lunchbox session

A week ago I received an email from one of my readers asking for some advice. Michelle asked 2 questions and they were such good questions, I thought some of you might be interested in both the questions and my responses.  I coined my photographic training course, the Lunchbox, so I thought I’d call this Q & A session, the lunchbox session.

I’m going to address the first question this week and tackle the other question in the next week or two. Now please remember, there are no hard and fast rules to photography. There is no right or wrong, this is just my approach to photography.

Here's Michelle's first question. 

I'm thinking about getting a standard lens EF50mm f1.8 or f1.4 (if I can afford it) for all table top shooting. Is this lens any good for travel shooting?

I shoot with Nikon cameras, both film and digital, and only use Nikon lenses.The only fixed lens I own is the 50 mm 1.4D. All the images posted on the blog today were shot with the 50 mm lens and I've posted the settings I used for all the digital images. I used to document all my settings when shooting film but I’m a bit lazy these days and haven’t for a while.

I use the 50mm 1.4 lens for all my details shots and for most of my food photography.

I use the zooms for travel photography, interiors and weddings. All the black and white travel photos I took on my last trip were shot exclusively with the 50 mm 1.4, so yes you can use it as a travel lens.

It’s a nice light lens as well which is a definite bonus when you’re travelling. For someone like me who’s used to using a zoom, having to use one’s feet to get in close with the 50 mm lens is a bit of a challenge.

For many years, a 50 mm fixed lens was the only option for a 35 mm film camera and the optimum aperture with that lens is f8.

Using different apertures will change the look of your image. For most of my landscape images, I use an aperture of either f8 or f5.6.

For my food or interior shots, I often want selective focus, so I might shoot anywhere from f 2.5 to f 4.

The 50 mm f1.8 is a much cheaper lens, so is the 50 mm f1.4 worth the extra money for the extra stop of light? For me the answer is ‘no’, because I’ve never used the lens at 1.4. With my lens, it’s very hard to get the image 
in focus if I use anything under 2.2 . I have one memorable shot where I was trying to get the bride’s eyelashes in focus and instead have her eye brows in perfect focus! 

Why then did I buy the 50mm 1.4 rather than the less expensive 1.8? I bought the 50mm 1.4 lens because it’s a D lens, which means I can use it with both my film and digital cameras. 

If you try using a digital lens on a film camera you get 'cut off' where you can see the outline of the lens in the frame. As my digital cameras aren't full frame the 50 mm acts like a 70mm lens on my digital cameras. That's quite a nice portrait lens, so the 50 mm lens has become one of my favourite lenses.

I hope that’s been of some help. I’m always happy to answer any photography or baking enquiries for that matter, so please feel free to email me with your questions.

I'll see you all again next week.

Have a great weekend,




  1. I've got the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. I had always previously used the nifty fifty 1.8 lens which I loved and used alot for travel (and loved that it was light and small). That is until I dropped it on the floor and broke it. The sales person talked me up to the 1.4m lens which was a good $400 more expensive. I don't find a great deal of difference between the two, other then that the 1.4 lens feels and moves more solidly then the cheaper model. As a person who mainly just used the auto settings on my SRL I am sure I am not getting the most out of the lens, but love its results regardless. x Alischa

  2. Michelle5:27 am

    Thank you Jillian for your great images and informative pointers to illustrate for the 50mm lens. Always inspiring!

  3. Thanks for the comment Alischa. Sorry for the delay but only I've just returned to Sydney. Exhausted,



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