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Thread: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

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    Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    So I was just given this lens. Put it on the camera this morning and looks to me it will not be a great landscape lens, but more of a portrait lens. Am I right in assuming this?

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderBob View Post
    So I was just given this lens. Put it on the camera this morning and looks to me it will not be a great landscape lens, but more of a portrait lens. Am I right in assuming this?
    Well Bob, that seems to have taken you by surprise

    What made you think it was for landscapes?
    They generally need DoF, so a fast prime like this probably isn't the obvious choice.

    Just think about the focal length; 50mm (on FF) or a field of view equivalent to 80mm on an APS-C body.
    What's your body?

    Speaking of APS-C; People tend to think in terms of 80mm being 'good for portraits' and wider angles; anything for 18 to 35mm, for landscapes, but it doesn't follow.

    So yes, we could say your assumption is correct, assuming you have a crop body camera.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    I think I was hoping for the wider view, but really knew, but couldn't turn it down anyway. Yes, I have a crop body (1.6 factor). Landscape is my passion so guess I'll keep waiting for that 18 to 35 in a fast prime lens to be given to me

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Possibly you should adapt your style but you can use any lens for landscape photography. In my opinion part of being a photographer is to try to get the most from your equipment, whatever it is. The best camera and the best lens are the ones in your hand!. Look for examples of landscape photography with long lens and get inspired.

    Some links:

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...oto-lenses.htm
    http://www.lightharmony.com/blog/lan...lenses-31.html
    http://www.digital-photography-schoo...pe-photography

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Mario, while I now have the lens, I will be trying some new shots with it for sure.

    Thank you,

    Bob

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Bob, while the 50/1.4 may be more suited on a crop body for portrait framing that doesn't mean you can't use it for landscapes. Stopped down to f/8 it's a pretty good performer. And there's always pano stitching, which yields the bonus of higher resolution. I once shot a 27-shot three-row handheld pano of a valley with a 60mm macro lens. Sharpest damn image, and enough resolution to make out an ad painted on the roof of a farm about three miles away.

    Just saying. Maybe it's time to make lemonade.

    Cramming all of the vista in with an ultrawide isn't always necessarily the answer to landscapes, either.

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    How come you got given the lens, I had to buy mine!

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Personally, I think many photographers have their "thinking reversed" when it comes to photography. I've always felt that the objective is to capture a pleasing scene that's presented to the photographer -- and thus the scene presented dictates the lens that needs to be used; it might require a 14mm lens or anything all the way through to a 1200mm lens (with an extender). What I DON'T do is start with a lens of a given focal length and then go looking for scenes that suit it.

    In my mind, it's a bit like carpentry -- if I'm putting the back panel on the back of a small bedside cabinet then 4" nails aren't going to be suitable ... if I'm building a wall then I'm not going to use panel pins to nail the dwangs to the studs. So why would I want to be a carpenter (photographer), but limit myself to only one size of nail (lens)?

    It's not like in Harry Potter where "the wand chooses the wizard"!

    My personal opinion is that photographers are far far far far far better served using zoom lenses - UNLESS - there is some aspect of a prime lens that a zoom can't accommodate (and it ISN'T sharpness) (and for landscape it ISN'T speed) ... in fact about the only reason I can think where using a prime over a zoom would be advantagious for landscape is if you need something like a 14mm lens and your widest zoom only goes to 16mm (which is pretty rare). Perhaps one other situation might be where a tilt & shift lens is required, but that's also very rare.

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    My personal opinion is that photographers are far far far far far better served using zoom lenses - UNLESS - there is some aspect of a prime lens that a zoom can't accommodate (and it ISN'T sharpness) (and for landscape it ISN'T speed) ... in fact about the only reason I can think where using a prime over a zoom would be advantagious for landscape is if you need something like a 14mm lens and your widest zoom only goes to 16mm (which is pretty rare). Perhaps one other situation might be where a tilt & shift lens is required, but that's also very rare.
    What range, then, would you suggest? I almost said 'all-purpose' but really mean 'as-much-as-all-purpose-as-possible'. It seems that zoom lenses with a wide F-Stop (2.8 or so) range get expensive quickly. I totally get what you are saying, but don't have a limitless amount of $$$$ to shell out.

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by colin southern View Post
    personally, i think many photographers have their "thinking reversed" when it comes to photography. I've always felt that the objective is to capture a pleasing scene that's presented to the photographer -- and thus the scene presented dictates the lens that needs to be used; it might require a 14mm lens or anything all the way through to a 1200mm lens (with an extender). What i don't do is start with a lens of a given focal length and then go looking for scenes that suit it.
    +1

    It is also wise to also understand the technical capacities of the lenses you have (or want to have) such that you can achieve your vision or make the shot when presented with unusual circumstances.

    But it is not wise to allow (un-necessary to the user) technical capacities (specifications) to be the sole driver of lens’ purchases.

    Nor is it wise to attribute an artistic parameter to a technical quality:
    The EF 50 F/1.4 lens is: “a Canon fifty millimetre ef one point four lens”. It is NOT “A Portrait Lens”.

    In some circumstances that 50mm lens might be very appropriate choice to “make a portrait shot” – but it might be also be a good choice to “make a landscape shot”.



    WW
    Last edited by William W; 21st January 2012 at 09:17 PM.

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by MajaMolly View Post
    What range, then, would you suggest? I almost said 'all-purpose' but really mean 'as-much-as-all-purpose-as-possible'. It seems that zoom lenses with a wide F-Stop (2.8 or so) range get expensive quickly. I totally get what you are saying, but don't have a limitless amount of $$$$ to shell out.
    It depends where one is in the journey.

    To begin the journey, what lens to buy? - If the budget is limited then buy the Standard Kit Lens, for example with an APS-C camera, the 18 to 55F/3.5~5.6 lens.
    Yes – it is not expensive. Yes it has lens aberrations. Yes it has a slow aperture. Yes it is plastic. Yes it is a varying maximum aperture zoom lens.

    [I coached three (High School) Photography Students last year: all three got top 5% rankings in the final exams/including practical their assignments; two were top of their Art Class at their individual Schools; two Students’ Major Works (based on artistic merit) were selected for the prestigious State wide Display.
    Their gear? – one uses a 400D and an 18 to 55Kit lens and a 35/2; one uses a 550D and the 15 to 85 and the third uses a Nikon D80 and a Tamron 17 to 50/2.8.
    These three students ALL had much low level Available Light work during the year and other technical difficulties to overcome – but they adapted and modified and learned . . .]

    If you have a bit of extra money then buy the best you can – so (on APS-C Canon for example) the 17 to 55/2.8 IS would be a suitable beginning.

    If you are further along the journey and (for example) have already learned that for your type of interests you require a little longer Focal Length, but (as an example) lens speed is not that important, then suitable for your base kit might be two lenses – something like an 18 to 55 and a 70 to 200 – or maybe a 10 to 22 and a 18 to 55 if you have learned that you require wider . . .

    It really depends where you are and how much you know about what YOU want to achieve and then that knowledge can be applied to the technical specifications of lens which will be most suitable.

    But if you are asking the answer to a really general “one size fits all” as what lens to buy:

    1. Buy a Standard Zoom Lens
    (that’s a lens for an APS-C camera somewhere in the range of 17 to 85, e.g. the 18 to 55; 17 to 55, 15 to 85 etc / On 135 format or “full frame” that is a lens like the 28 to 135; 24 to 70 or the 24 to 105 etc)

    2. Buy once and buy the best quality you can afford.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 21st January 2012 at 09:49 PM.

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderBob View Post
    So I was just given this lens.
    I had to buy mine too! Bob, my interest is landscape photography and to this end I use a 10-22 or 24-105. The 50mm is a totally different beast but with the large aperture its a very versatile.

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Many photographers have a knee jerk reaction and reach for a UWA lens when thinking of landscape photography. I shoot landscapes with every focal length between 12mm (12-24mm f/4 Tokina) and 200mm (70-200mm f/4L IS) on 1.6x format cameras. The lens I select depends on the scene and what I want to capture. However, I don't choose a wide angle lens just to increase my left to right coverage. Whan a photographer does that, the results frequently are a lot of very small imagery along one line of the frame with a large amount of boring sky and uninteresting foreground.

    I definitely regard zoom lenses as the ticket for landscapes. The prime lens purists like to glibly suggest to use a prime and "zoom with your feet". Just try that with a couple of miles of territory including canyons and rivers between you and your subject!
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 21st January 2012 at 10:49 PM.

  14. #14
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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    I have one prime lens, the 50mm f/1.8 and purchased for low light photography. I would like to get the Nikkor micro 105mm f/2.8 but it looks like nothing is flowing out of Japan at the moment.

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    +1

    It is also wise to also understand the technical capacities of the lenses you have (or want to have) such that you can achieve your vision or make the shot when presented with unusual circumstances.

    But it is not wise to allow (un-necessary to the user) technical capacities (specifications) to be the sole driver of lens’ purchases.

    Nor is it wise to attribute an artistic parameter to a technical quality:
    The EF 50 F/1.4 lens is: “a Canon fifty millimetre ef one point four lens”. It is NOT “A Portrait Lens”.

    In some circumstances that 50mm lens might be very appropriate choice to “make a portrait shot” – but it might be also be a good choice to “make a landscape shot”.



    WW
    Well put Bill - you're todays recipient of my "this man gets it" award!

  16. #16

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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    The lens I select depends on the scene and what I want to capture. However, I don't choose a wide angle lens just to increase my left to right coverage. Whan a photographer does that, the results frequently are a lot of very small imagery along one line of the frame with a lerge amount of boring sky and uninteresting foreground.

    I definitely regard zoom lenses as the ticket for landscapes. The prime lens purists like to glibly suggest to use a prime and "zoom with your feet". Just try that with a couple of miles of territory including canyons and reivers between you and your subject!
    Couldn't agree more Richard - it's quite refreshing to read actually!

  17. #17
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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Often a pano will provide better imagery than a single shot with a UWA lens. Much is written about the complexities of shooting panos, but they are really quite easy and a decent single line outdoor pano can actually be shot without using a tripod and without any reference to nodal points or other complicated strategies.

    I simply put my camera on manual exposure and focus and, bury my elbows into my gut, then pivot from my hips whle shooting the desired string. BTW: the pivoting from the hips technique will keep the horizon level enough that your stitching program can compensate for any discrepancies and will allow the camera to fairly well pivot around the central point. It is also a good technique to use when panning with videos.

    However, this technique doesn't work quite as well well for folks who persist in viewing their imagery with the LCD. Holding the camera out in front of you doesn't allow it to rotate around a central axis.

    Additionally shooting panos in the portrait position will allow a wider top to bottom coverage than shooting in the landscape position. You can then use a longer focal length lens if desired. Left to right coverage is predicated on how many exposures you shoot and stitch.

    Here is a neat comparison between a pano and a single shot wide angle view. I have communicated with the OP of this thread and he has granted me permission to link to it in any of my postings...
    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17572474
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 21st January 2012 at 10:55 PM.

  18. #18
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    Re: Prime Lens EF 50mm f/1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    It depends where one is in the journey.

    To begin the journey, what lens to buy? - If the budget is limited then buy the Standard Kit Lens, for example with an APS-C camera, the 18 to 55F/3.5~5.6 lens.
    Yes – it is not expensive. Yes it has lens aberrations. Yes it has a slow aperture. Yes it is plastic. Yes it is a varying maximum aperture zoom lens.

    [I coached three (High School) Photography Students last year: all three got top 5% rankings in the final exams/including practical their assignments; two were top of their Art Class at their individual Schools; two Students’ Major Works (based on artistic merit) were selected for the prestigious State wide Display.
    Their gear? – one uses a 400D and an 18 to 55Kit lens and a 35/2; one uses a 550D and the 15 to 85 and the third uses a Nikon D80 and a Tamron 17 to 50/2.8.
    These three students ALL had much low level Available Light work during the year and other technical difficulties to overcome – but they adapted and modified and learned . . .]

    If you have a bit of extra money then buy the best you can – so (on APS-C Canon for example) the 17 to 55/2.8 IS would be a suitable beginning.

    If you are further along the journey and (for example) have already learned that for your type of interests you require a little longer Focal Length, but (as an example) lens speed is not that important, then suitable for your base kit might be two lenses – something like an 18 to 55 and a 70 to 200 – or maybe a 10 to 22 and a 18 to 55 if you have learned that you require wider . . .

    It really depends where you are and how much you know about what YOU want to achieve and then that knowledge can be applied to the technical specifications of lens which will be most suitable.

    But if you are asking the answer to a really general “one size fits all” as what lens to buy:

    1. Buy a Standard Zoom Lens
    (that’s a lens for an APS-C camera somewhere in the range of 17 to 85, e.g. the 18 to 55; 17 to 55, 15 to 85 etc / On 135 format or “full frame” that is a lens like the 28 to 135; 24 to 70 or the 24 to 105 etc)

    2. Buy once and buy the best quality you can afford.

    WW
    Thank you very much, William. Your info was very helpful. I have an 18-55 kit lens, 55-200 kit lens but often wish for a faster lens and a wider aperture. You've given me some things to think about.

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