Wednesday, 4 November 2009

High Standard

The 50mm standard lens - loved and loathed in equal measure

The poor old 50mm standard lens. It's never really got the sort of praise that it deserves. For many photographers, it's just the lens that comes with the camera, although these days it's more likely that a camera will ship with a zoom. That's a shame because i think the 50mm lens is one of the best lenses that a photographer can own. I'd even go as far as saying that it's an essential piece of kit. The first lens i purchased ,when changing from the Pentax to Nikon camera system ten years ago, was the Nikon 50mm. The superb Pentax 50mm lenses i used throughout my college/university years were invaluable on a number of occasions when the light was low.

Last week, as you may know, i was in Whitby shooting some promo photos for a film. As the film is a vampire movie, it couldn't be shot in daylight for obvious reasons. Daylight and vampires are a bit of a no-no. Street lighting and some rather well placed statue illumination lights were all we could work with, but the shutter speeds naturally came crashing down. Early on i realised that my zooms weren't going to be fast enough aperture wise to let enough light in. Even at f2.8, the shutter speeds still remained too low. In the end, i delved deep into the bag and came out with my trusty 50mm. It was the perfect choice for getting the shots; fast, light and sharp.

Ah Richard, you may be saying, surely with significant improvements to modern digital sensor technology, a fast 50mm is no longer needed. Well, true, but I'd still want to use the fastest lens i had to get the shot. If you can go from 1/25th to 1/50th just by using a one f/stop faster lens, you'd use it ...wouldn't you? Plus, the standard lens, regardless of make, is one of the cheapest to buy. The Nikon f1.4D can be found for an affordable price and that's what I'm after next to go alongside the f1.8D. Zooms are great, i love em, but sometimes you need that extra bit of help when the light starts to get low... a small, compact and fast 50mm type of help.

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