The Benefits of a 50mm Lens

Did I tell you guys that I got a new camera lens? Well... I GOT A NEW CAMERA LENS!

Honestly, I don't know what took me so long (besides the fact that lenses are pricey...) I hemmed and hawed over it for a while... I've had my zoom kit lens for almost four years now. Wow... that's a long time to not invest in a nicer lens, especially when I've been needing to expand my photography skills for some time.

I really wanted a wide angle lens since I adore taking landscape shots of the beautiful places I explore. Unfortunately, a wide angle is one of the more expensive lenses you can buy (starting prices range in the $1,000's...) so I was forced to put that hope on hold for a while. Instead, I looked into a fixed portrait lens, since taking shots of people out in beautiful places is my second favorite thing to shoot. That, and nice shallow depth of field close-ups. Doesn't bokeh just make everything prettier? :)

So after much research, I bought the Nikon 50mm 1.8G lens. I was super excited to finally buy it, but then ended up having to wait three months due to the flooding in Thailand holding up the production of units. But it is now safely in my possession, and though I am still learning its secrets, I absolutely adore it. (By the way, I realize I sound like a total rookie gushing over the #1 recommended lens for photographers... but though I've known for a long time that a 50mm should be part of my arsenal, I somehow convinced myself that my 18-105 zoom could do practically the same thing. A foolish delusion! Let it be noted that fixed lenses are infinitely superior to zooms!)

At any rate, I haven't used it very extensively, and of course I'm still learning its intricacies. I find I have to change the settings much more often (especially in varying light conditions) as the lens is very sensitive. I took some shots on a Forest Park dayhike we went on this weekend and had a bunch of pictures that came out too dark or too light simply because I couldn't keep up with the changing light patterns as fast as we were walking. It was an interesting experiment, but I'm learning as I go.

Here are a few shots to share:

I've been very impressed with the color, tonal range, and crispness of the shots. Often the photos (if I've shot them with the right settings) need very little post-processing. Something I struggle with when using my 18-105 is overexposure and washed-out colors.

At home I tested out my lens in our low light interior. Once again, I was amazed by the 50mm's sensitivity to light. My 18-105 lens only has an f-stop of 3.5, so though it is very decent with low-light, the 500mm with its 1.8 f-stop is incredible. Even in a very dark room with very little filtered light (this is Portland, after all... the overcastness here has redefined my photo taking!) the shots came out completely bathed in natural light. Lovely.

Also, the shallow depth of field that is associated with a 1.8 creates some beautiful bokeh effects. This can be troublesome while taking close-ups of my cards, since it creates a very narrow range of what is actually in focus, but with portraits, it's quite stunning.

At any rate, I hope to share some more examples soon that truly show off the delightfulness of the lens. I've been very addicted to it lately. :)