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Thread: First prime lens HELPPPPP

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    First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Hi there,

    I own a canon 650d/T4i, as well as the 18-55 kit lens and the 55-250 zoom.
    I find that images from zooms are not really what i'm looking for and after some research, i think what i am looking for is really a prime lens. I like to take pictures of people, candids, sceneries, and shots of anything and everything when I travel. [Edit: Forgot to include that i may face low light situations when i travel. I do own an external flashlight though.]
    The dilemma is: Which one?

    1. Canon 50mm 1.8
    Super sharp, even sharper than the 1.4. The bokeh of this isn't too great I would say /: Of course, my main idea is not to take pictures of bokeh but I don't think I'd want to see those pentagons whenever a bokeh appears. Also another factor I'm considering is that this has a plastic mount and idk, other than being more fragile it doesn't have any difference with the metal mount right?

    2. Canon 40mm 2.8

    Future upgrade:
    3. Sigma 30mm 1.4 OR Canon 28mm 1.8
    Because the 50mm would technically be an 80mm on my dslr, and I'm afraid it might be zooming a little too much for me (if i take a picture of something lying flat but i can't possibly lower it or lift myself higher). Found this review after someone recommended me to the sigma: http://www.focalplane.net/canon28sigma30/ Pretty stoked.

    I could put in the money right now if i get either one of the 1.8s. Or get enough money for the 1.4 before april! Sorry this was a little lengthy but please help!!!!

    [EDIT] Someone is selling the Canon 28mm F1.8 USM at $570 SGD (Around $450 USD?), mint condition hardly used. I am tempted. Is it worth it?
    Last edited by andria; 9th February 2013 at 09:15 AM.

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Carl Zeiss 2/50 MP....

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Welcome to CiC Andria. I have the first 50mm you mention.. I have had no problems with it...the bokeh is not to bad on mine.. I would suggest you put your 18-55 kit lens on and set it to 30mm and then 50mm and see which one you like best... I have about decided I prefer the 30 personally...

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Andria,

    I shoot primarily with two zoom lenses (17-55mm f/2.8 IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS) on my 40D and 7D. However, I do own some very decent prime lenses. Trina is perfectly correct in that the way to decide which focal length to buy is to Super Glue (just kidding) your 18-55mm zoom to 28-30mm and to 50mm and see if you are comfortable with shooting at these focal lengths exclusively.

    The Nifty-Fifty (EF 50mm f/1.8) lens is a good start. For right around a hundred dollars or so (in the USA) you can purchase this lens. There is no way that you can buy any other comparable lens at that price. However, it does have some definite drawbacks which you have noted (pantagon shaped bokeh and rather fragile construction) additionally, there is another drawback with this lens, the auto focus sometimes searches in lower light levels. In fact, I seldom use my 50mm f/1.8 (I have the older Mk-i model with a metal mount and distance scale) since I purchased my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens which, despite being an bit over a stop slower, is really (IMO) a better low light lens. The image quality of either the Mk-i or Mk-ii models are quite satisfactory and the Nifty-Fifty gained its cult status because of the great imporvement in image quality and aperture speed over the 18-55mm kit lens.

    I will use the 50mm f/1.8 occasionally when I want a very lightweight lens for a specific purpose. I often use it to make record shots of my rescue dogs and their new families. I carry my 50mm f/1.8 IS lens to dog rescue events mounted on an older Canon 30D camera. That is a handy setup for shots like this which is of a previous rescue dog with her "furever" mom to show how she has improved in health and looks (the dog, not the mom). The other advantage of this combination is that it is not worth a king's ramsom; so if something would happen to it (such as dropping or theft) I would not be as sad as if I lost or broke my 7D with the expensive 17-55mm IS lens! I get very busy with the dogs and prospective adopters at a rescue event and don't always pay proper attention to my camera...

    First prime lens HELPPPPP

    If you are set on getting a prime lens, I might throw the new Canon 40mm f/2.8 "pancake" lens into consideration. This lens really makes a small and convenient package on a 1.6x camera, has very good image quality and is priced quite competitively. It also "splits" the difference in focal length between a 50mm and a 30mm lens. Granted it is an f/2.8 aperture but, with creative use of your flash; that should not be a problem. I have considered this lens as a replacement for the 50mm f/1.8 ii but, I am still only in the consideration stage and the 50mm suits me pretty well for its limited uses. There is one advantage of the 40mm pancake over most other lenses. The focus capability is far better for shooting video with your T4i...

    Finally; I am definitely not a fan of prime lenses for travel. Today's excellent zoom lenses are far more versatile and when you consider that a single lens takes the place of several lenses, they are lighter in weight and are actually less expensive.

    If I were mullling about in consideration of a lens for general travel photography, I would definitely consider a good-quality zoom in the focal range of 17mm to 50 or 55mm. As I said earlier, I use the Canon EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens for much of my travel photography. I shot an entire two week trip to China using the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses supplemented occasionally with some creative use of flash. See my China galleries at: http://rpcrowe.smugmug.com/

    However, the drawback of the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens is its high cost. The 17-50mm f/2.8 Tamron zoom (or a Sigma in that range) would be a decent compromise. I have not used these lenses so I cannot specifically comment on them but, I have read postings by many pleased users and I know that their focal ranges would match up quite well with my telephoto zoom. Extrapolating from that, I could make an informed supposition that the Tamron or Sigma lenses would match up quite well with your 55-250mm or with either a Tamron or Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens if you ever decide to upgrade your tele lens...

    Finally, for general purpose shooting, I prefer a lens with auto-focus over a manual focus lens. Granted that some MF lenses are tempting because of quality and or price but, I personally want auto focus capability in my go-to lens.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 8th February 2013 at 03:22 PM.

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Andria - if you are shooting a Canon, I don't know why you would consider a Nikon lens. I don't see any advantage. Same issue would go the other way around of putting Canon glass on a Nikon.

    I am a Nikon shooter and have both a crop frame D90) and full frame (D800) camera and do shoot primes. I use a "standard" lens on both bodies (35mm for the crop frame and 50mm for the full frame) because they are quite small and unobtrusive, so can get quite close to subjects without really getting in someone's face too much. The 50mm lens would be a nice portrait lens for your body as an 80mm equivilent lens, but is too long for a walk about town lens for my shooting style.

    If you are looking at sharpness, then f/1.8 lenses tend to be sharper than f/1.4 lenses. You do get slightly better low light performance and shallower depth of field with the faster lenses. I have stuck with the f/1.8 models for my own use as I couldn't justify the expense for the extra 2/3 of a stop. That being said, I shoot the pro f/2.8 24-70mm lens over that focal length range and have a camera body with very good low light performance on the D800, so the various tradeoffs with the slower lens have worked out well for me.

    When it comes to sharpness, I find that in real life situations (i.e. hand-held shots), clarity has more to do with the photographer than the lens. I wouldn't get hung up with the slight performance differences in the lab test results as you probably won't really see the difference. That being said the Canon f/1.8 has not gotten great reviews for build quality or bokeh; so if you are looking at this as a long term investment, going to the f/1.4 might be a better choice for you.

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Save your money and get a canon 35 f/1.4L. One of my favorite lenses. Colors , contrast, sharpness (even wide open) are to die for. A fantastic lens, and worth every penny. Tight enough for portraits and wide enough for alot of landscapes. (you can always shoot 2 shot pano's if it isn't wide enough)

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    I may be reading this wrong Andria, but you say you have a Canon camera then ask about Nikon lenses - which won't fit your camera, at least not directly? Am I correct?

    Also, you don't mention your budget.

    Another option is a really good zoom; but we are talking about over 500 and probably double that; even more if you want to go all the way to a 2.8 lens.

    Prime lenses do get you to fairly good quality at a reasonable price; but you can still pay a lot of money for the very best!

    So can you happily live without zoom and vary your shooting position instead. This works well for some people but is excessively limiting for others. Only you know how you currently shoot and what lens lengths are mostly used.

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    One other thing...

    Andria, if you modify your profile to show the general area in which you live, we could probably provide better recommendations because the cost of photo equipment varies greatly from nation to nation!

    And, finally... You really cannot judge the quality of lenses from postings on websites. The images have been downsized for the postings and the users vary greatly in experience and capability. Often images from more expensive lenses look better when posted on forums than those from less expensive lenses because the persons using the expensive lenses will usually have more experience in shooting and post processing that people posting images that were shot with less expensive glass...

    Piggy backing on the above; post processing, especially sharpening, will always be a big factor in the final quality of any image!
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 8th February 2013 at 03:31 PM.

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    Re: One other thing...

    Hi Andria,
    Welcome toCiC. Have you considered before splashing out on an expensive prime to buy an old manual prime. They can be had quite cheaply on eBay. The idea is not for quality checks, though there are some very good old primes, but rather to see if a prime is for you and meets your needs. As an extra they are very good for re-enforcing the exposure triangle!
    Just a thought.

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Quote Originally Posted by andria View Post
    I find that images from zooms are not really what i'm looking for
    How is an image from a prime going to look any different from an image from a zoom at the same focal length?

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Quote Originally Posted by andria View Post
    1. Canon 50mm 1.8
    Super sharp, even sharper than the 1.4.
    Uh, no. Most everything I've read is that, given the givens, at the same settings, the two lenses are pretty comparable.

    The bokeh of this isn't too great I would say /: ... I don't think I'd want to see those pentagons whenever a bokeh appears
    Again. Not my experience. People will blithely tell you that the five aperture blades makes for lousy bokeh, etc. etc. etc. Go look at the tests. Bokeh changes with aperture setting, and subject/background separation distances. It can be smooth at one distance and crunchy at another. Don't let one test shot determine your opinion on this one. It doesn't always give you the pentagons.

    Also another factor I'm considering is that this has a plastic mount and idk, other than being more fragile it doesn't have any difference with the metal mount right?
    It's cheaper/crappier in construction overall. The low-low price comes from somewhere, right? It's got a plastic mount, plastic barrel, no distance scale, and the manual focus ring is awkwardly placed and more of a PITA to use than the one on the 50mm f/1.8 (Mark I). The 50/1.8 Mk I, like the 50/1.4, has a metal mount, distance scale, and decent MF ring. It is not, however, a USM lens.

    2. Canon 50mm 1.4 USM
    Aperture is definitely perfect.
    Some of us prefer f/1.2. Deal here is it's more expensive and better built. But optically, it's on a par with the 50/1.8 II. Is the $300+ extra worth the 2/3 of a stop, USM, and usability/build features to you? And are you absolutely certain 50mm is the right focal length for you?

    3. Canon 28mm 1.8/Nikon 30mm 1.8/Sigma 30mm 1.4
    Because the 50mm would technically be an 80mm on my dslr, and I'm afraid it might be zooming a little too much for me...
    Yup. FoV is key. However, the 28/1.8 USM is showing its age, and isn't really $400 worth of sharpness imho. Nikon lenses can't really be used on a Canon camera (well, not without losing all electronic communication to the body which means no autofocus, no wide-open metering, and you can only shoot in M and Av modes with stop-down metering and all the lens fields in your EXIF are empty). The Sigma sometimes has AF issues on Canon bodies.

    No lens is perfect.

    You also forgot the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens. The one that will autofocus during video with your camera.
    Last edited by inkista; 9th February 2013 at 05:40 AM.

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    My local camera shop offers a daily ($15US) or weekly ($59US) rental rate on the 50mm prime lens that I am considering. I am planning on taking it for a test run one day later this month and figure the $15 will be well spent (especially if I decide it isn't right for me). While I can 'super glue' my existing lens on 50mm I am unable to see the effect of a faster lens on other factors without trying it out.

    So check with your local camera shops to see if they have any of the lenses that you are considering for rental and make the decision after trying them out...that's my plan

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Andria - if you are shooting a Canon, I don't know why you would consider a Nikon lens. I don't see any advantage. Same issue would go the other way around of putting Canon glass on a Nikon.
    Seems reasonable to me too. The register distance of Nikon lenses/bodies is larger than other brands, so a Canon lens on a Nikon body will not allow infinity focus unless the adapter has optics (and that degrades the image).

    The OP mentions focal lengths from 28 mm to 50 mm - very different uses. As someone said on another forum, "if the person asking doesn't know what to get, it's not likely that someone else will know what they should get".

    Glenn

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    TO EVERYONE: I find that I mostly shoot around 30 and 55mm on my 18-55 (which makes it 48 and 88 on my x1.6 crop) My budget is around USD 450, and I live in Singapore. Why the consideration for nikon on my canon body: I am considering getting a Nikon body instead in the future.. As ShaneS suggests, I think I would be heading to the rental shop to rent out the different lenses and try them out.

    Hello Trina! As ShaneS says: While I can 'super glue' my existing lens on 50mm I am unable to see the effect of a faster lens on other factors without trying it out.. Do you have any problems with the plastic mount/manual focus ring? I've read lots of bad reviews about these..

    Hey rpcrowe, I am trying to put a signature but I can't find the option I live in Singapore. Also for travel, I would probably bring along my 55-250 and have my prime mainly on my camera body most of the time. All the lenses I mentioned are still within my budget, but I'm still lost on which one I should exactly get! The 40mm sounds pretty good too. Do you know of any website that is more reliable with lens reviews and images are true to quality?

    Hi GrumpyDiver! Thanks for your help. My dilemma is defintitely firstly the focal distance, quality of image and build and lastly the aperture. Personally I am considering getting a Nikon body instead in the future, thus the consideration of getting nikon primes instead. Or should I be worrying about lenses for the nikon when I actually get it, instead? Also, may I ask, why nikon over canon for you?

    SteveS: Whoa that is one pretty expensive lens, definitely out of my budget of more or less USD 450.

    Geoff F: As above, I'm considering getting a nikon body in future instead.. And my budget would at most be USD 450 which I think covers all the lenses I mentioned above. Of course about living happily and moving myself instead of zooming, definitely I'm more than willing to do so!

    Colin: The aperture and dov are completely different, on my 18-55 what i'm mostly getting is 5.6 on the auto mode, somehow. Also the images are pretty bad in low light, if i do not use my external flash.

    inkista: That helped alot! Now that sounds pretty sucky, all I considered was I could get an adaptor and it'd fit and i would only not have AF. I don't know if i really need the USM but I do get annoyed sometimes when my 18-55 is autofocusing and it's pretty noisy.

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    How is an image from a prime going to look any different from an image from a zoom at the same focal length?
    Colin, Now Now!

    f1.4 - the min of the kit zoom does make quite a difference, to DoF and required ISO to get the shot.

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    As a prime, you may find 50mm limiting on a crop sensor body, if that's the route 'you' want to take.

    As an entry into prime lenses, perhaps 35mm may be a better fit. Especially when travelling and visiting anywhere in lower light.

    I'm neither in the prime or zoom camps - however I find myself becoming far more considered when using a prime

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Quote Originally Posted by andria View Post
    inkista: That helped alot! Now that sounds pretty sucky, all I considered was I could get an adaptor and it'd fit and i would only not have AF. .
    I know. AF is generally all that's usually mentioned, not all the other stuff. One more note: if you get a Nikon G lens (like the 35/1.8), it won't have an aperture ring, so you'll also have no control over the aperture setting. You have to get a D (or older) lens. And D lenses are typically AF, not AF-S, so they won't autofocus on the Nikon D3x00 or D5x00 bodies (e.g., the Nikon D5200).

    It's generally easiest to get native lenses for the mount you're using.

    Adapting Nikon F-mount lenses to Canon EOS mount cameras is best done if you like vintage lenses from the manual focus era, and if you shot all-manual film SLRs. And if you're eccentric enough and stubborn enough to enjoy being contrary. For us oldtimers who did film all-manual, and who shot for decades without EXIF, scene modes, and for whom aperture-priority was the height of automation, it's really not a big deal to sling an old 1970s Nikkor onto our cameras. But for someone who's only shot digital, it can be kind of a serious PITA, rather than just slightly annoying. I love using adapted lenses on my Canons, but they're all manual focus lenses, none of them are AF-era.

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Quote Originally Posted by andria View Post
    Colin: The aperture and dov are completely different, on my 18-55 what i'm mostly getting is 5.6 on the auto mode, somehow. Also the images are pretty bad in low light, if i do not use my external flash.
    That's fine -- I just wanted to ensure that you knew that. Often we get folks wanting primes because they erroneously believe that there will be some magical difference to the sharpness, or other qualities.

    Some things to keep in mind though ...

    - Wide-open apertures give very small DoF - millimetres in many cases. If that's what you're after then great, but many folks see a fast lens as a magic bullet to a low-light problem, not realising the a very tight DoF is the trade-off.

    - In a low light situation - if you need a given DoF that's within the range of a zoom then the best option is usually to raise the ISO. Often people associate high-ISO settings with "lots of noise", but if you follow the two golden rules of not under-exposing and composing to avoid excessive cropping in post-production, then most of the time the noise is only visible when looking at 100% magnification -- and that's just not an issue in real-word photography.

    - Keep in mind too that if you need a prime to allow an acceptable hand-held exposure in a low-light situation then 9 times out of 10 the QUALITY of that low light is usually quite poor (OK for shots of the kids doing something - or even street photography, but not for situations where high image quality is needed -- you just can't beat flash in those situations).

    The down-side of a prime is that you're tied to that focal length whilst using it, which presents a series of challenges in it's own right.

    Don't get me wrong -- I'm not "against primes" (I own more primes than zooms), but they are speciality lens to overcome particular problems. One of my 3 zooms is on the camera 95% of the time.

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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    Quote Originally Posted by dubaiphil View Post
    Colin, Now Now!

    f1.4 - the min of the kit zoom does make quite a difference, to DoF and required ISO to get the shot.
    Assuming the effects associated with potentially a razor-thin DoF are what's desired - on the other hand if one can't go any wider than - say - F5.6 because of DoF considerations then a prime offers no advantages and several disadvantages.

    Here's a "case in point" - I had my EF135mm F2.0L USM on the camera and accidentally took this shot at F2.0. You may or may not be able to see it in the shot, but the AF nailed the focus on the eyes, but the softening around the chin area was sufficient to ruin the shot in terms of being able to print it at any decent size (eg canvas for the wall). Should have been F4 minimum - background bokeh wouldn't have changed a lot and my EF70-200 F2.8L IS USM II would have done the job admirally. Keeping in mind too that if one is using a prime to get a higher shutterspeed so they can hand-hold the camera, they could probably get better DoF from an Image Stabilised lens ... and as a rule, you won't find IS in low to medium grade primes.


    First prime lens HELPPPPP
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 9th February 2013 at 09:31 AM.

  20. #20
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    Re: First prime lens HELPPPPP

    One person's "Ruin" is another person's shallow DoF that they might be after.

    We'll argue until the cows come home on this one, Colin, but there's no substitute for a fast prime in low light when travelling.

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