The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras

Started Apr 4, 2017 | User reviews
twomonger Regular Member • Posts: 178
The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
5

You'll often see photography beginners being told that the first lens they should get beyond the kit lens is the so-called "nifty 50." Cheap, good image quality, and fast aperture, and supposedly provides a "normal field of view" that is close to what us humans can see with our eyes. What's not to like? Well, it turns out it isn't nearly as nifty as advertised on APS-C cameras.

50mm on APS-C is equivalent to about 75mm on a full frame camera. Great for taking portraits, but it is much too narrow for many other types of photography, including walk-around photography and other types of picture taking that beginners would like to do. This is especially true for people coming from phone cameras that have field of views equivalent to 35mm or below on FF.

I know I fell for this oft-repeated advice without thinking critically. I bought a 50mm F1.8 and it sat in my camera bag forever. The only time it ever came out was when it fell out by accident while hiking. I use it a bit more now that I have a full-frame K-1, but it isn't designed for a FF sensor and struggles a bit in the corners.

Before mindlessly following the hive mind, use your kit lens for a while and take a look at the EXIF files to see which focal lengths you find yourself gravitating the most towards. Then get a prime that best matches your preferences instead of wasting your money.

My recommendation? Get the DA 35mm F/2.4 instead. Not as fast, but much closer to the "normal field of view," providing a 52.5mm full frame equivalent. Or better yet get a 24mm prime, which provides a 36mm FF equivalent. But please don't just take my advice without considering your own preferences!

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yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 15,571
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
6

It's a matter of taste, but I quite like the field of view of a 50mm lens on crop. Not a typical field of view, and a tad too short for those who like the more usual 85-90mm, but it has its own charms and is hardly unknown in the wider world. Pentax itself makes a 77 mm prime for FF.

No, it's not the same as a 50mm on a FF sensor, and if that's what someone expects or wants you're perfectly correct to recommend a 35mm lens.

But I don't get your comment about the phone camera. Surely someone who is familiar with the 28-30mm equivalent field of view of a phone camera might want something a distinct step longer as a companion? I often carry my old FA fast fifty on my K-5iis when I am in the mood for its light weight and distinctive "old school" rendering and find going "30/75" with my phone camera makes for a fun day.

Granted, I am the person who spent years at a time shooting everything from landscapes on up with an 85mm on film, so mild tele and walkaround are a natural combination for me. With a portrait lens on board all the time, you can take portraits of *anything*.

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GPGeneralPhoto
GPGeneralPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 2,157
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
1

I have walked around the city at night with a 50mm on my crop camera just because it is the fastest lens that I owned and I was looking for low light capabilities. It is true that it isn't the 'normal' field of view on my crop camera, but it is still good. How did this lens perform for you?

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SoCalWill
SoCalWill Veteran Member • Posts: 6,299
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
1

Killer small item lens though

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The Squirrel Mafia
The Squirrel Mafia Senior Member • Posts: 1,006
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
3

I prefer the FOV of the 35mm f/2.4 over the 50mm f/1.8 as well, but the 50mm is pretty good lens for other stuff like portraits, trying to shoot in really low light while keeping the ISO down, & trying to get "bokeh" in certain shots. Those are the only times I use the 50mm on my camera.

The reason that the 50mm is constantly recommended is for its very good IQ & lens speed at a really low cost.

But yeah. It's like looking through a 75mm on full frame. The 35mm on an APS-C camera is like looking through a 50mm lens on full frame.

The normal FOV that most people are probably referring to is when using the 50mm on a full frame camera. A 35mm lens would be more like a normal FOV on APS-C.

But in either case, the Pentax DA 50mm f/1.8 is a mighty fine little gem of a lens for its intended purposes.

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MoreorLess Veteran Member • Posts: 5,206
One big correction to make...
3

twomonger wrote:

You'll often see photography beginners being told that the first lens they should get beyond the kit lens is the so-called "nifty 50." Cheap, good image quality, and fast aperture, and supposedly provides a "normal field of view" that is close to what us humans can see with our eyes.

Actually on a 35mm/FF camera the 50mmish focal length does not equal the human field of view at all. What it does is equal the human perception of prespective, so objects at different distances will appear the same size as they do though our eyes.

AwesomeIan Senior Member • Posts: 2,309
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
6

Couple of my friends getting into photography asked me what lens they should get for a APS-C camera. Both told me they liked pictures with nice bokeh and wanted something they could use inside. I suggested a 50mm 1.8. They both bought one and neither has complained about the focal length. My point is that obviously it won't serve as wide angle lens but if applied correctly it has benefits. I would like to add that 75mm can be used for walk around photography. It is great for plants, landmarks and tons of other stuff. You won't get a sweeping landscape shot but then again you wouldn't get that with a 50mm on full frame either.

I don't know what you "thought" you were getting with a 50mm on crop sensor. The fact this review ignores any technical aspects of the lens is annoying.

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James O'Neill Veteran Member • Posts: 6,039
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
14

twomonger wrote:

You'll often see photography beginners being told that the first lens they should get beyond the kit lens is the so-called "nifty 50." Cheap, good image quality, and fast aperture, and supposedly provides a "normal field of view"

I've never seen anyone told that a 50 looks normal on an APS-C.  I've seen recommended it as a portrait lens, with extension tubes it makes a decent macro lens. etc.

Everything else you've written is basically "I bought the wrong lens because I didn't read properly first".  You say you haven't used the lens but still feel able to review it.

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MightyMike Forum Pro • Posts: 41,665
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
28

About the same as giving a good wide angle lens a poor review because it can't provide a telephoto image. Why not score it for what it is rather than for the mistake you made in assuming it would be like something else.

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rmalbers Contributing Member • Posts: 529
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
8

I actually think it's pretty 'brave' of him to admit in a public forum he screwed up and didn't buy the lens he thought he was getting but to give it a bad review is kind of over the top.  I think this has post has to be a joke.

Florida Suse
Florida Suse Regular Member • Posts: 487
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras

I'll just chime in here about the 50mm.

Most people wedding photographers will admit the 50 is one of their most used lenses and many day it's their favorite, I heard one interview with a pro wedding photographer I follow day it was her favorite lens, if she could only use one lens for a wedding, she would shoot the whole wedding with a 50.  She is a Nikon shooter btw.

But, I will say this - I LOVE my fa 50.  Tack sharp and a soft, delicate bokeh. I plan on using it a lot more when I get my K1, soon.

AviPro
AviPro Senior Member • Posts: 1,254
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras - Get the 35/2.4
1

twomonger wrote:

You'll often see photography beginners being told that the first lens they should get beyond the kit lens is the so-called "nifty 50." Cheap, good image quality, and fast aperture, and supposedly provides a "normal field of view" that is close to what us humans can see with our eyes. What's not to like? Well, it turns out it isn't nearly as nifty as advertised on APS-C cameras.

50mm on APS-C is equivalent to about 75mm on a full frame camera. Great for taking portraits, but it is much too narrow for many other types of photography, including walk-around photography and other types of picture taking that beginners would like to do. This is especially true for people coming from phone cameras that have field of views equivalent to 35mm or below on FF.

Now you figured out that 50 mm on APSC is 75 mm onFF (35 mm).

So the solution is to get the 35mm that is very close to the normal field of view.
I have both these lenses and can't praise them enough, they are true gems!

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DougOB
DougOB Veteran Member • Posts: 3,089
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
1

twomonger wrote:

Before mindlessly following the hive mind, use your kit lens for a while and take a look at the EXIF files to see which focal lengths you find yourself gravitating the most towards. Then get a prime that best matches your preferences instead of wasting your money.

This is actually good advice.  I mentioned ages ago about a friend who had a K5+DA*16-50 and found a big spike in usage at 28mm.  Buying a FA31 was the closest, although a new DA28 PLM WR Ltd would be nice

Doug

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hanhait Senior Member • Posts: 1,296
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
6

It is very odd to give a low score because you don't like the focal length. The focal length and aperture are given and if you claim to review a lens you have to assess the quality based on that: optical, mechanical, you may say you would have liked like a closer focussing, a smaller weight, better bokeh, sharper corners, lower price or whatever, but not that you would have liked a larger aperture or a different focal length, those are matters of fact and the starting point of a review or evaluation.

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timo Veteran Member • Posts: 5,886
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
8

twomonger wrote:

50mm on APS-C is equivalent to about 75mm on a full frame camera.

Yes, I think we knew that. Why give the lens only two stars because you made a mistake?

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awaldram
awaldram Forum Pro • Posts: 13,271
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
3

timo wrote:

twomonger wrote:

50mm on APS-C is equivalent to about 75mm on a full frame camera.

Yes, I think we knew that. Why give the lens only two stars because you made a mistake?

Guess the DA* 55 would only get 1 star as that 80 mm equiv would make if even less useful as a 'normal' FoV lens

Even though its one of the best Head/Shoulder Portrait lens bar non and can even double as a full body portrait lens on FF.

One things for certain folks is strange how they define 'worth'

The lens in question here makes a very decent poor mans portrait and a solid short tele offering outstanding value for money.

Though I don't own it that only one step behind don't use it (as the OP doesn't) so feel justified in stating its probably worth 5 stars when you consider IQ per £

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klimbkat
klimbkat Senior Member • Posts: 2,646
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
5

twomonger wrote:

I know I fell for this oft-repeated advice without thinking critically.

This pretty much says it all.  This "review" has nothing to do with the lens itself and everything to do with the OP not "thinking critically" about his lens choices, and should  be dismissed as such (or better yet, deleted as it inappropriately mucks with the aggregated scores).  While I don't have this lens, I do have the FA 50 1.4 and find it useful on APS-C for many things, e.g., shooting musicians in nightclubs, portraits, and cats.

Roland Karlsson Forum Pro • Posts: 29,978
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
1

The 50 is a portrait tele on aps c. Quite nifty imho.

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Tatouzou
Tatouzou Senior Member • Posts: 2,080
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
1

klimbkat wrote:

twomonger wrote:

I know I fell for this oft-repeated advice without thinking critically.

This pretty much says it all. This "review" has nothing to do with the lens itself and everything to do with the OP not "thinking critically" about his lens choices, and should be dismissed as such (or better yet, deleted as it inappropriately mucks with the aggregated scores). While I don't have this lens, I do have the FA 50 1.4 and find it useful on APS-C for many things, e.g., shooting musicians in nightclubs, portraits, and cats.

+1

I dont have the DA 50 f1.8 because I am quite happy using my FA 50 f1.7 I bought second hand ten years ago. On K3, it is a very nice compact portrait and lowlight prime which sits between my DA35 macro f2.8 and DA70.

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Tatouzou
Tatouzou Senior Member • Posts: 2,080
Re: The "nifty 50" is not so nifty on APS-C cameras
2

Tatouzou wrote:

klimbkat wrote:

twomonger wrote:

I know I fell for this oft-repeated advice without thinking critically.

This pretty much says it all. This "review" has nothing to do with the lens itself and everything to do with the OP not "thinking critically" about his lens choices, and should be dismissed as such (or better yet, deleted as it inappropriately mucks with the aggregated scores). While I don't have this lens, I do have the FA 50 1.4 and find it useful on APS-C for many things, e.g., shooting musicians in nightclubs, portraits, and cats.

+1

I dont have the DA 50 f1.8 because I am quite happy using my FA 50 f1.7 I bought second hand ten years ago. On K3, it is a very nice compact portrait and lowlight prime which sits between my DA35 macro f2.8 and DA70.

Another argument for a 50mm to be the first prime people who only have the kit lens should buy is because kit zooms are usually f4 at 35mm, which is only 1.5 stop darker than the DA35 f2.4, whereas they are f 5.6 at 50mm, which is 3.3 stop darker than the DA50 f1.8. 3.3 stops is really a huge difference.

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