Nikon 50mm f/1.8....do you miss the autofocus?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by makismagoo99, Dec 11, 2010.

  1. makismagoo99 macrumors regular

    makismagoo99

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    #1
    Well, after a year or more of pining for a DSLR, I finally pulled the trigger and bought myself a Nikon D3100! :) I love it so far and if I really get into the photography scene, I can upgrade to a new body down the road.

    Now I'm looking at lenses, and seeing as the 50mm f/1.8 is so highly regarded (and inexpensive), I think it would be a great fast lens to add to the bag. The question to any of you who use that lens with a non-autofocus body: do you miss having autofocus? I'm worried that if I don't have it, I may miss out on a shot because I'm fooling around trying to manually focus.

    Is the 50mm AF-S f/1.4 that much better that it justifies the $300+ price difference? Or would the 35mm f/1.8 maybe be a better way to go?
     
  2. pna macrumors 6502

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    #2
    I had the 50/1.8 with a D40 which also can't autofocus that lens. The entire point of using that lens is for its shallow depth of field at wide apertures, and that makes getting the focus right by hand difficult unless you're in pretty controlled situations. I suspect that you will miss autofocus with that body as I did. I eventually bought a used D80 almost entirely so I could use that lens. I then later picked up a cheap, used 185/2.8. That lens wouldn't have autofocused on the d40/d3100 either.

    The 50/1.4 is certainly a fantastic lens, but for the extra $300 you could also upgrade your body to one that would focus the 50/1.8 and a bunch of other useful non-AF-S lenses (tokina 12-24, tokina 11-16, other primes).

    In the meantime, I'd highly recommend the 35/1.8. That's a great lens as well. Not quite as useful for tight portraits, but useful for a wide variety of other situations. If you find you really like it, then you can evaluate your options further later on.
     
  3. bubulindo macrumors member

    bubulindo

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    #3
    My 2 cents...

    Do you wanna buy my 50mm 1.8D?

    I have a D90 and although the 50mm is great, has superb quality, speed (which you can't enjoy on the 3100), depth of field, it is a bit too tight for that sensor.
    It all depends really on what you like to photograph. For portraits is really great, but on those bodies it's use becomes a bit more limited.

    I don't think the 1.4D is worth the 300$, but like I said, I didn't put my 1.8D to much use.

    I am considering, now that the price of the 35mm is lower, to get that one. It's the one I should have gotten in the first place but the price then was a show stopper. If you can, try them. Again, I have no idea what is your plan when getting this lens, but without auto focus it seems a bit of a waste to me. :\
     
  4. M-5 macrumors 65816

    M-5

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    #4
    I'd just get the 35mm 1.8
    It's really inexpensive, and it autofocuses on your camera. And because of your crop sensor, it would almost be like the 50mm lens on a full-frame body.
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #5
    I wouldn't buy any lens that didn't have autofocus. At least with my Sigma 50 mm, I could both use the lens in manual focus mode, or override the AF if I wanted manual input.

    The 35 mm is better for you, IMO.
     
  6. RaceTripper macrumors 68030

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    #6
    I have a D200 and a D7000. I've been thinking about selling my 50/1.8D and getting the 35/1.8G.

    I don't think I would want to have to use the 50/1.8 without autofocus, but then everyone has their own needs, and for some manual focus is fine.
     
  7. jeffy.dee-lux macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    I'm kinda new to this stuff and I know the Canon systems a bit better (bought my girlfriend the Canon 50mm 1.8 MkII for her birthday this year), so can someone explain why it can't autofocus? Does the lens date back to a previous autofocus system and the newer Nikon bodies can't control this system? But then, somebody said the D40 can't focus it, but the D90 can? What's going on here??? Lenses typically house their own autofocus motor right? Or is that the problem? does this lens require the body to power it through a mechanical gear or something?
     
  8. jeffy.dee-lux macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    okay i think i figured it out, digging around in some old lens reviews on dpreview.com. They didn't have a review of this lens, but they did have another -D lens, the 50mm 1.4:

    So I guess higher end Nikon's continued to support legacy lenses with an in-body autofocus motor? When did Canon stop using in-body autofocus motors? Or did they always put the motors in the lenses since the dawn of autofocus?
     
  9. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #9
    The point of Canon abandoning the FD mount and switching to its EOS mount back in 1987 was to embrace autofocus. All Canon lenses have some kind of motor in them.
     
  10. compuwar, Dec 11, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2010

    compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #10
    Canon changed lens mounts completely in 1987, making all previous lenses obsolete, and angering a lot of Canon shooters at the time. The current EF mount is Canon's fourth SLR lens mount. Canon didn't use in-body focus motors.

    Nikon has maintained the same lens mount since 1959, but has dropped the older AF-D-type "screwdriver" focus motor in low-end bodies to lower production costs and because in general people who buy those bodies purchase a one or two lens kit and don't tend to purchase additional lenses or have a lot of legacy glass hanging around. When they do purchase other lenses, they tend to go for superzooms- which have in-lens AF motors. Obviously, this is a numbers game and there are lots of folks who wish they could use AF-D lenses, there are just a lot more people who don't even know what that means and don't care.

    While there are still a few lenses only manufactured with AF-D focus, all the focal lengths are represented by lenses with in-lens focus motors, the only real issues tend to be perspective control lenses, but then those cost more than most folks shooting with a low-end body are likely to spend.

    However, people looking at a system for the first time who are interested in purchasing used lenses should factor the AF motor issue into the equation when considering which company or body to purchase.

    Paul
     
  11. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #11
    You're sort of figuring this out on your own... ;)

    Yes, when AF became part of 35mm camera technology, Canon designed a new camera mount from the ground up which incorporated electronic contacts, nothing mechanical. This was incompatible with all former Canon 35mm manual focus lenses (FD-mount.) One feature, and benefit of this new design (EOS) was the in-lens AF motor, which eventually led to the USM (ultrasonic motor) lenses. Another benefit of the mount redesign was that Canon made their mount diameter larger than it had been, and advantage to lens designers designing fast glass. This is when Canon began to convert many pros from Nikon, as their AF technology was leading the pack (back in the early 90s.)

    Nikon, on the other hand, adapted their then-current F-mount to incorporate AF and a mechanical drive in-body to power their new AF lenses. It was a disadvantage in development of AF technology, but it allowed photographers to continue to mount legacy manual focus lenses on their bodies. Today, Nikon has been making lenses with built-in motors (AF-S) for some time, but still offers many earlier AF lenses (screw-drive) at least until they are updated with new versions. With the consumer dSLR bodies (starting with the D40/60 series and the D3000/3100/5000 series) Nikon has removed the focus screw drive motor from the camera body, and third party lens manufacturers are starting to make their Nikon-mount lenses with b/i motors. The high-end camera bodies still maintain compatibility with the legacy lenses and have built-in AF motors (D90/7000/300/700, etc.) Some older entry and mid-level Nikons also have the screw drive motor (D50/70/70s/80.)

    It's a bit more complicated for beginners to figure out all the combinations of lenses and bodies that will work on the Nikon side, whereas with Canon all the EOS system of lenses should work with all EOS camera bodies, from the 35mm ones to the digital ones.
    Anyway, it's always fun revisiting history just a bit... :)
     
  12. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #12
    It's a personal thing- many of us grew up before autofocus- and don't have a problem shooting in MF mode. With that said, the low-end bodies don't have the same dot and triangle focus indicator that the higher-end bodies do, so AF is a little more difficult. Some folks pay lots of money for MF-only lenses like the Zeiss ZF series for Nikon. Some folks put in a split-prism focusing screen to aid in MF. Some folks just use hyperfocal or depth of field charts to shoot in manual mode. Personally, if it were me, I'd get the 35mm DX and be done with it.

    Paul
     
  13. makismagoo99 thread starter macrumors regular

    makismagoo99

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    #13
    Wow, thanks for all the responses, everyone!

    I hadn't actually considered that, but at this point, I'd rather not spend a lot of money on the body just in case this turns out to be a hobby I don't spend a lot of time with. To me, it makes more sense to spend the money on the lenses now, and if I do upgrade bodies in the future I'll make the jump to the D7000 (or whatever the equivalent is in a few years). Plus, I like the size of this body - I'll be heading off on my honeymoon next summer, so the D3100 will be nice and light for that trip.:)

    How much would you give it to me for? ;)

    This is an area I am still exploring. I like shooting nature/landscapes, sports, and architecture, but I have not tried shooting portraits as of yet. I like to shoot with ambient light as much as possible, so a fast lens would give me more flexibility in low light scenarios.

    The D3100 has 11 focus points in the viewfinder, if that's what you're referring to. They seem to give fairly adequate coverage for focusing on things off-center in the viewfinder, at least I haven't felt limited by them thus far. That being said, I've never used a camera without autofocus, so although it's something I'm sure I can get used to, it might be better to have it available.

    Is the 35mm lens as highly-regarded and/or versatile as the 50mm? It seems like all I read about online is the "nifty-fifty", so that's why I was looking into that lens.
     
  14. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #14
    Get the 35/1.8. It virtually replicates the 50's perspective on DX and is both light and sharp. No reason not to get it.
     
  15. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #15

    1. Learning to control flash is valuable for portraiture, and if you control the light you control the image- don't be afraid of flash, and don't accept the blaring "deer in the headlights" look as the only results you can get using it.

    2. No, I mean the focus indicator dot in the bottom of the viewfinder. The lower-end bodies just have a dot, which confirms focus- the higher-end bodies have green triangles on each side which show you which way to turn the focus ring to get to in focus for whichever focus point you're using. They make MF significantly easier in my opinion.

    3. Fifty millimeters is a hold-over from film days as a general-purpose lens, the equivalent focal length in terms of angle of view on a DX body is 35mm. However, if you're intent on shooting portraits rather than general photography then the angle of view of the 50mm on a DX body is better than the 35mm, though at that point, I'd probably go for the 60mm AF-S for the added ability to do 1:1 macro.

    Paul
     
  16. bubulindo macrumors member

    bubulindo

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    #16
    100 USD plus shipping and it's yours... but...

    For the items you are referring to here, I'd ditch the 50mm and go for the 35mm instead. Trust me on this. That 50 mm lens on your camera will look like a 75mm on a DX lens. If you can test that (with the 55-200, or 18-105), give it a go and see what you can shoot with it. From my experience portraiture is the main purpose of that lens in a DX body, so before you jump in on it, try taking more portraits and see if that's an area you'll be investing time in. If not, get the 35mm instead.
     
  17. flosseR macrumors 6502a

    flosseR

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    #17
    ok, as someone who does this as a hobby i feel you. Though I never went for a body without the focusing motor, I have shot with a D5000 and my 50mm. It's a pain. I would recommend the 35mm DX as well. its fairly cheap but excellent quality and great focal length on a crop body.

    With that being said, once you start shooting in really shallow depth of field and large apertures, you don't want to go back.. and that's when it becomes expensive.

    As Paul pointed out, some people pay stupid money for the old lenses. As of recently I own an old 85mm f1.4 Nikon lens, no autofocus :). It took a lot of grief and practice but I can definitely see why some people prefer manual focus.

    The dot and triangle indicator helps a lot though and I would not recommend a MF lens with an entry level body unless you have a LOT of experience and patience.


    Welcome to the hobbiests club :)

    After a few years of trying to pass the wife test with all the new gear etc. My wife actually caved in and let me buy my newest addition.... now I am just waiting for the "well remember that lens.. now i want....." part :)
     
  18. compuwar, Dec 12, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010

    compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #18
  19. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #19
    But it should be pointed out that those Zeiss primes are expensive because they're (by and large) exceedingly good, not just because they're MF. I think the vast majority of Zeiss purchasers buy them for their quality, and not because they are MF.
     
  20. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

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    #20
    +1, and I plan on getting one and selling my 50mm f/1.8 and I won't miss anything even though I have a D90. I think for that range and it's use (the 50mm) MF isn't a big deal at all.
     
  21. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #21
    The trouble is that most autofocus lenses aren't easy to manually focus, due to a thin and non-damped focusing ring. I have a 50/1.8 AIS and it's much easier to manually focus than its 50/1.8 AF-D counterpart.
     
  22. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #22
    The point is that people will pay a lot for a lens that isn't AF. Cosina doesn't seem to be all that interested in adding it to either the Zeiss or Voigtlander brands or the brands themselves aren't interested- depending on how the brand usage is contracted out.

    Paul
     
  23. makismagoo99 thread starter macrumors regular

    makismagoo99

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    #23
    Thanks for the advice. If I ever get into shooting portraits, I'll definitely learn more about the flash and how to control the light that comes from it.

    Wow, I didn't even know something like that existed, and I can definitely see how that would come in handy when shooting MF.

    I think I will do just that!

    I'm engaged, getting married next summer, maybe THIS is the subject I should be asking for advice in, not lenses, haha!
     

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