maandag 31 januari 2011

is photography art?

To be honest I don’t know. I have been thinking about this because of a discussion I had recently about photography with another photographer. He insisted that I studied the work of some older photographers (I am familiar with the work of the well known photographers but not with every single on of them.)
His approach to photography is completely different then mine, he tries to be influenced by photographers and I just try to take the best photo I am capable of. (I am probably influenced by other photographer but I don’t try to be influenced by them)

And I think there is a difference in how we think about photography. He considers it art, while I consider it photography. I truly don’t think that photography is a pure form of art. It is artistic, but it is just too real. Everyone can take a perfectly good photograph his compact camera and get a great result. Especially if you know just a little about photography. I also think that photography mainly is about how you use your equipment and your equipment. I can not place something extra in the photo, I can’t influence how a deer behaves or how a landscape looks like. How can I make it mine, my scene. Of course I can use filters, different perspectives etc. but the credits for creating the scene, the surrounding, the inhabitants of this world go to mother nature. You can’t wave with your lens over a scene and create something which only you could see, only in your imagination.

I also couldn’t help noticing that all the images he showed me he considered art were taken on film a long time ago. Most of them showing light leaks, unsharpness, and with a lot of blacks and whites. We both agreed that they are nice photos, and I think that these images come very close to art. And this is where this article really is about.
Digital (and late film) photography has become too good, too sharp, too true. There is no more room for errors. Everyone is buying expensive lenses with ED elements, for optimum sharpness and minimum flares, ghosts etc. I think modern technology has perfected photography to such an extend that it is nowhere near art anymore.

What I also noticed was that since I noticed this, I have been using one of my lenses which is more prone to flare and ghosts and is not sharp at all wide open. I always took this lens for granted, there’s oil on the aperture blades and it hasn’t a good IQ. But now I have been looking for less quality it hasn’t left my camera. Unfortunately the sun hasn’t shown it’s face yet, so I can get some low-contrast-flared-low-quality-images, but if I get some I will post them in this article.  

But I also do think that there is a place for the modern photography. I do want to have sharp photographs from my friends etc. or when there is a beautiful sunset. But I think that there is a place for low quality lenses in photography and that that place is forgotten. Not only by me but by almost every photographer.

This was my rant for today :P please take a look at my review of the metz 36 AF-5. Especially the last part about whether I should keep the flash.

zaterdag 29 januari 2011

First impression metz 36 AF-5

I recently ordered this flash, and I haven’t been able to give it a full review yet, but I will update the review in another article [UPDATE: I HAVE POSTED MY FULL REVIEW UNDERNEATH THIS ARTICLE]. The first thing I noticed when I got the package was that it was so small. There comes a manual with the flash but you will not find any useful information in it. It states that you shouldn’t shortcut it and the usual stuff but not how things work.

Luckily this flash is very easy to use. It only has two switches: on/off and test. You control the flash via your camera, over/underexposure and what mode you use. If there is such a thing as a plug and play flash, this one qualifies as one. And it does a good job, I seriously did not have a bad exposure due to the flash. (of course I did have some bad exposure because of me).
The i-TTL of Nikon does a good job, and most important it plays nice with the flash. First I was skeptical about a third party flash, but I got to say it works really well.

The flash also has a zoom-function. But this is not automatic. You have to do this yourself. On one hand this is a bad thing, you tend to forget about it. I have forgot about it a few times, and messing up my exposure because of that. But it also gives you a lot of freedom, and it’s really easy to use. You have to pull the head out, it works a bit like a push-pull zoom. For a manual zoom, I like the system, it just feels right.

Now the weird things. It doesn’t support manual exposure. You can not fire it without i-TTL. The first thing I realized was that this means it won’t play nice with my manual focus lenses. This really disappointed me because in the description in clearly stated that it would be able to do so (on the site of the store, not on the box. Shame on you store!). Therefore I have serious doubts about sending it back. [I got my money back and my flash as well, because the advert said I could fire this flash manually. So obviously I am very satisfied with the service of this store.)

This also means that this flash is not suited for off camera use. I’ve read somewhere on the internet that it won’t even fire at full power when you try to trigger it off-camera, say with using cactus triggers. [update: it does on mine, on some others it doesn't]

So if you’re looking for a “plug and play flash” this flash is a good one. You turn it on, and you have no other fancy things. Only the things you can dial in in the camera. But if you’re looking for a flash which allows you to use it off camera, or with MF lenses this lens is a no-no.

Updated review
As you’ve probably read above I used to be fairly positive about this flash. And to be honest, it does what it’s supposed to do. It takes well exposed photographs, and I never had a miscommunication issue with the camera.

But now a few downsides:
  • It doesn’t swivel: this is a huge downside. Seriously, when I bounce a flash I always look if the walls aren’t colored because light coming from the side tends to be more pleasing than from directly above. When you don’t have a lot of space between you and your subject you will create raccoon-eyes with your ceiling-bounced flash.
  • It only fires on full power when fired off-camera. And I heard stories it won’t fire at all. Personally I think it’s caused by the brand your flash is made for, I guess this flash works if it has a Nikon foot but I have no real evidence for this. And to be honest, it only fires at full power so why bother?.
  • It isn’t very powerful. To be honest it might not be a fair comparison because my other flashes are SB-24’s which used to be the flagship of Nikon a long time ago, so they are professionally powered. But I bought these flashes for less than half the money of this Metz! They do swivel, have manual control, and have more power.

Updated conclusion:
If you don’t want any hassle this flash might be for you. It exposes well, and it’s cheap. But if you want to use this for “advanced” (like bouncing of walls :P) techniques, then move on. 

zondag 16 januari 2011

keep your routine

No pictures in this post(about this particular story)  since there aren’t any made about this story. Well it’s about my batteries. I was charging them because when I took photographs of the flooded floodplains I shot almost only long exposures. This drains your batteries rather fast so I had to recharge them. Normally I do this the night before I plan a trip, or right after I got home from one.

But now the photographs are so close to my home there is no planning anymore. (except for checking when the sun sets and rises) Today was the first sunshine in weeks, it must have been at least 2 weeks ago since we had real sunshine, and the sunset was really beautiful. I packed my camera bag. I took ND grad’s, ND’s, polarizers and a prism filter, 2 lenses and my tripod. When I tried to take my first photograph it didn’t work, which is pretty normal when there’s no battery in it.

And I’m absolutely sure that this wouldn’t have happened if I just followed my routine. I took some photographs in the morning. When I got home I noticed that my batteries were all dead, so I recharged them. This is where it went wrong, I always store my camera with everything in it in case I rush out of my house. There is always an empty memory card in it and a charged battery. Unfortunately I planned on cleaning my room so I stored my camera already without any battery in it.

this morning:

This part of the routine I didn’t do, and of course I had no trouble doing the routine of rushing out of the house to capture something. So what did I learn today, never ever break your routine because you will almost certainly forget things when you’re in a hurry.

vrijdag 14 januari 2011

high water levels in the Netherlands

The people who have been following my flickr probably have noticed that the last posts all showed the high water level in the Netherlands. Well that’s right, the water is pretty high, in every river flowing through the Netherlands. I only have photographs of the Rhine because a tributary of the Rhine goes past Wageningen. (which is were I live). The tributary is called the Neder-rijn (literary translated down-rhine). To prevent the river from flooding there are floodplains. These are areas of land which are between the summer dike (when the water level is lower) and the winter dike (when the water is higher, this dike is higher in case there is a high water level)

The water level is high enough to flood the floodplains causing some small problems. One of the problems is that some people live there. In the Netherlands we like to think that we can control the water for 100% and build houses in the floodplains. Well not a lot of houses, but a few people experience problems due to the water.

Living almost at the winterdike I have taken photographs of the high water level as much as I could. The problem of taking photographs of the flooded floodplains is the weather. It has been raining for the last week so I had to be careful not to soak my camera.
The first precaution I took was to screw a uv filter on every lens that I took with me. If I can avoid having to clean my lenses. I rather have a few uv filters with smudges because of cleaning than that these smudges are on my lenses. Than I took my tripod and my ND filter to be able to take some long exposures.

When I arrived at the floodplains for the first time I just had to look at the scene for some time. It is so weird to look at land where you have been able to walk on the week before be flooded with water. And the water is really high to! It comes to this branch: 

The thing I looked for was to show that it was flooded. Because if you have never been in Wageningen before you might think that it’s beside a lake or something like that. I had to show flooded roads, trees etc. to be able to show that the area is actually flooded and normally is dry.

I made only long exposures because I wanted to show the force of the water. This might seem odd but when there were waves in the water I tried to get my exposure just long enough to blur the waves but not too long to make the waves disappear. This turned out to be rather tricky since the wind kept changing all the time.

Well that’s about it for the high water level in the Netherlands, I hope for some good weather since I want to redo my sunrise shot because I’m not entirely satisfied how the composition turned out. And it might be wishful thinking but I hope for -10 centigrades so I can iceskate in the floodplains :)  

donderdag 13 januari 2011

photography podcasts for on the road

Being a student who studies in another town than where his parents live I spend a lot of time in trains going to my parents again during the weekends. Some people are able to read stuff in trains, but I’m not. I just can’t concentrate, and I have to switch trains quite a bit before I’m in Leiden again.
Well I found a solution to kill the time in the trains, I listen to photography podcasts. (other podcasts as well, but since this is a photography blog photography is probably our common interest) They give me ideas to photograph, they teach me a lot and the time seems to pass by faster than when I’m listening music. But the best part I have not even mentioned yet, most of them are completely free. You can download them for free in iTunes!

Some of the podcasts I listen regularly are:
  • Pro Photography show
  • Photonetcast
  • Tips From The Topfloor

From these podcasts I try to listen to every episode, they are very useful and even though the topic sometimes is not one of my primary interests they are very interesting. From other podcasts I download occasionally an episode, depending on the theme. You probably should look for your own favourite podcasts in the iTunes store because these are just my favourites. And I figured that since I like listening to these podcasts a lot during my time in the train I passed this on. 

dinsdag 11 januari 2011

vivitar 300mm f/5.6 (made by Tokina)

I posted a photo (sorry for the background etc. didn't had time to take a good one) of this lens here because there are different versions of this lens. First of all Vivitar isn’t a manufacturer it’s a reseller. It sells lenses made by others like Komine, Tokina and Kiron. You can identify the manufacturer by the serial number. Just look at the first two digits of your serial number and check it on this list 
The serial number on my lens is 37609225, meaning it’s made by Tokina. But Tokina has made two 300mm f/5.6 lenses, with different optical constructions and quality. Reviews of these lenses are scarce on the internet, and I found one of the version I have and one of the other version. One was enthusiastic about the lens, while the other about the other version wasn’t. I decided to buy the lens anyway because I could always resell it for around the same price, but I probably never will I really come to like this lens.

The lens feels good, it has a nice large part what you can use to focus, and the focus is a bit stiff. It is not as smooth as the Nikkor lenses. I suspect that there is oil in the lens to make everything glide over each other. The most important part of this is: it doesn’t really matter, you are still fast enough to focus on living things.
The lens has a lens hood and it’s relatively light. Unfortunately it is quite large, it will not fit in my lowepro slingshot 200 (mounted on my camera). It is just a bit too large, something to take into consideration before buying this lens.

Results: first of all I haven’t tested this lens at any aperture slower than f/8. It simply makes no sense to do that because you want a fast shutter speed. (at least if you use this lens for wildlife photography). At f/5.6 the lens seems sharp, while you may see some chromatic aberration.

Even zoomed out you’re able to see it. As far as you have a quality in chromatic aberration this lens has quite good quality. It is not a very dark purple cast, but kind of lighter pink. But of course chromatic aberration is a bad thing, so if you plan to shoot a lot of photographs with large contrasts against the sun you might want to pick another lens. At f/8 the aberration disappears for quite a bit but if you zoom in it is still noticeable. (meaning it’s easy to correct)
When you photograph with the sun on your side, or in your back you will not see it, maybe in contrasty areas when you zoom in on 100% but that is easy to correct. For example: I took this photograph with the sun in my side. 

Sharpness: the lens is sharp, even wide open. I never felt the urge to close this lens to get a better sharpness. I have been able to make quite some aggressive crops in less than perfect lighting conditions. That’s the reason I love this lens so much, it almost doesn’t matter at what aperture you’re at because it is sharp anyway. (of course the DoF will differ but that’s another story).

Bokeh: first of all, this lens will not produce a lot of bokeh when you’re shooting wildlife. With a maximum aperture of f/5.6 you will not be able to get creamy portrait-like bokeh. But when you’re pretty close to your subject and you open up to f/5.6 you will discover a non distracting bokeh. 

It is nice and creamy but nothing special, however you have to watch out, as I already said you will get quite a large DoF even though it’s a telephoto lens due to the small aperture. This can create a distracting bokeh. 

Conclusion: it is a wonderful lens, but you have to pay attention since there are several versions with different quality. It will give you access to the telephoto range and I have took many wildlife photographs with it that I really like. But sometimes you’re not able to isolate the subject due to the small maximum aperture. If you want a larger aperture you also have to pay more and carry more glass. All I can tell you that I really like this lens, it’s sharp and it handles very well.

Some other notes:

  • It’s minimum focus distance is pretty far away: a little less than 6 meters. I have never been that close to a wild animal but when you plan to use this lens to photograph your pets, you might want to pick another lens since you will be taking those photographs from the other side of the garden.
  • Check the diaphragm, my experiences with the diaphragms of Vivitar aren’t as good as with any other brand. Check if the blades are oily or if they don’t close as fast as they should due to old springs.
  • Mine came with an annoying lens cap, I have to screw the cap on the lens using the filter thread. Luckily I had a spare normal lens cap.
  • The lens doesn't come with tripod-collar. I made a DIY collar because you will need a tripod to stabilize the lens. 

vrijdag 7 januari 2011

be confident

I had to photograph a couple of friends to give the photo to someone who will be off to India for quite a while. Because it was quite a hassle to get everyone together at the same day. Therefore I decided to go for the safe route, I took my 18-55 kitlens because that is the only one which has autofocus on my camera. It was going to be in broad daylight anyway, so I didn't need a fast lens or whatsoever. But being at the shot this turned out to be a major mistake.

You see I am very used to shoot with manual focus lenses, I just had to learn to deal with the likes of my camera again. I focused, recomposed and the shutter wouldn’t release because the part where the focus point was now pointing at was out of focus.
I had to take care of all these little things and I felt like I was using someone else’s camera.

The only thing that saved my was that I brought my 50mm with me because there was some forest in the area. Losing autofocus and losing metering felt as a relief. Just because I am used to shoot this way. Not that I promote to go cold turkey and shoot only with your MF lenses, the thing I’m trying to say is shoot important shoots the way you would shoot an unimportant personal project. Select the tools you are used to. If you just have bought a new flash, good luck with that, but learn to use it before you use it in anything important. If you just bought a new lens, happy you, take your other lenses with you on the shoot. You probably will need them.
And take some responsibility if you know you can do it, do it. The only reason I didn’t went for my 50mm in the first place was because I didn’t want to mess up the shoot because of my liking for MF lenses. But it turned out that because I like these lenses so much I am used to them and they enable me to get in my regular workflow, providing better results.

Well that was my rant for today, have a nice weekend. 

woensdag 5 januari 2011

my christmas card

This is the photograph i picked as my christmas card. Actually there's a funny story behind it, I was thinking about setting up my tripod and place myself in the scene, walking away or something like that. But then this couple showed up. I had my camera already mounted on my tripod and because I already had a not so great experience with photographing someone in that forest that day I decided to put my camera on self timer. After I composed the shot, I pressed the shutter and acted like I was waiting for the couple to clear the scene. When the shutter released after 20 seconds this photograph came out of it. I was very lucky that they weren't in a weird pose or something like that because after a another 20 seconds they were way too close. 

After some more walking around in the forest I loaded this photo on my laptop. Unfortunately the colour temperature was way off. It was way too blue and my white balance was already on shadow. Even at the warmest temperature it looked too blue. 
I loaded this photo in Gimp, and converted it to black and white. Then I duplicated the layer several times and applied different brown colourizations to them. I shuffled and fiddled a bit with the opacity and the blending modes. When the colours were to my liking I made all these coloured layer one layer and applied a layer mask. I masked out all the snow because I didn’t want yellow snow. So that was about it for today, thank you for reading!

dinsdag 4 januari 2011

using manual focus lenses on a nikon camera

This probably should have been the first post on my blog, but I felt like there should be more information about other things than just manual focus stuff. Of course this blog is geared towards shooting with manual focus lenses, but I do not intend to only talk about this, but about photography as a whole.

Anyway, let’s start explaining why you would even want to photograph with manual focus lenses. Well first of all they are cheap, I have not spend over 25 euro’s for a lens. People tend to get used to their autofocus and will sell their old photography stuff for cheap. Even though the lenses may be of good quality. For example the 50mm f/2, a stunningly sharp and good lens and I picked it up for only 15 euro’s. 
You get access to a quality of glass you would never have been able to buy without being it an MF lens. Even the nikkor 35mm f/1.8 (which is intended for amateurs and is as far as I know one of the cheapest Nikon autofocus lenses) costs over 100 euro’s. As a student I certainly do not have a lot of money to spend and when I was looking for alternatives I learned about the compatibility of Nikon with it’s older lenses.

Almost every nikkor lens ever made (except for the invasive fisheyes) will fit on a Nikon camera. Although you need to know that cameras with a autofocusmotor drive in it (d70,d50,d90,d7000 etc.) will get damaged if you mount a pre-ai lens. But if you have a Nikon d40(x), d60, d3000 or a d5000 you can mount virtually every lens except for these old fisheyes.

If you have something less professional than the Nikon d300 or above you will not have metering with the MF lenses. And here is where the fun starts. Have you ever did give the metering system of your camera really the attention it deserves? I certainly did not before I switched over to MF. I always took for granted that the camera knew in almost every situation how to expose the scene properly. And now you’re on your own. I can’t deny it, it’s a steep learning curve. You will miss photographs and you will hate yourself for buying that lens. But that’s just in the beginning. After a while of guessing the exposure you will get the hang of it. So here are a few tips to begin with:

Don’t follow the sunny f/16 rule. I have felt that it underexposes the image if you use ISO 100, 1/100th of a second and f/16 during a sunny day. I tent to use something like f/11. But this really depends on the time of the year, time of the day, where you are in the world, and the amount of light that’s reflected in the atmosphere. After some practice just follow your instinct, from time to time I just get the idea let’s put the exposure this way without even be able to justify that guess and it works. I’m not a MF-god or something like that, but after a while you just get the hang of it

Only fiddle with one variable in the beginning. Guessing the exposure is hard enough, don’t make it any harder. Set the aperture to such a value that you will get sufficient depth of field, put your ISO as low or as high as you want, and only fiddle with the shutter speed. During the day you will mostly find yourself shooting above 1/80th of a second, so there will not be major changes due to a longer/shorter shutter speed since it’s already pretty fast

Use the histogram. The display can fool you bigtime, and when you use your meter you can trust it most of the times. But now you have to do the exposure yourself, and the screen gives you a different impression when the sun shines than when you’re inside or when it’s dark.

Shoot RAW, with RAW you will be able to change more than with JPEG, you won’t have to worry about white balance, and most important you will be able to change the exposure a bit without loosing too much quality.

The reward, this certainly is the best part of it. It feels so rewarding to do everything yourself. And you learn so much more about photography. I knew how the exposure triangle etc. worked before I started using MF lenses, but now I am more conscious of them. And I think that's a good thing, you can let your camera do all the work but if you don't know why the camera is behaving the way it does you'll be less able to anticipate on any mistakes. So if you're a Nikon shooter,(or any other brand which allows you to mount old lenses)  look through ebay, buy a cheap prime and try it yourself. If you don't like it at all, you probably can sell the lens for around the same amount again on ebay.

zaterdag 1 januari 2011

zone focussing

Zone focussing is a type of manual focus, to be able to do this you will need to use a manual focus lens, or turn of your camera’s autofocus.
What you basically do is that you rely on your depth of field, therefore it is very useful if your lens has depth of field markings on it. When you know the area which will be in focus you start walking. This makes you the autofocus, and you don’t focus on one thing but on everything which will be in your plane of focus in front of you where you happen to walk across.

This may sound weird and confusing but it is very easy to get used to. Let me give you an example, let’s say you want to do street photography and you use a 28mm. You are new to manual focus and therefore you want a large depth of field and you use f/8.
Your depth of field markings on your lens say that from infinity until 4.5 meter will be in focus. Well 4.5 meter is a bit far away, so you focus a bit closer. Let’s say you focus on 2 meters. Your depth of field will be between 1.6 and 4 meters away from you. With this in mind you start walking through the city, and you do not change your focus. If you see something interesting you walk to it, until the subject you want to photograph is between 1.6 and 4 meters away from you.

When is this useful:
As in the example already said it is a good technique for streetphotography. Manual focussing requires that you look through the viewfinder. This will get you noticed by your subject. If you only have to compose your shot you will be a lot faster and you won’t get noticed as much as when you try to focus precisely on your subject.

For example this shot:

I actually was planning to take a photograph of the scene itself. I was mounting my camera on my tripod when this elderly pair walked into the scene. I had my aperture at f/11 while I was hyperfocussing. I only had to wait until they were 2 meters away from me to take the photo. (that’s why the horizon is off, I hadn’t had the time to set my tripod properly, but I started to like the angle while processing so I didn’t correct it)

You can do the same for sport photography. Especially when you are familiar with the game. When I shoot a basketball game, well obviously the most spectacular moments are during rebounds, lay-ups and dunks. This is all near the basket. The basket is the begin of your depth of field, because anything closer than the basket probably isn’t interesting, while the approaching players are. They will be in focus as well.
To be able to use this technique effectively during sports photography you will need a fairly wide lens. Say from 24 to 70mm because you want to have a larger depth of field. If you start using a 300mm f/2.8 your depth of field will be 0.12 meters wide if you focus on a basket which is 10 meters away. 

review nikkor 50mm f/2

Before my first review of a lens, I will explain what I try to do here. I'm not interested in what is the sharpest lens, if it is sharp enough it's sharp enough. I only use it in real situations and will not compare the sharpness at different apertures using a tripod to shoot the same subject over and over again. I just explain my experiences with a couple of lenses.

The 50mm, a lens every photographer should have in their bag. Well at least in the film days, (and maybe the future full frame days) because with the DX format a 50 will become a 75mm.

This length is a bit awkward if you are not used to it. It is a slight telelens, but it doesn't come really close as well.  So you probably won't be using this lens indoors, but i find it a very useful focal length for portraits. You can get fairly close to the model, get some interaction. It also suits my style of street photography, I'm not really a street photographer but i always felt that the action was like 4 meters in front of me and a 35mm (50 on DX) just didn't come close enough. But I also use it for everyday shooting, to shoot my brother's basketball games, concerts.

But now the lens, I own the nikkor-h 50mm f/2 pre ai lens. I bought it for 15 euro's from a guy who thought it was broken because it didn't focus on his camera. I saw no use in telling him that it would have been weird if it did, so I just told him I was trying a bit of DIY repair for a schoolproject. It looks like it's been through a war, but the glass is still good and has no scratches. I don't show a photo of the lens because it does not really matter what the lens looks like, there are different versions: 2 pre-ai's, ai and ai-s but they are all the same. As long as it is a manual focus nikkor 50 we're talking about the same lens.

The lens has 6 aperture blades which aren't round, if you close it down you will get a hexagon shaped bokeh.

Personally it does not really bother me, nowadays the aperture will be round at every aperture, creating a smoother bokeh. But it does not really distract, because if you have round bokeh or hexagon bokeh, the highlights will be shown as little almost round shapes. It only distracts because we aren't used to other shapes than roundish bokeh.

The lens has an aperture range from f/2 to f/16, at f/2 it is already pretty sharp and it peaks from f/5.6 to f/11. At these apertures this lens is extremely sharp, every imperfection on a model's skin would definitely show up. That's why I always use it wide open for portraits, because than it all comes together. When I take a head shot, only the eyes will be really sharp, hiding the imperfections on the model's skin, and if i do a full body shot they will not show up because they are too small.

For everyday situations I tend to use it at f/5.6, just because I like the depth of field it gives me, my subject will be sharp while the background will be unsharp. Especially if i shoot landscapes with it, I prefer rising the ISO than having a too short depth of field.
Landscapes? Yes! landscapes, i like longer focal lengths, I feel uncomfortable when i shoot anything wider than a 24mm at DX. I like to focus on details and like a smaller depth of field than the distortion of ultra wide angles. So i shoot landscapes with my 50mm from time to time.

Like this one, I took this photograph in Utrecht. I forgot the exact aperture but I think think it was taken at f/11 to get a maximum depth of field. What really amazed me when i was processing this photograph was how far you could enlarge it, it is impossible to see it from here, but the bridge has it's name written in the middle. I was wondering what the bridge was called and at 200% i could read it!

For sports:
It is a bit hard to find a good solution between getting close enough and getting a large enough depth of field. Because it is very hard to track focus someone who is playing a game. I rather use zone-focussing, but than you will need quite a large depth of field, a depth of field a longer lense only gives you when you close it down. I find the 50mm just at the edge of being convenient, my hit-miss ratio is a bit too high, but when i pull of a shot it looks great. The player is well isolated and you can clearly see the expression in his face.

Get this lens, it is a cheap one and a good one. Manufacturers have been making 50mm's for ages and know how to make a good one for a small price. It does not really matter if you buy the f/2 or the f/1.8 version, although the f/1.8 is more common I also noticed that the price is like 10 to 20 euro's higher. This is weird because you only can tell the difference between these apertures by looking at the specs. The difference is 1/3th of a stop, I would not spend 10 euro's extra for this, especially since i bought this lens for 15. Just get the cheapest one and enjoy this lens.