Published July 8th 2006

Minolta 50mm f/1.7

As normal as they come, but still a very capable lens with premium image quality

Victoria Station, London
[Dynax 7D, Minolta 50 mm f1.7]

Normal lenses are commonly considered "boring", and I am usually counted amongst those who find them a little too much inbetween. It is not quite fair, actually, because a normal lens with a focal lens in the 50-55mm range is usually a very decent piece of glass, and even the most plain out-of-the-box standard lens has some very good characteristics. And most of them are at least f1.7 and some even 1.2 enabling you to gain a few shutter steps and take pictures in very dim light.

On a digital camera with an APS-size sensor, you get a short telephoto lens, and most normal lenses actually turn into very good portrait lenses in the 75-80mm range. Since most of them have very good low light capabilities and good sharpness full open, they are very well suited for candid, available light photography like indoors at weddings and other parties.

I'm sure that many a portrait photographer has great joy from normal lenses on digital, since they can provide what is often sought in portrait photography: short telephoto focal length, good details and brightness.
I have heard people debate that some normal lenses and macros in particular are too sharp for portraits. Well, too much sharpness is a lot easier to convert to fuzziness than the other way round...