50mm f1.8 vs 50mm f1.4

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by odway, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. odway

    odway TPF Noob!

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    Hi!
    I'm looking at getting another lens to compliment my kit lens (18-200mm tamron) and I'm after something for action photography so was thinking about a fast prime. Could someone please explain what the advantages of getting an f1.4 over a f1.8 would be? Is there a large average price jump between the two, and do you think the price jump is justified given I'd like to do action photography? I shoot with a D50.
    Thanks for the help.
     
  2. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The advantage is 2/3 f stop more lens speed. In other words, the f1.4 is capable of gathering a little more light so you can use a faster shutter speed with the aperture wide open than you can with the f1.8. The f1.4 will also provide a little more flexibity in terms of depth of field management since it will produce a shallower dof wide open. The f1.8 is slightly smaller and lighter.

    "Price jumps" are a matter value. I don't justify how you use your money or determine value personally. You do that based on your needs and/or desires and budget.
     
  3. bakuretsu

    bakuretsu TPF Noob!

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    You said D80, and I don't know much at all about Nikon lenses, but to the extent it can help you and others I can comment on the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 versus the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.

    I hemmed and hawed quite a bit over which of those two lenses to buy. I really wanted a fast prime, and both of those lenses fall into the sub-$300 range (the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is about $40 more than the Canon). I eventually decided to spring for the 50mm f/1.4, and one of the major contributing factors was a hands-on review from one of my friends who told me that the build quality of the f/1.8 is pretty poor.

    I mean, it's $80, let's be honest, you get what you pay for.

    My Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 has served me very well. The day it arrived I jumped in my car and went out to a very small public cemetery in Coventry, CT that I had spotted before. It was an overcast day and I knew that f/1.4 would be able to handle the lighting conditions and give me an ethereal look. (You can see for yourself).

    I later upgraded to the 5D, and its full-frame sensor revealed that the 50mm f/1.4 suffers from a lot of vignetting. But, on a Nikon, I guess you'd never know! I have also learned to integrate the vignette into my composition and seldom bother trying to repair it.

    When I'm considering lenses like these, I tend to think that I will be more satisfied in the long run if I spring for the better one. f/1.8 is nice, surely, but it's no f/1.4! The next step is the 50mm f/1.2L, which is $1,300, and then the elusive 50mm f/1.0L, which is over 4 grand.

    For my money, I think $279 or even $300 is very reasonable for the fastest prime I'll probably ever own.
     
  4. deanimator

    deanimator TPF Noob!

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    If I´m not mistaken, the Nikons still accept older lenses.
    So, how about looking on eBay for a manual 50mm f1.2 ...you´re gonna get a greater speed advantage and maybe at a very reasonable price.
    :cheers:
     
  5. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    yes, and fairly poor image quality in the bargain.
     
  6. Nekoism

    Nekoism TPF Noob!

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    I have the 50mm f/1.8 and it is a very good lens. The body is plastic but I got used to it very quickly. It also takes very sharp photos. I don't shoot in low light so the speed is not a factor for me.

    For about $120 you can't beat that.
     
  7. cigrainger

    cigrainger TPF Noob!

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    Is that regarding the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 or using older manual lenses on digital SLRs?
     
  8. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I read somewhere on this forum (but I cannot find the thread) that it is down to the lens. Apparently, you would have to stop down the 50mm f/1.2 quite a lot to reach the same quality as the 50mm f/1.4. I am sure fmw can confirm that or tell us if I am wrong.
     
  9. cigrainger

    cigrainger TPF Noob!

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    Makes sense. I know the Pentax 50mm f/1.2 is nowhere near as sharp as the 50mm f/1.4
     
  10. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just get both from an online dealer, and send back the one you dont like (or get both from Ritz - dunno what their return policy is).
     
  11. odway

    odway TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the help guys! Ordering online is too much hassel for me IMO, I'm in Australia and it generally takes ages for something to get over to my isoloated little city, sending backwards and forwards would take too long. Thanks for the idea anyway though Andz! Money is not really a factor, I think I was more getting at if I purchase the f1.4 will a 2/3 stop really give me that much more advantage over a f1.8. But some of you have talked about build quality and that's a pretty big thing for me so looks like the f1.4 then :)
     
  12. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The 50 f1.2 has some wavy line distortion and noticeable light fall off in the corners, particularly at the wider apertures. It is not the sharpest Nikkor either. It is a lens to be chosen for speed, not image quality. The f1.4, on the other hand, is nicely corrected and a good performer. It's a little dicey at f1.4 but cleans up really nicely by f2. It is easy to recommend it. The f1.8 is a plastic lens so you end up with a bit of a gamble. You might get a good one and you might not. And, if you get a good one, it may not stay good for a long time thanks to plastic focusing rails that can wear and become misaligned. It is a strictly amateur lens. Pros don't put much trust in plastic focusing mechanisms.

    Overall, the old "manual" lenses are as good optically as what we have today, for the most part, except for zooms. Zooms are quite a bit better these days now that we have asymmetric elements and other types of cast elements. They are significantly better physically than what we have today. Some of the older Nikkors are nothing short of spectacular. 105 f2.5 and 200mm f4 are couple of examples. They are simple four element designs that produce contrast the likes of which a zoom user has never seen. It is zoom lenses, by the way, that cause digital photographers to constantly want to increase contrast in post process. The 180 f2.8 is much more complex but possibly the best fast telephoto lens ever made for a 35mm camera. The 24 f2.8 and 18 f2.8 are amazing wide angles. The 55 f2.8 Micro Nikkor was a classic as was its predecessor, the f3.5. It was one of the few macro lenses that performed well at infinity focus thank to a maximum 1:2 reproduction ratio. Lots of truly oustanding older Nikkors. And the feel. It is pleasure to work those solid brass helicoids as you focus them. Great stuff. Nothing wrong with them at all.
     

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