Fast 50mm Lenses for Available Light Photography

Another digital essential that resides in my camera bag is a fast, versatile, affordable, lightweight Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens (effective focal length of 75mm on my Nikon D300). A fast prime lens of this focal length is great for available light applications whether used indoors or outside as an event lens or as a fast portrait/travel/landscape lens.

I enjoy working with short telephotos in the classic portrait range of 70 to 135mm (50 to 85 mm on a cropped sensor DSLR). These are my favorite focal lengths because they allow me to crop my images tightly eliminating distractions and wasted space. In addition, the natural perspective, distortion free images created by theses lenses are in tune with my personal vision and how I see the world.

The shallow depth of field (DOF) produced by this lens at apertures of f1.4 through f2.8 will enable you to artistically blur backgrounds and place emphasis on your main subject. Brokeh (the rendition of out of focus areas) is almost as good as Nikon’s more expensive portrait lenses, namely the 85mm f1.8.

In addition to the shallow DOF characteristics as described above, this fast short telephoto (on a cropped sensor digital camera) can be used to stop action or subject movement even in low light without having to resort to flash or use high ISOs. This is a very valuable feature that’s useful in all types of photography.

Optical performance is amazing, especially when stopped down to f2.8 and below. At f1.4, the lens is a good performer and is capable of producing sharp photos. Stopping down to f2.0 results in snappier images with better contrast. When set at f2.8, my results were terrific, with outstanding optical quality and a very attractive DOF. For distance shooting, an aperture of f8 to f11 produced tack sharp, highly detailed images with great color and contrast.

The 50 f1.4 is a fantastic low-light companion lens to have in your bag, especially if you are using one of the slower aperture multi-purpose zooms.

Nikon D300, Nikon 50mm f1.4 @f8


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