Let’s get down to basics and talk about the "Normal" lens. The 50mm is called that because it captures the world as the human eye would see it. It’s the simplest lens for lens-makers to build, and because of its efficient design it tends to create the sharpest images, particularly with the more powerful versions. But enough with the technical details--it’s the actual perspective of the lens that makes it both difficult to master and extremely rewarding to use.
For example, it can be difficult to photograph landscapes because it doesn’t draw in the edges of the image the way a wide-angle lens does. It doesn’t have the zooming capabilities of a telephoto lens, so it requires that you are close to your subject (which can be a challenge depending on the subject). However, it is certainly one of my favorite lenses, and if I had to choose just one lens for street photography and capturing mood images, this would definitely be the one.
The reason I like this lens so much is because it takes skill and discipline to learn how to use it, but when you do, the results can be amazing. There is no wide-angle distortion or compression effects like a telephoto lens would create, so it challenges me to take more artistic images that focus on interesting composition and subject matter rather than relying on special effects. It requires that you invoke your skill as a photographer to create a great image because the photograph will be clear and devoid of any distracting effects. There are certainly appropriate uses for wide-angle and telephoto lenses, but for most occasions I prefer the crisp, natural images produced by the basic 50mm lens.
Below are three images I shot in the aftermath of the last snowstorm two weeks ago in upstate New York using a 50mm lens. I thought I would post these as it is such a snow day in New York.