A Christmas Wish: 50mm Prime Lens / by Amanda Liew

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After learning the basics of photography with my Nikon D3100's kit lens (18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) for the past year, I decided it was time to upgrade my equipment and branch out. After talking with a few other friends and doing some research online, I thought the best next step would be a prime lens, specifically the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G! I requested the lens for Christmas from my family and my wish was fulfilled! I had a fun day trying out the new prime lens and comparing it with my zoom lens today. _DSC0272_Christmas 2013 _DSC0279_Christmas 2013

Some delicious macarons from Bouchon Bakery - hand carried by yours truly for my grandparent's Christmas gift!_DSC0306_Christmas 2013

For those of you who don't know, a prime lens is fixed at a specific focal length (thus, also called fixed focal lens). My zoom lens goes from 18-55mm, but my prime lens is static at just 50mm. This means that you have to actually move closer and farther from your subject to get the right framing - it's a challenge to be constrained in this way, but supposedly it also helps you to develop a photographic eye and to be able to frame things in your mind before you look through the view finder. The quality of the lens is often much better, and the aperture on this prime lens can go much lower (f/1.8) than my zoom lens  (f/3.5 minimum). The lower the aperture number, the more light that can come in and the shallower the depth of field. This is perfect for shooting in low lighting which was something I was really looking forward to!

A great practice field was our Christmas tree. My mom has long foregone the cute kindergarten macaroni ornaments we made years ago & instead has curated a musically themed Christmas tree complete with various instruments, bells, speakers, etc! Below is a comparison of a similar shot between the prime lens and the zoom lens. Note how the low aperture of f/2.2 on the prime lens allows for a bokeh effect with the Christmas lights in the background, but also helps to increase the shutter speed.

Prime lens: f/2.2 aperture // 1/80 shutter speed // ISO 1600_DSC0237_Christmas 2013

Zoom lens: f/5.3 aperture // 1/50 shutter speed // ISO 1600_DSC0242_Christmas 2013

One thing I really like is how I don't need to be as concerned about the background of my subject because of the depth of field. In the background of this image there's a boring staircase, but I could be in a nice little studio for all you know!_DSC0257_Christmas 2013

The 50mm prime lens is also often turned to for portraits, and I can see why! It's easy to have your subject stand out, and the extra aperture stops help with making the background blur aesthetically. _DSC0217_Christmas 2013

As a final note, I've made all my purchases (camera body, zoom/kit lens, prime lens, and other accessories) through Amazon, and each product has always come perfectly packaged and protected. I highly recommend it as a supplier!

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