The choicest prime cuts of 50mm optics
Prime 50mm lenses mean different things to different people. If you’re shooting with a full-frame camera, it’ll be a standard prime that gives an entirely natural perspective for general shooting. On an APS-C format body, the same lens will have an effective focal length of 75mm (80mm for Canon), making it a better fit for portraiture.
Shrink down to a Micro Four Thirds camera, and a 50mm lens will have an 100mm effective focal length, more suitable for really tight portraits and short telephoto shooting. In fact, the MFT lens in this test group is a bit less than 50mm: its 42.5mm focal length equates to 85mm in full-frame terms. Many regard that as spot-on for portraiture.
Whichever camp you’re in, a ‘nifty fifty’ might well be the only prime lens you ever buy, so it pays to get a good one. Even so, nobody likes spending over the odds. We’ve sought out lenses that give great performance at a variety of price points.