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50mm Street Photography: What Makes It Great (+ Tips)

50mm street photography: what makes it great

There’s a longstanding debate about whether or not 50mm street photography is how you can cross, or if wider lenses are a more sensible choice. Most individuals who apply boulevard pictures favor lenses with a broader box of view like 35m or 28mm, however that doesn’t imply 50mm is unnecessary. Far from it, actually.

There are many excellent causes to make a choice this focal duration when capturing pictures out in the street. Shooting with a 50mm lens additionally unlocks plenty of photographic probabilities – together with including some inventive constraints – and the effects you get simply could be amongst your all-time favourite footage.

Reasons to make use of a 50mm lens for boulevard pictures

The first lens I ever bought for my DSLR was once a 50mm f/1.8, and I nonetheless use that very same lens lately. It’s roughly a jack of all trades choice, and it we could me get nice photographs in quite a lot of eventualities, particularly when capturing with a full-frame camera.

I’ve since picked up quite a lot of different lenses however to find myself returning to the vintage “nifty fifty” again and again, particularly for boulevard pictures. It has a appeal and sense of personality to it that different lenses can’t fit, and it’s a perfect choice for amateur boulevard photographers who wish to step up from their package zoom lenses.

In different phrases: There are quite a lot of causes to make use of a 50mm lens for boulevard pictures. Not satisfied but? Here are a few of my favourite causes to stay with a 50mm lens when capturing in the street, beginning with:

1. 50mm is helping isolate your topic

Streets are stuffed with task: pedestrians, automobiles, vacationers, animals, and a lot more. Shooting with a wide-angle lens makes it simple to seize a whole scene – however tricky to isolate a unmarried topic.

On the opposite hand, while you use a 50mm lens, the sphere of view is constrained, so your topic is continuously remoted amidst the chaos, hustle, and bustle of day by day existence.

While you’ll be able to get a an identical impact with a much broader lens just by transferring nearer for your topic, you might really feel like you might be implementing in your topic’s non-public area. Shooting with a 50mm lens is a good way to make your topic stand out whilst additionally keeping up a at ease distance.

2. 50mm lenses have superb intensity of box

two students in conversation
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/1.8 | 1/3200s | ISO 100

Every lens adjusts the depth of field, nevertheless it’s a lot more uncomplicated to govern DoF on a 50mm lens in comparison to a much broader lens. To get pleasant foreground or background blur on a 28mm or 35mm lens, you wish to have to near the gap between you and your topic or shoot with a very broad aperture, which has a tendency to get dear.

Moving almost about your topics is okay in case you are at ease getting on the subject of strangers, however plenty of boulevard photographers like to depart somewhat of distance. Thankfully, the massive f/1.8 or f/1.4 aperture on maximum 50mm lenses means that you can get sharp topics and wonderful background blur even whilst status again somewhat. This intensity of box may also be the variation between a tight picture and a perfect one, and it’s a useful tool to have to your again pocket for while you in reality want it.

Of direction, longer focal lengths like 85mm or 105mm provide you with much more keep watch over over intensity of box, however those choices can isolate your topic a little bit too a lot. Whereas 50mm hits the candy spot; it means that you can get sufficient within the body whilst additionally providing tremendous keep watch over over intensity of box.

3. 50mm is helping you seize speedy motion

50mm Street Photography Skateboard

Some would possibly cry foul in this one, since any lens can seize speedy motion so long as you’ll be able to get a handy guide a rough shutter velocity – however as soon as once more we discover {that a} 50mm lens hits the candy spot. As lengthy as you will have quite a lot of gentle and excellent autofocus, you’ll be able to freeze a second in time with any lens, however if you wish to do that in a boulevard atmosphere, 50mm is easy methods to cross.

With a large f/1.4 or f/1.8 aperture, you’ll be able to simply get a shutter velocity of one/500s or 1/1000s in maximum lights stipulations, which is masses for preventing motion and getting rid of movement blur. And the midrange focal duration is highest for honing in on one topic whilst no longer interfering with the motion that you’re looking to seize.

If you wish to have somewhat extra succeed in, you’ll be able to shoot with a 50mm lens on a crop-sensor camera, which is able to put you even nearer to the motion when photographing, say, musicians or boulevard performers. The 50mm focal duration is perfect for freezing movement on a unmarried topic and focusing your audience’ consideration, which is hard when capturing with wider focal lengths.

4. 50mm will get you on the subject of your topic

50mm Street Photography Sorority Rush
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/1250s | ISO 200

Here’s one among my favourite sides of capturing with a 50mm lens:

It’s no longer in reality a wide-angle lens, but in addition no longer in reality a telephoto lens. It exists within the grey center floor between the ones two extremes, and as such, means that you can faucet into the facility of each. This approach you’ll be able to stand up shut and private with topics in the street with out being too shut, particularly in case you shoot with a crop-sensor camera. You too can stand again and provides your self some respiring room whilst getting close to sufficient to make a non-public symbol.

I’ve shot boulevard pictures with quite a lot of focal lengths and constantly discovered that 50mm moves the most efficient stability. Wider lenses seize complete scenes, whilst telephoto lenses are nice for portraits. But 50mm lens means that you can seize scenes that additionally really feel non-public via bringing you simply shut sufficient for your topic, and the effects may also be superb.

5. 50mm provides you with a singular point of view

Sidewalk Lamp
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8 | f/4.8 | 1/640s | ISO 200

While some other folks suppose the 50mm focal duration is uninteresting, I’ve discovered the other to be true, particularly for capturing boulevard pictures.

When shooting the picture above, I used to be on best of a three-story parking storage and capturing instantly all the way down to get a shot of the pathway gentle. While I used to be framing the shot, a pedestrian came about to stroll throughout the symbol, and I were given an image that wouldn’t paintings in any respect with a much broader or longer lens.

I steadily come throughout eventualities like this with 50mm lenses, the place a much broader focal duration would destroy the shot. It’s this distinctive point of view that makes 50mm so excellent for boulevard pictures. You get a point of view that takes peculiar scenes and turns them into fascinating, inventive picture alternatives that may ignite your interest and encourage your creativeness.

50mm boulevard pictures guidelines

When venturing out along with your 50mm lens, it’s necessary to stay a couple of guidelines in thoughts. While each and every particular person photographer has to search out their very own taste, strategies, and way to pictures, listed below are some courses I’ve discovered to help you recuperate pictures, constantly:

1. Don’t at all times shoot broad open

50mm Street Photography Sunrise silhouette
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/4 | 1/6000s | ISO 200

Wide-aperture lenses are exceptional pictures gear, but if no longer used sparsely, they may be able to motive issues.

It’s tempting to shoot broad open at f/1.8, f/1.4, and even f/1.2 in case your 50mm lens has that capacity. But whilst the effects may also be elegant, there are numerous causes to forestall all the way down to f/2.8, f/4, and even smaller, particularly when doing boulevard pictures.

For one, a smaller aperture provides you with extra wiggle room with intensity of box, plus it leads to higher general symbol sharpness. Street photographers continuously use zone focusing, which is very tricky when capturing at very broad apertures, particularly on a 50mm lens.

Also, capturing broad open can on occasion provide you with an excessive amount of background blur, to the purpose that it’s distracting or downright unsightly. My rule of thumb is to make use of my 50mm lens one or two stops down from its widest aperture for many boulevard capturing, then open it up all of the means for the ones eventualities the place you in reality want it.

2. Capture motion via panning

bicycle panning
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/13 | 1/15s | ISO 100

If you in reality wish to take your boulevard pictures to the following stage, check out some panning shots. This is a good way to seize movement the use of lengthy shutter speeds, particularly with a 50mm lens.

Start with a small aperture – check out f/8 – and a slightly gradual shutter speed, corresponding to 1/30s. Then put your camera in continuous high-speed shooting mode, set your autofocus to AF-C as an alternative of AF-S, and hearth away as a bike owner, pedestrian, or automotive zooms previous.

It would possibly take a couple of tries to get the shot you wish to have, however with a little bit apply, you’re going to quickly create works of boulevard artwork that you are going to be proud to print and cling at the wall or proportion on social media.

3. Look for gentle and shadow

50mm Street Photography Fountain
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/4 | 1/800s | ISO 100

This tip isn’t particular to a 50mm lens, however in my revel in, it’s more uncomplicated with one. You see, the constrained box of view at 50mm makes eventualities of sunshine and shadow more uncomplicated to search out, because it forces your eye to take a look at a smaller portion of the arena in comparison to a much broader lens.

When capturing in the street, search for distinctive picture alternatives that use gentle and shadow in inventive techniques. Try capturing silhouettes or the use of backlighting to create fascinating picture alternatives. Pay consideration to the time of day and regulate your capturing accordingly. I in reality like going out within the early morning or past due night time when the solar casts lengthy shadows over the whole lot; you’ll be able to create superb pictures that you simply can’t get at different occasions.

4. Capture moments, no longer other folks

50mm Street Photography Free Hugs
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/2.8 | 1/1250s | ISO 200

This is some other tip that’s excellent for any boulevard pictures state of affairs, however one this is continuously enhanced when capturing with a 50mm lens. Try to seize moments in time that show singular parts of humanity: goal, decisiveness, goal, pressure, and so forth. Don’t simply get photographs of other folks status round, wandering aimlessly, or sitting and gazing their telephones. Look for feelings like love, being concerned, compassion, happiness, or concern.

Take footage that inform a tale, corresponding to the only above, which I shot on a faculty campus on Valentine’s Day. A 50mm lens is perfect for those human moments – you’ll be able to stand again somewhat, get your topics sharp and targeted, and create a way of three-d area via cautious use of aperture and intensity of box. This elevates your boulevard pictures from flat, uninteresting pictures of random passersby to slices of existence that exhibit the most efficient of what people have to provide on this international.

50mm boulevard pictures: conclusion

50mm Street Photography Bicycle
Nikon D200 | 50mm f/1.8G | f/16 | 1/20s | ISO 100

Street pictures is all about non-public selection and discovering a method that works for you. While the 50mm boulevard pictures isn’t the primary choice for many of us, it has some distinct benefits and distinctive qualities that allow you to create spectacular pictures and expand your individual inventive imaginative and prescient.

If you will have by no means attempted capturing boulevard pictures with a 50mm lens, give it a check out. I feel you’ll like what you notice!

Now over to you:

What do you call to mind 50mm boulevard pictures? Have you attempted it? Do you will have any pictures you’re pleased with? Share your ideas and pictures within the feedback under!

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