The 2-day seniors camp gave me a unique opportunity to try out my new lens to it’s fullest. The new 50mm f1.8 prime lens that is suitable for portraits and taking photos of people. The verdict: This lens could be the best lens that money can buy after your first kits lens that comes with the camera itself.
The depth of field is amazing and the bokeh is pretty good. I have read from various review sites complaining about the bokeh quality but in my opinion they are good enough for me. The main reason for the complaints stems from the fact that the aperture has only 5 petals, creating some rather harsh and sometimes, pentagonal bokeh effect. But such nitpicking is negligent here because I’m merely taking photos during camp and not wedding photos. The build quality is really cheap. Again I have read of users of this lens failing on them, rendering it useless after dropping or knocking on the lens on some hard surfaces. Since the freshmen orientation camp is 5 days long, I must be extremely careful when using the lens.
This lens has really taught me a lot about photography. For one, great photos can only be taken if you do some serious legwork. This lens is tough to use. With no zoom ring to zoom in or out, you have to walk around a lot to get that perfect shot. And when it comes to school camps, things can get hectic and busy. I think walking around a lot is the best way to take good photos. By exposing yourself to different angles and positions, you never know if you will get that great shot unless you walk about. Being a photographer isn’t just about standing there and playing around with your zoom ring. It’s about engaging the people around you and the things around you to get that great shot.
There is one shortcoming when it comes to prime lenses such as these. For one, taking photos in confined spaces is excruciatingly hard or may be even impossible. During the camp there are instances where the activities and games played requires large groups of people huddled together in tight spaces, making it difficult to shoot photos using that lens.
One great advantage to using this lens is that indoor shots are much much easier as the wide aperture setting allows more light to enter the camera.
With that, the great bokeh, depth of field, sharpness and wide aperture seriously outweighs the disadvantages in using this lens.
Certain things I need to improve on:
Firstly I need to be more flexible in changing the aperture when taking group photos. I noticed that when I stick to f2, I ended up having blurred portraits of people when standing at the back, i need to adjust the depth of field frequently and according to how the people arranged themselves in groups. If they are standing in line then that is fine, all of them will be in the same depth of field and all will look sharp. If there are people at the back and beyond I may need to increase the aperture so that all of them look great and sharp. In other words, I need to ease my bokeh “addiction”.
Secondly I need to adjust and use at least f2.8 to 4 in some cases to get the sharpest image possible when taking portraits. I noticed that I tend to get soft images at f1.8 to f2.
Thirdly I really need work on my stability when taking photos. The lens has no image stabilizer, and though the camera in Av mode would not drop the shutter speed to anything less than 1/60, I still tend to get soft image or slight blurring of images, especially when taking indoor shots where lightning conditions aren’t optimal.
I have never been this tired before during a camp. This lens is challenging but the effort put into it is well worth it if you can take great looking photos. I myself was amazed at what the lens could do and my friends appreciated the great photos taken, spurring me ever more to work harder to immortalise great memories through pictures.