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Old 06-22-2012, 09:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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CANON 50mm question...

is the f/1.2L really worth the cost difference or is the cheapo f/1.8 all you really need?

i know the build quality is a huge factor but you could damn near buy 13 of the cheaper versions for one of the L's...
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If it's anything like Nikons, you are really just paying the extra to reach optimal image quality at around f2. Once you hit the f2.8 to f4 range (where most people shoot), the Nikon 1.8 and 1.4 are pretty damn close to even. I actually prefer the cheaper 1.8 when shooting certain subjects because it has literally zero linear distortion. The 1.4 has slightly nicer color balance to my eye, but it has much more barrel distortion, as well...again, fine for some subjects, less so for others.

F1.2 lenses have always been a gimmick to sucker in rich amateurs, in my view. Wide open or at f1.4, depth of field is almost impossibly thin. If your subjects are moving around, good luck nailing focus. 50mm 1.8 designs have been around forever, they are cheap because the optics are straightforward and lovely to behold. In this case, image quality is uniformly good, regardless of price.

If I were you and had the cash, I'd skip EVER spending that much extra on a 50mm prime and apply the difference to a fast tele or a nice wide zoom. Unlike 50mm lenses, adding money to those zooms really will translate into huge improvements in image quality. Just my $0.02...
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:43 AM   #3 (permalink)
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BTW, after I wrote that, I checked Ken Rockwell's comments on the lens...similar:

"This is a special purpose lens for people who need to shoot at large apertures. It's special purpose because it's big, heavy and expensive and doesn't do anything more than any other 50mm lens unless you're using it at wide apertures of f/2.8 and faster. If you're not going there, you're better off with a zoom for convenience or the Canon 50mm Macro for sharpness.

If you are going there, and you people know who you are, it has great optics. Not as great as the bigger 85mm f/1.2L II, but the best fast 50mm I've used.

My only reservation is that I couldn't get consistent autofocus. It had an annoyingly high percentage of misses, meaning one shot out of about 10 or 20 would be out of focus, even though the AF system told me it had locked on. Be sure yours works well for you if you use AF."
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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EXACTLY what i was thinking. Canon does make a 1.4 version thats only about 300 used. ive heard pretty good stuff about that one and it will probably be what i get.

any other opinions?
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Old 06-22-2012, 12:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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From what I've read, the 50mm f1.4 is superior to the f1.8 in terms of handling.

If you want Canon's best 50mm prime and don't need f1.4, the 50mm f2.5 Macro is markedly sharper, has less barrel distortion, costs less, and focuses closer (obviously).
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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You're paying for f1.2 in the 50L. If you don't need f1.2, and that's just about everybody, then you don't need the 50L. If you bought the 50L only to never use it at f1.2, well then I've got a bridge to sell you.

But it's not all rosy with the rest of the 50s.

The 50/1.8 arguably is the worst lens ever built, and the five-blade aperture can render some backgrounds poorly. Outside of shooting cats, I would never use this lens. It's unreliable both in terms of focus accuracy and, well, survival. I've replaced it with it's predecessor, the metal-mount, arc-form drive 50/1.8 Mk I.

Canon's 50/1.4, meanwhile, is an ancient design dating back to the 60's. I have manual focus lenses with more recent optical formulas. The current version utilizes a "fake" USM motor with a high reputed failure rate. While not a bad lens, I'm not sure it deserves $300. This lens is long overdue for a replacement.
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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interesting... what would you recommend for a 50 prime then?
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I shoot my 50 f1.8 all the time. While it IS pretty dang flimsy, it's only $100. You have to keep that in mind. What other lens can you get for that price? A pinhole lens?
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Old 06-22-2012, 04:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well, this, for starters.



But manual focus isn't for everybody, so there's no one answer here. I think hunting for the Mark I is a good option. The 50/1.4 would be the next best option.

Let's not forget the recently announced 40/2.8 pancake, which looks like a very interesting lens at $200.
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Old 06-22-2012, 04:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Well, this, for starters.

http://www.mikedeep.com/Close-Focus/...77_rmhiz-M.jpg

But manual focus isn't for everybody, so there's no one answer here. I think hunting for the Mark I is a good option. The 50/1.4 would be the next best option.

Let's not forget the recently announced 40/2.8 pancake, which looks like a very interesting lens at $200.
I cant' find the new pancake for under $350

Also, I have been looking at some MF lenses. Can you shed some light on that matter, Mike?
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