Is 50mm Lens Good for Night Photography?

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If you are in the market for a new lens for your night photography, you may be looking at the 50mm. The 50mm lens is popular right now, and almost every professional photographer has one in their bag. That being said, is a 50mm lens good for night photography?

Is a 50mm Lens Good for Night Photography?

A 50mm lens is good for night photography due to its wide focal length and fast aperture. The wide focal length can help you capture as much of the night scene as possible without distortion. The fast aperture is crucial for shooting photos at night or in low light conditions.

Scenery of city building at night

The 50mm lenses are known for their versatility. They can capture a wide range of scenes and subjects, including night photography. The nifty-fifty lens is beginner-friendly, so it is easy to use, allowing you to adjust the settings needed for night photography.

When shooting photos at night, you have to combat both the long exposure time and the darkness. So you’ll want a lens that’s fast enough to catch fast-moving action and sharp enough to isolate small subjects from the background.

Good in Low Light

Night photography is different from shooting in the daytime. In the daytime, there’s plenty of light. You often have to rely on artificial light sources, like street lights or floodlights, to illuminate your subject at night.

The 50mm is helpful because it has an aperture that lets in a lot of light. This helps when you’re shooting at night or in other low-light situations when you need as much light as possible coming in through the lens to create a good exposure.

Fast Autofocus

Night photography is challenging when it comes to finding the right focus. It’s dark, so your camera won’t be able to see as well as it usually can. Using a slower lens, this problem is amplified even more.

Fast autofocus is crucial to getting photos in focus in dark situations. It allows you to quickly snap photos without waiting for the camera’s lens to focus on what you’re trying to photograph. That way, you won’t miss any great shots.

This is great for street photography at night. In cases when your shutter speed is low, the autofocus will keep your subject sharp.

Large Aperture

A large aperture is essential if you want to take photos when it’s dark outside. This is because your camera needs more light to capture an image. The large aperture of the 50mm lens opens up many possibilities in night photography.

The large aperture of this lens lets you get a very shallow depth of field, which can be useful for creating cool effects in your night shots.

Again, this is particularly useful for astrophotography since the sky can be quite dark, and you don’t want to introduce too much noise into your photos with high ISO values. As the amount of light coming into your camera decreases, you need a slower shutter speed to avoid underexposing your photo.

What Challenges Do You Encounter Using a 50mm Lens for Night Photography?

The 50mm focal length is a staple for many photographers; however, it’s not without challenges.

  • One of the challenges that you’re likely to encounter with night photography is image noise. The greater the ISO setting, the more noise is produced in your photographs with camera sensors. To avoid this problem, take your photos at lower ISO settings.
  • Wide aperture. You can use it to create dramatic bokeh; remember that it also increases your chances of soft focus if you’re not careful. You’ll have to watch your depth of field carefully and make sure your subject is perfectly sharp while using a wide aperture at night.
  • Flare and ghosting. The 50mm f/1.8 has a narrow field of view, so any light hitting the lens from the off-axis will be highly visible in your photos (unless, of course, you like that vintage look).
  • Lastly, you’ll have to be more creative with your angle and compositions with only one lens. The lack of options forces you to be more creative and develop more exciting arrangements than if you had ten lenses.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a 50mm Lens for Night Photography?

Night photography is one of the most popular genres in photography. It’s also one of the most challenging, with lots of technical demands and time spent just waiting for the right light.


Black Canon DSLR camera on white wooden surface
  • Affordable: If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on camera equipment, a 50mm is one of the most reasonably priced lenses you can get.
  • Versatile: Because you can use this lens for so many different photos, it’s a great all-around option for beginners and more advanced photographers alike.
  • Lightweight: If you plan on traveling with your camera gear or don’t want to carry around extra equipment, this is an ideal option since it doesn’t add much extra weight.


  • These lenses have a very narrow field of view. A 50mm lens has an angle of view similar to a human eye when looking at something close up. At night, your subject will be out of focus at wide apertures because there’s not enough light to keep it in focus.
  • The 50mm lenses have small apertures — f/4 or f/5.6. This is fine for daytime shooting; it’s too much for capturing the action at night when you need fast shutter speeds (1/250 sec) to get sharp shots.

How Can You Best Use Your 50mm Lens for Night Photography?

Since you will be shooting in low light, you want your images to look as sharp as possible, and the 50mm lens delivers appropriately. It has no optical distortion means that you can get the best quality of images, free from any mechanical errors.

If you are new to night photography, learning to use your 50mm lens can be confusing. There is a lot to consider, such as aperture and ISO settings and other factors like shutter speed and depth of field.

Shoot in an Area With Minimal Light Pollution

If you want the best photos possible with your 50mm lens, it is important to shoot in areas with minimal light pollution. This will give you far better contrast and sharpness.

Set Your Camera ISO to 800 or Lower

When taking photos at night, your camera’s ISO setting is one of the most critical aspects of your image quality. A higher ISO will make your images appear grainy and washed out; a lower setting will produce rich colors and sharp detail.

If you want the best possible results with minimal noise, set your camera’s ISO setting to 800 or lower for night photography. Some cameras have even lower ISO settings available for purchase if you need them.

Use a Tripod or Sturdy Surface

As with any night photography, you’ll need a tripod or some other way to stabilize your camera while you’re shooting. Even the slightest movement will blur your image with long exposures like these, so make sure that doesn’t happen. If all you have on hand is a table or wall, feel free to use them too — make sure the camera isn’t going anywhere.

Shoot in RAW

Shooting in RAW allows you to adjust your exposure levels in post-processing as needed. This makes for much more manageable files and gives you the ability to correct any errors in exposure before converting them into JPEGs (which can’t be edited nearly as much).

Set Your Focus Manually

Autofocus is great for daytime shooting; it can struggle to lock onto anything at night. This becomes especially problematic when working with a low depth of field (i.e., a wide aperture). Since the depth of field is limited at f/1.8, if your camera focuses on the wrong thing, your whole subject will be out of focus (and thus blurry).

What Kinds of Night Images Can You Take With a 50mm Lens?

When you think of a 50mm lens, you probably think of it as a great portrait lens. And while that’s true, there are plenty of other photos you can take with a 50mm!

Aerial view photography of city buildings

Portraits in the City

When you shoot at night, your ability to capture your subject is limited. If you want a flash-free photo without using a tripod, an f/1.4 or f/1.8 lens will allow you to take photos handheld without blurring the background lights.

The best way is by first composing your shot while focusing on your subject (using autofocus). After that, flip your camera into manual focus mode to hold the focus throughout the exposure.

Lastly, set the ISO as low as possible and the aperture as wide open as possible. As long as you have enough light on your subject, they will be adequately exposed during the shot.

Street Photography at Night

You can capture these images using a camera with a 50mm lens. The greatest benefit of using this type of equipment when shooting street photography at night is that it does not draw attention to the photographer.

The best way to do this is to have the camera shoot in Aperture Priority mode, which will allow you to control the aperture, and let the camera handle the shutter speed and ISO settings.

The 50mm lens is one of the classics among street photographers. The focal length is perfect for capturing candid moments, and because it’s relatively fast, it can pick up plenty of ambient light at night.

Lights in the Sky

First, you’ll want to set your shutter speed to 30 seconds. Set your ISO as high as possible (usually the maximum your camera will allow) and adjust your aperture until you get a good exposure.

A wide-angle lens is better for shooting the Aurora Borealis or other celestial events. When you shoot with a longer focal length, your ability to isolate objects increases quite significantly, especially if they are far away (like the moon).


The key to successful fireworks photography is focusing on infinity. The fireworks will be exploding several hundred feet away from where you stand or sit.

Depending on your preferences, you can either use manual focus or autofocus on the camera. Using the manual guide, set your lens to infinity by turning the focus ring until it stops turning. Adjust it as needed based on the distance of the fireworks about your position.

If they appear more prominent than expected, they might be closer than you thought, and you may need to tweak your focus until they look just right.

Star Trails

The most critical aspect of choosing a lens for astrophotography is the widest aperture available. A fast lens that can open up to f/1.4 or f/2.8 will let in more light than a slower lens that opens up to around f/5.6.

Also, unlike daytime, the night sky is always in motion. You won’t notice it with your naked eye; however, you’ll see it in your photos as star trails.

To calculate how long you can leave your shutter open without producing streaks, you can apply what’s known as the “500 rule.” Take 500 and divide that number by the focal length of your lens. The result is the maximum exposure time (in seconds) before stars start to streak.

What Settings Do You Use for a 50mm Lens for Night Shoots?

For night photography, consider setting your camera up for a long exposure. This depends on the scene you’re shooting and how much light is around you.

A close-up image of 50mm lens

You can apply some settings for a 50mm lens for night photography to make your images look great. If you are new to night photography, the following tips will help you get started.

  • Manual mode lets you control the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings independently. This is the best way to manage your exposure settings; it requires practice to master.
  • Next, you will need to adjust your aperture. If you want the stars to appear as points of light, then use an aperture setting of f/5.6 or higher (f/5.6 – f/8). However, if you want them to appear as starbursts, choose a lower aperture (around f/22 is good).
  • Finally, set your shutter speed. It should be between 15 and 30 seconds. This will allow enough light into the camera to make foreground objects visible without becoming blurry from movement.

Related Questions

Is f/4 Suitable for Night Photography?

Yes, it’s an excellent lens for night photography. The f/4 aperture is often fast enough for shooting at night: the lens has VR, which helps with handheld shots.

However, shooting at night usually requires a steady tripod because long exposures are needed to capture all the light.

Can You Shoot the Milky Way With a 50mm Lens?

Yes, you can shoot the Milky Way with a 50mm lens. A 50mm lens will produce a wide landscape that shows an expansive view of the night sky.

Is a 50mm Lens Good For Moon Photography?

Yes, a 50mm lens is great for moon photography. You could even use a telephoto lens if you have one, but I think it’s best to have both options in your kit and switch them depending on the phase of the moon.


So, is a 50mm lens good for night photography? If you’re looking for the best image quality, you can’t go wrong with a 50mm prime lens. It will be sharper, with less color aberration and distortion than other shorter focal length lenses.