Is a 50mm Lens Better Than an 18-55mm?

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When you are starting photography, you are presented with a wide variety of lenses to choose from. The two most common of these are the 50mm and 18-55mm lenses. Is a 50mm lens better than an 18-55mm or does the 18-55mm lens take the triumph?

Is a 50mm Lens Better Than an 18-55mm?

The 50mm lens is better than the 18-55mm primarily because it takes sharper and better quality photos. With this prime lens, you get less lens distortion, a wider aperture, and a more durable lens compared to an 18-55mm.

Even though you can’t zoom with a 50mm lens, it’s still a very popular lens to use for a variety of photoshoots, such as portrait sessions and weddings.

An image of Canon 50mm lens

50mm Lens

The 50mm lens, or the nifty-fifty, is a prime lens with a fixed focal length. Its field of view is similar to a human eye. It has a wide aperture range of f/1.2 to f/1.8, depending on the one you buy, and it’s a very fast lens. It is one of the best lenses for capturing portraits.

18-55mm Lens

The 18-55mm lens, or the kit lens, is usually the first lens for many people. It typically comes bundled with cameras that you purchase. It has a flexible focal length and a magnification of x0.34.  It allows you to capture both portraits and landscape photography. So based on this, what makes the 50mm better?

Why Is the 50mm Lens Better?

The 50mm prime lens is better because it allows you to capture sharp, crisp, and high-quality images. Also, its wide aperture makes capturing Bokeh possible. Moreover, it has a much better build quality and is a lens you can carry around all day.


The 50mm has an aperture of f/1.2 to 1.8  compared to the kit lens’s aperture range of f/3.5-5.6. The 50mm’s wider aperture range allows a lot more light to enter the camera. This allows you to capture photos in low light conditions without flash.

Image Quality and Minimum Focus Distance

The quality of photos you get on the 50mm prime lens is much better than the kit lens. This is because the nifty fifty is much faster and allows you to capture sharp and crisp images. Moreover, in the 50mm you get minimum lens distortion when you capture photos.

However, in the kit lens, there is lens distortion which appears as black shadows at the corners of the image which might ruin your photos.

Furthermore, the 50mm has a minimum focus distance of 11.7 inches. On the other hand, the 18-55mm has a minimum focus distance of 15.7 inches. The former lens allows you to capture pictures in enclosed spaces such as studios while the latter lens does not.

Weight and Build Quality

The 50mm prime lens weighs 5.6 ounces and has dimensions of 1.55 x  2.72 inches, whereas the 18-55mm lens weighs 7.1 ounces and has dimensions of 2.8 x 2.7 inches. The size and the weight matters a lot as the 50mm is much more compact and you can easily fit it in your luggage if you plan to travel and take pictures.

Also, the weight is very important when you are capturing photos the whole day. The 50mm ensures that you do not get tired quickly and can go on for extended photography sessions.

The 50mm has a much better build quality than the kit lens. The kit lens is made of plastic which is prone to breakage. On the contrary, the 50mm prime lens has a body made of steel which is much more durable.

An image of Nikon 18-55mm lens

Cases Where the 18-55mm Lens Is a Good Option

There are some situations where getting a 18-55mm might be considered a good idea:

  • Zoom: The kit lens allows you to zoom in and out. You have a magnification of x0.34. You do not have this option in the 50mm lens, and this gives you a lot of flexibility.
  • Budget: If you are a beginner photographer on a budget, this lens is for you. You can get it for a very low price or bundled with the camera you purchase.

Related Questions

What Is the Nifty-Fifty Good For?

The nifty-fifty is good for portraits. This is due to its field of view, which is similar to that of a human eye. Also, the quick lens captures sharp images. Moreover, the wide aperture allows you to capture Bokeh and the minimum focus distance is great for capturing portraits in studios.

What Is the Use of an 18-55mm Lens?

The 18-55mm lens is used in wide angle photography to capture landscapes, architecture, and group photos thanks to its flexible focal length. Also, it can capture portraits at the 55mm focal length too.


The 50mm lens is better than 18-55mm mainly due the quality of pictures it can capture. It is a much better option for portraits due to the ability to capture the Bokeh effect and its sharpness. However, the 18-55mm lens is great if you’re on a budget and want a zoom lens.