Why the 50mm lens is great for travel photography

10:38 am

Not too long ago, I explained why the 35mm is a great lens for travel photography.  But preference vary, and the 50mm is actually perhaps a more preferred lens among travel photographers. If you can only take one lens on a trip, there are also plenty of reasons why you should take the 50mm. Here are 6 reasons why the 50mm lens is a great lens for travel photography

50mm lens for travel photography
1. Wide aperture and great in low light

The 50mm lens comes in aperture 1.8, 1.4, and 1.2. The wider the aperture, the better your lens will hold up in low light situations. A wide aperture allows more light into the camera, which means the 50mm will fare better than lots of other lenses in low light situations such as overcast days, indoors, or evening/night-time photography.

2. Street portraits

The 50mm is the go-to lens for many street photographers and portraits in the travel environment - whether on the street or indoors, is an essential part of telling the story about a destination.  Eric Kim has written many posts about why the 50mm is great for street photography. It comes down to this - the 50mm makes for a great frame for portraits. It’s the right distance of intimacy while capturing the environment the subject is in. And as I’ll explain later, the 50mm “forces” you to take better portraits by forcing you to get close to the subject.

3. Light weight

When you’re traveling, you have to balance gear with certain travel constraints, like weight. It’s just not always possible to take the whole studio with you on the road. The 50mm is a super lightweight lens - it’s small and compact, making it easy to carry and store. Perfect for keeping your gear light when traveling.

50mm lens for travel photography
50mm lens for travel photography
50mm lens for travel photography
4 & 5. Sharp images and sweet bokeh.

When you get to wide apertures like f/1.2, you get great depth in your pictures and two things happen -- you get sweet bokeh, and the subject of your focus becomes super sharp. Both are visually appealing results.

6. Forced interaction with subject

I alluded to this earlier but the 50mm, just by the nature of its distance, will force you to interact with the subject. Unlike a telephoto lens where you can get lazy, be far from the subject, and rely on your zoom the 50mm does not pity the lazy photographer. So you have to get close to the subject whether that’s striking up a conversation with a stranger, or kneeling down to the level of the subject that’s on the ground. It’s good practice for any photographer.

7. Fixed zoom makes you better

I mentioned this about the 35mm lens but I’ll reiterate it because I really believe it - using a lens with a fixed zooms makes you a better photographer. You are forced to get close to your subject. You get to learn how to see the world at that fixed distance and adapt your composition accordingly. These skills will help you throughout your photography career and make you better.

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