Ode to a 50mm Lens


Well it’s gone folks. My beloved Nikon 50mm 1.8 AF lens. That’s it in the photo above, affixed to my camera.

Don’t worry— it wasn’t dropped, lost, or stolen. I decided to give it to a good cause. My brother has been getting more interested in photography lately, and, seeing as my dad passed this lens down to me, I felt it would be fitting to keep it in the family.

I recently picked up a used Nikon 60mm 2.8 AF macro lens and decided that having two lenses with such similar focal lengths didn’t make much sense. Sure, the 50 is a stop and a third faster, but I’ve been finding myself going to the 35mm 1.8 more and more in the situations where I used to need the speed of the 50. Because I shoot with a crop sensor camera, the field of view of the 35 gives me something very similar to what a full frame camera would give me with a 50.

Regardless, the 50 was my first prime lens and I’ve taken some of my favorite pictures over the years with it. In a way, this is the lens that taught me how to compose my images better; it helped me to see.

Overdramatic? Maybe. I’ll let you decide for yourself. In the spirit of the new year I’ve put together a little trip down memory lane, featuring photos that I’ve taken over the years with this little nifty fifty.

Back in the days of bliss (before I overcame my fear of photographing people) I shot landscapes, nature, wildlife, and inanimate objects. I still do those things when I have the time…

Pink Lotus, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Hot Air Balloon, James Madison’s Montpelier
Blue Door, Manteo, North Carolina

…humorously, this lens also took part in my early experiments with off-camera flash photography. Poor stuffed bear…

Practicing off-camera flash angles.
Using a more life-like model: myself.

…the 50 was my go-to lens for product shots for my wife’s blog. Food, shoes, jewelry, etc. I even tried out some shots on my own shoes…

Farmers’ market finds.
Greek pasta salad, made from farmers’ market finds.


Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.
Unique jewelry.
A pair of my shoes.

…and on this blog as well as my other project, Images of Alexandria

Drummer Ian McColm
Trumpeter Luke Brandon
Bridge & Sky, Jones Point Park
Bridge & Sky, Jones Point Park
Steve the Musician, King Street
Steve the Musician, King Street

…my most cherished photos are those of my children. Again, the 50 was a go-to lens for capturing these special moments…



The Maestro





…photographs of my colleagues, including the majority of photos from this series

Saxophonist Rob Holmes
Bassist Peter Revell

…and even photos for future projects.

Working on a new piece of music.

For those of you reading who may be new to photography, do yourselves a favor and get a prime lens. 50mm lenses are usually the cheapest around and they are an incredible value. You can pick them up used for around $100-$150. Manual focus ones are even cheaper (and often built better). You can really learn a lot about composition, plus the optical quality and speed are huge bonuses.

I’ll miss my 50, but maybe I’ll pick up another one in the future. I’ve loved sharing some of my favorite 50mm photos with you. Do you have any favorite photos that you’ve taken with a 50mm lens? Please share!


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