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Thread: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 vs. 85mm f/1.8

  1. #1
    Rod's Avatar
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    Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 vs. 85mm f/1.8

    Hi everyone I have recently joined and posted a question re Canon EOS 5d and 24-70 2.8 L usm lens. Now ready for my next question which is the best lens for my 20d to take pictures of birds in flight while in tighter areas of work. My 300 prime is great across the field but when I take my camera into more closer places like our river trail I don't have the room to manoeuvre.

    Today I asked a guy who was taking pictures while I was flying birds, he had a 50mm 1.8 on his 20d and said it was good but the 1.4 was best. In reading reviews many have said the 85mm is far superior and probably best value lens for money Canon lens. I understand the 85mm will mean I wont get as close to subject but as it is actually cheaper by 15 and if it means better faster focussing then it sounds ideal. Anyone used one or some thoughts etc would be appreciated.

    I have also put up some pictures in new album have taken over past couple of years as some sort of measuring stick for my future development, please take a browse if you are interested in Birds of Prey in flight.

    Cheers

    Rod

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    I have the 50mm 1.4 on a FF camera and wouldn't ever dream of using it for a birds in flight shot (far too wide of an angle). Though if you are fairly close, and using a crop camera, it may work very well for you. If you have a crop camera then keep in mind that it is a multiplier, so if you have a 1.6x multiplier then 50mm-> 80mm, and 85mm->136mm.

    If you have a high MP count then I might suggest going for the 50mm and crop down to the desired photo. The 50mm f/1.4 is very fast -- I do not own the 85mm to compare it to though.

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    For shooting birds? I don't think so. For wildlife and bird photography, the most common lenses are 70-200 mm, 100-400 mm, 300 mm, 500 mm, and 600 mm with teleconverters of 1.4x or 2x.

    50 mm is basically giving you the equivalent of normal eye visual range. I would recommend the 135 f2L (my personal favorite) or possible the 24-105 f4L IS for wider shots.

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    Hi Rod,

    Personally, between a 50mm & 85mm lens, I'd stick with your 24-70/2.8!

    - it covers similar focal lengths

    - Is more versatile (zoom to suit)

    - Not quite as fast, but at F2.8 you'll have a shutterspeed of around 1/3200th on a "sunny 16" day anyway (which will freeze any motion) (plus you can up the ISO to keep the shutterspeed up on duller days).

    Have you ever considered one of the 70-200mm family (or 100-400mm?)

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    Rod's Avatar
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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    Always good to hear your thoughts Colin. Is it true that Telephoto lens are quicker to focus than Zoom lenses?

    I do have a 70-200 Sigma 2.8 APO DG HSM which does get good pictures, though as posted recently does seem to have a slight problem after bursts of shots, when it goes quite dark to see through and the pictures taken indicate low light levels by low shutter speeds. I will try it out soon again so can narrow down the problem.

    As you can see from my pictures I like to get up close and also that is due to location more than anything else. Though if working with clients if the field I also need to be close to them rather than 50 meters away. I really like my 300 now have it sorted on my 20d, which is great from distance work. I just would like to have a quick focussing lens for close work. Which Canon lens would you suggest? Lots more research etc before buying! I am in no rush and its winter time so very limited with opportunity and light etc.

    Cheers

    Rod

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    Rod's Avatar
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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    Hi Guys

    [QUOTE=KentDub;24244]I have the 50mm 1.4 on a FF camera and wouldn't ever dream of using it for a birds in flight shot (far too wide of an angle). Though if you are fairly close, and using a crop camera, it may work very well for you.

    Thanks for reply, I do like to get close at times and when flying birds up our river am limited for space to stand far away. I can fly birds to peoples gloved hand and literally be just behind them to one side for amazing close up pouncing shots. My camera's are 5D and 20D.



    For shooting birds? I don't think so.

    I understand while on a shoot out in the field etc the need for 300+ as distance plays a big part. I suppose I am trying to get a portrait type picture of a bird flying into a gloved hand and need a fast focussing lens on my 20D. I will play around with distance I am most likely to be from subject and then maybe that will help best decide lens. I want speed of focussing rather than multiple choice, if you see what I mean.

    Thanks for replies all help

    Rod

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod View Post
    Always good to hear your thoughts Colin. Is it true that Telephoto lens are quicker to focus than Zoom lenses?
    To be honest, they're all different - the camera plays just as big a part too. As an example, on my 1Ds3 my 24-70/2.8 can focus faster than I can blink (literally) whereas my 85/1.2 is somewhat slower (but then again in needs to be because there is practically zero margin of error when focusing at F1.2!)

    I do have a 70-200 Sigma 2.8 APO DG HSM which does get good pictures, though as posted recently does seem to have a slight problem after bursts of shots, when it goes quite dark to see through and the pictures taken indicate low light levels by low shutter speeds.
    Sounds like the aperture blades are sticking - not a good sign I'm afraid

    Which Canon lens would you suggest? Lots more research etc before buying! I am in no rush and its winter time so very limited with opportunity and light etc.
    The 24-70 would still be my weapon of choice for closeup work. If money was no object then I'd mate it to a Canon 1D3 (or 1D4!) - would be an absolutely lethal combination. If a 1D3 was off the menu than probably a 7D would be my next choice, followed by a 50D. There's no problem that money can't solve! High frame rates would be a BIG plus for what you're doing - here's a sample

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod View Post
    I understand while on a shoot out in the field etc the need for 300+ as distance plays a big part. I suppose I am trying to get a portrait type picture of a bird flying into a gloved hand and need a fast focussing lens on my 20D. I will play around with distance I am most likely to be from subject and then maybe that will help best decide lens. I want speed of focussing rather than multiple choice, if you see what I mean.

    Rod
    I would recommend that you use your 70-200 2.8 or the 135 f2L (or equivalent) for your needs, and crop in post for tighter composition. But your 24-70 will also serve you well. If you're on a tight budget, (and who isn't nowadays); I recommend looking here www.keh.com. It's perfectly okay to rent the lenses that you are considering before making the financial jump.

    I haven't shot falconry in ages, but I do know that you need to give these birds a wide berth because they do not fly in a straight line. Changes in wind and temperatures will affect their flight patterns. Also there will be days that the bird will decide to do his or her own thing, like land on you than the original intended gloved hand. So keeping a distance is a good thing, not bad. You can always crop your images in post as well.
    Last edited by Amberglass; 26th October 2009 at 02:30 AM. Reason: add

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    I tried out a 50 mm 1.8 a few days ago...boy is it cheap feeling and the focus is unreliable ..I would never buy it...

  10. #10
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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinbythebeach View Post
    I tried out a 50 mm 1.8 a few days ago...boy is it cheap feeling and the focus is unreliable ..I would never buy it...
    The 50 1.8 II is Canon's cheapest build quality prime, completely made of plastic, and true it feels like a toy. But it's also one of Canon's sharpest lenses but only if stopped down 2 stops. It was never meant to shot wide open, and yes it's not the fastest AF prime in Canon's line up. A great choice if you're just learning about photography on a very tight budget and fast enough to handle low lighting. Also if you're planning on using this prime very sparingly, it's not hard on the pocket at all.

    Oh and Ron, the 85 1.8 is a great value prime along with it's twin the 100 2. The 100 2 would probably be a better choice for you, in regards to what you want to accomplish. It's more or less a mini-sports prime but as other uses as well. A little long for indoor use in my opinion, but give it a thought.

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    "The 50 1.8 II is Canon's cheapest build quality prime, completely made of plastic, and true it feels like a toy. But it's also one of Canon's sharpest lenses but only if stopped down 2 stops."


    I totally disagree... I would bet my 18-55 usm kit lens that has been submerged in the Pacific ocean agaisnt the sharpness of the 50.. It feels like something that comes out of a 50 cent gumball machine....

    Here is a link too a really good lens site....Look at the blur index on this lens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Its a POS......


    http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/150/cat/10

    I think people who are "stuck" getting this lens due to finances are trying to make them sekves feel better about buying a hunk of junk , by talking up the quality . When if you look at the blur index chart.. isnt there...

  12. #12

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    Re: Canon EF 50mm 1.4 usm v's 85mm 1.8 usm

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinbythebeach View Post
    "The 50 1.8 II is Canon's cheapest build quality prime, completely made of plastic, and true it feels like a toy. But it's also one of Canon's sharpest lenses but only if stopped down 2 stops."


    I totally disagree... I would bet my 18-55 usm kit lens that has been submerged in the Pacific ocean agaisnt the sharpness of the 50.. It feels like something that comes out of a 50 cent gumball machine....

    Here is a link too a really good lens site....Look at the blur index on this lens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Its a POS......


    http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...uct/150/cat/10

    I think people who are "stuck" getting this lens due to finances are trying to make them sekves feel better about buying a hunk of junk , by talking up the quality . When if you look at the blur index chart.. isnt there...
    Well, click through to the 'Tanner report' and read what he actually says about it. Also load up the blur index plot and look at it at stopped down a bit. It is not a hunk of junk. I used one for ages and it works just fine. It's de rigueur to deprecate the lightweight construction, but it doesn't actually seem to cause a problem in normal use. It's by far the most cost-effective way on Canon that I can think of to get a nice crisp image with decent colours. At wide apertures only (wider than about F2.8) it is a bit soft in the corners, and the rather noisy micro motor AF drive can be a bit imprecise, both of which make it less useful in low light, and it won't smooth out a busy background very well. But for the price it is, as the slrgear report concludes, 'almost irresistible'.

    As for the 50 1.4: it is better than the 50 1.8 in every respect (except price). It uses a micro USM (as opposed to ring USM), and it is not internal focusing, but it does have full time manual focusing. From F2.8 it records tons of detail with high contrast and very good colour. There's no significant lateral CA. The AF is considerably more reliable than the 50 1.8. It is also quite a lot better at wider apertures. F2 is fine. As well as being fast it is bright. The background is OK.

    I've used the 100 2 which is the sibling of the 85 1.8. It has internal focusing and ring USM. It is built better than the 50 1.4 and handles better (the 50 is OK though). I have always found AF of the 100 to be very fast and very reliable, somewhat better than the 50 1.4. Wide open at F2 there's plenty of detail and contrast but outdoors you can see some CA on high contrast edges, and out of focus highlights can suffer from the purple/green fringing that results from spherical aberration. But you soon get to know when that's likely to be an issue and avoid it. These problems, such as they are, rapidly go away as you stop it down.

    Anyway I hope that's the sort of information you were after. Personally I use the 50 1.4 a lot (at all apertures from about F1.6 to F11) and the 100 sometimes (as often as not wide open).

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