Need advice: 85mm f/1.8 USM OR 50mm f/2.5 Macro

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by dennis_tam, Apr 3, 2005.

  1. Hi,

    I own a digital Rebel and plan to buy a prime lens mainly for
    portrait shooting and, occassionally, macro shooting.

    After research, these two lens caught my attention. B&H says, in
    price, there is $100 gap between them --- the 85mm is in $339.95
    while the 50mm is in $239.95.

    Are there any pro and con for each of them I can hear?

    Thanks a lot,

  2. If you want macro capability, then the 50mm would clearly be the better choice. Both lenses are fine for portraits. If I personally were only intending the lens for portraiture, I would choose the 85mm, but I prefer telephoto lenses in these cases, and you may not have such a preference. They're both fine lenses, but the 50mm f/2.5 might be a hair sharper. The question is: do you prefer portraits with much background scenery, or do you prefer more of a closer shot? If the former, 50mm is better, if the latter, then the 85 will outperform. I would also note that some would consider the sharpness of the 50mm a detraction for portraiture, although a bit of Photoshop should fix it up if necessary.
  3. The 85/1.8 focusing is blinding fast. In good light it is instantaneous. It's a stop faster too, at f/2.8.
  4. There is a new EF-S 60/2.8 USM Macro too. Looks quite interesting, but is ~$450 :-(
  5. The two are quite different. The 85/1.8 is an excellent portrait lens but on the 300D it becomes too long for indoor portraits. It has both faster max aperture and faster AF motor. I have it and - like all it's owners - sing it's praises.

    Due to it's shorter focal length, the 50/2.5 will be more comfortable for indoor portraits. However, it's slower AF motor might be an issue in low light situations.

    Which other lenses do you own? Is the 60/2.8 financially out of reach?

    Happy shooting,
  6. The 85mm does get to the long side for portraits, but it is a magical lens..

    Fast, super sharp and quick focus....
  7. the 50/2.5 is a 1:2 macro; the 60/EF-S is a 1:1 macro. In other words. . .it focuses closer.

    The 100/2.8 is the other obvious Macro choice. Probably a bit long for portraits on a 20D. . .but otherwise probably the best choice.

    50mm makes a good portrait focal length on a 20D. F2.5 is nothing to write home about, however.
  8. I have both, and highly recommend each of them.

    As already stated, macro is macro; if you need it, the 50 is the way to go.

    The 85 verges on too long from portrait on a 1.6x sensor body, but it's awesome for indoor low-light photography like weddings, where medium telephoto (as a spectator) is the order of the day.
  9. I own and use both of these lenses. I prefer the 85 for most of my uses, especially due to the faster AF/USM. The 50/2.5 is a very sharp, compact lens. But, to be honest, I haven't used it much since I got the 85; I've been considering a 100/2.8 for my macro uses. But, the 50/2.5 does fit both of your stated needs, and it's cheaper!

  10. Between the two I'd say get the 85/1.8. Also consider the 100/2.8. Before I got the 100/2.8, the 85/1.8 with extension tubes was used for macro shooting.

    I stayed away from the 50/2.5 and Canon's Life Size Converter since together they would cost more than the 100/2.8.
  11. Here's my take on it:
    If you want to do real macro photography get a real macro lens.
    If you are an occasional macro shooter, I'd suggest getting a short to moderate telephoto lens (for 1.6x sensors: 85mm, 100mm, or 135mm) and add a close-up diopter. Nikon makes some good ones. 5T (+1.5 diopter) and 6T (+2.9 diopter). Both have 62mm filter threads so you'll need a step-up ring. Canon makes the 250D (+4 diopter) and 500D (+2 diopter) as well. Buy two-element diopters - stay away from the single-element kind. To my knowledge both the Nikon and Canon diopters are two-element. I've used the 5T, 6T with my 17-40/4, 24-70/2.8, and 70-200/2.8 with great results. Even though the diopters are 62mm and the lenses 77mm, I get no vignetting! Not even at 17mm!
    The trade-off with macro lenses in general is the angle of view and the working distance. Bigger angle of view (shorter focal length) means that you get more of the background in the picture - which is great if the background relates to the subject. But more often than not I find that I'd like to limit the background coverage as much as possible.<br>
    Bigger working distance is desirable for many reasons. 1) You don't disturb the subject (big deal with insects). 2) Your lens (or camera, you) is less likely to cast a shadow on the subject. I also happen to like the flatter perspective.
    I really enjoy macro photography and am debating whether I should get a dedicated lens for it. If I do get one, I'd probably end up with the 180/3.5. I have had dedicated macro lenses for most of my other camera systems, but I find that the advantage of a dedicated lens over the diopters is pretty small - especially if you add the diopters to a good prime lens.
  12. Thanks for the comments from all of you.
    I will carefully weigh on the pro and con before purchase!

    Thanks again!

  13. I owned both lenses. I loved the 85 1.8 for film. For film you couldnt quite get a head shot because you couldnt get close enough. On the DRebel it was a great Short telephoto lens. 136 MM. But I sold it because I had the 100 2.8 Macro. But I really liked it, the above magical comment holds water. Its silent and super fast extremely sharp and really fun. I had the 50 2.5 macro and I never really liked it as a macro only half life size but its super sharp. I sold it and bought the 50 1.8. I guess if I was you, I would get the 50 2.5 macro it will be a fine macro lens and portrait lens. 80 mm.
  14. "I own a digital Rebel and plan to buy a prime lens mainly for portrait shooting and, occassionally, macro shooting."

    I shoot most often with the 85/1.8 and 24/2.8 on film. When shooting with a friends digital I really liked the view and picture quality of the 50/1.4. So for portraits, with a digital crop factor, the 50mm seems to fit me fine.

    The 50 macro gets rave reviews for its sharpness. I think the 50 would suit you fine.

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