The 50mm prime lens, commonly known as the Nifty Fifty, is a lens that even inexperienced photographers have likely heard of. Most of us know it for its outstanding qualities; it’s an inexpensive, high-quality, prime lens that is in plenty of photographers’ bags around the world and is one of the most popular lenses of all time.
What we might not think of a Nifty Fifty as, however, is a lens normally used for landscape photography. The field of view is tight, and the lens doesn’t possess a focal length wide enough to usually be considered proper for this sort of work.
But I have. For four years, the 50mm f/1.8 has been my workhorse for portfolio building (which is primarily nature and landscape), and even though I’m branching off with other lenses, I can’t stress the usefulness of the Nifty Fifty. And I’m not alone.
My primary reasoning for using the 50mm instead of going out and buying a proper wide-angle lens such as a 35mm or even wider?
I was diving back into photography, and I was on an extremely tight budget. After buying my camera, spending $500 on a lens simply wasn’t an option. It didn’t take long for me to hear my fellow photographers sing the praises of this wonderful lens: cheap, fast, and sharp. Right up my alley.
There are no tricks or immaculate revelations here, and you won’t likely become famous for taking only landscape shots with 50mm lenses. But there are a few reasons why shooting landscapes with a 50mm lens can produce great results.
Giving it a try can only improve your photography and make you a better observer of the world around you.
Focus on what’s important
We think of landscapes as sprawling, wide shots that include many elements in one frame, but do they have to be that way? Can we not capture the beauty of the area around us in a tighter package? The rolling hills and an interesting tree in an outdoor scene are more than enough to create a photo that provokes thought.
Shooting at this focal length forces us to focus on the most important parts of what we’re seeing around us. Trimming the fat, as they say. In doing this, we’re also training ourselves psychologically to do the same in all of our shots.