Which 50mm sharpest?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by dylan_park, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. I am looking for any opinions on the best 50mm lens to pick up, that is also known for being very sharp.
    I have just got rid of my sigma art 35mm 1.4 after 3 different calibrations including from sigma, and with such mixed reviews on other sigmas, this has kind of turned me off the brand. Is there anything out there currently that rivals the good art lenses but also reliable? My focus is fashion environmental but also portrait so am now looking at a 50mm. up to $500
    I own a 5d mark iii
    Thanks
     
  2. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    Canon 50mm/f2.5 macro is very sharp and has very little distortion, but it's flare control isn't great, and autofocus is
    relatively slow.
     
  3. EF 50/f2.5 macro is out of production. I've seen some places that still have (some) stock. For the rest it's an excellent lens but I use it mainly for close-up work.
    EF 50/f1.8 STM would be my choice since Zeiss is more than a bit over your budget. Canon EF 50/f1.4 is due for replacement.
    Most 50 mm's are based on decades old optical formulas, only exceptions I can think of are Zeiss and Sigma.
     
  4. Have a look at the two Zeiss ZE 50mm lenses, particularly the "classic" ones which can often be picked up cheaply now that the Milvus line has superseded them. The 50/2 Makro-Planar is a great all-rounder and sharper than the Canon 50/2.5. The original 50/1.4 Planar isn't at its best wide open, but stopped down a bit it performs well and has a lovely rendering style.
    (I have used the comparison tools on the-digital-picture.com for the comparisons above.)
    If by 'reliable' you mean autofocuses reliably, then your options are a bit limited, since the Canon 50/1.4 is known for focus motor problems, while the 50/2.5 (and Sigma's 50/2.8, also good) are a bit "coffee grinder" and slow. The manual focus Zeiss lenses sidestep the question of autofocus altogether, and will certainly be reliable in some sense.
    You might do worse than the latest version of the 50/1.8. With its STM motor I would expect it to have pretty fast and reliable autofocus. It too is a good performer stopped down a little.
     
  5. I think all of those Zeiss will be greater than your budget. The best Canon 50mm in terms of sharpness is arguably the 50/1.4, and it has the best bokeh after the 50/1.2 (which is by far the best in this regard). Mechanical quality is not so great though, so you need the hood to protect the focusing mechanism. It is very sharp at f2.8 and outstanding at f5.6. There are rumors that a new 50/1.4 is in development. However, if I was buying a 50mm today I would get the 50mm STM, it's so cheap, light, and small that it is almost irresistible, and it's sharpness is perfectly adequate and very good at >f4, and its bokeh is improved over its earlier incarnation. It's only $150 - $125 refurbished. You can spend a lot of money on 50mm lenses if you want, but to what end?
     
  6. If you buy used, either of the Zeiss ZE lenses costs $400 or less on a well-known online retailer. I would be content to buy them used since they are mechanically well constructed and do not have an autofocus motor to fail.
     
  7. Sorry, I did not account for the price shown being "currently unavailable". Only the 50/1.4 Planar can be bought for $400. The 50/2 Makro-Planar costs more than $500.
     
  8. For fashion/portrait 50/2.5 renders harsh backgrounds - not a good choice in my opinion. 50/1.4 was the choice of many top pros.
     
  9. I have the 50/1.8 II and the 50/1.8 STM and of the two the STM is the better of the two in sharpness and it only costs $US 125.00 which gives you money for other things you might need for your work.
     
  10. Consider if you have to carry extra weight in specialised filters and lens hoods on the lens front bayonet or / filter ring. The recommended lens hoods and ordinary filters are fine, but some particularly light lenses like the 50 / 1.8 II have a lot of work for their motors to do when used vertically in copy work. I might be wrong, but think the STM version may have internal focusing?
     
  11. Thankyou for advice guys, appreciate it :)
     
  12. Another vote for the inexpensive forgotten old 50mm 2.5 compact macro.
     
  13. Unfortunately for you, the sharpest EF mount 50mm prime short of the uber-expensive Zeiss is the Sigma 50/1.4 Art.
    I have two Sigma primes, the aforementioned 50mm and the 70/2.8 macro, and have nothing but the highest praise for both of them.
     
  14. For fashion/portrait 50/2.5 renders harsh backgrounds - not a good choice in my opinion. 50/1.4 was the choice of many top pros.
    I couldn't find any negative comments on the 50/2.5 bokeh. Rockwell seemed to really like its bokeh. I nearly always use it at smaller apertures 5.6 & up, so that's not my area. Its nicely sharp as any macro should be at those apertures. I guess you miss out on f1.4 / f2 out of focus backgrounds.
     
  15. James, I always base only on my own experience...
    This is 50/2.5 at around f/4... looks really harsh
    http://www.photo.net/photo/18340203
    For comparison 85/1.8....
    http://www.photo.net/photo/18224108
     
  16. Not a completely fair comparison since grass or straw in the background brings out 'harsh bokeh' in any lens but the very smoothest. At least that's my uninformed opinion.
     

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