I recently spent two weeks in Taipei, Taiwan. For this particular trip, I decided to leave my trusty 24-70 mm lens at home and just bring the tiny 50 mm f:1.8 fixed focal length lens. My reasons for doing this were twofold: I wanted to go lighter. The Canon 24-70 is a tank, both in terms of actual weight as well as visual weight, especially when combined with the 6D body. My shoulder is weary of carrying it all and the size of it makes me feel very conspicuous in public places. Secondly, I wanted to challenge myself with a single focal length lens. Part of the purpose for this challenge will be revealed in an upcoming post (I know you’re all holding your breath in anticipation).
Upon returning, someone asked if I had felt limited in having only the one focal length. Generally I would have to say no. Sure, there were occasional moments where I might have wished for something a bit longer or shorter, but us humans are really quite flexible creatures and we tend to adapt to whatever constraints we are given. Forced to use one lens, you adapt and soon begin to ‘see’ in that focal length. Although, aside from a 100 mm macro lens, my experience with fixed focal length lenses is limited, those-who-know-better-than-me often suggest that using fixed lenses can help you learn to see creatively because of those constraints. You can’t just stand it one spot and zoom until you get something interesting, you have to actually think within that fixed frame.
As far as the Canon 50 mm f:1.8 (often referred to at the Nifty Fifty) is concerned, well, it’s a cheap lens. On the plus side, it’s inexpensive, reasonably sharp, and light-weight. On the downside, it’s cheap, as in plastic construction, slow focusing, and, at least to my eye, seemed to struggle with high-contrast situations in which a higher quality lens might have handled with ease. That said, for the price you can’t beat this lens and every Canon shooter should have it in their bag. Or rather, on their camera.
The pictures below were all shot with the 50 mm on a 6D (full frame) body and are a series of images from various temples around the Taipei area. Taipei has numerous temples around, primarily of various Buddhist and Confucius varieties. I won’t pretend to know the differences between them and they all seemed to follow a similar layout, although the Confucius temple was more spare and much less ostentatious than the Buddhist temples.