50mm Lens

The 50mm lens is called a "normal" or "standard" lens because the way it renders perspective closely matches that of the human eye. Consequently, images made with a 50mm lens have a natural and uncontrived look. This is the lens that likely would have come with your camera had you bought it 10-15 years ago. Before falling to its current level of disfavor, the 50mm lens had a long and distinguished pedigree. For many years the defining documentary instrument of the 20th century was the small format rangefinder camera (Leica, Contax, Nikon, Canon) with 50mm lens. Some of the world's best-known photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ralph Gibson made virtually their entire careers with this combination. With the advent of the "wide angle" Leica M2 and the rise of the SLR camera with its broad range of focal lengths, the 50mm lens began to fall out of favor among professionals users. Today's working pros mostly eschew prime lenses for the high speed f/2.8 "professional" zooms.

-Gary Voth