One Lens Every Photographer Should Own

A self portrait in black and white of me with my camera sporting a Canon EF 50mm F1.4 lens.

One Lens Every Pho­tog­ra­pher Should Own; a Fast 50!

Dig­i­tal Pho­tog­ra­phy School (DPS) sug­gests Three Lenses Every Pho­tog­ra­pher Should Own. Great arti­cle. Except…

Where is the fast lens? The fast 50? Nifty 50?

I know the arti­cle men­tions a 50mm F2.8 as a macro lens, but what I am refer­ring too is a F1.8 or bet­ter. I own the Canon EF 50mm F1.4, and it is my pride an joy. It makes nearly any set­ting look great.

  • Dark venue; bring out the fast F1.4
  • Clut­tered back­groud; got to love the bokeh* of F1.4
  • Trav­el­ling light; yep, the F1.4
  • Stuck in a rut; the F1.4 again!

While it has it’s detrac­tors, the Canon 50mm F1.4 is my go too lens for most of my con­cert and por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy. Here are some of my favorites:

The fast 50 can be an unfor­giv­ing beast though, it is pos­si­ble to focus on the tip of a mans nose and have his eyes blurred. I remain to this day unsat­is­fied by this next shot of the artist Duke Spe­cial, lit only by the match, yet just the slight­est touch out of focus:

A fast 50mm used to be sold as stan­dard with all SLR’s in the past, as it was rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the nat­ural breath of vision. Nowa­days pho­tog­ra­phy this maxim from Robert Capa is rarely considered:

If your pic­tures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

Cheap, slow con­sumer zoom lenses fill this slot, depriv­ing new SLR own­ers of a truly chal­leng­ing and reward­ing pho­tog­ra­phy experience.

Do your­self a favor… buy Canons cheap­est lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, and open up a world of possibilities.

* Bokeh, from Wikipedia:

…is the blur, or the aes­thetic qual­ity of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or “the way the lens ren­ders out-of-focus points of light.” Dif­fer­ences in lens aber­ra­tions and aper­ture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleas­ing to the eye, while oth­ers pro­duce blur­ring that is unpleas­ant or dis­tract­ing— “good” or “bad” bokeh, respec­tively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie out­side the depth of field. Pho­tog­ra­phers some­times delib­er­ately use a shal­low focus tech­nique to cre­ate images with promi­nent out-of-focus regions… The term comes from the Japan­ese word boke (暈け or ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji (ボケ味), the “blur qual­ity”. The Japan­ese term boke is also used in the sense of a men­tal haze or senility.

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