Exercise 13 – Standard focal length

The brief. “The concept of ‘standard’ and ‘normal’ in lens focal length is that the view approximates to what you would see with the naked eye. This is a very loose idea, as a camera image is fixed and framed, while our eyes are constantly scanning and we have an awareness of a much wider area around the part of a scene that we are paying attention to”.

So why use a standard focal length lens?

They’re cheap, very cheap compared to many other high end lenses. They are usually very small and light, making them easy to carry in a small bag or pocket. Apertures can be small such as f1.2, f1.4 etc giving a nice depth of filed or ‘bokeh’. Due to the low f-stop they are a great lens for low light photography.

Field of vision is very close to the human eye so the image is as we see it to the naked eye in terms of composition.A lower focal lens would need to be used on an APSC sized camera due to the approx 1.4 to 1.6 x increase.

Below are some images taken with a standard 50mm lens on a full frame camera.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

[120], [121], [122]

Here are three examples of people taken with a standard lens. Each one taken in a different environment, i.e., indoors, outdoors and outdoors at night.

[123], [124], [125],

These images show people at work. The first is a workman with a blow torch in the streets of Dubai. The second is workmen loading a dhow on the waters of Dubai Creek. The last its the camel riders working out the camera before a morning race. Some of these images may work better with a longer lens, but again this shows the viewer how the images looked to the naked eye.

[126], [127]

The last set of images show people posed. These images are taken in the mountains of Hatta and by the ocean in Fujeriah.


The 50mm lens, or sometimes known as ‘the nifty fifty’ can be a go to lens for just about any type of photography. It can be used for portraits, landscapes, street photography, indoor, close up (ok maybe with a close up adapter or lens kit) and night due to its low aperture setting of around f1.8 or lower.

It can be carried with little required storage space and is very light. It also makes the photographer move his/her feet. Sometimes we can get very lazy and find it better to just adjust the zoom ratio rather than look around and change perspective.

Many pro photographers state we should just have only a standard lens fitted to our cameras for a month or so and go out and take photos. This is a great way to teach us viewpoints, angles and gets us out of the lazy way of taking photos that is so easy with zoom lenses.