"Normal" prime for APS-C

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jon_erik_lido, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. For some reason, Canon (and most manufacturers) seems to have ignored the market for a normal prime for APS-C dSLRs. I have the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens and love it, but on my Rebel it's a mid-telephoto- not a normal.
    What are my options? Here are the lenses that I know of, and how they disappoint me:
    Sigma 30mm f/1.4- Everyone seems to love this lens for some reason, but it's not cheap, it's not small, it vignettes, is EXTREMELY soft in the corners, and for a prime, shows a lot of CA! By the time I stop down enough to get these issues under control, I could have shot the same photo with any one of a number of cheap zooms at the same settings.
    Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM- CA is completely dreadful, and like the Sigma, this lens shows really soft corners, even on an APS-C camera.
    Canon 35mm f/2- Okay, now here's a cheap, sharp, fast, light lens. Too bad it's got a 5-blade uncurved diaphragm that produces pretty ugly out-of-focus backgrounds (bokeh). I guess it would be okay for snapshots of indoor family gatherings, but I could probably do just as well with a kit zoom and bounce flash.
    Sigma 28mm f/1.8- big, heavy, expensive, and still soft
    What to do? I guess I could throw down over a grand ($1000) for a Canon EF-S 17-55 or a Canon 24-70 L. But even those are big lenses and are at least a whole stop slower than these lenses. For those prices I could by a used 5D mark I and slap my 50mm on it.
    Am I missing something here? Is this a conspiracy to get people to buy expensive fast zooms? Am I nit-picking the problems with these lenses? I just want a nice fast normal prime. Is that too much to ask?
     
  2. Of course you're nit picking. Thousands of people use these lenses every day and produce wonderful photos with them.
     
  3. Another vote for nit picking.
    Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM- CA is completely dreadful, and like the Sigma, this lens shows really soft corners, even on an APS-C camera
    Canon 35mm f/2- Okay, now here's a cheap, sharp, fast, light lens. Too bad it's got a 5-blade uncurved diaphragm that produces pretty ugly out-of-focus backgrounds (bokeh).​
    I wonder if this is based on experience or hearsay?
    There's always the EF 35/1.4L for those who really want to nit pick and have a wallet that can support their habit - or is that another lemon?
     
  4. Have you used the 28 1.8? I find its one of my favorite lenses. maybe not as sharp as the 50 or 85 but I have used it on APS-C and full frame and I love it. I just worked on a project where we had 4 L lenses including a 16-35 and we got many of our best shots using the 28.
    Post about the 28
    http://www.photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00VGnI
     
  5. I agree Jon. It would be very nice if Canon came up with something around 30~32mm, say starting with the 35mm f2.0's spec, but improving the focus system and quality, and keep the price near $400US. The current 35mm f2.0 is current best offering, but antiquated focus, very soft in the corners, hexagonal aperture, and a little long at 35mm.
     
  6. This question has been discussed endlessly here at photo.net and I suggest that you search the archives. Both the 28/1.8 and 35/2 are good options although they, like all lenses, have some weeknesses. Having said that, I do hope that Canon upgrade their 35/2 with a few more aperture blades -- that's really all that's needed -- and/or release an EF-S 30/1.8.
     
  7. I have the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens and love it, but on my Rebel it's a mid-telephoto- not a normal.​
    By your strict criteria, I would say that this lens is very soft wide open, shows considerable barrell distortion, and poorly built since it lacks ring usm motor, and yet you love it.
    I love mine too despite the shortcomings, and that 28/1.8 is pretty good too.
     
  8. have to agree, although i thought i had heard the sigma 30 was okay. short primes from canon are not that great. hoping rumors of new mark II short primes are true
    what to do? this might sound cheeky, but, the 17-55 is better than the primes you list. bokeh is okay i guess -- it's not really that kind of lens though. otherwise, i'm hoping for new short optics from canon -- soon
     
  9. I am using the Canon 28mm f/2.8, not as fast as some but affordable and fairly sharp wide open.
     
  10. Ok, how about an expensive but slow 17-40 zoom lens? That is the closest thing to a normal lens that I use with a 40D and love it. It is my normal lens. I occasionally use a 35 f2 indoors. And a 24 2.8 makes a great normal lens, although a bit wide to be considered normal. But, as an almost exclusively an outdoor photographer, the 17-40 is excellent, and not all that big or heavy.
     
  11. Thanks for the input, everyone. No, I have not used any of these lenses. My comments are based on reading multiple reviews and pixel-peeping lots of photos online. I'm not looking for perfection. I just want any flaws to be ones that I can work around with technique and the price should be in-line with the quality I'm getting.
    Bob: the EF 35mm f/1.4 L is absolutely up to snuff. I just didn't list it because it's so expensive it's not really in the same class as these other lenses. I know you've espoused that it's not the lens that makes great photos. But then I've also noticed you host a lens review site... ;)
    Tommy: Yeah, I've wondered if I'm not being too harsh on the 28mm, in particular. Do you (or anyone else) know how well the CA cleans up in software with this lens?
    Mendel and Anders: I'd love a EF-S 25mm f/2. A little wider would distinguish it from all of the other options. Are you listening Canon, Sigma, etc?
    A Novisto: You forgot to mention low contrast! :) But, unlike the lenses I've mentioned, the 50mm almost completely cleans up it's act by f/2, which is still quite fast. This thread isn't about the 50mm, though. At any rate, I get your point- all lenses have a "personality"- strengths and weaknesses. I just don't want a lens with a personality disorder!
     
  12. Yes, I do review lenses both here and on my own website. People like that information, though I'm not always sure they use it wisely.
    For example, I don't think it's a big deal if a fast normal or semi-wideangle lens is a little soft in the corners when shot wide open. If you're shooting normal 3D subjects at normal distances (not infinity) the DOF will be such that the corners likely won't be in focus anyway. Portrait work is an example of this. If you're shooting a flat subject (map, painting) it's likely you'll be stopped down for better sharpness and DOF and the same applies of you're shooting at infinity (or HFD focus) for landscape (you won't be shooting wide open). So I'd say center sharpness and contrast wide open are what I'd be looking for, not aberration free corners.
    My philosophy is basically to choose the lens you want based on its focal length and speed, rather than its absolute "pixel peeping" quality (within reason).
    Obviously if you are shooting landscapes for 24x36 prints, you'll want a lens that's sharp in the corners when it's stopped down, but you may still not need one that's sharp in the corners when wide open and you may not need a fast lens at all.
     
    1. For speed and price at that speed: Sigma 30/1.4
    2. For price: EF 28/2.8
    3. For zoom but not for speed: EF-s 15-85
    All three look very nice at pixel peeper sites.
    This is my current shortlist for when I replace my superzoom in that range. But the other suggestion will probably also be just fine.
    (Longer I've got covered just dandy.)
     
  13. As Scott mentioned, the Canon 28mm 2.8 has surprising center sharpness wide open. New ones are quite inexpensive and used ones are almost being given away. For a lens that rarely gets any respect, its very good.
     
  14. I have the sigma 30mm f1.4 and find it produces great images, though I don't usually look at them at 100%, I don't see any major problems with them.
     
  15. BTW I actually use the Canon EF 24/2.8 on my EOS 40D as a "normal" lens. It's a wide normal (equal to 38mm on full frame), but I don't mind that. Technically a "normal" lens for APS-C would be 26.8mm (*based on the definition of normal as the diagonal of the format).
    The fact that 50mm is considered as "Normal" for full frame is something of an historical accident. Technically it should be 43mm, the 50mm is certainly still in the "normal" range.
    If you want better corner sharpness and low vignetting, get a lens designed for full frame rather than APS-C
     
  16. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    The 35F/2 (used at F/2) is a very suitable lens on an APS-C camera and quite nice in regards to that all important Bokeh: http://www.photo.net/photo/9899178&size=lg
    Bokeh is also dependent upon the lighting on and substance of the background.
    The kit lens can produce quite sharp images: http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=941500
    IMO must of what is written in some reviews (no particular comment on any reviewer) is lab / instrument based - the proof is in the 10 x 8 you get.
    Knowing how to use any particular lens and the limits of it is important too.
    WW
     
  17. Like Kerry I use the 17-40 as my normal lens much of the time on my 7D for outside shooting as well as inside. With the 7D's ISO abilities, the relatively slow f/4 isn't much of a problem.
     
  18. My EF 35mm f.2.0 is a very good lens. I use it on both, my 40D and on my EOS 3.
    All lenses have their own particular limitations. If you are careful about how you employ a lens, you can minimize these. With the 35/f2 you must be careful when you select the background and how the background is lit.
    Here is a sample from the 40D:.
    Cheers! Jay
    00VhHd-217781584.jpg
     
  19. I just don't understand such glib dismissals of lenses that are quite decent for the price. If you are going to be so picky, you really need just to suck it up and get the f/1.2 and f/1.4 lenses. If you are so picky too, what are you doing shooting a Rebel instead of at least a 7D? The idea that Canon has ignored the lens market for APS-C bodies is just wrong, I think.
    I think you have to spend a LOT more money to get a better short telephoto on the APS-C than the EF 50mm f/1.8--many people have shot with 75 to 105mm lenses on 35mm film as their only or primary lens, even though I wouldn't go so far as to call them "normal" lenses.
    I have and use the EF 35mm f/2 on my APS-C cameras as a normal lens (I like the old Biotar 58mm focal length on film cameras, too). I've never noticed that the bokeh was unacceptable. It's on my Rebel XTi nearly all the time.
    You totally miss another bargain lens (tho' not so much as the 50mm f/1.8) - the 28mm f/2.8. That's still plenty fast with modern digital cameras. I have shot with that one too, but my daughter chose it when I gave her the choice between the 28mm and the 35mm. Both of us were very happy with her choice.
    Finally, if what you want is a normal to tele walk-around lens, there is a bargain on the zoom side in EF lenses -- the 28-135mm IS lens, not to mention the very superior midwide to short tele EF-S 18-55mm kit lens with IS.
    Ignore APS-C users? I think not. Both old and new lenses at reasonable costs are available.
     
  20. As a 7D owner (moving up from the previous 30D), I agree completely that there's a big hole in the market where a fast, wide APS-C lens should be. Something that us cropped-sensor people could have that would be even remotely comparable to the 24 1.4L on a full-frame would be nice (even without the L).
    As for a "normal" lens....I've had the Sigma 30 1.4 for a while now, along with the 17-55 2.8 IS. I recently brought those two and a rented 24 1.4L II with me for 2 weeks out west....and the 24 1.4 didn't leave by body the entire time.
    It might be a weee bit out of your budget, but if you want a *good*, solid "normal" lens for your APS-C that would also be very useful on a full-frame that might be in your future, I wouldn't hesitate. It's roughly 38mm, which is about as close as you can get to 35mm 1.4 on a cropped camera.
     
  21. Honestly I think you are being overly critical and magnifying any small flaw you read in the reviews. I would recommend you skip the reviews and simply rent several of the lenses and do your own tests. I would suspect that most will peform better than you expect.
    While I don't have a APS-C camera I have read nothing but good comments on the Sigma. Your post prompted me to look through 5 reviews on it.
    Sigma 30mm f/1.4- Everyone seems to love this lens for some reason, but it's not cheap, it's not small, it vignettes, is EXTREMELY soft in the corners, and for a prime, shows a lot of CA! By the time I stop down enough to get these issues under control, I could have shot the same photo with any one of a number of cheap zooms at the same settings.​
    This lens costs $439 on the B&H catalog while the 28 F1.8 $499 and the 35 F2 $319. The Sigma is not the most expensive lens on your list. Vignetting is 1 stop wide open according to 1 review which is quite good for a wide aperture lens (all lenses vignet, especially the wide aperture ones) and CD and flair is listed as well controlled in a couple of reviews i looked at. All agree that it is a little soft in the corners (are there any F1.4 lenses that are as sharp in the corners as they are in the center?), however none labeled it bad. And it has an 8 blad aperture.
    In short it looks like it does quite well in the reviews I read. It wasn't perfect in all of the reviews but to be honest I have not need seen any lens rate highly in all catagories. I did 3 extensive reviews of lenses I was interested in and after purchasing them I found they performed as good, or better than I expected.
     
  22. The Sigma 30mm is probably the best all around prime lens for APS-C. The Canon 35/2 was soft in corners and focusing was slow, the 28/1.8 although better then the 35/2 still was lagging. (especially at 1.8 up to 3.0) hence why I sold it. The only lens that is better then the Sig 30 is the Canon 24L and 35L. Although even Sig 30 is right up there. (here is a quick side by side of my Sig30 and Canon 35L. (for the price difference between them the Sig is king). http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=28947025
     
  23. Nikon made the very good 35 f1.8, DX lens, and I am sure Canon is up to the task.
     
  24. Given that you haven't actually tried any of the lenses you have listed I think it's time for you to take the plunge. Pick the focal length you think you'll use the most, buy it, try it out for a few months, chances are you'll be pleased. If you're not pleased then sell it. One of the nicer things about glass is that it tends to hold its value. Buy a DSLR today and three years from now you'll get half what you paid for it. Buy a lens today and three years from now you'll still get 80-85% of what you paid for it. The risk is low.
    Of the four lenses you've listed I've owned both the Canon 28 1.8 and the Canon 35 f2. I found both lenses to be more than adequate for my needs and both were capable of excellent results. I purchased the 28mm used off Ebay and eventually sold it for a small profit (10-20 dollars US). I purchased the 35mm new from B&H and eventually sold it for a slight loss (30 dollars US). As I said, the risk is low.
     
  25. Other options are out there if you can live with manual focus. Zeiss ZE lenses have electronic communication between the EOS and lens. I'm saving my allowance for one real soon. The ZE 35 f2 is about $400 less than Canon's 35 L f1.4--not as fast, but a fine lens. Having said that, the 35 L f1.4 is often described as part of Canon's 'holy trinity' of prime lenses (along with L versions of the 85 and 135).
    Take another step back in technology--no communication between body and lens--and some great Nikon F-mount lenses can be picked up used. With a fairly inexpensive adapter, these mount on EOS bodies. I've done this with good results, although focusing takes more care. Much lower cost than either ZE or Canon L lenses, though.
     
  26. I have several Zeiss Contax/Yashica lenses and an adapter, and if you have time to use magnified live view they are amazing. The new Zeiss lenses are supposed to be at least as good. The problem is that manually focusing using the viewfinder is not very accurate. My Tamron 17-50 is good enough and has autofocus, so the Zeiss lenses generally stay on the film bodies.
    My search for a small lens for my T1i ended in a G11. If I was going to spend a grand for a small lens I would get a micro 4/3rds camera with the Panasonic 20 1.7.
     
  27. Nothing is without it flaws and if you just read the reviews and focus on the weak points you may never purchase a lens.
    According to reviews
    The 24-105 has a lot of distortion at the wide end and not as sharp on the long end
    the 17-55 is not built well and is a dust vacuume.
    The 70-200 2.8 IS is the least sharp of this series, its big and heavy.
    As someone points out above of all the flaws of the 50 1.4 ( cheaper build, soft wide open, micro USM ) the 28 1.8 is a much better lens mechanically, has a better USM focus system. Its not perfect but I would not call it dreadful. I may one day upgrade to a 35 or 24 L but the 28 can do the job. I do agree about Canon needing some upgrades in the wide prime area, most of these are from 20 years ago or more. I would would love a new designed 35 1.8 Non L prime. What holds me back from a 24 or 35 L is as much the size as it is the price.
     
  28. Another vote for nit picking.
    Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM- CA is completely dreadful, and like the Sigma, this lens shows really soft corners, even on an APS-C camera
    Canon 35mm f/2- Okay, now here's a cheap, sharp, fast, light lens. Too bad it's got a 5-blade uncurved diaphragm that produces pretty ugly out-of-focus backgrounds (bokeh).​
    I wonder if this is based on experience or hearsay?
    There's always the EF 35/1.4L for those who really want to nit pick and have a wallet that can support their habit - or is that another lemon?​
    The Canon and Nikon forums in Photo.Net seem to be highly defensive these days. Any criticism of the brands seem to elicit a sarcastic and wise-ass response; to say the least, they are not at all friendly or helpful.
    I have actually looked at the performance of the 24mm/1.4L and the 35mm/1.4L and they do not meet my requirements for wide-open applications. Center performance is respectable but once you position your subject away from the center, the resolution is not high enough. The MTF supports that experience as well.
    Yes, I like to nit-pick; especially, when I am intending to spend $thousands. And, if I spend it and I find further dissatisfaction, I will nit-pick it to death --- it's my rights.
    One more thing: if one is in a pissy mood, may I suggest not responding. The contents of your response tend to match things found in the toilet.
     
  29. I have actually looked at the performance of the 24mm/1.4L and the 35mm/1.4L and they do not meet my requirements for wide-open applications.​
    Just out of curiosity, what wide f1.4-2 lenses do meet your requirements?
     
  30. arthur yeo
    agree. totally. man i hate that kind of comment. and they always come from the same people
     
  31. and yes. i'm aware of who bob atkins is. i don't think yeo is aware, but i am.
     
  32. Well, when I posted this message I didn't quite expect all of the passion in the responses I got. I appreciate the enthusiasm, but please, everyone, there's no need for personal attacks- we're just talking about camera lenses after all.
    At any rate, I'm glad I posted because gained some new perspectives. Here's some of what landed for me:
    • Canon EF 35mm f/2 can be used wide-open when bokeh is important
    • Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM looks better as an option if I just clean up any CA in post
    • I can rent or buy (and later sell, if necessary) any of these options and see for myself. Low risk to try.
    For the record, I have a Rebel rather than some fancier body because I'm putting my money into glass. Apart from some metering issues, I have not regretted that decision. I realize that my lenses will probably stick around in my camera bag for a while, hence all of the scrutiny.
     
  33. Just a thought, maybe Canon could come out with an EF-s prime "normal" lens, with a focal length of 31mm (50/1.6). Compact, medium quality (build and focus mechanism) and fairly fast, say at least f2.0. Would be nice ;)
     

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