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Thread: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?

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    50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    I currently use a Canon XS and will probably upgrade to a XXD body eventually depending on what bodies are available then. Would you all suggest just getting both or sticking to one of them? Currently budget is an issue, but even years from now will I benefit by having both? My main worry is because of the crop factor when using the 85mm. I do want to have a good portrait lens. Will the 50mm do fine or should I just get both?

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    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    I don't imagine what I have to say will be all that helpful, but I'll give you my $.02 anyway. I've owned the 85mm f/1.8, and it was a great lens. Very sharp. However, on a 1.6x body, it was too long for me to use as a main lens. Plus, I love the flexibility of a zoom. I sold the 85mm f/1.8 on Ebay and ended up getting the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. I've never regretted it.


    Keep in mind I've never had a 50mm F/1.4, but if I were going to buy a prime all-around lens for a 1.6x body, I'd go with it instead. Everyone that has one seems to love it. Of course, everyone who has the 85mm lens tends to love it, too, but as I mentioned, I just found it too long for my kind of shooting with a 1.6x body.

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    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    Quote Originally Posted by powers_brent
    Currently budget is an issue, but even years from now will I benefit by having both?

    Yes. If you were talking about the 85 f/1.8 and 100mm f/2.0, I would probably say that it's easy to live with one or the other. But 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8 are very different. Even if we look at *just* the focal length and f-number, you can tell several things:
    • 50mm f/1.4 can pull more background into the portrait.
    • 80mm f/1.8 has less background even if you back up for the same framing.
    • 80mm blurs background with magnification.
    • 50mm blurs background with f-number.
    • 50mm allows thinner depth of field (e.g. just one eye is in focus).
    • 80mm allows deeper DOF (e.g. both eyes in focus).



    That's not even getting into all the individual character these lenses bring to the table. Bryan's review of the 50mm is especially enlightening. (Wide open, it has a lot of "character", and not all of it is attractive.)


    The most popular portrait style, as far as I can tell, is lots of background blur with deep depth of field. That is: as much of the person in focus as possible, with the background as diffusely blurred as possible. That style requires long lenses, but not wide f-numbers.


    Another style is truly thin depth of field, where just the eyes or one eye is in focus. I prefer this style, but I think I'm in the minority.


    So if you want the more difficult and unusually thin DOF, environmental, full body, and three-quarters compositions, the 50mm f/1.4 is your choice.


    If you prefer the more commonly desired DOF, as much background blur as you can get, headshots and closeups, then 85mm f/1.8 is better.


    Eventually, it would be nice to have both.

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    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    I've owned the 85mm f/1.8 and the 50mm f/1.8 primes. While the 85mm is a fantastic lens, I found it too long for most portraits on a crop sensor (headshots being the exception). I'd go with a 50mm for that reason, probably the 50mm f/1.4 since I've been disappointed with the build quality on the 50mm f/1.8 II. I wouldn't worry about benefiting years from now, get what your budget can afford now.

  5. #5

    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    I have the 50 1.4, and I like it a lot. It is not perfect, its pretty soft in the corners at 1.4. It cleans up nice at 1.8 and 2.0 pretty well. It is a good focal length in my opinion for natural looking portraits.





    I don't have any experience with the 85mm 1.8 I have heard it is pretty nice as well. If you ask people what is the best portrait lens on full frame, most people will say the 85mm 1.2 L. The closest equivalent to that which is affordable on crop sensors is the 50mm 1.4f. It is one of my favorites due to its low light ability and its great bokeh. Hope this helps.


    Tom

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    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    I've owned both, thinking the 85mm would be a nice extension to my 17-55mm f/2.8. What I found was that I could hardly use it for the purpose I intended - shots of my toddlers. THe 85mm just didn't focus close enough. If you can be a few steps away I would see it as a great lens. The other thing I found with these two lenses was that they weren't really sharp wide open - if I have to stop down to f/2.8 then I'd rather just have my 17-55mm on all the time which does get great results wide open.


    The 50mm and 85mm have a 1 to 2 stop advantage over any f/2.8 lens, but I find I'm willing to bump the ISO a bit or pull out some off camera flash. In the end I sold both and went with a 60mm macro as my 'prime'. I think if I really needed the extra stop I'd go back to the 50mm, though, unless I knew I'd have some distance to work with for portraits. While I loved the feel and look of the 85mm over the 50mm, the 50mm was the one I found myself pulling out more often, but as the other poster mentioned once I owned the 17-55mm I just seemed to get the shots with that lens, over pulling out the primes. The 60mm macro has the obvious benefit of being a macro lens, but that isa feature no non-macro lens really covers - and that is why I sold the 50mm/85mm and got it. Note that I obviously don't have a problem going with EF-S lenses. For the money, the 60mm macro gave me a lot more versatility than the 50mm or 85mm, for my style of shooting.

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    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    I've got the 50mm 1.4 and an XSi. Unless you shoot things far away, and in low-light, I'd have to recommend the 50mm. I use my 50mm a lot (it's my only decent glass right now), and I'm finding it a little long for indoor group shots, etc.


    I was having the same questions before I brought the 50, and I have no regrets about getting it. On a 1.6x body, the 85mm would just be too long for me. Love my 50mm 1.4 though, it's SOOO sharp, and you can shoot almost anything with just available light.


    Plus, the 50mm is faster, but you may not be an apeture whore like me.

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    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    I have both lenses and don't find them redundant.


    It all comes down to style. I quite like a 135mm for portraits on my 5DII, which comes down to about 85mm on a 1.6fovcf. (Not for group shots, I admit).


    Quote Originally Posted by Gadget
    Plus, the 50mm is faster, but you may not be an apeture whore like me.

    I'm an aperture, um, liker, too. But unless I made a mistake with my arithmetic, the 85 f/1.8 actually has more aperture than the 50 f/1.4.


    No question, though. The 50mm is more hand-holdable.


    Brent, I suspect you'd be happy with either. I also suspect you'd be happy with both []



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    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    THanks everybody for you opinions and input. Eventually I think I will get both, but for now i will go with the 50mm. I will wait because financials.


    But one question Jon, how does the 85mm have more aperture at 1.8 compared to 1.4? Are you talking more bokeh? Because I know bokeh is amplified by focal length, but isn't aperture always aperture. Meaning, isn't 1.8 on the 50mm and the 85mm the same? Thus meaning that that 50mm at 1.4 has more aperture? Please explain.

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    Re: 50mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8 on a 1.6 Body?



    The 50mm is faster (ie, has a lower f number), but it does not have a bigger aperture.


    f number is defined as focal length / aperture, so aperture = focal length / f number. Thus the 50mm has about 36mm aperture, the 85mm has about 47mm.


    Aperture, along with death and taxes, is one of the Great Universal
    Invariants. You can crop a picture and make it look like it was taken
    with a longer and slower lens, but aperture always looks the same, no matter the size of your ccd.


    I realize now that Gadget- who will do almost anything for aperture- might have meant f number when he said aperture. People sometimes do.









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