DSLRs are more and more affordable and most people with an interest in photography can pick one up without having to break the bank. However much you spend on your camera though has no real baring on your ability to take great photos. In fact, the one thing you can do to take better photos with your lovely new DSLR is get rid of the kit lens that came with the camera. And never use it again.

So why should you replace your kit lens with a 50mm lens?

1) It's inexpensive.
As a Canon girl, one of the first lenses I owned was a 50mm f1.8. I shot with this for a long time before I was able to afford any of the big boy lenses. You can pick up a 50mm f1.8 for around £80. Don't be fooled by the lightweight, plastic feel to it, this is a great lens capable of producing wonderfully sharp images and beautiful colours. Plastic fantastic.

2) It has a wide aperture.
This just means that your lens is able to let more light in. The lower the "f" number of your lens, the more light can reach your camera sensor. The lower the number, the "faster" your lens is considered to be. The average kit lens will open up to around f3.5 so the chances of you successfully shooting indoors are pretty slim unless you use a flash. Without a flash, a kit lens would typically be "slow" and cause you to take blurred photos. The 50mm f1.8 is a great at handling low-light situations without a flash. If you were able to spend a bit (or a lot) more on your 50mm lens you might even want to opt for the 50mm f1.4 or even the 50mm f1.2.

3) The field of vision is close to the human eye.
The 50mm lens is generally regarded as producing the closest field of view as the human eye. This is why it is often called a "standard" or "normal lens". Provided you are shooting with a full frame sensor, it matches the perspective seen by the human eye without any distortion. It's classic old school focal length. Leica calls it “the natural image angle.” and it's excellent for creating natural looking images, especially when shooting portraits.

4) It's versatile.
Almost any situation that you could think can be shot with a 50mm lens.

5) It makes you a better photographer.
Zoom lenses make it all to easy to just point and shoot without thinking too much about whether all the elements in your frame look right. The 50mm lens has a fixed focal length so you really need to zoom with your feet. You have to physically move to get closer to your subjects. It really forces you to think about your composition that much more before you press the shutter. It keeps you grounded and creatively stimulated.

If you like the idea of shooting everything without ever having to move from the comfort of your armchair, the 50mm probably isn't the lens for you.

Whether you are opting for the f1.8, f1.4 or f1.2, the 50mm is one of the most portable and versatile lenses out there. It's lightweight enough that you can start carrying your camera with you everywhere you go. Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”. If this is true, carrying your camera with you and using it as often as possible can only help you improve.

If you are already the proud owner of a 50mm lens, what do you use it for?  Let me know in the comments below.

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