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Yeah generally prime (fixed focal length) lenses are better quality than telephoto lenses! It is a very sharp lens and f1.8 allows you to play around with DOF alot. Plus for around £79 its a must have for any Canon user!!
You will find the quality of the 50mm f/1.8 much better than that of the kit lens. It's much sharper (primes generally are). The f/1.8 is also very useful for either narrow depth of field or low light shooting. For the money it's a no-brainer.
All of the above I'd say. Prime lenses tend to sharper than their zoom cousins, and most of them are alot faster too. In this case, the f1.8 compared to the f5.6 for the kit lens (I'm assuming that's the speed when zoomed to 50mm). It mean's that it will let in more light onto the sensor making the lens more useful in low light situations. Also, having a large aperture (the smaller the number, the larger the aperture) goes hand in hand with having fast shutter speeds. Ummm .... I'm sure someone can explain that alot better than I
It used to be that a slr came with a 50mm lens, usually f1.8
As this came with the camera, it was a bit of an advertisement for the rest of the makers lenses, so the 50mm was generally of really good quality for the price, bit like a loss leader. An encouragement to buy further lenses of the manuf.
I always like to reccomend lenses by showing shots taken with that lens. Here's a couple that you couldn't have taken with your kit lens:
50mm, ISO 1600, f2.2, 1/50
If I want to ISO 3200 I'd get unacceptable noise. Your kit lens at this zoom would be at least f4.5 - you'd be shooting at 1/10 of a second - tripod and motion blur territory.
The alternative is flash, which would have produced a totally different effect. You'd also loose the DoF effect.
50mm, ISO 400, f2.5, 1/30
This time you could have boosted the ISO to maintain the shutter speed, but the punch of this shot comes from the extremely shallow DoF. Impossible with the kit lens.
50mm, ISO 800, f1.7 (Minolta 50s do 1.7 instead of 1.8, no idea why), 1/40
Sometimes even a 50 isn't bright enough!!! This shot suffers from motion blur, but is still one of my personal favourites. If I'm critical with myself I should have boosted the ISO another stop to have given myself 1/80 of a second, which might have eliminated this.
It does show one of the downsides of very wide aperture.
Portrait ( or macro type shots) can have well focused and OOF areas close by in the same image. Ok for artistic styles if that is desired. If not the DOF can be varies by adjusting distance to subject or slightly altering aperture ( stopping down a wee bit) .
Certainly it also shows that the nifty fifty is a "sharp shooter"