The 50mm focal length has this reputation for being in this nebulous zone of uninterestingness for some. It sits between a wide and a telephoto. It’s not quite wide enough to get an expansive background but it’s not quite long enough to isolate a subject wholly. However, if every lens were on those scopes, I’m sure there’d be people moaning for a mid-range focal length like the 50mm.
For the first week of 50mm March, I want to focus on the benefits of shooting with the one lens instead of feeling the need to swap lenses on and off or lusting for expensive ones.
With spring around the corner, I feel like I’m surrounded by flowers here in Florida. When I’m shooting flowers and botanicals, I like popping on the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro. It’s made for close-up work. The focusing distance is a lot closer than what you can get with your normal 50mm and you can really isolate the subject with that length. Being forced to work with the 50mm made me have to find other ways to compose the image with the background in mind or find the patterns in their formations.
In some ways, the 50mm gives a unique perspective on subjects that are normally shot with telephoto or macro lenses.
I know a lot of family photographers can’t live without their zoom lenses. With kids constantly moving, it can be hard to move and get into the right places with a fixed-focal length. I like a challenge, though, and I bet if you try this for long enough, you’ll see that you may be able to find better compositions quicker than if you have a bunch of focal lengths to choose from.
Shooting with a fixed focal lens like the 50mm forces you to start seeing with that lens in mind. Before I pick the camera up, I know what viewing distance I’ll be at most of the time. No, I don’t think it makes you superhuman and allow you to fully compose shots before you put the camera to your eye, but you do get much quicker finding the shot.
I’ve been shooting with 50mm lenses so long that I’m adept to what it can and can’t do. For instance, in the shot below of little Sebastian being tossed in the air by his dad David, I knew I couldn’t zoom in Sebastian to isolate him in the shot. Instead, I was able to get the environment, the light, and his dad to fully develop the scene. I’ve been so inundated by commercial photography in my life that I forget that all of these other elements help build a story.
Next week, I plan on showing the versatility of the 50mm in portrait work. Hope to see you then! And keep following me on Instagram for my daily 50mm March photos.