Best 50mm Lenses of 2020 – Complete Review

50mm lenses are the most versatile camera lenses out there. You can take portraits, do street photography, indoor shooting, low-light photography, landscape pictures, etc. The possibilities are endless. Because of its wide-angle, you get as much natural light in the picture as possible. Couple that up with a good aperture like f/1.8, and you don’t need to use flash anymore.

This is a fast lens, so it creates a great Bokeh that lets you focus on the subject of the picture and remove any background distractions. This can be great for portraits. It also gives you the freedom to experiment with your compositions and learn.

There are plenty of 50mm lenses on the market, and the good thing is, they are usually pretty inexpensive. We have compiled and reviewed some of the best 50mm lenses you can find. But before we get into that, let us answer a few important questions.

Comparison of the Best 50mm Lenses

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG

  • Ultrasonic-AF motor that allows manual focusing
  • Best overall for letting your shoot some creative shot
  • 75mm equivalent focal length on cameras having APS-C sensors to provide sharp images
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G

  • Runner-up for providing some exceptional shots
  • Minimum focus distance of 0.45m is quite impressive
  • Autofocus lens that saves the hassle of frequent adjustments
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Nikon AI-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2

  • Aperture control ring for allowing you to make changes
  • Manual focusing design that lets you adjust settings accordingly
  • Considered as the best for the money for being available at an affordable price
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Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S

  • Ultra-quiet motor technology for silent focusing
  • Minimum focus distance of 0.4m promises excellent image quality
  • Best Nikon 50mm prime lens for providing extremely sharp images
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Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm F/1.4D

  • Super integrated lens coating to make a robust design
  • Suitable for Full-Frame Nikon DSLR cameras preferably with in-built AF motor
  • Best Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens for significant photography as compared to others
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Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

  • f/1.8 G lens with a wide aperture
  • Autofocus makes it the best overall
  • FX-format prime lens is highly compact
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YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8N

  • Standard prime lens with aperture f/1.8 N
  • Best 50 mm lens by YONGNUO with manual focus
  • Supports cameras with full-frame and APS-C formats
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Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4

  • f/1.4 Z F.2 lens by Zeiss Milvus
  • The aperture range is f/1.4 to f/16
  • Has 4 anomalous partial dispersion elements in its construction
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How Big is 50mm?

A 50mm prime lens is much smaller than a zoom lens. It does not have any extra internal mechanisms that give zoom lenses the extra weight and length. Its design is very compact. It usually has apertures like f/1.8 and hence allows more room to the actual lens. It is lightweight and much easier to carry around.

What Does 50mm Lens Mean?

The 50 in a 50mm lens tells the focal length. The focal length is measured in mm. You might remember reading about focal length in your physics class, but nobody remembers what they hear in a classroom. It is simply the distance between your image sensor and point of convergence. So, a 50mm lens means a lens that has a focal length of 50mm. You don’t need to understand the mathematics; just how it affects the pictures you take.

Focal length tells us the angle of view of the picture or how much we will see in a frame. It determines the magnification of the image. For shorter focal lengths, you get more of the scene in the frame, and magnification will be low and vice versa. Since the 50mm lens is on the longer side, it will have much higher magnification and will let you capture details more sharply.

But the focal length of the lens is not all that matters. A lot of cameras have sensors that don’t capture the entire frame. These are called APS-C cameras. Their frames are smaller in size. How much of the scene will be excluded from the final image is called the crop factor, and it determines the final effective focal length of the camera. There are also cameras with full-frame sensors that don’t affect the final image. Before deciding on the lens, make sure to check the type of camera body you have.

Are All 50mm Lenses the Same?

All 50mm lenses, of course, have the same focal length and will give you the same field of view. But they might have different apertures. The aperture determines how much light gets in. It is like the iris of the eye. Our iris expands and increases the diameter of the pupil to adjust to low-light.

Camera lenses work the same way. The aperture (pupil) can be made bigger or smaller. Lenses usually have a minimum and maximum aperture. If you want to take great images in low-light without using flash, then f/1.4 or f/1.8 will be the best choice.

Another thing that differentiates between them is the quality of the lens. You might have heard that Canon makes the best lenses. That is probably because their lenses don’t have scratches on them that don’t blur the images unnecessarily. There are also lens coatings that reduce flare and are anti-reflective, making images clearer. Not every manufacturer might add this feature in their lens. If they do, it might not always be of high quality.    

They also differ in their construction, depending on the manufacturer and might not be compatible with every camera. You should check the mount of the camera to see if the lens will fit.

What Should I Look For When Buying a 50mm Lens?

Some of the things that you should keep in mind when buying a 50mm lens are:

Aperture

As mentioned above, the aperture, along with the focal length determines how the end picture will look like. Depending on what you will be using it for, your aperture is very important. With a 50mm lens, apertures like f/1.4 or f/1.8 are good enough to capture all the light in the scene. Lenses sometimes don’t have just one aperture but a range to choose from, according to needs.

Camera Sensor

If your camera does not have a full-frame sensor, then it will change the effective focal length, and you might not get the picture you want. The three common frame sizes are full-frame, APS-C, and Micro Four Thirds. Check the lens for its compatibility. If you put a lens that is made for a smaller sensor on a larger sensor, then your image will have black edges. When you buy the lens, it usually has information about the sensors it is compatible with and what the effective focal length will become. A 50mm lens on a super 35mm sensor becomes an 80mm lens. On a micro four thirds, it becomes equal to 100mm.

Durability

Your lens should be able to handle some minor falls. A lens can be expensive, so always buy one that has a sturdy construction and will not break so easily. Remember, it is the most important part of your camera and should be of high quality.

Quick Take - Best 50mm Lenses

Before we dive into our review, here are the best 50mm lenses:

  1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
  2. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
  3. YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8 Standard Prime Lens Large Aperture Auto Focus Len

Review of the Best 50mm Lenses

Now that you’re aware of how to pick a good quality lens, let’s look at some of the options you can go for. 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

PROS

  • It is lightweight and sturdy
  • Super spectra coating to reduce flares
  • The aperture is good for night photography
  • Compatible with both full-frame and APS-C sensors
  • Supports both AF (autofocus) and FTM (full-time manual)

CONS

  • Autofocus is a little slow

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are pretty satisfied with this lens. Some people have been using it for years without much to complain about. People use this for live events and family portraits. Some people have reported not being too careful with it and dropping it, yet it still remains intact, which made them love it even more. The picture always ends up sharp with great color contrast. Beginners see this as a gateway into the photography world.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens has a full rotation servo motor or continuous move servo for smooth and natural videos. The images are sharp across the frame, and you don’t need to use high ISO levels or flash to get good low-light pictures. This will give you a more natural and aesthetically pleasing result.

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is best for indoor photography where you might not get the best lighting situation. It can also be used outdoors for night photography, portraits, landscapes, beautiful Bokeh. It lets you focus on the subject more. People also love it for street photography since it is a prime lens and lightweight.

Bottom Line

Canon has earned its name as the best in the lens-making business. Its quality and customer service is always great. This is our top pick for the 50mm lens because it has everything you need when buying any lens. The large aperture, smooth autofocus, sturdy build quality, and great final image all make it the best investment.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • It is lightweight and compact
  • SWM for silent and smooth auto-focus
  • Has both manual and auto-focus modes
  • Uses aspherical lenses to remove aberrations
  • Large maximum aperture creates good Bokeh

CONS

  • Noticeable distortions on crop sensors

What Recent Buyers Report

People love this lens for everyday use. The portraits and Bokeh are perfect, and it produces a sharp image all across the frame. Its simple use makes it a favorite with novice users as well. People love using this as an everyday lens and highly recommend others to buy it as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It uses Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor to ensure fast silent and smooth auto-focus. It uses aspherical lenses. This results in reduced weight and better image quality. Aspherical lenses also help reduce aberration at the edges of the frame to give more straight lines. It has a multilayered coating to remove any flares or ghosting effects.  

Who Will Use This Most

This is an AF-S lens, which means that it has single auto-focus. This will be great for product photography for static objects but not for fast-moving objects. It captures great natural background blur to focus on the subject more. The f/1.8 aperture allows it to create great low-light images as well. It is built for full-frame cameras.

Bottom Line

It is our second pick for a 50mm lens, which is almost as good as our top pick. If you use it on a full-frame, then it gives amazing professional pictures and perfect sharpness on the edges as well as the center. Overall, users have reported a great experience with it and love using it.  

YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8 Standard Prime Lens Large Aperture Auto Focus Lens for Canon EF Mount Rebel DSLR Camera

PROS

  • Great edge to edge sharpness
  • Uses optical coating to reduce flares
  • Has both auto-focus and manual focus
  • Uses 7 bladed aperture for improved Bokeh
  • Chrome-plated metal mount that is resistant to corrosion

CONS

  • Some chromatic aberration on larger apertures

What Recent Buyers Report

This lens is mostly used for portraits. It is pretty inexpensive, and for most people, it gives great results. The images are sharp, and people have also been using it for food photography. The auto-focus also works fine. People who are non-professionals find that this affordable model meets their needs better than some high-end ones. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens supports MV, TV, P, and AV modes of photography. It gives you room to experiment. The auto-focus is very fast and smooth. It does not need a USB port to upgrade its firmware. You can do that with the camera and avoid any compatibility issues. Plus, the lens coating gives sharp images with no flares.

Who Will Use This Most

You can use this lens for creating beautifully detailed portraits with the focus on the subject. Its aperture lets you take great low-light pictures as well. 50mm lenses are sometimes used in street photography, and this is the perfect candidate for that. Since this is a prime lens, it is small and lightweight so you can carry it around for all-day shoots.

Bottom Line

It can be tough for those on a budget to find a lens that meets all of their needs. However, this model is the ideal solution. With its numerous features, it can target both professionals and beginners. Plus, with improved Bokeh and edge to edge sharpness, the results it produces are exceptional.  

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras - Fixed

PROS

  • Produces sharp images edge to edge
  • Focus ring is smooth and easy to use
  • Uses USM for ultra-silent and smooth focus
  • Maximum aperture is ideal for low-light photography
  • Gaussian optics and high-refraction lenses to remove blurriness

CONS

  • Supports only Canon EF lens mount

What Recent Buyers Report

People love this lens for events, videos, and portraits because of several reasons. The images are always sharp and have great color contrast. People are generally satisfied with its performance. Plus, it can also survive harsh handling according to its users. It has a sturdy build, making it ideal for rough use as well.   

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens can also be bought with a UV filter for those who shoot outdoors a lot, which is just one of the things that make it stand out. Its price is lower than other Canon lenses of the same category. You get a sharp image throughout the frame. Since it has a bigger aperture, the Bokeh is much smoother. The ultra-sonic motor lets you capture pictures quickly and is very accurate.  

Who Will Use This Most

Its large aperture makes it perfect for night or low-light photography. You do not need to use ISO as much, and the flash also becomes unnecessary at this level. It can also be used to create natural-looking and smooth videos. Plus, given its durable frame, it can be great for rough outdoor use, as well. 

Bottom Line

Canon always meets the mark, and it has done the same here. If you’re looking for the reliability and features that Canon is known for, you should definitely buy this model. This is a standard telephoto lens that can take sharp un-blurred images of distant objects. The build quality is also compact and sturdy.

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

PROS

  • Great for full-length portraits
  • SWM for smooth and fast auto-focus
  • Shallow depth of field creates great Bokeh
  • Small and lightweight for day-to-day usage
  • Uses super integrated coating (SIC) for better light transmission

CONS

  • Only supports D format cameras

What Recent Buyers Report

People love using this for nature photography. The manual focus does not seem to be a problem for most. The pictures are also crisp and clear. People that struggle with this lens are the ones using it on the wrong camera; however, this issue is easily solvable. This lens is made for D-type cameras, and on them, it gives the best results, giving users nothing to complain about.

Why it Stands Out to Us

You can buy this lens with a polarizer and a UV filter if you shoot outside a lot. The polarizer helps reduce flares from the sun. Meanwhile, its SIC coating works to remove aberrations and lets maximum light in. It has all the innovative features that Nikon is known for, like the SWM for fast auto-focus, aspherical lenses for better image quality, and more.   

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is best suited for D-type cameras. This makes it suitable for both Nikon SLR and newer DSLRs. D-type cameras have manual aperture rings. You can use this for full-length portraits, land space, low-light photography, and of course, to get the perfect Bokeh. Just make sure to see if your camera supports it.   

Bottom Line

This is the best 50mm lens that Nikon has put out to date. It will give you sharp images and aesthetically pleasing Bokeh. It works with both full-frame and a crop frame of 35mm. Nikon and Canon are always toed in the photography business. This Nikon lens does not let the name down; instead, it promises only the best results.

Sony - E 50mm F1.8 OSS Portrait Lens (SEL50F18/B)

PROS

  • Image distortions are too small to notice
  • Optical Steady-Shot (OSS) image stabilization
  • Auto-focus is fast, and it also has manual focus
  • Comes with a lens hood and front and rear cap
  • 7 bladed circular aperture produces good Bokeh

CONS

  • Image quality is poor on the edges of the frame

What Recent Buyers Report

People usually use this lens with a Sony A6000 camera. The pictures are reputedly very crisp and of high quality. Users also report that it is great for outdoor use. People are satisfied with its results, particularly because it provides all that at a low price compared to other lenses. People who are not too experienced also find it easy to use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We primarily like this because the built-in image stabilizer created sharper images. Its body is made of aluminum alloy that makes it lighter and easy to carry. Plus, the 7-bladed circular aperture creates great Bokeh. It comes with a lens hood and caps for protection, so you don’t have to buy them elsewhere.  

Who Will Use This Most

This lens is used for everything a versatile 50mm lens can be used for. Mostly it is preferred for portraits. You can also use it for other types of photography according to your needs. It creates great Bokeh to help you take pictures that have a natural blur and focus on the subject.

Bottom Line

After Nikon and Canon, the next best company for top-notch lenses is perhaps Sony. This lens is an example of that. With its internal image stabilization and optical coatings, it gives sharp and colorful results. For any Sony camera, this is the best choice to get the perfect picture.

Best 50mm Prime Lens:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed

PROS

  • Both manual and auto-focus modes
  • Ultrasonic Motor (USM) for fast auto-focus
  • Weather resistant and sturdy construction
  • Lens coating for reduced ghosting and flares
  • F/1.2 aperture lets you create great low-light photography

CONS

  • Only compatible with Canon RF mounts

What Recent Buyers Report

People love the Bokeh on this lens. Overall, they have few bad things to say about this lens. It is just a matter of some preference. Those who don’t like prime lenses have issues getting used to it. But if you use these lenses, then this option is great and gives nothing to complain about. Therefore, overall, those who used prime lenses loved this unit. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens takes the aperture to its extents. You can say goodbye to any flash or extra effects to achieve a good low-light picture. This lets you capture the perfect natural light photography. You can also buy this with a polarizer and UV filter. The USM makes auto-focus silent and fast. Meanwhile, the f/1.2 aperture lets you take the perfect creamy Bokeh.  

Who Will Use This Most

Anyone who works most in low-light conditions will prefer this lens. It is also great for portraits. Prime lenses are used mostly in street photography as they are easier to carry and lightweight. Generally, professional photographers like using prime lenses as it gives more creative freedom, and this one promises just that.  

Bottom Line

For a prime lens, this is one of the best 50mm lenses. Since it is manufactured by Canon, it has a great build quality and is very durable, which comes as no surprise. The great aperture, combined with the lens coating, lets maximum light in and always produces sharp images.  

Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Alpha E-Mount Retractable Zoom Lens (Bulk Packaging)

PROS

  • Built-in image stabilizer for sharper images
  • Uses Optical Steady Shot (OSS) image stabilization
  • Power zoom button for more natural-looking videos
  • Can reduce the size to 29.9mm, so it becomes very compact
  • Extra-low dispersion (ED) glass and aspherical lens for minimum flare

CONS

  • For Sony E-mount cameras only

What Recent Buyers Report

People love the compact design this model has for a zoom lens. This is a popular choice for travel photography among users. It is also a great everyday lens. The pictures are crisp, and it is also used by many for videos and vlogs. It can create high-quality movies. Overall, it has a versatile range of uses, making it a user favorite. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This lens has a built-in image stabilizer to give sharper images. It is designed to reduce any chromatic aberrations or unwanted blurriness. The zoom is smooth and gives great natural-looking videos. The auto-focus is also fast, and it also has a good Bokeh effect. It is for those that are used to zoom cameras and find them easier. 

Who Will Use This Most

If you prefer zoom lenses, then you can use this one without a problem. It gives you room to experiment with different focal lengths in just one model. It can be used for landscapes and portraits. It is a zoom lens but contracts down to 29.9mm and is surprisingly small and light. This makes it great for traveling.

Bottom Line

The last but not least of our picks is a zoomable lens. The jury is still out on which lens is better, zoom or prime. It all comes down to individual preference. Regardless, this is a perfect zoom lens if you are looking to have a model of 50mm focal length in your lens kit.

How to Use a 50mm Lens

To get the best out of your 50mm lens, here are some tips you can follow:

  1. If you are using it on a crop sensor camera, you will need to get the object a little further away from the camera to get the desired composition.

  2. For videos, you will want to turn off the auto-focus as it can be distracting as it tries to focus on moving objects.

  3. Since you will be sitting farther away from the camera, you will need a remote for manual focusing.

  4. Use a microphone to make it appear like you are not far away from the camera.

For more details and tips, check out the following video. 

What is a 50mm Lens Best for?

As mentioned earlier, a 50mm lens is highly versatile and is the best for the following reasons:

Low-Light

The long focal length allows more light transmission and lets you take better low-light images. If you use high ISO or flash for that, then you know that they give the worst unnatural looking results. 50mm lenses are usually made with wider apertures that add to the light-capturing ability. So you can use this outdoors at night or in an indoor setting that does not have good lighting.

Portrait

The long focal length allows you to focus on the subject and remove extra things from the scene that might distract the viewer. It captures all the details of the subject in a flattering way without distorting facial features. This, coupled with the large aperture, creates the creamiest and smooth Bokeh effect in the pictures that add to the beauty of the portrait.

Landscape

Mostly, it's said that for landscape photography, you need a wider angle lens to get all of the views in. But that is not necessary. 50mm lenses are very sharp and give a tighter composition. This can be great for scenes that are further away. This focal length falls in the category of natural eye view. So what you see with your eyes is what you get in the frame. This creates more natural-looking pictures.

Conclusion

50mm lenses are called the nifty-fifty because of their low price. These are very handy little lenses that can be used for just about anything. The list we have compiled here includes lenses from all top manufacturers and will give great results. Which one you end up buying depends on the camera you have.

People Also Ask

If you still have some problems or confusion about 50mm lenses, then you can read these questions for better understanding.

Is a 50mm Lens Good for Portraits?

A 50mm lens is one of the best lenses for portraits. In fact, that is what it is most used for. They don’t distort the facial features and create more pleasing portraits. Of course, there are longer focal lengths like the 75mm, but the 50mm lens does the job without getting too in the face of the person.

How Far Can a 50mm Lens Shoot?

This depends on your aperture. If you are using a large aperture and are standing close to the subject, then you get that desired Bokeh effect. Once you get too close, you will start to lose clarity on the subject as well. How far you stand from the subject depends on the aperture and the Bokeh you want.

When to Use a 50mm Lens

50mm lenses are best for low-light conditions and to get natural light in your picture instead of the edited one. Crank the aperture to its maximum and enjoy the great results. They are also used when taking portraits.