Cosplay Photography At 50mm

April 11, 2013
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Let’s face it: serious photography requires serious cash, but that goes with every kind of hobby, cosplay included. But for every hobby, there are always ways to do it on the cheap and still produce great work. Photography is of no exception. It just so happened that one of those “cheap” ways everyone can easily adopt is the so called “nifty-fifty”, the 50mm f/1.8 prime lenses, and many may very well find themselves loving these 50s really quickly.

So what exactly make these 50s so attractive as a beginner’s lens? There are many reasons, but here are just a couple main reasons:

  • Price: With most of the 50mm f/1.8 prime lenses priced around $100 USD, these 50s are probably one of the most universally cheap lenses across all camera companies. For those tight on budget but still want to jump on the dSLR ship, 50s’ price points make them a very attractive option.
  • Performance: One of the greatest things about prime lenses is their wide aperture. At f/1.8, one can easily ‘melt’ the background into beautiful bokeh, and at the same time brings the focus to the subject. Cheap zoom lenses seldomĀ come with aperture larger than f/3.5, and that difference between f/1.8 and f/3.5 is almost night and day for portrait photography, which just so happens to be what cosplay photography falls under.

With 50s obvious limitations in mind, such as the fixed focal length and their cheap build, they do offer an option for one to begin cosplay photography on the cheap side and at the same time offer a decent range of flexibility. For those who photograph cosplays at conventions, that wide aperture will easily become your new best friend, not just to melt away the busy background, but to also allow you to experiment with low light photography.

Examples

All that said, what exactly are the kind of cosplay photos 50s can get you? DeviantArt, flickr, and many other online repositories are full of wonderful examples that you can find. For those interested, read on for my personal description about the shots I have made with my 50mm prime. Note – these shots are captured using the Canon 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, but for all intents and purposes, 50mm f/1.8 can produce the same results.

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Final Fantasy Lightning by Nyurt Cosplay. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.5, 1/125, ISO-400. Backlit by the sun and front fill by a speedlight through a shoot-through umbrella.

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Tangled Rapunzel by Katie. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/500, ISO-200. Backlit by the sun and front fill by a speedlight through a shoot-through umbrella.

Vampire Hunter D by Sydney. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/200, ISO-800. Natural light through the window.

Vampire Hunter D by Sydney. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/200, ISO-800. Natural light through the window.

Black Vow Hatsune Miku by Anastacia. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/80, ISO-1000. Natural light. Panoramically stitched.

Black Vow Hatsune Miku by Anastacia. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/80, ISO-1000. Natural light. Panoramically stitched.

Guild Wars Shining Blade by Enayla Cosplay. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/200, ISO-200. Backlit by the sun and front fill by monolight through a diffused PLM.

Guild Wars Shining Blade by Enayla Cosplay. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/200, ISO-200. Backlit by the sun and front fill by monolight through a diffused PLM.

League of Legend Ashe by Missyeru. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/125, ISO-125. Speedlight through umbrella on the right.

League of Legends Ashe by Missyeru. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.8, 1/125, ISO-125. Speedlight through umbrella on the right.

Final Fantasy Sice by Nyurt Cosplay. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.2, 1/250, ISO-100. Speedlight through shoot-through umbrella on the right.

Final Fantasy Sice by Nyurt Cosplay. Shot with Canon 5D Mark II @ f/2.2, 1/250, ISO-100. Speedlight through shoot-through umbrella on the right.

Conclusion

50s definitely provide a cheap alternative to zoom lenses, and while you may need to manually zoom with your feet, the added bonus of a wider aperture can sometimes be worth more than the workout. I sort of “cheated” by using fill flash in some of the examples shown above, but with them at a fairly low output power, one can easily achieve similar results even without a flash.

We are all about teaching, learning, and inviting more to the cosplay photography community, and by shedding light on economical ways to do things, we hope to make cosplay photography more accessible, attainable, and easier to jumpĀ on board. So are you intrigued? Do you shoot with a 50mm? We would love to hear about your experience.

If you found this article interesting, be sure to join our Facebook group, Cosplay Photography Discussion Group. It is a place for cosplay photographers of all levels to learn from each other. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook as well!

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I am a Seattle, WA based lifestyle fashion photographer who has Cosplay to thank for his adventure into the photography world. In addition to fashion, I also maintain Costographer as my cosplay work outlet: http://facebook.com/costographer

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