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Thread: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

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    Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    Hello…,

    In the very short time I’m thinking to purchase a lens that I will mostly use for indoor portrait in low light conditions. I am thinking about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. However, as I read many reviews and ratings over the net, many says that the overall performance and IQ of this particular lens is not as sharp as its price tag. Therefore, I’m leaning toward to EF 35mm f/1.4L which on the other hand has better IQ according to many users rating, but the downside of this lens from my personal point of view is that 35mm is too wide for body portraits (at least that’s my opinion).

    The lens will be mounting on my 5DII however, and at this moment, frankly I’m having a hard time to choose between those two. Whereas the 50mm lens has wider aperture which obviously should produce a better result in low light conditions and the other one has better result but the focal length is too wide for FF body camera (again that’s only my opinion).

    Hence, I am so appreciate your assistance if you could share your experience and thoughts with me, especially for those of you who already own or at least have an opportunity to try one of those lenses.

    Thank you.


    PS. Just FYI, I live in a country where none of camera stores throughout the nation offer a customer camera or lens for rent. So, I don’t have an opportunity to try one of those lenses.

  2. #2
    RockNGoalStar's Avatar
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    Re: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    hey Bayu,

    Have you considered the Sigma 50mm f/1.4?

    Take a look at this review:

    http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/sigma_50_1p4_c16/

    I have this lens and it is simply magnificent! it is a bit more expensive and much bigger than the Canon or Nikon versions, but I think it wins outright in terms of picture quality and the bokeh is super creamy on it!

    Well worth a look IMO.

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    I have film cameras with super lenses, which I now use on my Canon digital grear. I have also bought excellent lenses secondhand and sometimes fantastic lenses can be obtained secondhand at really reasonable prices. The lenses you are quoting are pretty expensive and sometimes not easy to find. Just another way of doing things and an alternative option to consider.

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    I will consider your thoughts....

    Thank you Tommy and Malcolm

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    Hi Bayu,

    From what I have read here and limited experience with my own 50/1.4 (on a crop body), the chances of you being able to actually use either lens wide open in low light is remote, you'll probably always need more DoF and have to stop down some, losing the 'advantage' of an insanely fast lens.

    I think your views on the unsuitability of the 35mm on what I believe is a FF body (5D MkII = true?) for protraiture is probably valid, too wide, encouraging you to get too close and introduce perspective distortions on your subjects limbs and features nearest the camera.

    Good luck,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 14th September 2011 at 12:42 AM.

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    Hi Bayu,

    I have to agree with Dave on this one; in the studio I still sometimes have depth of field issues shooting at F11 or F16!

    In my opinion, for your intended use, I'd strongly suggest considering a zoom lens; ...

    - For "real world" shooting, you're probably going to be using apertures greater than F2.8 or F4 most of the time (the 5D2 has excellent high ISO capability, so you need to be using this)

    - High-quality zooms like the EF24-70mm F2.8L USM are more than adequate in terms of sharpness

    - The zoom is one heck of a lot more versatile than a prime.

    Just to give you an idea - I'm typically shooting longer focal lengths than you (needed to get good compression), but for what it's worth, I've got an 85mm F1.2L USM II prime - it's deathly sharp - but I hardly ever use it; for head and shoulders portraiture it's ALWAYS the EF70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II on my camera, and for 3/4 & full length portraiture, it's always the EF24-70 F2.8L USM on the camera.

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    Hi…Colin,

    It’s a matter of fact, I’m using the EF 24-70mm F/2.8L right now as my primary night photo shoots, and plan to get the EF 70-200 F/2.8L IS II anytime soon. Anyhow, the reason I brought this question to the forum, is because few days ago, I saw a sample photos taken from the 50mm F/1.2L and the bokeh is so wow…, and I’m thinking to myself “hey...why not to find out more about this lens, who knows it could be better than 24-70 for night shooting.…” and I started to read some reviews and ratings on the net.

    My experience so far with EF 24-70mm F/2.8L is so great, this lens never let me down in terms of IQ and AF. In any case, we all probably know and agree that in order to get sharper image, we do need to stop down some on 50mm F/1.2L lens and hence, I think that is the biggest downside of this lens which mean we’re losing the 'advantage' of an insanely fast lens… (just like Dave said). After reading your comments, I realized that in the end, I will probably just flush some useless $$ if eventually I end up with the same aperture that I already own (24-70mm F/2.8L).

    Well…, looks like I’m going to stick with my 24-70mm F/2.8L then, and forget about the 50mm F/1.2L. Anyway, thank you for both of you (Dave and Collin) for giving me such valuable feedback.

    Thanks...

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    Hi Bayu,

    Quote Originally Posted by widbays View Post
    It’s a matter of fact, I’m using the EF 24-70mm F/2.8L right now as my primary night photo shoots, and plan to get the EF 70-200 F/2.8L IS II anytime soon. Anyhow, the reason I brought this question to the forum, is because few days ago, I saw a sample photos taken from the 50mm F/1.2L and the bokeh is so wow…, and I’m thinking to myself “hey...why not to find out more about this lens, who knows it could be better than 24-70 for night shooting.…” and I started to read some reviews and ratings on the net.
    Perhaps a good cross-check would be to feed some typical shooting distances into a depth of field calculator to get an idea as to just what your depth of field is likely to be. Often we hear about people planning on using ultra-fast glass for low-light situations (it's almost a "knee jerk" reaction), but people never seem to stop and consider that the trade-off is a VERY tight DoF - so really just wanted to make sure you're aware of that.

    My experience so far with EF 24-70mm F/2.8L is so great, this lens never let me down in terms of IQ and AF. In any case, we all probably know and agree that in order to get sharper image, we do need to stop down some on 50mm F/1.2L lens
    Yes and No to be honest -- this is another area where the theory and the reality can be slightly different. Yes, conventional wisdom tells us that if we stop down 2 or 3 shots our lenses will be sharper - but the ONLY time you'll notice the difference is looking at (a tiny portion of) the image at 100% magnification. In real world situations, an image that's displayed online typically only contains around 3% of the information that the original did, so in that situation, any differences in sharpness due to apertures has long since been sampled out. Even in a medium size print (say 12" x 8"), you're still unlikely to be able to see the difference. A correct sharpening workflow has a FAR bigger influence on apparaent sharpness - especially capture sharpening that most people don't even apply, which kinda defeats the purpose of all the other lengths people go to under the guise of getting sharper-looking shots.

    How about using the $$$ to get some accessories for your EF70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II when you get it (extension tubes, teleconverters, close-up adaptors etc)?

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Lens

    I can see how a thin DOF may be used creatively but, there seems to me to be a limit at which you can shoot and still get a portrait that is not troublesome because portions of the face and head are out of focus.

    IMO, shooting a head and shoulders portrait using a 50mm lens on a full frame camera at an aperture of f/1.2 seems unrealistic and that is not only because there will be distortion but, because the DOF is so thin that this aperture would be virtually unusable.

    The approximate camera to subject distance for a head and shoulders portrait using a 50mm lens on a 24x36mm format would be 5-feet. ("Kodak Library of Creative Photography, Set Up Your Home Studio", page 19).

    The DOF at f/1.2 would be 2.5". IMO, that is simply not enough. The distance from my eye to the tip of my nose is approximately half that distance. The distance from the front of my ear to the tip of my nose is over 4 inches. IMO, you must keep the tip of the nose in focus, so the narrow DOF would propose a problem.

    NOW, using an 85mm lens (shooting at approximately 8.25 feet) at f/8, you would have a total DOF of 1.34 feet which would be more workable but would still allow you to use selective focus. Open that lens to f/4 would give you a DOF of 6 inches. Even for the devotees of extreme selective focus, that ought to be a thin enough (but still workable) DOF. I used f/4 because I shoot with a 70-200mm f/4L IS lens.

    If you selected 135mm as your focal length and used f/2.8; you would be shooting at 13.25 feet and have a DOF of .48 feet or less than 6-inches. Cartainly that is thin enough anyone and too thin for me...

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