How Far Away Can I Shoot With a 50mm Lens?

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The 50mm lens is one of the most popular lenses due to the natural field of view it offers. Although it’s a versatile lens, not knowing the right camera to subject distance when shooting can affect the image’s sharpness. So, how far away can I shoot with a 50mm lens? 

How Far Away Can I Shoot With a 50mm Lens?

The 50mm lens should be around 10 to 15 feet away when capturing portraits. Since the minimum focusing distance of 50mm lenses varies across brands and models, you can use your lens’s minimum focusing distance as the camera to subject distance when shooting close-ups of tiny subjects. In most cases, this will be 1.1 to 1.5 feet.

Canon 50mm lens

However, the distance to place the lens when capturing landscapes will depend on the field of view and subject details you want to capture. Depending on your subject and photography style, the following factors determine the best camera to subject distance when using a 50mm lens.

Depth of Field

The depth of field generally refers to how much of the photo is in focus. Usually, the depth of field to apply in your photo depends on the type of subject you are shooting, and the aesthetic effects you want to create. For instance, you might need a deep depth of field when shooting landscapes so you can have the entire frame in focus.  

On the other hand, you might need a shallow depth of field to blur the background and have a pleasing bokeh quality when shooting portraits. Usually, the closer the lens is to the subject, the shallower depth of field.

It’s therefore advisable to place the lens to its minimum focusing distance when using it in macro photography and place it far away when using it for street, landscape, and architectural photography. 

Camera Sensor Size

Different cameras have different sensor sizes, depending on whether they are full-frame or crop sensor cameras. Keeping in mind that the size of a camera sensor can affect the equivalent focal length of a lens, you might need to vary the camera to subject distance depending on the sensor size of the camera. 

For instance, the lens retains the 50mm focal length when paired with a full-frame camera. On the other hand, a crop-sensor camera tends to multiply the focal length by 1.5, which means the focal length will change to an equivalent of 75mm.

That means if you place the lens 10 feet away when shooting portraits with a full-frame camera, you will need to place it 15 feet when shooting with a crop-sensor camera. It’s therefore advisable to pair the lens with a full-frame camera if you are shooting in tight spaces.

Lighting Conditions

The brightness of your photos will primarily depend on the light conditions. Although you can illuminate the subject using speedlights or the camera flash, artificial lighting might not be able to illuminate distant subjects. 

Hand holding a 50mm lens outdoors

For instance, it’s almost impossible to shoot landscapes with artificial lighting. It’s advisable to position the lens near the subject for the best results when using artificial lighting. However, you should avoid placing it so near as the light source can cause glare, especially when shooting reflective surfaces.

What Makes a 50mm Lens Good in Capturing Both Far Way and Nearby Subjects?

The 50mm lens is one of the most versatile lenses, capable of capturing both far away and nearby subjects. Regardless of the camera, the following attributes make it a unique lens that can shoot both distant and nearby subjects.

  • The lens offers a natural field of view similar to the field of view of a human eye. Typically, this allows you to capture what you see, especially when you pair it with a full-frame camera.
  • Although the lens weight might vary depending on the construction materials, these lenses are generally compact and lightweight, making them suitable for carrying around.
  • In most cases, these lenses have a maximum wide aperture of at least f/1.8, making them perform well even in low light conditions. Usually, this contributes to their versatility as the wide aperture allows you to use selective focus techniques.

Related Questions

Can I Zoom With a 50mm Lens?

It’s not possible to optically zoom with a 50mm prime lens since it has a fixed focal length. Typically, a lens needs to have a variable focal length such as 70-300mm to be able to zoom optically.

Is a 50mm Lens Wide-Angle?

The lens can’t be considered to be wide-angle since the focal length is more than 35mm. Typically, a lens is considered wide-angle if it has a focal length of not more than 35mm on a full-frame camera. Instead, the 50mm lens is known as a normal lens due to its natural field of view.

Final Thoughts

Although a 50mm lens is versatile, the quality of your photos will depend on whether you know how far away you can shoot with it. Consider placing it near the subject when you want to blur the background and far away when you want a deep depth of field.