Which is the best 50mm?

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by rebecca_dichter, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. Hi!
    So I am looking to add a lens to my collection that I can do indoor portraits with and I am strongly considering the 50mm's at the 24-70mm isn't in my budget right now.
    However, there seem to be 3 50mm lenses: a 1.2, 1.4, and 1.8. What difference does the small change in aperture make, and which one might best fit my needs?
    Thanks!
     
  2. However, there seem to be 3 50mm lenses: a 1.2, 1.4, and 1.8.​
    Don't forget the discontinued f/1.0 and the f/2.5 macro. And Sigma and Zeiss make highly-regarded 50mm primes, too. The apertures are different, but so are build quality, features, handling, weight and obviously cost.
    If you cannot afford the zoom, I guess the 1.2L is out of your price range, too. Funds permitting, this would be my first choice, and the Canon and Sigma f/1.4 lenses second. If I hadn't already the Canon I would probably prefer the newer Sigma. The f/1.8 version is also very decent, but lacks full-time manual (FTM) which I want -- so the macro and the manual focus Zeiss are not for me, either.
     
  3. 50/1.8 is optically decent but same can't be said about the build quality and focus motor, it's downright horrible. It's very cheap, of course, and small and light.
    Canon and Sigma 50/1.4 are both good. Canon is older design, average size, takes 58mm filter, very sharp at f2.5, extremely sharp at f4-5.6 even in corners.
    Sigma is large and heavy and optimized towards f1.4-2, but lacks in the corner sharpness at middle apertures. (If you shoot with aps-c (crop) sensor camera it's not a problem really.)
    If you mostly shoot at large apertures I'd strongly consider Sigma.
     
  4. Hi Rebecca
    In my case I went with the Contax Planar 50mm F1.7 because I was able to get a new one and at the time I was looking for a durable option because I kept on hearing issues with the Cnon 50mm F1.8 and F1.4 focus motors failing.

    I have had 1.5 year to compare it against my brother Canon 50mm F1.4. The main benefit of the Canon F1.4 lens is it is very accurate at getting a fast sharp focus. If you are shooting people in motion then this is a benefit the F1.4 will have over the F1.8. IMO looking at all Canon 50mm lens you will notice that the quality of photo above F4 is the same. There are some slight bokeh differences but at F2.8 you will see the same quality you see in the Canon EF 24-70.
    If you use manual focus to make adjustments on a regular bases then as Bueh mentioned the best option is the F1.4. Keep in mind also that what ever Canon lens you go for you should include getting the lens hood. It is my understanding that the lens hood is good for protecting the lens front from getting bumped. Specifically it is the lens getting bumped which may cause premature failure of the focus motor.
    Hopefully this info is helpful.
     
  5. Rebecca, also do a search on this forum. There have been many many posts on this topic and some very useful information to be gleaned. I think you need to answer the question "How much are you willing to spend?"
     
  6. I have the Canon f1.4 and am very pleased with it. I know several people with the Canon f1.8 is not horrible as Kari suggests! It feel cheap, but it takes great photos and for $100, it's a great value. You should check out reviews; there are many sites online.
     
  7. I agree, the Canon 50mm 1.8 aka "nifty fifty" is very good - less than $100!
     
  8. The 50 f/1.8 is my standard portrait lens on my 5D2.
     
  9. the 24-70mm isn't in my budget right now.​
    Suppose you already have the 24-70 for free. Would you still need to get a 50mm? If the 24-70 can replace the need of 50mm, then the 50mm 1.8 must be good enough and there is no need for the 1.4 or 1.2
     
  10. stp

    stp

    Mark summed it up well: how much are you willing to spend? I'm very much wanting a 50mm prime as well, and I've concluded that Zeiss has the best one for my needs (and wishes) in the f/2 makro-planar ZE. There's no single 50mm lens that seems to make everyone, or even most people, happy, and there is a great deal of controversy regarding those offered by Canon and Sigma: some people swear by them, others swear at them.
     
  11. There simply isn't a better 50mm lens IMO than Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro Planar. Tack sharp at every aperture with superb contrast and color rendition. But it is a manual focus lens so it's not for everybody. If you want to learn more about how "good" Canon 50mm f/1.4 is click here. It's a clear "winner".
     
  12. Keep it simple: Canon 50/1.4. The 1.8 is very sharp, but the 1.4 slightly outperforms it and gives you nearly an extra stop, and it's built much better. The 1.2 is quite specialized for wide-open operation, which is great if that's how you want to use it. However, if you want to stop down a bit, the f/1.4 is actually just as good. And the Zeiss lenses? Yeah, what's not to like. However, the Canon 1.4 is a fine lens. Any of these lenses will likely outresolve your sensor anyway.
     
  13. I am very happy with my Chinon 55mm F1.4 that I bought for $5. I strongly believe that I could bargain to lower that price to $4 or $3 but I didn't because I paid more than that for the cap. It's in mint condition and also works very well on my Spotmatic
     
  14. All 3 choices have pros/cons:
    The 1.8 is really cheap, and has best center sharpness. It's cheapness however, brings lots of plastic and dubiously longevity.
    The 1.4 is a step-up in build, marginally improved build, less plastic, and slightly softer. Plus a bit faster. Downside: that step-up in build is marginal. I've got one, it's ok, get's it done. But I'm not impressed with the feel of the lens; it feels a little loose and coarse.
    The 1.2 is L quality, with all that infers, and again slightly faster. Still, it's the softest of the 3, bulky/heavy, very pricey for a normal focal length prime.
    If I were to make a request of Canon, it would be to produce an L version of the 1.4, ie: maintain f1.4 and the size and weight (or at least keep it close), but improve the durability, focus mechanism, fit and finish.
     
  15. Rebecca, I heartily endorse the EF 50/1.4. Once stopped down a bit, you'd be hard pressed to find a sharper 50mm non-macro prime. And my copy isn't too bad wide open, either.
    I have several of the L primes, but not the 50/1.2. From what I have read about it, it's optically inferior to the 50/1.4, and costs almost four times as much. As for the 50/1.8, since the FD days Canon's 50/1.4's have been considered to be optically superior to their 50/1.8's. I know that's been the case with any I've used.
     
  16. On my rebel I prefer the 1.8. On my 50D the 1.4. On my 5Dii I like neither... Color me funny. Matthijs.
     
  17. I can't say enough good things about my Canon 50mm f1.4. It focuses perfectly, it is very sharp, it weighs nothing, takes no space in the bag, is fully system compatible (and always will be), it has auto focus, etc etc.
    If you wanted a sharp manual focus 50 faster than an f2 then just about every manufacturer ever, made a lens that can come very close to the Zeiss for about $400 less including EOS adapter. If you don't want speed but do want AF then the Canon 50mm f2.5 macro is sharper than most and again $200 odd cheaper than the Zeiss.
    Best value for money Canon 50mm f1.8. You get much more than you pay for, but you pay so little.
    Best all round choice Canon 50mm f1.4. Superb little lens, very polarising as many hate it, I wouldn't be without one and I have the 24-70 and could buy an f1.2 if I felt the need, I shoot with my f1.4 a lot.
    Best specialist lens, ultra narrow DOF only, Canon f1.2. Never needed 1/3 of an f stop enough to carry it.
    Best value for money Canon macro, Canon 50mm f2.5 macro. Cheap, very high image quality but only 1:2 so not a true macro. If you don't have FF cameras the EF-S 60mm macro is an absolutely beautiful performer.
    Strangest recommendation and least functional whilst costing too much, Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro Planar. Some users love them, to me, and most people that own auto focus cameras, they make no sense. Image quality across the range is variable (even the Zeissophille Ilya sent back both his Canon and Zeiss 50 f1.4's), they are overpriced, you can't switch AF on! Whilst AF is not the be all and end all of cameras, to own an AF camera and then pay a premium for lenses that can't use that functionality seems strange.
    All the others, Sigma make a 50 f1.4, again many love it and many hate it, don't know who else makes 50 primes but I have stayed with Canon lenses.
    Lots of choice in this segment. Work out your priorities and narrow it down from there. AF, or not, maximum aperture, close focus ability etc etc.
     
  18. With the budget in mind, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 would be the best choice. It is only 1/3 stop slower than the 50mm f/1.2L. The 1.2L gets soft in the corners and vignettes a little when shot wide open. Some people prefer this look but if you are shooting with a crop sensor, then this probably isn't an issue. The 1.2 gets really sharp from f/2.0 and up. The build quality is much better but it is also much heavier. Since the 50mm 1.2L costs more than the 24-70mm, the 1.2 is probably out of the question.
    Anyways, here's a shot taken with a 50mm 1.2L shot wide open using only the candle lights. You should be able to capture shots like this with the 1.4 as well.
    [​IMG]
     
  19. The Canon and Sigma 1.4 are both great lenses optically, and there are many around, especially the Canon. As always, the Sigma is perhaps not as mechanically robust (i.e. easily knocked around) as the Canon, so a used Canon 1.4 is also perhaps a good choice.

    I have used the 1.8 and it would just be a steppingstone to one of the others, so not even a good investment for you, IMHO.

    You did not mention what body are using, and whether you are using a full frame. Many of us like a 50mm as a portrait lens either way, so again it is a win-win situation, even if you have a form factor now and will be moving up to a full frame body later.
     
  20. I hear they also give out the 50 1.8 free as cracker jacks toys. :) Still they are sharp.
     
  21. Rebecca, I went with the Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG. It is built well and at around $480 is as close to a Canon L glass as you can get for less than a quarter the price. The lens is big, let's in lots of light and can give you very sharp images and some of the nicest bokeh I have seen. I have taken images that the subject is so detailed and the background bokeh is incredible the subject just pops out of the photo. I am extremely pleased with the lens. Now my question is will you be using this on a crop sensor camera or full frame? The reason I ask is if a crop sensor camera this lens will be more like an 80mm lens and you may find walk around portrait shooting, you will be tending to back up a lot to get your subjects centered and well framed and takes some getting used to. You may want to consider something around 35mm. Don't get me wrong, an awesome lens but takes a little getting used to with a crop sensor camera. If you are using it with a full frame sensor camera 50mm is really going to be perfect. I went through the 50mm research about a year and a half ago. I am using crop sensor and I like this lens a lot. No regrets but it does take some getting used to on the crop sensor if all you have used is zoom lenses. The Sigma glass is great! You will be pleased if that is what you choose. It comes with a lens hood. I really like Sigma's design on the lens cap. Front pinch makes it easy to put on and off with the lens hood on. I don't know why Canon has not done that? It also comes with a nice lens case to keep the lens protected when not in use. When you see this lens on your camera it really looks and feels like a well built Pro lens and the photos you will get will be awesome. As I said, no regrets here.
     
  22. The funny thing about the Sigma is that it really is optimised for full frame use. It generally does not test as sharp in the center as the Canon 50 f1.4 but is always sharper on the edges and corners on FF. Logically the Canon should be better on a crop camera and the Sigma should be better on a FF. However I use the Canon on a FF, I wouldn't swap it for any other lens.
     
  23. if you are shooting indoor portraits, then autofocus is not required, in fact it'd be a hinderance. if you can spring for the Ziess, then you will be buying a great lens with superior build quality. IQ of all these lenses would be adequate.
     
  24. Ty,
    Why do you say that? AF works just fine for indoor portraits, why is it a hindrance?
     
  25. A vote for the Sigma. I haven't owned it long, but it has already impressed me. It's sharp wide open and has amazing bokeh. My only complaint is that it is heavy.
     
  26. if you are shooting indoor portraits, then autofocus is not required, in fact it'd be a hinderance. if you can spring for the Ziess, then you will be buying a great lens with superior build quality. IQ of all these lenses would be adequate.
    Are you kidding? Shooting portraits at f/1.4 and f/2 manual focus is nearly impossible with modern matte screens. The DoF is just too narrow. And I'm speaking as a young adult with excellent vision who can MF most lenses just fine. Heck, I'm finding that I need to use spot AF on my 7D to reliably nail the focus using the Sigma 50 f/1.4 and Canon 85 f/1.8 up close and wide open, to say nothing of watching my breathing and making sure I don't sway between AF and shooting.
    I would not recommend a manual focus 50mm for portraits on a modern EOS body unless the user had a 3rd party focusing screen with a focusing aid, i.e. a Katz Eye. f/1.4 can also be useful for portraits where shallow DoF and maximum background blur is desired, vs. f/2.
     
  27. Daniel, your post reaffirms a beleif that I have. It amazes me how much new photographers rely on technology like autofocus and auto exposure. It's actually part of learning to take photographs, and yes it takes practice and skill, but if your ever tried it you may see how it can free your thinking and technique. Autofocus is for shooting birds and footballers. God forbid you try to use any other type of camera other than a small format SLR digicam. Why do you think it's neccessary to shoot a portrait at f1.4, and with digital, why can't you bracket your focus if you do want to shoot wide open?
     
  28. Ty,
    I am not a new photographer. I used manual focus lenses for 25 years before getting auto focus ones. In my film days with fast lenses, Canon FDn 50 f1.2, 85 f1.2 and 135 f2, I was happy to get three critically sharp images per roll of 36, I was not unusual in that respect amongst my peers either. Now with AF on my 50 mm f1.4 wide open I am shocked if I get 3 unsharp images per hundred.
    Don't play that salty old photographer with me, AF is an amazing development, I do not use it exclusively, but when I do I know when it will nail the shot, and, it can do that a damn sight more often, in faster changing circumstances and dimmer light than you or I ever could.
     
  29. Daniel, your post reaffirms a beleif that I have. It amazes me how much new photographers rely on technology like autofocus and auto exposure. It's actually part of learning to take photographs, and yes it takes practice and skill, but if your ever tried it you may see how it can free your thinking and technique.
    The 'salty old photographer' bit won't work any better on me than it does on Scott. While I don't have the time behind manual equipment that he does, I started with Canon FD, manual focus lenses and manually exposed slide film. To this day I often spot meter scene highlights and shadows and manually set my exposures.
    It's pointless to argue AF vs. MF when we're talking about f/1.4 - f/2 glass and a matte focusing screen. A human cannot precisely focus a 50 f/1.4 wide open using a matte screen. The screen itself does not offer the precision necessary. You can be slightly front or back focused and the target will still appear sharp in the VF.
    God forbid you try to use any other type of camera other than a small format SLR digicam.
    You mean like my TLR? Or the MF and LF equipment I've used in classes at the local college?
    Why do you think it's neccessary to shoot a portrait at f1.4, and with digital, why can't you bracket your focus if you do want to shoot wide open?
    * It's not necessary, but when I do want f/1.4 for DoF and background blur focus becomes even more critical. It's just not possible to nail focus at f/1.4 using a matte screen. It can be difficult even with focusing aids. It may look like you have the desired focus in the VF, but at 16x20 you will discover it's not even close. Heck, even at f/2.8 at close distances for head and shoulder shots I'm sure AF can out perform me with a matte screen.
    * Whether I shoot my digital 7D or my 35mm film A2e doesn't matter. A human still can't nail focus on, say, an eye at f/1.4 with a matte screen.
    * When I shoot portraits I rarely use a tripod. I want to be free to move around. Focusing bracketing is out.
     
  30. LOL, I am ready to reed a few "smart ass" posts how Zeiss is bad and MF sucks. Why don't you two educate us all. I am dying to hear your idiotic arguments.
     
  31. I agree with Ilya, the Zeiss is a marvelous lens and I prefer a MF to AF, at least when it is built like the Zeiss. Changing the AF switch to MF on a modern AF lens isn't quite the same. And I have no trouble nailing the focus with my Canon 50 f/1.4 with the stock focusing screen.
     
  32. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    Speaking as a photographer, I use the 24-70, the 50/1.4 and the 50/1.8. The 1.8 is a fine lens and it's great if you think you're going to get smacked around given the price. The only Canon lens I've had that self-destructed was the 35/2, and I paid about five times as much as I did for the 50/1.8.
    I recommend you look at people's photos and see if they're doing things that might stress the equipment, that's probably the best way to figure out who knows what's going on.
     
  33. Zeiss is not "bad" it is just expensive for its limited functionality, that is a fact, so are Leica cameras and lenses but they have niche too. Don't mistake it, the Zeiss is a niche product and to randomly recommend it to people when you don't know their experience and didn't ask about it is not helpful in my opinion. Certainly they have a near fanatical following. But Rebecca asked about the three Canon 50's she knew about, not third party manual focus lenses. Whilst there will always be people who refuse technology the truth is that AF is proven to do a far better job than any photographer almost all the time. I use manual focus with 10x live view for all my tripod work, product, landscape etc, but the thought of trying to nail focus in dynamic situations with wide aperture lenses in less than ideal lighting is comical. Formal posed portraits maybe, but why? I remember reading a post by Ilya regarding manual focus with his Zeiss 85, another Zeiss lens he got rid of, he said it was no problem for him to use 10x live view handheld! How exactly do you frame that shot? Just try it once to see how farcical that suggestion is, I did. So my idiotic argument boils down to the fact that so far I have heard nothing that makes any sense from you and the experience I and many millions of photographers have had is that auto focus is worth it's weight in gold.
     
  34. Comical! I shoot weddings most weekends with manual focus 1.4 lenses, including a 75mm. Paper thin DOF...........only at minimum focus distance. Expensive...........cost is subjective, and if you can't justify a Zeiss lens, doesn't mean the next person can't. Limited functionality! Extroadinary statement really, for something that is merely a camera lens. It seems clear that you have trouble focusing with a 1.4 lens, but it would seem that others, who aren't as reliant on the "point and shoot" modes of thier SLR seem to excel. But it would seem Scott, that with the information that you have given us here, an SLR might not be the best camera for you. You say you're into landscapes, product, and portraits, so why do you use a SFDSLR?
     
  35. Ty, I shoot whatever pays the bills, I buy the tools for the job, my last lens was a few weeks ago, it is a $2,000 manual focus only Canon lens, it has functionality Zeiss dream of. I have shot a lot of weddings, manual focus and auto focus. My camera does not have a point and shoot mode! It does have a shiftable program mode but I don't remember ever having used it. Most of my shooting is done in manual exposure. So what? I don't know what an SFDSLR is, if it can help me take better pictures more consistently then I'll buy one though. Now, how does any of that help Rebecca with her choice between the three Canon 50's?
     
  36. William_W

    William_W Moderator Staff Member

    As Beuh B stated your “buy new” Canon choice is between the 50/1.4 and 50/1.8MkII. I have the50/1.4: the main reasons why I bought the 50/1.4 and not the 50/1.8 are:
    > FTM Focus
    > Number of Blades.
    > Because it is F/1.4 and I use that.
    > It is heavier that the 1.8 and I like that balance on my cameras.
    > The only other option when I bought my 50/1.4 was the 50/1.0 and that focussed way too slowly and was way too expensive.
    There is nothing “wrong” with the EF 50F/1.8MkII in my opinion.
    Both are quite useable wide open, if used with care and knowledge and here is the 50/1.4 wide open: http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=978598
    > On an APS-C Body: http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=925228
    For interest’s sake, on a 5D: http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=964622

    Apropos making Manual Focus with the 50/1.4 – I do it sometimes (in low light): and I know that other Wedding Portrait Photographers who use the 50/1.4 lens, do so too. Most I know use the same or very similar technique. These techniques (and similar arguments) have been discussed at length on several Wedding Forum Threads.
    In precise:
    Select MF
    Centre point AF indication square is selected.
    Good contrast edge is sort on subject. (line of dress on woman’s bust / line where white shirt meets man’s coat - as examples)
    Whilst holding the AF square active (I have AF selected top “*”) the lens is MF.
    The AF square will confirm – but one focuses slightly beyond that point.
    Then slightly turn the Focus Turret backwards - to get a second blink.
    Hold Focus.
    Recompose if necessary.
    Release the shutter.
    Apropos AF or MF and focusing technique generally, it is only a tool or a technique and it would bode well for the OP to understand both Auto Focus and Manual Focus Techniques . . . and also Zone Focusing and Bracket Focusing techniques . . . and also Manual Pre Focussing for moving subjects and Focus and Recompose and . . . etc.
    Knowing the techniques, one is then better armed to use the best in each situation.
    To say that one focussing technique is not required simply because one is shooting indoors is a little silly IMO and it is just as silly to suggest that MF cannot be achieved or used to advantage in various circumstances.
    WW
     
  37. We are in complete agreement yet again William W. You just keep a much cooler head than me:) Learning AF techniques is of course very important, and, quite difficult with the Zeiss!
     
  38. Ty, Small format DSLR? Why would you assume I use a crop camera? I don't. But the viewfinder magnification on the 7D is pretty impressive.
     
  39. I assumed you use a Canon 5D or Mk11 - Small Format DSLR.
     
  40. William_W

    William_W Moderator Staff Member

    I don't always keep a cool head - I don't know very many people who do and I think they just Canonised the last one . . . anyway I saw this heading in a spiral downwards . . .
    Also - to be a little more specific:
    I think it is highly likely that a Rangefinder Camera is being used for Weddings where it was mentioned that paper thin MF was attained with Manual Focus lenses including a 75mm lens. . .
    To be fair, I think the Rangefinder that might be being used - might just be a little easier to MF than the camera Rebecca is using and who (with respect) might be less familiar within MF techniques and obviously has a DSLR.
    Likely Rebecca’s DSLR is APS-C format and to MF with it in some circumstances inside is an entirely different kettle of kippers to using a Rangefinder – no matter the level of experience the person driving it – it requires a different technique . . . and after it is Rebecca’s question we are answering - No?
    WW
     
  41. MF is a niche? Why don't you go back a bit and learn history of photography and maybe you will also be able to learn that MF lenses were around much longer than AF and that all famous photographers have used MF lenses to create works of art in every area (including sports, wildlife, etc). So the only conclusion I can make here is that you probably suck at using MF lenses. I don't see other reason why would you open your mouth and start pushing your onions on others when somebody recommends a MF lens. And your idea that I am a "Zeissphille" is a dumb one too. I objectively look at things and if I don't like it I am not afraid of saying it. I bought 85mm f/1.4 ZE and I did not like it. That fact hardly make me a Zeissphille. I currently own 6 lenses and 2 of them Zeiss: 50mm MP and 21mm Distagon; 1 Voigtlander and 3 Canons. I enjoy using MF lenses and took great number of portraits (this is what I do most of the time), wildlife and my kids sports, including using Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 wide open (when I had it).
     
  42. William,
    It would appear not :) But today it is water off a ducks back, "see" you around..........
     
  43. I also like the 50 f1.8 on my 40D and for the price, about $90, I won't cry to much if I drop it !
     
  44. Rebecca,
    Without knowing your level of technical knowledge, I'll try to answer your question as simply as possible, without sounding condescending: apologies if you already know this stuff.
    Setting aside price, build quality, autofocus speed, and overall image quality, the basic difference between the 3 apertures has to do with how much light each lens can capture (how "fast" the lens is, especially in low light situations) and the depth of field when each is at its widest setting.(the wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field, which helps to isolate a subject from the background).
    Each lens also blurs out the background differently (popularly referred to as "boke"), and in general, the more expensive lenses are thought to have a smoother, more aesthetically pleasing boke. YMMV
    When stopped down (narrower aperture/higher f-stop setting), the differences in sharpness between the 3 models are not as great - however, be aware that stopping down will put more of the background in focus, and may be distracting in a portrait.
    Depending on the type of portraiture work you do (posed studio with lighting vs. more casual, docu style, including outdoors with available light), each lens may perform differently.
    As a side note, longer focal lengths than 50mm are often used in portrait photography, in order to isolate more of the subject from the background, and also to avoid exaggerating facial features, especially the nose. (unless you're going for the Jimmy Durante look)
    For this reason, the 85mm and 135mm focal lengths are quite popular, as is the 70-200mm.
    With that in mind, you might consider getting both the EF 50mm f/1.8 and the EF 85mm f/1.8 lenses. Both are very affordable, and considered good bang for the buck - especially the 85mm f/1.8
    Having the flexibility of two different focal lengths for portrait work would be quite useful.
    Do get a lens hood for any lens you buy; it helps reduce lens flare, and also improves image contrast.
    hope this helps
     
  45. LOL, I am ready to reed a few "smart ass" posts how Zeiss is bad and MF sucks. Why don't you two educate us all. I am dying to hear your idiotic arguments.
    LOL, I am ready to read a few "smart ass" posts with strawman arguments and personal insults. Oh...wait...
    I'm dying to see you discuss a topic like an adult human being. I won't hold my breath.
     
  46. Comical! I shoot weddings most weekends with manual focus 1.4 lenses, including a 75mm.
    Are you using a DSLR with a matte focusing screen, shooting wide open at close distances? If not then your experience is not relevant to what Rebecca will experience when shooting head and shoulder portraits wide open. If you are than I question just how precise your focus actually is because under those conditions a matte VF will appear to be in focus even if the plane of focus is a couple inches in front of or behind the desired target. It's not a matter of your skill or eyesight or how good you think you are. The matte screen is insufficient to the task. At 5x7 it won't matter. At 16x20 it will be painfully obvious.
    Paper thin DOF...........only at minimum focus distance.
    Given a crop camera and a 50 f/1.4, shooting a head and shoulders portrait wide open yields about a 2" DoF. You can't reliably manually focus that with a matte screen. With a Katz Eye (or an old MF SLR with similar aids) you could, but Rebecca is obviously using EOS and I doubt she's changed the VF screen.
    Even when shooting groups or stopping down AF will yield a higher percentage of keepers in any kind of fast moving situation.
    Expensive...........cost is subjective, and if you can't justify a Zeiss lens, doesn't mean the next person can't.
    If she can't afford the 24-70 then why are we talking about Zeiss glass any way? Why was the topic taken in a direction that does not help her in the least? The implication of her post is that if she had that kind of cash she would already have the zoom.
    Limited functionality! Extroadinary statement really, for something that is merely a camera lens.
    Why is it extraordinary to point out that the lens you recommend is one stop slower, cannot achieve the same shallow DoF, and will yield more missed shots due to the human inability to keep up with modern AF systems?
     
  47. Are you using a DSLR with a matte focusing screen, shooting wide open at close
    distances? If not then your experience is not relevant to what Rebecca will
    experience when shooting head and shoulder portraits wide open. If you are than
    I question just how precise your focus actually is because under those
    conditions a matte VF will appear to be in focus even if the plane of focus is
    a couple inches in front of or behind the desired target. It's not a matter of
    your skill or eyesight or how good you think you are. The matte screen is
    insufficient to the task. At 5x7 it won't matter. At 16x20 it will be painfully
    obvious.​
    no i don't use a dslr, i upgraded years ago. but like you say, you use the right tool for the job. i'm not sure how Rebecca ended up with a DSLR, and not some other type of camera that may have been better suited to her pursuits.
    So we weren't talking about shooting weddings, but indoor portraits, and again I say an 85mm at 1.4 is rarely going to be used at moderate distances, let alone closest focus. and more likely at f4 or thereabouts.
     
  48. If you are looking to do indoor portraits, i'd consider a zoom lens...the 24-70 is a flagship zoom but it is expensive...there are other Canon zooms and I'd stick with Canon...unless you are dead set on a prime lens, I wouldn't pass up the versatility of a zoom especially if you're using a flash unit...the 24-70 and I'd imagine the 50mm 1.2 are heavy and you cannot handhold well at 1/125 with these lenses, so you lose a little advantage of shooting at wider apertures if you're not using a flash...if you do not want to use flash, you need to see how well your camera handles high iso's...
     
  49. ...or you could just save up and skip lattes for a while and get the 24-70. whew
     
  50. this is an easy one. the summicron f2.0....fourth version.
     
  51. Hey, don't forget the Canon 50mm f/0.95 that is sitting on my Canon 7 rangefinder right now? Does that count? I think that mine dates back to about 1965.
    It certainly is not the sharpest lens wide open (to say the very, very least), but it is bright and pretty contrasty! Stopped down, it isn't bad at all, but that sorts of defeats the purpose of having such a fast lens, right?
    --Lannie
     
  52. Photographers tend to be obsessive about sharpness and lines of resolution, OK me too. Portrait customers generally want to look their best, meaning they do not want to see every flaw and line in their skin. They frequently want to look younger too. Money is a part of this equation so the Canon 1.8 will work fine for under a hundred dollars but you will still have to do some post processing to smooth skin, blackheads etc. There are better lens but do you need them for that purpose?
    Jim
     
  53. I own a 50MM 1.8 and its sharpness and contrast is likely better than most ANY zoom. It does feel cheap but it's a low cost lens. When used wide open, it does blur the background nicely.
    A 1.4 or a 1.2 lens will give you a shallower DOF and better bokeh, especially with a distant backgrounds, like outdoor portraiture.
    I love my Canon 85MM 1.2 and bought it specifically for portraits.
     
  54. Guys, now you went and did it! Scared Rebecca off, it seems :)
     
  55. No doubt you have your reasons for wanting a 50mm, but usually something a little longer is best for individual portraits, like maybe 85/1.8 or 100/2.. I haven't myself used it (have 100IS 2.8L8) but 100/2.8 macro should be a good portrait lens as well giving you an extra capability close up. Of course if you are talking about group portraits you probably want something a bit wider than 50, say 35/2, which many people think is very good and comparatively cheap.as a macro.
    Have to agree with others on AF v MF. I think I was as good as anyone with flying birds with an FD300/4 plus 1.4 and 2 X converters, but remember trying to do indoor portraits of my fast moving daughter with a Pentax 67 and 165/4 lens. Usually lucky to get 1 out of 10 focussed in the right place, and then you have to change the film. MF for me now (58) is strictly for things that don't move, except where zone focussing.
     
  56. Nigel,
    Next time you bump into Steve McCurry remember to tell him that he shouldn't be using a 50mm. That has to be one of the silliest comments in this thread, and it is absolutely overloaded with them. Besides if Rebecca has a crop camera the 50 is working as an effective 80, that gives her the same FOV as the legendary 85 f1.2 portrait lens on a ff camera.
     
  57. Scott
    Where did I say she shouldn't use a 50mm? Just responded to her indication of what she will be using the lens for - of course if using an APC camera, a 50mm would indeed be a standard portrait length. Re. your last comment, 50mm on a crop is equal to 80mm on a full frame irrespective of maximum aperture, so I don't see the relevance of "legendary 85f1.2 portrait lens". Therefore I would include your response in the "overloaded" category.
     
  58. I own the 50mm 1.2L. Prior to that owned the 50mm 1.8. HUGE difference! the 1.2L is much more sharper and produces amazing bokeh over the 1.8.
     
  59. Isn't is pretty well agreed upon that modern Zeiss lenses are no better optically (and in some cases even worse) than their Canon EF counterparts? Of course, if we're talking older Zeiss lenses such as the Jenas, that's a different story! :)
    Also, I agree with Scott and the others who extoll the virtues of autofocus. I know that my "keeper" rate has greatly increased since I started using AF gear.
     
  60. >>> Isn't is pretty well agreed upon that modern Zeiss lenses are no better optically (and in some cases even worse) than their Canon EF counterparts?
    Pretty well agreed? By whom? I'm all ears. And also one who actually shoots with one (as well as canon lenses).
     
  61. Ty Mickan [​IMG], Oct 23, 2010; 07:30 p.m.
    Are you using a DSLR with a matte focusing screen, shooting wide open at close
    distances? If not then your experience is not relevant to what Rebecca will
    experience when shooting head and shoulder portraits wide open. If you are than
    I question just how precise your focus actually is because under those
    conditions a matte VF will appear to be in focus even if the plane of focus is
    a couple inches in front of or behind the desired target. It's not a matter of
    your skill or eyesight or how good you think you are. The matte screen is
    insufficient to the task. At 5x7 it won't matter. At 16x20 it will be painfully
    obvious.
    no i don't use a dslr, i upgraded years ago. but like you say, you use the right tool for the job. i'm not sure how Rebecca ended up with a DSLR, and not some other type of camera that may have been better suited to her pursuits.
    So we weren't talking about shooting weddings, but indoor portraits, and again I say an 85mm at 1.4 is rarely going to be used at moderate distances, let alone closest focus. and more likely at f4 or thereabouts.​
    Ty,
    Using an RB67 like you do isn't going to give the shallow DOF that a 1.4 or 1.2 lens is on a 35mm FF camera for example. What are you photographing with on the RB? An f3.5 or f3.8 lens. For you the RB67 may be an "upgrade." For wedding work I would say exactly the opposite. I would never go back to shooting with my RB67 for weddings again. To slow. I'd stick with DSLRs, or 35mm film, or faster MF bodies like the Mamiya AFD or Contax 645. The RB67 is not suitable at all. I use a Pentax K20D, Canon 7D, Pentax Z1 (35mm film), Nikon F5 (film), Contax 645 (film) and a Holga.
    As a user of many old cameras with various focussing screens, I can say that Daniel is completely correct in stating that with most of the modern matte screens, one cannot achieve accurate focussing at f1.2 or f1.4 with moving subjects....let alone still ones. And yes, photographing weddings for going on 20 years gives me the experience to state that with confidence.
    If you disagree, maybe you could point us to your wedding site where we could see the ultra shallow DOF photographs to see an example of what you speak.
     
  62. Dave, not sure how you came to the assumption that I use an RB67 for weddings? I don't, and I agree that it is not an appopriate rig to use. I use a Leica MP and a Leica M7, with a 1.4/35mm Summilux-M Asph, and a 1.4/75mm Summilux-M. The last SLR sytem that I used for weddings was my D3's, but I wouldn't go back. I have just started to supplement my Leica's with an Olympus EP-1 for a small percentage of shots.
     
  63. However, there seem to be 3 50mm lenses: a 1.2, 1.4, and 1.8. What difference does the small change in aperture make, and which one might best fit my needs?​
    Besides the differences described earlier, the 1.2 is designed to create nice looking background blur, which may be important for you, if you shoot portraits. If the lens is too expensive, take a look at Sigma 50/1.4 - I don't have it, but it has pretty good reputation for portraits as well. If you have FF camera or do not mind larger distance from your subjects, consider also Canon 85/1.8 (or the new Sigma 85mm lens).
     
  64. If you are than
    I question just how precise your focus actually is because under those
    conditions a matte VF will appear to be in focus even if the plane of focus is
    a couple inches in front of or behind the desired target. It's not a matter of
    your skill or eyesight or how good you think you are. The matte screen is
    insufficient to the task.​
    Actually, the matte focusing screens designed for manual focusing (Ee-S, for example) are quite reliable. And you still have AF confirmation LEDs in your viewfinder.
     

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