Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM the right lens?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by kevinliu4, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. kevinliu4 macrumors regular

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    #1
    My fiance bought me a Canon 350D (Rebel XT) several months ago (my first DSLR) and I was looking to buy a new lens. I've had fun shooting with the included lens but would like to try my hand at more professional looking portraits and closeup shots.

    Is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM the right lens for this purpose? By the way what does USM stand for?

    Thanks for the help everyone.
     
  2. generik macrumors 601

    generik

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    #2
    Ultra Sonic Motor

    It is just some ring mounted motor drive that is supposedly quick and quiet. The 50mm f/1.4 isn't really a cheap lense for a prime IRRC, it is about $350 last I checked. I'd rather snowball the money away and get a 28-105/f2.8L. That was my first real lense and boy was it great!

    Much more versatile than a prime.
     
  3. kevinliu4 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Thanks. What type of shots is the lens you proposed designed to take?
     
  4. generik macrumors 601

    generik

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    #4
    Oops, that's a walkaround lense ;)
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #5
    The 50 mm f/1.4 is supposed to be a fantastic lens. The 50 f/1.8 is also very good, and it's half the price. You may want to go to a store and ask them to put one of these lenses on a camera for you before you buy it. Take a few photos, even of the salesperson and notice how blurred the background is (that's a good thing). ;)

    Prime lenses are generally sharper and have less problems with vignetting, chromatic abberation (Google these terms if you need to), etc, because prime lenses like the 50 mm f/1.4 and f/1.8 only have one focal length and so a have minimal number of moving parts.

    It's also fantastic for taking shots in low light situations, like in a house at nighttime. The 28-105 mm f/2.8 is probably fantastic, but it's not going to be nearly as good in low light when compared to a f/1.4.

    However, if you really want to have fun, the 50 mm f/1.4 might not be the lens to get since you want closeups and portraits.

    An 85 mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 is excellent for portraits, as is a 100 mm f/2.8 macro lens. This would allow you to shoot good portraits and shoot things from very VERY close up if necessary (ie: small bugs, etc). :)
     
  6. kevinliu4 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    Thanks. Really appreciate the info. Boy, now I'm really confused!
     
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #7
    Um......if it helps, nobody ever regrets having a 50 mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 lens in their bag. It's fantastic under low light, and it takes rather good portrait photos at a (relatively) low price. :)

    Bad thing about prime lenses is that they're not nearly as flexible as zoom lenses like your 18-55 mm kit lens that came with your camera. :eek: I only suggested the 100 mm f/2.8 macro lens from Canon or any 3rd party lens maker like Sigma or Tamron because you have the 50 mm focal length covered in your 18-55 mm lens. If you want a focal length outside of that 18-55 mm range, the 105 mm macro lens lets you get really close up to things and will get your portraits. You can also take photos of things that are slightly farther away than you could with your 18-55 mm. :)
     
  8. kevinliu4 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    ok, couple more questions and i think i will know which way to go.

    the 100 mm f/2.8 macro; does it handle portraits well? and between the 50mm f/1.4 and the 100 mm f/2.8 macro, which one would shoot jewelry better? i ask cause my fiance makes jewelry which she needs to photograph for her website. fun factor? which one? lastly which one, if either could i leave on for general purpose shooting?

    thanks again!!
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #9
    General purpose shooting? The 50 mm f/1.4 for sure. I still wouldn't use it all the time as a general purpose lens, but if the comparison is limited to the 50 f/1.4 and the macro lens, I'd say the 50 mm can be used in more general situations.


    Shooting jewellery? I'd say the 100 mm f/2.8 macro.


    Portraits? The 100 mm f/2.8 macro.


    Fun factor? The 100 mm f/2.8 macro, but only because I think that being able to focus on something small from a very close distance allows for some incredible photos. :)
     
  10. cube macrumors G4

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    #10
    And Canon doesn't even have a Defocus Control lens! :p
     
  11. cube macrumors G4

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    #11
    How about a Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG MACRO HSM?
     
  12. cookie1105 macrumors 6502

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    #12
    The 50mm f/1.4 is a fantastic lens. 90% of the portraits that I take are with this lens. See the thread on portrait photography. It is razor sharp and will give you fantastic background blurring (bokeh). The wide aperture means that you will be able to shoot with very little light and still get pleasing results. I have used it for the last 5 months as my general-purpose/walkaround lens. But primes are not for the lazy photographer, you zoom with your feet.:)

    However it is alot more expensive than the 50mm f/1.8 II. I chose the 50mm f/1.4 because of better build quality and better optical quality, whether it is worth it, is up to you.

    The other good, affordable option for portrait photography is the 85mm f/1.8. It has been reviewed as a fantastic lens which is optically just as good as it's big brother the 85mm f/1.2 L

    As for jewellery photography, I would think the 50mm f/1.4 would be great. I use it for food photography and would think that the same things apply: shallow depth of field, razor sharp at focal point and an effective focal length of ca. 85mm (with 1.6x crop body).
     
  13. snap58 macrumors 6502

    snap58

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    #13
    I don't think Canon has a 28-105/f2.8L in their current line up?

    The 50 1.4 is a great lens and on a 1.6 crop camera acts like a 85 mm which is considered (by many) the ideal focal length for portraits. The 50 1.8 is a sharp lens and very inexpensive, but I would go for the 1.4 it has better background blur and full time manual focus control, and way better build. By the way Bigmac has some wonderful pictures with the 50 mm 1.8 in the Picture of the Day Thread.

    You can use it with an extension tube (25 mm) and get a .68 magnification factor (normal is 0.11), which would likely work for jewelry. In a few years you can get the 50 1.2 L. : )

    The attached chart has most of Canons current lens line up, missing the newer ones, it may be useful.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. kevinliu4 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    Thank you so much everyone. I read through all the comments and in the end decided to go with the 50mm f/1.4. In fact it's sitting right beside me now! Also picked up a UV filter and a new 2GB CF card. The beauty of living in a city with everything. :D

    Something which also helped me decide was looking at a lot of sample photographs of the various lenses. As a beginner, it's a very good way to understand the intended application of the lenses.

    Thanks again everyone...excuse me while I go play!
     
  15. cookie1105 macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Enjoy yourself. I'm fairly sure you won't regret the choice.

    Be sure to post some pictures of playtime here.
     
  16. kevinliu4 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    I've had a few good hours of experimenting with this lens.

    It's awesome! I love it. :D

    I will post some pictures when I feel I have something worthy. :eek:
     
  17. SpankyPenzaanz macrumors 6502a

    SpankyPenzaanz

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    #17
    I love the 1002.8macro
    it is a fantastic allpurpose lens for me and it my main lens
    the 50 may require you to be up in somebody's grill and that might make somebody uncorftable...I have used the 135f2 and it is VERY VERY VERY NICE
     
  18. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #18
    Just one more. The USM on that lens isn't that great. But the pictures are stunning.
     
  19. Obsidian6 macrumors 6502a

    Obsidian6

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    #19
    the 50 1.4 is my staple lens, i may not shoot with it every day, but i will never part with it.

    you may find yourself hankering for more primes, and if you do be careful, because zooms just wont deliver the quality of a killer prime lens.

    for example, i have the 35mm f/1.4L and if i am ever needing to take a picture at 35mm i will change lenses to that lens no matter what, even if im using my 24-70 f/2.8L which covers 35mm just fine. its that good.

    as far as some of the other lenses mentioned i would also highly recommend the 100mm f/2.8 macro to you as well ( look for the USM version ) it is definitely one of the most fun lenses i have ever owned, and i'm glad i bought it.

    for instance, look at this, have you ever taken the time to check out a dollar bill this close?

    [​IMG]


    have some fun, show us your results. and enjoy photography!
     
  20. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

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    #20
    17-40L is a lens you should have for everyday stuff...
    Great lens, wouldnt be without it.
     
  21. Karpfish macrumors 6502a

    Karpfish

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    #21
    i have the 50 1.8II, and it is on my 20D almost all the time. Its the perfect Focal length, and i will probably go for the 1.4 soon.
     
  22. extraextra macrumors 68000

    extraextra

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    #22
    I have the 50mm f/1.4, great all-around lens (using a 350D). The 100mm f/2.8 is good, but the f/2.8 isn't that good for low-light. You can get by, but bigger is better in this case (regarding aperture). If 50mm is too short, you can always go for the 85mm f/1.8 which is amazing!
     
  23. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

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    #23
    I think so... that's why I bought it :)

    2nd favorite behind that though is my 50 1.8, it is a great lens. The 50 1.2 that's coming out should be .... WOW.
     
  24. ziwi macrumors 65816

    ziwi

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    #24
    Agree, the 50 1.4 is fantastic - may not be able to take full advantage of it on a Rebel XT as the AF has issues once the F-stop goes to 2.8, but none the less it works great in low light situations and produces nice photo's...

    Now who was it that brought up my white whale the 135 f2? It will be mine...oh, yes, it will be mine ;)
     

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