A Nifty Fifty!

Being a great fan of bokeh (which is, by the way Japan­ese for out-of-focus blur in pho­tographs) it didn’t take long for me to be tempted to get myself a fast prime lens.

Luck­ily Canon had this really, really afford­able lens in the form of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II that wouldn’t really hurt my wal­let after spend­ing on the 1000D just less than two months ago. Which, bring us to the fact that its been barely two months into my foray into the dSLR world and I’m already get­ting a sec­ond lens.

A few friends were sur­prised that I’m already acquir­ing a new lens so soon. Thing is, I’m not new to dSLRs or pho­tog­ra­phy in gen­eral. Even before I got a dSLR, I was already pretty sure what I wanted and had a (grow­ing) men­tal wish­list of gears I’d like to have. The only thing hold­ing me back is of course, bud­get. Because lets face it, pho­tog­ra­phy is an expen­sive hobby.

The Nifty Fifty and its box

The Nifty Fifty and its box

That said, Dad helped me get this one in KL dur­ing his last work­ing trip there! This is def­i­nitely the last lens I’m gonna acquire in awhile, for a kit lens + 50mm combo is more than suf­fi­cient for me to move on. =)

The 50mm spent its early days as an unglam­ourous ‘stan­dard lens’ that came default with all SLR cam­eras back in the 35mm film days. Its a prime lens, which means it has a fixed focal length unlike those of zoom lenses which allow you to zoom in and out of your sub­ject. So why would you want a lens you can’t zoom for, you ask.

Fall leaves

Fall leaves by the road

The main sell­ing point of the nifty fifty is it’s wide aper­ture, which you can’t get with the nor­mal kit lens or cheap zooms that comes with dSLRs these days. Wide aper­ture lens are great for shoot­ing in low light and are respon­si­ble for the bokeh effect due to a nar­row depth-of-field asso­ci­ated with a wider aperture.

By the road

By the road

If you really wanna know more about the 50mm and its advan­tages try out this arti­cle at Gary Voth Pho­tog­ra­phy: The For­got­ten Lens.

I don’t know but if you’d ask me. A 50mm prime is sure worth every penny. It’s very good glass, deliv­ers stun­ning qual­ity and it’s fast. My only qualms with this lens is it’s rather noisy clunky aut­o­fo­cus motor, but that of course, doesn’t affect image qual­ity whatsoever.

The Nifty Fifty and Me

The Nifty Fifty and Me

So yeah.

Slap on a 130g 50mm f/1.8 II (the light­est Canon lens ever) onto a 1000D body, which also hap­pens to be the light­est Canon dSLR at 475g — you’ll get a pow­er­ful 600g bokeh machine.

Tell me that isn’t good. =P

If you haven’t yet heard about it, check out my Pho­to­blog at http://img.tehCpeng.net!

by shenghan in General, Photography on 23rd February, 2009 at 4pm, Monday, February 23rd, 2009 04:34 pm GMT +8


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  1. Lisa said

    ah! you’re mak­ing me jeal­ous!! I’ve only had my dslr for two months as well, but I haven’t bought any lenses yet, I’m sav­ing up for the 60mm macro lens :) My friend has this 50mm lens though, I tried a cou­ple of shots with her cam­era and the bokeh is great!

    • ember said

      I didn’t know that! *high fives* =D

      Ah, the EF-S 60mm f2.8 Macro with USM? Looks like a very good lens! Can’t wait to see the pic­tures you’ll start churn­ing out with that lens. =) My next lens would most likely be a tele­photo but ah, like I said, I’ve gotta put my lens acqui­si­tion on hold due to low funds, haha!

  2. Hey, that’s the same lens Saman­tha got as her 2nd! I … am think­ing I’m not a pho­tog­ra­pher. ;-) I do know, how­ever, that I’m not a bokeh guy.

    PS: Though your bokehs here are just. Plain. Zamaz­ing. *sigh*

    • ember said

      Is that so? I must’ve missed her blog post on that then! I know quite a few peo­ple who also got a 50mm as their 2nd lens, which is really under­stand­able since they’re so cheap!

      Well. If you’d ask me, being a pho­tog­ra­pher is not about what gear you have, or don’t have. Of course you’ll obvi­ously need a cam­era but… that’s all to it!

      I’d rather explore the cre­ative lim­its of pho­tog­ra­phy with what­ever lim­ited gear I have rather than hav­ing a whole range of tools not know­ing how to exploit them all.

      Makes sense, dontcha think? ;)

  3. eiChi said

    holy~ you bought one already, no won­der i see extremely nice bokehs in your pic­tures now. damn… my tar­get for this year is to get myself a f1.8 lens too!

    • ember said

      Hehe. Great to hear that! Do get a 50mm f1.8, very highly rec­om­mended. =D

  4. Sam said

    I was just about to say Hey! That was my 2nd lens too!
    Then I saw Cedric had already said it.
    Any­way! I agree it really is noisy when focus­ing.
    The most fas­ci­nat­ing thing about it to me is that it’s so SMALL.
    Por­traits are awe­some with it.

    • ember said

      I’m guess­ing he wouldn’t have thought you’d be here. Which reminds me, wel­come! =D

      Yeah, tell me about it! Only makes me appre­ci­ate the speed and quiet­ness of the 18–55 kit. Some­times I worry if the motor would break the whole thing. =(

      Small and light, yes! And yet so powerful.

      • Sam said

        Thanks for the wel­come =)
        If only it was a 50 mm f/1.8 USM!!!
        I more wor­ried it would get stuck. It cer­tainly sounds like it’ll get stuck sooner or later =/

        • ember said

          My plea­sure. =D

          Oh yes, I would really crave for a USM on my 50mm f/1.8 now! But then again we wouldn’t have enjoyed such an afford­able lens had Canon decide to throw in USM. But the thing is, why couldn’t the 50mm f1.8 per­form as well as — if not bet­ter — than the 18-55mm kit lens, which is also non-USM? =(

          Stuck? Haha! I’m cer­tainly not get­ting that impres­sion. Every­time I focus the focussing bar­rel is bound to focus in and out of infin­ity at least twice or more before it locks — or in most cases fail to lock on the sub­ject. The nerve.

          • Sam said

            But the sounds it makes when try­ing to focus. And the actual vibra­tion you feel in your hand.
            I sup­pose there IS a rea­son it is one of the cheap­est Canon lens after all.

  5. Sally said

    how do you get such nice rich col­ors in your pho­tos? i’ve got the same lens, but the col­ors don’t look as appeal­ing. maybe thats the dif­fer­ence between my 450d and 1000d. i wish i knew, i thought it was only the lens that mattered

    • ember said

      Post pro­cess­ing! A lit­tle curves-job in Pho­to­shop could do won­ders to your photos.

      As far as I know, the 450D and the 1000D are almost iden­ti­cal except that Canon removed or down­scaled a few fea­tures of the 450D to make the 1000D a step lower than its elder brother. So you actu­ally have a bet­ter cam­era than mine. =D

      Don’t be afraid to try out Pho­to­shop, you’ll be amazed at just how much you can achieve with your photos!

  6. sue said

    yippppeeeee! now you’ve got the same body/lens combo with me =)
    a 1000d, a 18–55 and of course the 50mm =)

    psssst: what you gonna buy next?? a speedlight?

    • ember said

      Wooots! *high fives* =D

      That’s a good ques­tion actu­ally — I’m really not sure what I would get next haha. But one thing’s for sure, its not going to be in the near future.. for I’m seri­ously broke right now. =P

      If you insist, well I’m guess­ing it would either be a tele­photo or yeah, a speed­light. How about you? =)

      • sue said

        huahuahua… prob­a­bly a speed­light =) ohh just think of all the cool diy projects u can do with a speedlight =)

        pssst: can i ask u a ques­tion?? i notice alot of post­pro­cess­ing done on the pic­tures.. mind telling what youve done to them? using actions or man­u­ally choos­ing your tools?

        • ember said

          Cool! I agree. Flash pho­tog­ra­phy is really a whole new world to ven­ture into. But I think i’ll refrain from ven­tur­ing into that just yet while I sharpen my rookie dSLR skills, haha. Good luck on get­ting one though!

          It really depends on each photo how I post-process them. I usu­ally start with adjust­ing the curves, which affects the colours, con­trast etc. For a more artis­tic touch, I’d either do split ton­ing for that cross processed or lomog­ra­phy effect. When I get lazy I just apply fil­ters over my pho­tos which I’d always fine-tune to bet­ter suit the expo­sure and colours of that par­tic­u­lar shot.

          There are vir­tu­ally infi­nite ways you could post process a photo. You’re only lim­ited by your cre­ativ­ity! You should’t have a prob­lem though — I lov­ing your post-processing tech­niques too! =D

  7. ember said

    @Sam, Yeah. you get what you pay for right? *Secretly craves for the 50mm f/1.4 USM* Damn, I’m never con­tent with what I have. =(

  8. hey! clicked in from wpinspiration.com or ilovewp.com .. (some­where there, i had too many browsers open) look­ing at inspi­ra­tion to try and design a wp theme.. and got to your blog.

    I’m Lisa, a neigh­bour from Brunei and your About page made me laugh.. ppl do ask me, where is Brunei?? Do you live in trees?? oh in our case.. Do you use boats to go every­where?? Silly, silly.

    Any­way, hope to make your acquain­tance! Con­grats on your 50mm.. I love pho­tog­ra­phy too~

    • ember said

      I bet it’s ILoveWP.com. Its a really fun site that gave me lots of inspi­ra­tion too! In addi­tion to fea­tur­ing my old design awhile ago.

      Any­way, it’s nice to have you here, Lisa! Haha. I bet a good chunk of us liv­ing in this region could relate to awk­ward inci­dents of get­ting those ques­tions thrown at us by out­siders eh? We get the ‘boats to go every­where’ one too! The nerve, right? =P

      I really wouldn’t mind to! I see you’re a pho­tog­ra­pher too. *high fives!* =D

      • Yay! Will link you soon.. keep shooting! ;)

        • ember said

          Well you too! =D Thank you!

  9. Latrina said

    Absolutely gor­geous lay­out. Orga­nized and great design!

    I enjoyed this post of yours. I have a Nikon have been acquir­ing about dif­fer­ent lens and the best lens for get­ting bokeh. So thanks for the advice. I learned a lot. :P Adding you to my bookmarks.

    • ember said

      Why thank you!

      Glad to know you’ve been on a roll in lens-acquiring! Really glad I could be of help. Oh, and you’re more than wel­come to! =)

  10. yingzi said

    ehh… i go ask the price of ur cam­era
    its onli 1900++
    but its still nt the cheap­est one


    • ember said

      You sure that’s the lat­est price? I heard Canon Malaysia did a price increase recently due to the weaker econ­omy. If that really is the lat­est price, I wouldn’t be sur­prised. Its only a hun­dred bucks cheaper con­sid­er­ing i got my 1000D almost three months ago. =)

  11. Lance said

    Con­grats on your new lens! Every­one Canon user is aim­ing for that. The cheap­est lens with bokeh-licious effect =)

    • ember said

      Thanks! Well yeah, the 50mm is quite sought after — not only for Canon users but pretty much any­one with a dSLR who appre­ci­ates this nifty old prime lens and the sharp­ness and bokeh it produces. =)

      Lucky for Canon users a 50mm is dirt cheap!

  12. Hmmm yes, this is the lens I wanna get! Your pho­tos look great!