This and That

Random bits of my life

50mm Prime Lens and My First Experiments

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 21, 2009

A new toy arrived in the mail yesterday, a Canon 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. I had read the reviews and knew this wasn’t the best 50mm I could buy, but, hey, the f/1.4 lens is four times the price! I think what finally pushed me into shelling out the shekels for the lens was a Prajneet Singh’s posting, The 50mm f/1.8 — Small Wonder, on Digital Photography School.

My first photos yesterday were a disappointment. OK, I have the lens. Now how can I photograph a plum so that the edges are sharp, not just the spot in the center? Oh, duh! Move further away or change the aperture. How hard could that be?

This morning I took my camera out on my morning exercise walk. I didn’t get much exercise, though. I was like a dog stopping at every lamp post for a sniff (“Oh, look! A flower! Look! Another flower!”). When I realised that I needed to get back in time to get ready for work, I stopped shooting everything that crossed my path. Here are some of shots I took.

“Depth of Field.” A municipal bench in a playground. I took several shots with different aperture settings and I could really see the depth of field in this one (f/2).

Depth of Field

Another shot of a globe thistle. Because the aperture can be opened to f/1.8 (but focus gets a bit soft at the extreme ends), it does really nice bokeh. I never get tired of these flowers. They remind me of exploding Death Stars. Actually, this one was taken at f/5, so I must have been using programmable mode.

Globe Thistle

Sun shining through playground equipment:

Blue circles

Insect eggs on a caper plant pod:

Very tiny picnic

Red bougainvillea with that lovely, shallow depth of field. I find bougainvilleas tough to photograph because they have few differentiating characteristics in their petals. They don’t have prominent veins or markings, so the petals often meld into a big pink or red, oversaturated blob of colour. Maybe it was the morning sun that helped in this shot.

Red bougainvillea

Tomorrow I’m shooting a neighbour’s raw food recipe and her contributor’s photo for a cookbook. If I feel sufficiently comfortable with manually focusing (one of my biggest shortcomings, because my eyesight is so poor) on her eyes, I may use it for the portrait shot. It took some getting used to not twirling the zoom ring to get closer to a subject. I actually had to use my feet for a change. Hmmm. Maybe I will get more exercise this way!

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2 Responses to “50mm Prime Lens and My First Experiments”

  1. Cool, I got the same one too! I love it, just haven’t had the time to play with it so I can produce better shots with it. Pretty good lense to walk around with too.

  2. Michael Rubinstein said

    Remember, the 50mm is a short telephoto on your camera, equivalent to 80mm at 35mm. This makes it excellent (apparently) for portraits. You will definitely have to work harder for your photo’s and also work harder to “see” images. With a zoom its easy just to mess about until something comes into place. You will most likely find that the picture quality will be far better than any equivalent zoom lens. unfortunately, Olympus don’t do an fixed focal length lens of this type. The nearest equivalent is a 25mm (50mm equivalent at 35MM) f2.8. The picture quality of this is supposed to be average but it is very compact. leica do one which would fit my camera, an f1.4 I think. Unfortuantely it costs more than the average person earns in a week!

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