot two weddings, an engagement, a vacation, a baby shower, an art gallery preview, a dance class, and a concert series, in addition to general shots when I’m out and about. I’m not saying I will forever use only the 50mm and no other prime lens (I currently covet the 24mm f/2.8 that I can’t seem to locate anywhere in Mumbai). I’m saying that when you’re building your collection of lenses, the 50mm is one that you absolutely must have.