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Thread: Choosing my first 50mm lens

  1. #1
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    Choosing my first 50mm lens

    I have a 60D and am new to this but wanted to get a 50mm lens. The two I'm looking at are the f/1.4 or the f/2.5 Macro. I'm planning on using it for portraits but like the ability to use it up close as well. A lot of what I've seen says that the 2.5 is just a lot sharper throughout where the 1.4 is really in it's best form between like 2.8 and higher. I want something that I can use in lower light than the 15-135 kit lens. I would appreciate any insight in what's going to make me happier in the long run and is more versatile. Thanks

  2. #2
    Administrator Sean Setters's Avatar
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    I really like the 50mm f/1.4, but I don't do macro shots very often, so the 50mm macro isn't as appealing to me.

    Here's a shot using the 50mm f/1.4 @ f/2.2 on a 5D Mark II (and it's sharp enough for me):


    Kristin in the Alley 1 by budrowilson, on Flickr

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    Senior Member Jayson's Avatar
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    Having owned both of the lenses you are talking about, I would go with the 50mm f1.4 if you are planing on shooting anything where light is not optimal. The f/2.5 is a great lens, but hunts like crazy if your shooting in minimal light and is very slow to focus. If you are shooting static subjects then sure the 2.5 is great, but if anything else, I would go with the f/1.4. The f/1.4 focuses pretty close to objects too. I used it on my jewelry photography. Here's a couple shots taken with the 50mm f/1.4


    and with the 50mm CM (compact Macro)




    The other thing that you could look at if your looking at something that focuses very closely and has good Auto Focus with a USM motor is the 60mm Macro. It is only for non-full frame cameras, but if your not planning on upgrading anytime soon, it would be great. It may be a constant f2.8 lens, but it doesn't have the hunting problem of the 50mm CM and focuses 1 to 1, where as the CM only focuses 1 to 2. So if you didn't need the low light of the f/1.4, that is a good option as well. I would say the choice would be between the 50mm f/1.4 and the 60mm macro.

    Edit: Also, notice the out of focus highlights in the CM shots. The lens only has 6 aperture blades while the f/1.4 has more, so it will give you more pleasing boken also.
    Last edited by Jayson; 07-31-2012 at 04:07 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member dsiegel5151's Avatar
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    Considering the 50mm f2.5 is only a 1:2 macro, with the 12mm extension tube, the 50mm f1.4 gets close to the 50mm f2.5 in terms of max magnification (i.e., 0.39x compared to 0.5x). I have both lenses and the 50mm f2.5 is always on loan to a friend or my father b/c I never use it.

    This nesting House Finch was shot with the 50mm f1.4 + 12mm extension tube at f2, 1/60s (iso 250). Granted, the 50mm f2.5 is sharper at f2.5 than the 50mm f1.4 is between f1.4 and f2.5, but with the 50mm f2.5, I wouldn't have been able to blur out the bird poop around the rim of the nest as much.

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  5. #5
    Senior Member Dave Throgmartin's Avatar
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    What do you guys think of the Zeiss 50 f/1.4? In your opinion does it possess some of the magic of the Distagon series of lenses?

    Dave

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    Thanks for the thoughts. I was set on the f1.4 until I started reading too much (which I'm guessing is going to happen) and some people were not thrilled with the sharpness. It sounds like as long as I learn how to use it correctly, it will serve me well.

  7. #7
    Senior Member EricPvpi's Avatar
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    These guys are smarter than me, but I can give you my thoughts as someone new also using a 60D. I recently tried the 50 f/1.4 on my 60D. I thought it was soft wide open but started getting better at f/2. If you are shooting at f/2.8 you may well be happy with the sharpness and that would still be 2 to 3 stops faster than your kit lens between f/2 and f/2.8.

    I ended up sending it back since I have the 17-55 f/2.8 and I am happy with my lens at 2.8 and I decided to go a little wider on my prime lens after using the 50mm for a few weeks. From my reading, I think I found more FF users liking the lens.

    So, as long as you looking at f/2 and narrower, it may serve you well.

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    Hopefully this will help a little. I have a 60D as well, and have owned the 50 1.8, the 50 1.4 and the 17-55 2.8. Recently I have found the new 40mm pancake lens to suit my uses for the "50mm" range better than those. My photography skills are not good enough to utilize the extremely narrow DOF @ 1.4 aperture, so most pictures ended up in the 2+ aperture range as a maximum. Since many of my uses for this are for indoor shots of the kids, trips to the museum, etc. f/2.8 seems to work fairly well with the 60D. Good luck on your decision!

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