Canon Lens Advice - Prime to complement 28-200

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by sammich, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #1
    Hi all photogs of MR.

    I'm looking to buy a lens as a gift for a relative's 5D mk3 (disclaimer: it will be theirs but I will get to use it on occasion as well). I'm not much of a photographer, I understand how to shoot, I just don't do it often enough to be practiced.

    That said, I don't know how to pick a lens. So the current 'workhorse' is a Canon 28-200 3.5-something zoom lens, and it seems to serve the purpose. But I'm not sure it's well suited to portrait photography.

    So I guess I've been looking at some primes. My current shortlist is the (new?) 35mm f/2 IS USM and the 50mm f/1.4. I couldn't get a local price (Australia) for the 35. But the 50mm is well within my budget.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated :)
    Sam.
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2011
    #2
    You're on the right track, but if it's primarily for portraits the 85mm f/1.8 is the better lens for a few reasons.

    1) 85mm lenses are more flattering to the subject. 35mm would be too wide and for up close since it will warp the subject (nose will appear bigger, eyes will look smaller). To a lesser degree the 50mm is in the same boat, even though it's regarded as a "normal" focal length.

    2) The longer focal length of the 85mm will allow for a narrower depth of field. Most people think that ONLY the aperture will do this, but a longer telephoto lens will narrow the DOF even more then just having a wider aperture. The combination of the two will also give you a nice creamy bokeh (background blur)!

    3) Performance! The overall color, contrast, sharpness (even wide open), and AF speed, is awesome! It's the best lens in my kit so far. Hands down, I reach for it more often then my 50mm f/1.4 (for portraits that is).

    Another lens to consider would be the near identical 100mm f/2.0, but the 85mm focal range is better suited for smaller spaces. If you want to get him a more general walk around lens, the 50mm focal range is the go to for most people, but some prefer the wider 35mm. It's more of a personal preference thing. You'll find very few who would argue about the 85mm choice. Good luck!
     
  3. macrumors regular

    crawler1975

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    #3
    if i were you I will get the 50 f/1.4. it is a great lens for portraits but if you have some spare cash I would suggest to get the 85mm instead ... it's well suited for a portrait.
     
  4. macrumors 65816

    NZed

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Location:
    Canada, Eh?
    #4
    Wow, buying a lens for a relative! I wish i had that kind of relatives!

    Anyways, the 85 1.8 sounds like the way to go. A little pricey but wow what a lens!

    35mm is wide like the above said, 50mm is fine for portrait but still a little wide since its mostly regarded as a walk around lens.
     
  5. macrumors 68040

    MCAsan

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2012
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #5
    Look the two Canon EF 100mm macro lenses. One is a regular EF lens and the other is the high dollar L series. Both are great for portrait work....and gives the added bonus of being great close focus macro lenses. I use the L version on my 5DIII and the wife uses the regular one on her 5DII.

    Both can be used on either crop sensor or full sensor Canon bodies.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #6
    Thanks for the replies, everyone.

    Seems like the 85/100 is a good way to go. No way I'm getting that 85 1.2L, maybe later down the track when I've discovered a larger salary. This is a Christmas and a thank you gift (for helping me find my current job), so it's worth it. Besides, we really need a better lens.

    Over the holiday period, we're going to be taking photos to create a 'memories' type album for posterity. So that includes people, buildings, places and close range 'things'.

    I've long known that the 28-200 is a pretty poor lens (only from reviews) so, if I can have a lens that means I can avoid using it for all but the longest shots that would be great. But that lens does have a much closer minimum focal distance than either the 85/100, obviously.

    So given all that, is the 85 or the 50 a better fit? Is the wide-angle effect that profound on the 50 as opposed to the 85?
     
  7. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2009
    #7
    On a full frame, I wouldn't use a 50mm. It's just too 'plain' a focal length.

    I would go 35 (or 24) on the short end or 85 on the long end.

    If this is for portraits, get the 85. If it's for other (e.g. environmental, landscapes, etc) get the 24 or 35.

    I shoot mostly portraits and I'll tell you that I have the 85mm f/1.2L II and I hardly use it. I use the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II pretty much all the time. If it's not the 70-200, then I'm using the 24-70 because I'm working in tight quarters.

    I had the 35 f/1.4L but sold it to get the 24-70 and given the choice between the 85 and the 35, I think I would use the 35 more. Given the fact that the 70-200 is my workhorse lens, the 35 pretty much satisfies my "everything else" lens needs. Not to mention the 35 f/1.4L is a fairly lightweight lens, it makes a great "out and about" lens.

    But that's just me. The 50 is pretty popular because most people are using it on APS-C, so it functions like an 80mm anyway.
     
  8. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    If the lens will go on a "cropped frame" body, then a 50mm lens is long enough. An 85mm lens means that you need a rather large room so you can back off far enough and still have the subject some distance from the background. 85mm works well outdoors but not in a small space. the 50mm is the best all around length. 35mm is just to short for formal type portraits.
     
  9. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #9
    Yes. Frame size matters. I bought my 85mm f/1.8 lens for use with a 35mm film camera. It is a good lens for portraits on the full frame camera. Then I bought the dSLR with the smaller frame and now I use the 50mm f/1.4 where I would use the 85mm on full frame.
     
  10. macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    #10
    For portrait the 85mm f/1.8 is a great lens.
    For general use I'd get the 50mm f/1.4 over the 1.8 because it gets (micro)USM and FTM, which come in handy.

    For versatility the 100mm f/2.8 non-L macro lens is a great choice because not only do you get the tele reach and bokeh for portraiture but also 1:1 true macro capabilities.
     
  11. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2011
    Location:
    Perth, Australia
    #11
    I use both a 50mm and an 85mm on my 5d Mk II. The canon EF 85 1.8 is a great lens. My nifty 50 is a Sigma 50mm 1.4, which outperforms every other 50mm on the market, with the only other lens coming close to it the Canon 50mm f1.2L, at a much higher cost - not justifiable in my opinion.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #12
    Okay. This is probably the hardest decision I've had to make in a while :)

    I think it's down to either the 50 or the 85. The 50mm for the close up and bokeh, and the 85 for portrait and more general purpose shooting.

    I'm leaning towards the 50mm, for various reasons that could be incorrect, but I'm hoping the place I'm getting it from will let me try it out.

    Thanks for the stack of replies everyone. All of this is a little bewildering and conflicting but I guess that goes with being what is a creative affair. I'll be sure to post what I end up with. Who knows, I might get bitten and start collecting glass like the rest of you.
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    product26

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
    #13
    The 50mm 1.4 is a fairly fragile lens. Make sure you get the hood too.
     
  14. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
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    Location:
    PHL
    #14
    What is purpose of the lens? Is it going to be used mainly for portraits? If so, then like the others have suggested the 50mm 1.4 and 85mm 1.8 are pretty decent options for you, and they won't break the bank either. If you're looking for something more WA, you can go with the 35mm 2.0 as well. I think the 50mm will give you the greatest amount of flexibility since it can be used not only for portraits, but general shooting as well.

    ----------

    I think you're refering to the 1.8 lens rather than the 1.4. I have the 1.4 and it's far from fragile. The 1.8 on the other hand it more delicate, but it's still a great lens for the price.
     
  15. macrumors 6502

    ctyhntr

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    #15
    I have both the 50mm f1.4 and the 50mm f1.8. I bought the f1.4 thinking it would be better than my f1.8 for low light photography (indoors, bars, poolhalls, and clubs).

    So far, I'm underwhelmed by the f1.4, and haven't been able to perceive noticeable difference, other than the f1.4 autofocus hunts more in low light than the f1.8. I'm using this on a t2i, so maybe on a crop sensor the difference is marginal.

    If you already have the 50mm f1.8, I suggest getting the 85mm f1.8 instead of the 50mm f1.4. FWIW, the 85mm f1.8 is probably my next lens purchase.


     
  16. macrumors 6502

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    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    #16
    the 35mm is a wide angle, not suited as a portrait lens at all - well there are some creative exceptions to that statement. My 50 mm f1.2L works well for that but an 85mm is better. Even my 100 mm f2.8L macro works pretty well. If you want a fine "cross over" lens, look at the Canon 24-105 f4L. I have a dozen Canon lenses and if I could have but one, it would be the 24-105.

    http://imaginethatimages.zenfolio.com/
     
  17. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2011
    #17
    Other way around! 85 for the close up, portraits and bokeh and 50 for general purpose. lol!
     
  18. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    #18
    I'd get the 50mm. Maybe not the #1 portrait lens for every one but still very usable for portraits. I think you'll feel cramped with the 85mm if you use it as a general purpose lens. If you want to get away from the 28-200, I think the 50mm would be far more versatile than the 85.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

    product26

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
    #19
    Nope, the 1.4 has a very thin spot on the metal helicoid that can be bent with very little impact to the front element. Trust me. I have repaired both 1.4 and 1.8. They are pretty fragile, but yes the 1.8 is much more so. A hood on the 1.8 makes it more susceptible to damage because it connects to the front element threads whereas on the 1.4 the hood connects to the body of the lens and not a moving part. This protects the 1.4 pretty well.

    ----------

     
  20. macrumors 65816

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #20
    I'd go for the 85, because you're thinking portraits.

    I've had an 85 of one kind of another in my bag since the late sixties, and though it's certainly no walk-around lens, if you're doing portraits or people from some distance, it's unbeatable.

    It's true that we've all been calling an 85 a portrait lens, but if you think of it as a "short tele" you'll begin to see other uses for it.
     
  21. macrumors 6502

    ctyhntr

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    #21
    I bought a hood to protect the focus ring on my 50mm f1.8. Is there a better way of protecting it? Or resign to end up buying 3 f1.8 to replace the f1.4?

     
  22. macrumors 68040

    acearchie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    #22
    I would check out your 50mm f1.4. I upgraded to the f1.4 for the access to a proper focus wheel and also enjoyed the far faster autofocusing and sharpness from the lens.

    I shoot on the 600d so essentially the same camera as you. I would try it on some other bodies and see if you still have an issue.
     

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