I recently switched to Sony after using Canon since I was in college (we won't mention how long exactly). I had built up quite an arsenal of lenses and equipment over the years. But unfortunately, when trading equipment in, you really don't get a whole lot back for how much you spent. I ended up getting two really high quality cameras and two really high quality lenses. These will get me through almost any shoot, so I wasn't worried about getting rid of some of my more specialty lenses. I bought two Sony a7R III, a Sony 24-70mm f2.8, and a Sony 70-200mm f2.8. I also have a Lensbaby Spark that still works with the new Sony. But I recently bought a Sony 50mm f1.8 because I just wanted another option.
A practice shot of the lovely violets in my yard with my new lens.
Why did I buy this other (and much less expensive) lens? Because of it's super wide aperture for such a cheap price! This particular lens is very cheap ($199 with a rebate), but is also really effective. It's definitely not as precise at focusing, in fact I would call it a little bit clunky, but for the price is definitely worth it! I wanted a lens that would give me a very large aperture (f1.8), but I didn't really have the budget currently for another top of the line lens.
Another practice shot from my yard.
When you buy a lens, it's very important to consider that number at the end with the lowercase F in front of it. This is the absolute maximum aperture that lens can open. Often, a lens will be listed something like this: 24-70mm f2.8. The last number can vary and may be something like f1.2, f1.4, f1.8, f2, f2.8 or often it will be f3.5-5.6. The f3.5-5.6 means that it has a variable aperture depending on what focal length you choose. This is starting to sound confusing (because it is), and I honestly never understood this when I was in college. This is what I teach in my classes at CSCC, and I am working on creating a series of posts about how to choose a lens and what all the settings mean.
In simple terms, the lower the f number (the aperture), the shallower the depth of field will be when you shoot with low aperture number. Depth of field is the area of an image that is in focus, or how much of the image is in focus. Do you have a teeny tiny area in focus (like these images) or do you have a large area in focus (like in a landscape image). Being able to select your aperture is one of the main tools you can have as a photographer. Again, I am going to do a series of posts on how to do this and why you should.
My current favorite house plant! My mom recently got it for me :)
Now this is not a lens I would want to use all day, every day. It does really float around in terms of focusing. You need to be very deliberate on where you want to focus and sometimes try a few times before it will focus where you want it. I wouldn't want to use it on some sort of live event (like a wedding) because the focusing system is just not great. I will probably use it on bridal portraits however because I can take my time a little bit more and not be worried about missing something. If you've ever shot a live event, you will know how frustrating missing focus on an important shot can be. And that's why I have the top of the line lens for those types of things.
Poppy bud from my yard.
I do think it has super precise sharpness once you get it in focus, and I'll take that. The other slightly limiting factor is that it's a prime lens. Not that I have anything against prime lenses, and I shot with several for many years. But at a live event (even family photos), this can also be challenging. I shot with a Canon 50mm f1.2 for several years before I ever bought a zoom lens. And prime lenses are again great because they can give you that super wide open aperture. They are just not ideal for events because you need to be your own zoom and sometimes you don't have the option for getting in closer for a shot. Zoom vs. Prime is going to be my first topic in my lens series of posts.
My spider plant with it's many babies!
In conclusion, is the 50mm f1.8 the best lens ever? Probably not. Could it get you through a shoot? Yes. But you may end up with some blurry shots or the focus just not getting the right moment, which would crucial for some live event. I wouldn't use it for all the time, but it is really great on subjects that don't move and you can take your time with. I would say it's an excellent value for the money. Canon and Nikon both have equivalent lenses for pretty cheap too and I would recommend both of those for the same type of images. Go check out some 50mm!
And Candy because she really wanted her picture taken ;)