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Author Topic: 50mm Lens Experience?  (Read 6841 times)
Ben Rubinstein
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« on: August 16, 2005, 01:20:22 PM »
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I had the 50mm 1.8, was small and light and with the size and price I didn't care about the 'plastick' feel, it doesn't really jut out enough to bang into things. The focus speed is technically slower than a USM lens, but to be honest as it's got such a fast aperture it focused as fast as my 17-40L easily. Picture quality was really good, on par with any of my 3 L zooms with a beautiful contrast and 'look' as well as being sharp and resolving extremely well.
When I was shooting with a 10D this was a perfect portrait lens and just a bit better than my 70-200L.
I have a 28-70L f2.8 and the one extra stop wasn't enough to keep it, still miss it though, best lens I've ever seen for its price....
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ARD
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2005, 04:02:05 PM »
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Thanks for the replies
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Ray
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2005, 08:23:50 PM »
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For image quality, the 50/1.8 is the best value lens in Canon's entire range. The only possible reason anyone could have for not owning this lens is because he/she already owns one of the other more expensive Canon 50mm lenses.
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jani
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2005, 08:03:56 AM »
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For image quality, the 50/1.8 is the best value lens in Canon's entire range. The only possible reason anyone could have for not owning this lens is because he/she already owns one of the other more expensive Canon 50mm lenses.
Sold, will order one today
Well, before you place that order (or otherwise commit yourself), you may want to take a look at this article:

http://www.akam.no/artikkel/7065

Although in Norwegian, the pictures are plainly marked and tell their own story.

In brief, there is another reason for not owning the f/1.8 lens: the f/1.4 lens is noticeably better at both sharpness and contrast.
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Jan
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2005, 11:10:40 AM »
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I have both the 1.8 and the 1.4. Here's a quick bullet list on my impressions of the lenses:

50mm f/1.8:

Pros:
* Cheap: excellent bank-for-the-buck
* Tack Sharp when stopped down
* good color
* good contrast (best when stopped down)
* light-weight

Cons:
* cheap. I would't expect this thing to survive a two-foot fall. Seriously.
* soft wide open: less sharp than my 24-85mm
* bokeh can get quite gnarly in some cases
* noisy & slow AF
* small and difficult to use focus ring
* highlights are a bit harsh
* No bayonet-type lens hood available
* looks ridiculous on a good camera. I know camera equiptment is not meant to be fasionable and this is not a deal breaker but still, silly looking is silly looking.

50mm f/1.4:

Pros:
* tack sharp: my copy reaches it's max sharpness at f/3.5 through f/14.
* excellent color: I have never had any issus with skin tones under any lighting condition using this lens like I have had with other lenses (assuming good camera profile in Raw converter).
* good contrast
* good highlight handling
* very good bokeh
* sharpness wide-open is not much worse than when stopped down.
* USM: quiet & quick AF
* heavier than the f/1.8 but light none-the less

Cons:
* Focus ring requires to much turning to go from one end to the other IMHO. It needs less throw.
* Micro-USM: not as quite or quick as Ring-Type USM.
* CR wide open can get strong. How objectionable this is depends on what's being photographed. For me it's never become an issue but it's worth mentioning.

The 1.4 is more than three times the cost but you get more than three times the lens.
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jakenable
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2005, 09:57:03 PM »
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One reason I'm going to buy my second 1.8 ==> I dropped mine the other day and it broke. It didn't break because it was plastic, it broke because it fell from 7 feet onto a very hard floor.

Did I feel bad? Nope.

If I had dropped a 1.4 or my 70-200 I would have been sick to my stomach.

I'll get another 1.8 because it is a good lens at a great price.
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macgyver
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2005, 11:45:17 PM »
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While on the topic, let me ask something.

I've been thinking of getting a 50mm 1.8 becuase I shoot a large amount of low light action, and flash isnt always an option.

Now, this is part question, part rant, but everyone here always talks about how a lens is "tack sharp when stopped down" I understand that stopping down is a viable option for most people most of the time, but not always. To me, I have a hard time seeing me buying a lens like this for any reason but for wide aperature, even if its not quite as sharp as it could be.

So, i guess where I'm heading is this: if I don't stop it down, and I do use it wide open, how will it work for me then? I imagine that I'm not nearly as nit picky as some on this fourm when it comes to somethings, I would rather have a soft shot than no shot at all, but in your opinions will this work well wide open?

-macgyver
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ARD
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2005, 05:58:39 AM »
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Arrrrgghhh  Cheesy , so many good arguments for both lenses.

However, for me, as they appear to be so close in performance, yet so far a part in cost, I'm going to go with the 1.8 for now.

I fully appreciate that the 1.4 will be a better lens, but I do feel that if Canon put a new casing on the 1.8 and re-badged it, but left the same internal eliments etc, the 1.8 would be far closer to the price of the 1.4.

Many thanks for all of your replies on this one, it is good to be able to ask people who know the answers  Cheesy  Cheesy  Cheesy
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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2005, 08:55:18 PM »
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How well the lenses handle highlights. The f/1.4 seems to produce more pleasant results IMHO.
Interesting! But it's still not clear what you mean. More pleasant in what way? Does the 50/1.8 produce a slightly bluer color balance, as opposed to the slightly warmer balance of the 50/1.4? You are not suggesting that highlight detail is actually 'sharper' with the 50/1.8 are you or that the 50/1.8 causes highlights to be more easily blown?

Could it be that these two lenses require slightly different exposures for the exact same lighting conditions. This is a difference that seems apparent sometimes when I compare lenses before buying, with a few test shots. At the same aperture and FL, one lens might seem to require a slightly different exposure.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2005, 11:31:16 AM »
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How well the lenses handle highlights. The f/1.4 seems to produce more pleasant results IMHO.
Interesting! But it's still not clear what you mean. More pleasant in what way? Does the 50/1.8 produce a slightly bluer color balance, as opposed to the slightly warmer balance of the 50/1.4? You are not suggesting that highlight detail is actually 'sharper' with the 50/1.8 are you or that the 50/1.8 causes highlights to be more easily blown?

Could it be that these two lenses require slightly different exposures for the exact same lighting conditions. This is a difference that seems apparent sometimes when I compare lenses before buying, with a few test shots. At the same aperture and FL, one lens might seem to require a slightly different exposure.
It's not a matter of over-exposure or color-casting (the 1.4 is dead-neutral in my testing), but a matter of how well the lens handles the transition to over-exposure.

An example: Lets say you are photogrpaphing a person in the shade with one side strongly lit. If the face is exposed for, the brightest part of the head will be almost over-exposed. In this case, the f/1.4 (in my experience) produces a softer, more natural appearing transition from the properly exposed face to the near-over-exposed part.

A side-effect to this is that there could be additional detail in the hightlights too as you suggested but that's most noticeable if adjusting expusure of the raw file in post.

Mike Johnston gives this same example on harsh-highlights in SMP (02-09-22) but I don't think the small image in the article fully potrays the effet. Search for the part where he covers the Nikon 50mm f/1.8.
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Ray
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2005, 12:24:18 PM »
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Mike Johnston gives this same example on harsh-highlights in SMP (02-09-22) but I don't think the small image in the article fully potrays the effet. Search for the part where he covers the Nikon 50mm f/1.8.
I'm none the wiser. It's impossible to draw any conclusions on such subtle matters from completely different images taken under different lighting conditions.

And if there actually are such subtle and ineffable distinctions to be made (and I'm not doubting that Mike Johnston has imagined them) I can't help wondering how relevant such differences are in the Photoshop context where the minutest of adjustments are possible.

This sort of thing smacks of the Hi Fi 'Absolute Sound' scenario where Hi Fi enthusiasts drool over the imagined properties of oxygen-free copper cable.
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Ray
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2005, 08:39:04 PM »
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Interesting! Is this effect noticeable at f8 or just the wider apertures where one expects expensive lenses to be better? Next time I'm in Kuala Lumpur I might pick up a 50/2.8 macro which I believe is a notch better than the 50/1.4.
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AaronA
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« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2005, 10:42:07 AM »
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I have been through 3 50mm lenses ever.....and all I had diffrent thoughts about it.

My first was the nikkor 50mm 1.4, looked to have been made in the 1980's.   At first I liked it, but its focus ring lacked that feeling of presicion and after taking it apart to examine the elements I found not only the apeture design is poor and weak, but there was oil in it.

So I got rid of that and I found a backup that only costed about 6 something dollars (3 lenses for 20$) from a box of trash heap lenses....I was amazed to find this in such good mechanical condition (but horrible cosmetic condition).

It is a Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm 1.4  That puts the lens made around the early 1970's.  The lens looks like its been through world war 3 but the lens works so well that I use it for pretty much anything.  It is soft the first 2 stops but once you break the 2.0 barrier its as sharp as one can have.  Only problem with the lens is the left hand focusing which throws me off sometimes, and the shallow DOF combined with the really bad viewfinder of the 10D (fault of the smaller mirror/sensor) keeps me from focusing as well as I want to.




Thats a recent picture with the lens, shot I think at most 2.0, but I doubt it.  No sharpening work done, only color work.





Those are two more, the water one you can tell I missed a little with the focus, showing what I was saying of its difficulty, and the second one is a stopped down shot, I dont know what apeture though, exif cannot save info on a converted lens.

And the last lens I used was the canon 50mm 1.8, which I liked...nothing else to say about it.
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ARD
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2005, 08:29:24 AM »
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Hello, I'm thinking of getting a 50mm lens. I've read quite a few reviews on this lens, and the majority of comments say it produces good results, but is a bit plastic feeling. However, for the price of this lens I wouldn't expect excellent build quality, I'm more interested in image quality.

I found a good link here
Code:
http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/

Do any of you have one of these lens, and what do you think of them.

Many thanks
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pfigen
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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2005, 02:38:20 PM »
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I have a Canon 50 1.4 which is decent wide open, getting progressively better until it hits it's peak at 5.6, where it is unbelievably sharp and contrasty, staying that way until about 11-1/2. Minor amount of barrel distortion, but overall a very fine lens.
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mikebinok
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« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2005, 06:05:34 PM »
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Assuming you are speaking of Canon, the Canon 50mm macro is an excellent lens, and sharp all the way down to f/2.5.
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ARD
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« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2005, 06:56:08 AM »
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For image quality, the 50/1.8 is the best value lens in Canon's entire range. The only possible reason anyone could have for not owning this lens is because he/she already owns one of the other more expensive Canon 50mm lenses.
Sold, will order one today
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ARD
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« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2005, 08:11:44 AM »
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For image quality, the 50/1.8 is the best value lens in Canon's entire range. The only possible reason anyone could have for not owning this lens is because he/she already owns one of the other more expensive Canon 50mm lenses.
Sold, will order one today
Well, before you place that order (or otherwise commit yourself), you may want to take a look at this article:

http://www.akam.no/artikkel/7065

Although in Norwegian, the pictures are plainly marked and tell their own story.

In brief, there is another reason for not owning the f/1.8 lens: the f/1.4 lens is noticeably better at both sharpness and contrast.
Thanks for the link, looks interesting,
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Ray
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« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2005, 09:19:35 AM »
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There's always at least some variation between lenses of the same model. In the absence of individual MTF charts for each lens, which would add to the cost, you have to take a risk. I can't read Norwegian so  don't know if that was the only 50/1.8 that was tested against the 50/1.4. There's no doubt that the 50/1.4 is slightly better, on average. It would be strange if it weren't. But that's not really the issue. It's several times the price. The 50/1.8 is not only extremely good value, but it's a good lens in general (although not very robust and clearly aimed at the amateur who tends to take better care of equipment than the professional.)

I tend to use Photodo as a reference for lenses that have been around for a while. Amongst all the Canon lenses they have tested, there's none so good at the price. The 50/1.8 even gets a higher rating than the expensive 28-70/2.8L and 70-200/2.8L zooms. It's without doubt the sharpest lens I own, which is a bit ironic. My sharpest lens is my cheapest lens.

The Photodo list of Canon lenses can be found here
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Sheldon N
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« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2005, 08:38:19 PM »
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I'm in total agreement with Daniel on his list. My experiences with two different 50mm f/1.8's match relatively closely with the Norwegian test as well.

If you want to take a look at some comparison tests I did with both 50mm f/1.8's against my 50mm f/1.4, read this thread over at photo.net.

Hope this helps!

Sheldon
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