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How to use a 50mm lens: 5 tips

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

How to use a 50mm lens

One of the most popular focal lengths around, a 50mm offers a wide range of photographic possibilities in a compact form. Though countless photographers have produced incredible images with a so-called 'nifty fifty', it's impossible to get the most out of your lens without some tips...

#1: Know the limits of your autofocus

Seagull photo 50mm
Try to avoid using your 50mm for action photography.

Many 50mm lenses, like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, feature slower autofocus systems than their professional counterparts.

Such a lens will focus smoothly, quietly, and accurately, but I'd recommend using a different lens if you need the ultimate in speed. Though there are workarounds (like setting your camera to continuous focusing), I would advise against using your 50mm for sports, wildlife, or action photography.

Experiment with different focus settings in your camera's menus to fine-tune your results.

#2: Try macro photography

Your 50mm lens is a powerful tool for most genres of photography, but one area where it truly excels is macro, or close-up, photography. Its small size and medium focal length make it a perfect candidate for powerful images.

A reversing ring is a small adapter, with a lens mount on one side and a filter thread on the other. It allows you to attach your lens to your camera backwards, turning your 50mm into a macro at a fraction of the cost. In fact, a reversing ring for Nikon's nifty fifty - the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G - is just over five dollars! And some incredibly professional-looking close up photos can be produced.