Nifty Fifty – A weekend with only 50mm

One of the best parts of travel is the opportunity to take pictures of new things and experiences. Almost all the pictures taken on are taken with my 6 year old consumer grade DSRL and a 18-200 zoom lens. This lens is great, but it has made me lazy in both composing shots and using the available features of my camera.

We had a busy weekend full of great opportunities to take pictures and I set myself a challenge to use only my prime (non-zoom) 50mm f/1.8 lens which is one of Canon’s cheapest and sharpest lenses in their massive line up.

What I learned this weekend is that shooting

  1. Not having zoom forces you to look for the less obvious shots – sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t
  2. More than 50% of my photos are shot at 18mm (wide) but I have been missing tons of great details by trying to get everything in instead of bravely excluding things and accentuating other things.
  3. The 50mm makes shooting at night without a flash possible without having to use blur inducing long shutter speed.
  4. Shooting with a  prime lens requires more planning when taking a shot because you have to position yourself – zoom with your feet – instead of twisting a lens to get there.
  5. Settings on your camera become much more important with a fast prime then it ever did with a forgiving zoom.
  6. Paying more attention to settings forces me to slow down instead of just spraying and praying
  7. Taking more time in capturing images means less editing later. Most of images came straight out of the camera with a minor, automatic color correction and compression to JPEG. This is hours and hours less work than normal.

The results:


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