Whats the best prime lens for Nikon? 35mm or 50mm af-s 1.8g ?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Chuck-Norris, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    Its for my d5100 nikon. looking for one of these to take pics with really blurry backgrounds., mainly people at parties/gatherings of friends and family indoors.
  2. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    If shallow depth of field is the goal, then always the longer lens will be the one to use. So get the 50mm. Get the f/1.4 if you can afford it. This is physics not opinion. the longer lens if used to take the same photo will have less depth of field.

    Nikon also makes an 85mm f/1.8 but you need to back off quite some distance. The 50mm in a "crop body" SLP works well for indoor head and shoulders shots.

    The 50mm in a crop-frame body is a mild telephoto lens. the 35mm is what I'd call a "standard" but for people shots, the mild tele is the way to go.
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    would it be difficult to get full body/ group shots with a 50mm from yuor experience? indoors i mean
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Oct 6, 2005
    What do you have right now as a lens? If you have a kit lens, you should be able to zoom it to 50 and 30mm and see what it looks like. A 50mm lens will likely be too close for a group shot indoors. At about 6 ft away you are only going to get their shoulders and up, so unless you have a big room it's not going to happen. Group shots in general are tough to separate from the background indoors. You need a large enough depth of field to keep everyone in focus, so your backdrop (wall) needs to be even further away.
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    i actually droped and killed my kit lens :(

    amazely the glass didnt break

    anyhoo i purchased a second hand 18-135m DX lens (apparently the kit lens that original came with a d90?)

    great all around lens and the zoom is so much nicer then the kit lens that came with the d5100, but i wanted a nice lens for bokeh (blurry backgrounds) so decided to try a prime lens.

    honestly i bought both the 35mm and 50mm lens, unfortunately it wont be till the holidays till i can actually test ONE, and only one cause i have to return one under 14 days lol. i can only afford one.

    i like the 50mm but for a stupid reason, i think its a nicer quality and built lens then the 35mm but obviously it comes downt o the photo.

    i came on here to see if any of you have experience with taking pictures with these prime lenses.

    you are right about the 50mm, im worried the 50mm might be to "tight".

    ive read the bokeh on the 50mm would be better (and a quote from digitalrev that the 50mm scores more "keeper" shots)

    from your post i assume you sitll recomend te 35mm under the circumstances?

    appreciate your help! :)
  6. macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2011
    I was surprised to find with my wife's D7000 kit that there were different grades of nikon lenses, but there are. Real professional-grade lenses have full metal bayonet mounts. The kit lenses may have decent to good optics, but they also have plastic mounts, and it doesn't take too much abuse for one or more of the lugs to shear off inside the camera body. Simple solution to that? Don't buy a nikon "kit". Get the body and the higher-grade lens of your choice separately.
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    Did u have any thoughts about the prime lenses in my case?
  8. macrumors 65816


    Sep 25, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    I actually have the 50mm f/1.8G ($220 on Amazon - no shipping, no tax) on my Nikon D3200 and I'm very happy with it. I also considered buying the 35mm but that particular lens is formatted for DX sensor cameras and since I plan to upgrade to an FX (full frame) sensor in the near future, I figured I'd get the lens that is already formated for FX. Because the 50mm is formatted for FX, it does cause for the focal length to be more like 75mm on a DX body, such as my D3200 or your D5100. You will only get a true 50mm focal length on an FX body. However, this hasn't been too much of an issue for me.

    Just so you have an idea, these two pictures were taken from about 5 to 6 feet away from the subjects. I'm sure if I would've backed away a little more, I would've been able to get more in the frame but I wanted upper body only. (those are my parents and grandma, by the way)

    Attached Files:

  9. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    thanks so much for the insight and example pictures! those pics look beautiful!

    Im not to worried using the 50mm outside, its mainly indoors im concerned about. What is your opinion on using a 50mm from your experience indoors?
  10. macrumors newbie

    Sep 8, 2011
    I recently bought the 50mm 1.4G lens for my D800 (FX) and I am really impressed by it.

    As others have already pointed out, a 1.4 lens will have shallower DOF than a 1.8 lens. Even though the "number difference" may seem small, you need to consider that 1) this 1.4 is one full stop more than 1.8 and 2) apertures are related by SQRT(2), or about 1.41x for each stop, in the quantity of light that comes through the lens in the same amount of time.

    There are several DOF calculators you can find online or for your iPhone. I suggest you play around with the numbers and see for yourself.

    Regardless of indoor or outdoor shots, you should set your camera to Aperture priority to get a shallow DOF. This means the area in focus will just be inches (careful on group shots!) with the 1.4 lens.

    If you can afford it, go with the better glass.
  11. macrumors demi-god


    Jun 5, 2012
    Not to confuse things (as can often here) but I see ChrisA mention the 50mm f/1.4g. I have this lens and it's great but after buying I read a number of reviews that indicated people felt the 1.8g was a better (sharper) lens than the 1.4g at less than half the cost.

    Food for thought... :)
  12. macrumors newbie

    Oct 4, 2011
    Indoors the 50mm will be a bit harder to get full body shots due to the distance you'll be standing away from your subject. The 35mm at 6-10 feet will still produce nice blurry backgrounds at f/1.8-f/2.8. The 35mm with its shorter focal length will also perform ever so slight better in low light. With the 50mm you may need to increase ISO a little sooner than you would with the 35mm given the same shutter speed and f-stop to get a proper exposure.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Nov 17, 2005
    Halifax, Canada
    50mm is likely too long for taking the pictures you're talking about in a regular living room. Anyway, stop asking us, try that 18-135 at 35 & 50mm to check the framing as someone suggested.

    You're not using it to check depth of field.

    The 50mm will have narrower depth of field than the 35mm, all else being equal, but if you can't stand the thought of only capturing whatever you see on the 18-135mm @ 50mm, then it doesn't matter, does it?
  14. macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2011
    Well, from film days ("film"? what's that?), I was told early on to get a 50mm "normal" lens if you want, but experienced photographers said that the 50 will pretty much end up riding around in your bag unused, while you will utilize a wide-angle or telephoto lens much more often.
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    35mm for wider FOV is what u wold recomend?
  16. Caliber26, Dec 3, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012

    macrumors 65816


    Sep 25, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    You're welcome. :)

    As for my experience with shooting 50mm inside, well, to be honest, it's not ideal. You'll still get very nice shots, but trying to get a group of more than five people will be a little challenging and if you want full-body pictures, you're going to have to be able to move back sufficiently. This will depend on how much room you have to work with at the locations you're shooting in. I happen to have a very spacious living/dining area with minimal furniture, so I can move around as if I were outdoors, but if I were at a bar or restaurant (where crowds of people and tables are restricting me) I think I'd have a hard time capturing a large group of friends in one shot.

    You said you purchased an 18-135mm DX lens. You should focus it at 75mm and take some pictures. That's basically what the 50mm will look like on your D5100. You're probably not going to get too much bokeh, if any, because I'm guessing your aperture won't be too big at that focal length but you will at least be able to see how much you can fit in the frame from certain distances inside your home.

    If you plan on staying with DX sensor cameras, then I would recommend you get the 35mm lens since it'll offer you more flexibility. You can almost always move closer to your subject but moving further can sometimes be a little difficult when shooting indoors. But if you are planning to switch to an FX sensor camera in the future you will want to have lenses that are optimized for FX. Although the 35mm DX lens is compatible with an FX camera, it really isn't ideal for it. Camera bodies will come and go, but lenses are meant to be kept for the long haul, so keep that in mind when making your purchase decision. If you do go with the 50mm, you'll just have to find ways to get creative in order to get the desired shots, while you're still shooting on your current camera.
  17. macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2011
    i too would suggest you try this... i believe it was in this forum that i saw this tip.

    it's how i came to the conclusion of my 35mm f/1.8 for my D5100
  18. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    Thanks for URL reply! Looks like then35mm is the most ideal choice for my purposes given the flexibility it offers

    My last concern is I read online that the 35mm can make people's noses bigger in portrait shots. Is that the case?
  19. macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2007


    I have the 50mm f/1.4G and love it.

  20. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
    decided to pull the trigger on the nikon 35mm 1.8g DX!
  21. macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Think you'll be happy with your choice. I have both the 35mm/1.8 and the 50mm/1.4 and I much prefer the 35. Each has its own use but I tend to grab the 35 more often. These were my first primes and I eventually bought the 85mm/1.8 because I loved the results from primes.
  22. macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    From my personal experience, 50mm is not wide enough on a DX body for a group shot. The 35mm should be a better lens for you.
    f/2.8 is enough for nighttime shooting, so the f/1.8 aperture should do good for any situation.
    And a 35mm on a crop is actually 52.5mm so you are getting a nifty fifty!
  23. macrumors 68000


    Oct 2, 2007
    expecting delivery of my 35/1.8 today for my D7000.

    I too was torn between the two lenses. I read reviews all around, read forums and it seemed both were/are great lenses.
    I had read in the film days 50mm was the "perfect" lens, the nifty fifty. The 35mm on a DX sensor comes close to that measurement.
    I figure since both lenses are very good, I could always purchase the 35mm and if that isn't everything I wanted, I could sell and upgrade…or maybe go up another level to the 85mm…or a 50mm 1.4

    Hoping to be happy with the 35 and hope you will be too.
  24. macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2011
    Yep. And you can always crop the image to whatever you want. Actually I have a 24-100something zoom that is my normal lens and it covers most anything I need. I've got a longer telephoto for when I really want to reach out and touch.

    ...and I see you bought the straight 35. That'll do you fine.
  25. macrumors 6502

    Nov 17, 2005
    Halifax, Canada
    Sorry, you're mistaken. The focal lengths Nikon labels their lenses with are absolute. His 18-135mm at 50mm is the same field of view as the 50mm. Doesn't matter if the camera is CX, DX, FX, ZX, XXX, whatever.

    The picture obtained on a FX body vs DX body will be different at the same focal length, but that focal length is the focal length is the focal length.

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