what lens you should buy for learning manual on your camera

I’ve recommended Canon’s 50mm 1.8 lens to many people who are learning how to use their camera on manual. I’ve also been asked why a 50mm lens and what’s the difference between the various 50mm lenses that canon sells?

Why a 50mm?

  • On a full frame camera (like my 5D mark II) a 50mm lens is similar to what your eye sees. It’s not more zoomed in or out. If your camera isn’t full frame (like a canon rebel) then the 50mm will be a tad more zoomed in than what your eye naturally sees.
  • The 50mm is a very practical focal length. Can be used on kids, families, regular life stuff. Not the best for zooming in from the bleachers on tball games (because it doesn’t zoom), but for the rest, it’s great.
  • Any of these 50mm lenses allow you to learn manual settings on your camera without limiting you. Suddenly you can shoot much better in low light settings. Suddenly you can get that blurry background, shallow depth of field look that you’ve always wanted. Where as, the difference is, with your kit lenses (which usually only open up to the aperture of f4) you’re very limited in learning about aperture and what it can do for you.
  • It’s what I learned on and what was recommended to me early on.
  • It’s relatively cheap for a good lens. (at least the 50mm 1.8 is)

There are a few differences in the 50mm lenses:

Canon 50mm 1.8 is about $125

I used to own this lens, great lens for a very low cost, allows a wide open aperture, fantastic to learn on because you are not limited in your manual functions, lightweight, made of plastic but still great.

Canon 50mm 1.4 is about $450

I haven’t actually used this lens, seems similar to the 50mm 1.8, so I would probably recommend the 1.8 since it’s cheaper unless I had tried this and noticed a big difference.

Canon 50mm 1.2L is about $1500

I own this lens and I love it! Professional lens, fabulous color, sharp images, heavy duty high quality construction.

Does this lens zoom in and out?
No. It is a prime lens, a fixed length. Your zoom is your feet. I think you get more for your money with prime lenses and that’s why I use them. That and they’re fabulous!

What if I use Nikon or another camera other than canon?
There are 50mm lenses out there by other manufacturers as well. Check out Nikon 50mm lenses on B&H Photo. I know canon equipment and so I feel I’m able to recommend what I know. I have noticed that Nikon has a different focusing system so you’ll have to check that out to make sure you can use auto focus.