The Nifty Fifty: On The Hunt For A Cheap Lens

I was planning on doing a film review, but the movie I watched, Embrace of the Serpent, deserves way more time and effort than I can give it tonight. I'll have something finished soon, hopefully tomorrow. In the meantime: CAMERA STUFF!

Woo it's my camera!   

Woo it's my camera!


I finally got a camera this past semester, the sick Canon 80D, with the kit 18-55 and a 55-250 telephoto. It's been way cool to just have a camera on hand and be able to take pictures/video whenever I want. 

But as with all gear purchases, it's the beginning of an addiction. Yes, the dreaded drain on any camera owner's wallet: I'm looking to buy a new lens. 

Specifically, I'm looking for a 50mm prime lens, or as it is referred to, the "Nifty Fifty". 

For you non-film/photo people, the difference between a "prime lens" and a "zoom lens" is pretty simple. I'll explain it!

Prime vs. Zoom

Basically, a prime lens has a fixed "focal length", meaning that the angle of view seen through the lens can't be changed. Want to get a close up shot of that deer that just wandered in your front yard? With a prime lens, you're going to have to walk up close to get that shot. 

A vaguely helpful diagram of a camera's inner workings.

A vaguely helpful diagram of a camera's inner workings.

A zoom lens, on the other hand, doesn't have a fixed focal length. Due to lens manufacturer witchcraft, zoom lenses have a wide range of focal lengths, allowing you to change the viewing angle of your shots with the twist of a ring. 

So, why get a prime lens at all?


Lens speed is a funky thing to explain. A camera lets light hit a sensor, via an opening called the aperture. When you click the shutter, a little mechanism slides over the sensor, thereby controlling the amount of light going onto the sensor. The larger the aperture, the more speed the shutter needs to cover the aperture to control light intake. So lens speed is sort of synonymous with aperture size. 

Prime lenses typically have larger apertures, a.k.a. are faster lenses, which are capable of taking in more light. They're great for capturing images when you have a pretty dim light source, and have their own aesthetic appeal. 

Buying a Prime Lens

The lens I'm looking into is a Yongnuo 50mm lens. It's incredibly cheap, and will add a whole different look to my arsenal. I've heard some sketchy things about its autofocus, and am not totally sure about the sturdiness of its construction. But when compared to Canon's $125 alternative, it seems like a good bet.

I have an indefinite amount of time to make this decision, but if anyone has ever purchased a Yongnuo lens, or has their take on the Nifty Fifty I could try out, I'd love it!