Ted's Cameras Learning Centre

The Return Of The Fixed Lens

10 January 2017 4:04:38 PM AEDT

There's no denying the versatility that a zoom lens provides, but more and more beginner and advanced photographers are now rediscovering the charms of the fixed lens. Sure, you've got to do a little bit more work moving your feet to compose your pictures, but the hard work and exercise is all worthwhile upon viewing your results.

Just what is a fixed lens?

A fixed lens is a lens that only provides you with one focal length, meaning it doesn't zoom at all and once upon a time this type of lens was the standard on all modern cameras. What these lenses offer to make up for their fixed focal length is a generally superior edge-to-edge sharpness for their budget and faster maximum apertures, which equates to better low light performance and depth of field control. These features can still be found on zoom lenses, but that usually means offloading the cash that you had aside for your soon to be of driving age child's first car.

The large maximum aperture of a fixed lens can help to produce beautiful bokeh

Fixed lenses come in many shapes and sizes, so you are sure to find the right one for your chosen application. Wider lenses are generally popular for landscape and travel photography, with a popular length being in the 28mm or similar range, longer lenses such as the 85mm length are great for portraiture, while traditionally the trusty 50mm focal length has been the standard for everyday usage.

Sifting through the limitless options

One of the most inviting things about these lenses are the high-quality low budget options that are on the market from the majority of manufacturers. Nikon and Canon both have very popular lenses at the entry-level range, such as the Canon 50mm f1.8 STM and the Nikon AF-S 50mm f1.8G.

Fixed lenses allow for handheld low-light shooting, often diminishing the need for a tripod or flash

Brands flourishing in the smaller format mirrorless market have been successful with their travel-friendly pancake offerings, such as the Sony 20mm f2.8 and the Panasonic 14mm f2.5. Those with a bit more to spend can explore the premium optical, light gathering options that are available for the various mounts. A few of these that are worth mentioning are the Canon 50mm f1.2 L or the Fuji XF 56mm f1.2 lens.


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