Shooting Tips for a 50mm Prime Lens


Most new digital SLR cameras come with a zoom lens, typically with a focal length of about 18mm to 55mm. A prime lens has a fixed focal length and fewer moving parts than a zoom lens, allowing the manufacturer to focus on higher quality optics at a lower price. The standard prime lens has a focal length of 50mm.


  • Take advantage of a fast 50mm prime lens to shoot with high shutter-speed settings in low-light situations without using a tripod. Shoot indoor scenes without the unnatural look of a flash due to the large aperture allowing more light to enter the camera. Take sharply focused natural-light pictures that are hard to get with a slow zoom lens. The simplicity of the lens design allows you to take quicker shots to capture a fleeting expression or changing light effects.


  • Use a 50mm prime lens to compose pictures that mimic the perspective seen by the human eye. Move closer or further away from your subject to get the best shot. Walk around the subject, viewing it from all angles. Take handheld shots from different aspects. Get involved in the creative photographic process by lining up the compositional elements of your pictures by walking around the scene instead of zooming in on it. Use your mobility to actively frame the scene for the best shots.

Depth of Field

  • Pay attention to properly focusing your lens on the central subject of your pictures. Use the shallow depth of field, or zone of focal sharpness, to concentrate on your subject leaving a blurred background. Use your camera's auto-focus system to accentuate and draw attention to the focal points of your pictures. For moving subjects, use manual focus or a multiple focus-point setting to avoid a soft focus on the primary elements of your compositions.


  • Avoid automated camera modes such as landscape or portrait, as the camera may refuse to shoot or automatically engage the flash. Use more flexible exposure modes such as aperture priority, or Av, and shutter priority, or Tv mode. Employ these modes to set the appropriate shutter speed or aperture opening to properly expose your shots. Try different settings until you get a properly exposed shot. It's usually better to under-expose than to over-expose, as you can adjust under-exposed photos on the computer, while washed out spots cannot be recovered.

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