When I first started shooting digital, I was a preschool teacher living on my own which meant my funds were slightly, or very, limited. I had to make the absolute most of the equipment I had.

Not long after I purchased my first DSLR second-hand, the ever-popular 50mm lens (aka “the Nifty Fifty”) portrait lens was close to follow. That was over 5 years ago and it still remains my go-to lens today.

Over time I’ve found this lens to not only be affordable, but extremely versatile as well. Let’s look at just how versatile it is outside of portraiture.

Nature photography

Before I had my daughter, this was my main genre of photography and I’ve never used anything other than my 50mm to capture it. The 50mm is such a great lens for nature photography because of the amazing bokeh it provides when shooting at larger apertures, and I love that light, airy, ethereal quality it offers my images when doing so.

nature image taken at the waterfront music garden in Toronto by Jenny Diaz

Landscape photography

When traveling, I want to keep my equipment as light and efficient as possible so if I have to choose one lens to bring along, the 50mm always wins. A few years ago I took it with me on my first trip to Niagara Falls. It happened to be that rare and gorgeous time of year when the fall leaves are in prime color changing mode and I was able to capture this image. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since. I also love using my 50mm to capture some of the amazing sunsets I can often see from my condo.

autumn leaves in Niagara Falls Ontario by Jenny Diaz

Still life photography

Since the 50mm is a standard lens, meaning the result it gives is closest to what the human eye sees, I find it great for still life. It captures the beauty of a scene easily and accurately. I use it to photograph our weekly bouquet of flowers from the farmer’s market as well as to practice capturing different types of light on a single subject.

still life egg carton on the kitchen table by Jenny Diaz

Food photography

I love using this lens to occasionally document new recipes I’ve tried or play around with food styling and I find it to be equally as versatile for this genre as it is for others. By opening my aperture up, I get beautiful bokeh if I want to focus solely on the main subject, and if I close it up a bit, I get a great clear overhead shot that keeps everything in focus.

photo of an orange and a glass of orange juice by Jenny Diaz

Macro photography

Macro photography?! Yes, you read that correctly. This is one of my favorite ways to use this lens! I adore macro, but didn’t have the money to splurge on a macro lens at the time, so I decided to make a small investment into some extension tubes. I was so satisfied with the result, I have yet to purchase an actual macro lens. Later I found out you can also achieve the same effect by turning your lens around when freelensing, so now that is my preferred way to shoot macro with my 50mm.

moody black and white macro photo of flower by Jenny Diaz

As you can see, there are so many great uses for this versatile, lightweight lens, and I’ve only touched on a few. So, the next time you find yourself picking up your 50mm to capture that great portrait image, I challenge you to expand your horizons and also use it in a way you might not have considered before!

Not long after I purchased my first DSLR, the ever-popular 50mm lens (aka "the Nifty Fifty”) portrait lens was close to follow. That was over 5 years ago. Let's look at just how versatile it is outside of portraiture.


We love lenses! Don’t you? Here are a few more stories about lenses that we think you might like: 5 Reasons using vintage camera lenses will change your photography4 reasons you should love zoom lenses and Traveling with one lens: The Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 Pancake lens. Plus, read more product and gear reviews here and check out which lenses the Click Pros use on the Images by Lens platform!