I have a 50mm lens, and I am still a beginner. Is this lens suitable for product photography, especially food?
If you have a specific style you’re going for, link an image in your question and we could advise on lens selection. That being said, product photography more heavily relies on lighting and set up than anything else.
50mm should do you just fine to start. If you find yourself not getting the angle of view that you want for your shots, then we can start talking different lenses. Until then, use what you have.
Always let your skills outpace your gear, not the other way around.
Likely a 50mm lens will do the job. However you might appreciate some insight as to how focal length intertwines with format and the task at hand.
The fundamental focal length for any format (dimension of the image sensor or film) is a “normal” lens. Such a lens delivers what is said to be the “human perspective”. Simply, a lens whose focal length is approximately the same as the corner-to-corner measure of the format delivers a “normal” perspective.
For the venerable full frame 35mm (FX) format, it measures 24mm height by 36mm length with a diagonal that measures 43mm = “normal” focal length. For the popular compact digital (DX), the frame measurements are 16mm height by 24mm length with a corner-to-corner measure of 30mm = “normal”.
Mount a 43mm on an FX or a 30mm on a DX delivers “normal”. The angles of view will be 53° diagonal and 45° horizontal. It is the diagonal angle of view that is most often quoted. Likely the same mentality that labels TV set size by their diagonal measure.
To be clear, this diagonal measure matched to focal length is not engraved in stone, it is common practice to round this value up for the FX to 50mm for convenience, and call this “normal”. This lash-up delivers 47°diagional 40° horizontal. Now product photography is likely best served if the focal length chosen delivers a perspective that hovers around “normal”. If the lens chosen is too short or too long, some perspective distortion will become apparent. However, most images are OK even if there is some distortion. If there is some distortion due to a mismatch of focal length, the product may be seen as peculiar in shape.
There are more elements to making a product appear natural. You might wish to pursue a study into photographic distortion control.
Anyway, the point is, what lens delivers a “normal” view is intertwined with format size.
What format does your camera sport? What is the “normal” focal length for it?
50 mm lens is a decent decision for subject photography too as its f/1.8 opening causes you to take photos even in low lighting. Now and then even a lightbox doesn't give enough light to splendid pictures, while f/1.8 aperture focuses around certain components keeping pointless ones obscured. This first-class product photography lens is furnished with Optical Steadyshot, which forestalls obscuring and ensures sharp pictures without a tripod. Because of a unique optical plan, the product photos are sharp and of high quality - with insignificant bending and chromatic abnormality.
50mm tells you about the viewing angle of the camera. It tells you neither about the preferred nor about the possible focusing distances and those highly influence the size of objects you can sensibly picture.
The typical 50mm full-frame prime lens offers a large aperture in order to get good subject separation for subjects the size of bridal pairs. Most products will be significantly smaller than that unless you are selling cars.
For such a lens, the stipulation may be that if you are using F22 or smaller, you likely have an image with direct sunlight, meaning that aperture blades are formed in a manner where the diffraction delivers a pleasant "sun star".
In contrast, for a macro lens you have much smaller minimal focusing distances and small apertures are mostly there for depth of field reasons, so blades will be more rounded in order to avoid unnecessarily patterned diffraction.
It would be my guess that the problem with the 50mm lens will be mostly that it doesn't work all that well with small subjects. You can extend focusing range with (typically achromatic, to avoid color seams) closeup lenses, but the results don't have the full geometric and image qualities one comes to expect from a single lens.
I've only now noticed that you stated "food photography" as your subject. Assuming a 50mm camera on a full-frame camera with a sensor 36mm across, making a dessert bowl 18cm across fill the frame width will require a distance of 25cm (from the nodal point of the lens). That's not a common focusing distance of a 50mm prime lens (unless, of course, it is a macro lens), so you may soon turn into the situation where you need closeup lenses to work with. However, such distances are not common viewing distances either and have somewhat extreme perspective, so you'll end up either cropping from your full-frame photograph (and a good camera has a lot of leeway for cropping) or getting a longer lens eventually.
From a convenient distance of 1m, the scene width will be 72cm. That's good for capturing a few set plates on a table or a rather large paella pan. So it's unlikely you'll feel the need for wider focal lengths.
Now here is the point: you are a beginner. You won't be shooting professional gigs for a long while. Just get your experience with your current gear and figure out just where it will take you, and which subjects you are unsatisfied with because you just cannot take them in. going from there, it will make sense thinking about what distances you want or need to cover. Two tenners will buy you a full set of awful closeup lenses. While you cannot make good photographs with them because of color fringing and corner unsharpness, you can write down which combination of them makes for which well-framed photographs in connection with your current equipment, in connection with what amount of cropping.
And that helps in deciding what other lenses and good closeup lenses (namely achromats) it might make sense to end up with eventually.
Just be prepared to experiment with making bad photographs until you figure out what you would want for good photographs in terms of magnification and distance.
It could be suitable and gives a very natural perspective. Sometimes this is what you want but this is an artistic choice primary.
What no one mentioned so far though is magnification. There are many 50mm lens and their exact field-of-view depends on the sensor-size but for food photography you need one of those lenses with a high magnification so that you can focus at close range.
So, a 50mm Macro lens would be more recommended. Some lenses can still give you a good magnification, say 0.5X, without being true macro lenses but would be suitable too, depending on the size of the food items you are capturing. If you need closeup shots of leaves, cocoa beans, seeds, etc, a macro lens will better serve you.