I’m relatively new to photography and had recently purchased a Canon Rebel T7i. I had also purchased the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens to have at my disposal. When I first used the lens it was very “zoomed in” however, I was aware that this is how it should be since it is a prime lens. Today, I changed my memory card and noticed that the lens is no longer “zoomed”.

When I use the lens now it’s not at the same focal point. It used to be closer but now it just looks like a regular lens. My 50mm is showing exactly like my 18-55mm lens when I know that should not be the case.

I am wondering why this is because I liked how my prime lens was before and received great portraits from it but now it’s zoomed out and won’t “zoom back” like it was. Please help.

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    It is not possible for a 50mm lens to “zoom” or “un-zoom”. It must be something else you are seeing. – Mike Sowsun Mar 28 '20 at 2:41
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    Can you post some links to "before" and "after" photos? – Michael C Mar 28 '20 at 4:19
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    Please explain what you mean by ”zoomed”. Your question will probably be closed unless you can provide more information. – Mike Sowsun Mar 28 '20 at 17:21
  • When I use the lens now it’s not at the same focal point. It used to be closer but now it just looks like a regular lens. My 50mm is showing exactly like my 18-55mm lens when Ik that should not be the case. – Taiii1234 Mar 28 '20 at 17:39
  • The 18-55mm lens and 50mm lens SHOULD look the same. My guess is you shoot in Liveview looking at the back screen of the camera. It is possible to magnify or “zoom” the screen, and that is what you saw when you first used it. – Mike Sowsun Mar 29 '20 at 0:45

The only possible way to "zoom" with a prime lens is to change to a camera with a different sensor size, or to crop the image in-camera. The latter is generally feasible only with mirrorless cameras because DSLRs have a fixed angle of view viewfinder whereas mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder. You can of course crop the image as you wish on a computer when post-processing the image. That won't equate to zooming because it does not change the viewfinder angle of view.

A 50mm/1.8 lens, when used on a crop sensor camera like Canon Rebel T7i will be rather zoomed in, good for portraits. On a full frame camera, it will be a longish normal lens, more zoomed out than on a crop sensor camera.

Your Canon Rebel T7i is a crop sensor camera. The only way what you describe could have happened is that you accidentally attached your lens to a full frame camera now, and used it with a crop sensor camera before.

Zoom with your feet and/or crop the image afterwards! I recommend more of the former and less of the latter, because cropping the image loses resolution.

  • I'm struggling with this explanation. Crop & zoom are to all intents & purposes the same thing. Other than pixel count & DoF they produce the same result. Zooming with your feet changes the perspective, no other method does. – Tetsujin Mar 28 '20 at 11:14
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    @Tetsujin No it isn't because if the crop happens in post-processing, you won't see the effect of it in the optical viewfinder. Yes, I agree zooming with feet changes the perspective (like a comment to the linked answer noted). – juhist Mar 28 '20 at 11:33
  • I still think your explanation is very misleading. – Tetsujin Mar 28 '20 at 11:42

The only possible cause would be having changed the aspect ratio the camera is recording in... IDK if the camera has viewfinder masking when the different ratios are used, but it would affect the images either way.

But I don't think that what you mean by "zoomed in" is the field of view we are all thinking it is. I believe that what you probably mean is that it had a very narrow depth of field before and now that has changed/increased (i.e. you're using the term incorrectly).

That would mean that the aperture is not being opened as far as it was before. It could be sticky/stuck aperture blades (service/replace), poor electrical contact (clean), or you just changed the setting (change it back).

  • Do you know how that would be done in settings? I haven’t done anything but turn my camera on and off really – Taiii1234 Mar 28 '20 at 17:36
  • @Taiii1234 You'd first have to establish that depth of field really is the culprit here. Look at the two portraits here. Does that correspond to the kind of before/after difference you are talking about? – Kahovius Mar 28 '20 at 17:43
  • Somewhat but not really. My 50mm lens now has the focal range of my 18-55mm lens as if it was all the way zoomed out. But Ik images with my 50mm lens should appear closer than that – Taiii1234 Mar 28 '20 at 21:08
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    50mm is VERY close to 55mm. They SHOULD look the same. – Mike Sowsun Mar 29 '20 at 17:23
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    I think OP might mean that the 50mm looks as if it was 18mm? – Kahovius Apr 4 '20 at 17:52

@ Taiii1234 it’s true, to zoom with a prime lens, you must physically come closer to the subject with your camera. Probably you know this, but when you set your focus to manual, you control what’s sharp in the photo - something up close or something further away. That will impact depth of field.

If you’re shooting with all settings on automatic, that might explain why you’re not getting the result you expect, when all you did was change your memory card. In auto, the camera decides the settings (aperture, shutter speed and ISO). These settings are all about light so they will change along with your location and the lighting. Even if you plan to always shoot in Auto or P, it’s good to have a basic understanding of these settings.

Sounds like you want bokeh, that “portrait” feel —the soft, blurred background that emphasizes your subject. You can control your DoF with your aperture settings. A low fstop like f2 will give you a shallow DoF (for portraits) and a high fstop like f22 will give you a deeper DoF (landscapes). You don’t have to go full manual. Try aperture priority (AV on my Canon) so everything but aperture is automatic. Experiment with low and high fstops, your manual focus and your distance from your subject.

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