85mm vs 50mm?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by JaimeGibb, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. JaimeGibb

    JaimeGibb TPF Noob!

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    So I bought the 85mm 1.8 a while back, which is a fantastic lens. However I soon realized it's limitations when I had to be practically miles away to shoot a child (my main subjects). I am getting a 50mm for Christmas, and though people rave about the 85mm, I wonder what the real benefit of keeping it would be. Not that I dont love it, but I find myself needing the benefit of closeness in most shoots I do, weather they be inside someone's small house or in studio where I STILL can't get far enough back to get the whole person in the shot. ( I dont necessarily want to sell it, I just want a great reason to still value it!)

    I am getting the 50 1.8, so maximum ap. is the same...the only real difference is the mm length, right? When would I really want to use the 85 over the 50?

    So basically, what really IS so great about the 85mm?!
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Remember that a lot of people raving about the 85mm are going to be (or have) used full frame cameras - on a crop sensor like yours the field of view is going to be greater than 85mm (closer to 100mm on a full frame camera) whilst the 50mm will be closer to what 85mm is on a full frame camera.
    these are approimations but if you have any though of moving to a full frame camera than certainly hold into the 85mm
     
  3. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    The 85mm 1.8 shares more in common build-wise with the 50mm 1.4 than the 50mm 1.8. You'll definitely notice the sluggishness of the 50mm 1.8's autofocus (no USM).
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Longer focal lengths tend to 'compress' things. The opposite is that short lenses tend to accentuate distance (think wide angle distortion).

    People don't usually look as good in photos taken with a wide angle...especially as you get close to them. So as you use a longer focal length (and back up) the more 'flattering' they will look.
    This is why 100mm is often talked about as a good portrait length.

    I too know that it's hard to shoot that long, on a crop body, in somebody's living room. Which is why I often shoot with a 17-50mm lens.

    Also, you will soon see differences between the 50mm F1.8 and the 85mm F1.8. The 50mm F1.8 is a very cheap lens. The optical performance is good but the rest of it is...well, what you might expect for a $100 lens.
    The 50mm F1.4 is a lot more similar to the 85mm F1.8.
     
  5. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The bokeh effect on the 85mm f/1.8 is better than on the 50mm f/1.8. (Because of the extra focal length as well as the number of shutter blades)

    I do not own the 85mm lens (yet), but from what I read, seen and take photos of my 3 years old daughter with the telephoto zoom lens, I personally like the longer range (from 70mm to 100mm) when taking the portrait type shots outdoor. The background just looks better that way even with my not so fast telephoto zoom lens (F/4 max at that range, but I often use f/5.6). And there will be less perspective distortion issues with the longer focal length lens.


    However, for indoor photos. 50mm f/1.8 (i currently have) is better because of the limited space. For me, I would like to have both lenses in my camera bag. Sometimes, I just like to take a very creamy looking out of focus background portrait type photo, and I am sure the 85mm f/1.8 should be able to do the job nicely.

    Now I just need to keep my eye on the used lens market.
     
  6. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    Actually that 85mm lens on your 20D has the same field of view as a 136mm lens 35mm equavillant. That is getting to be pretty long for portraits, especially indoors. The 50mm will be equal to a 80. Which is much closer to the sweet spot. It may be a bit slower, but your not going to be trying to catch a car going by at 200mph either.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2008
  7. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It's really very simple. You NEED more than one lens.

    I've always used a twice-normal lens (like your 85mm) for head-and-shoulder and 3/4 length portraits, and something shorter for full-length.

    Essentially, I nearly always choose the longest lens that the prevailing circumstances permit.

    So... you'll have your 85mm for individuals and your 50mm for groups... or something like that.

    I bet you have more than one screwdriver in your tool drawer... so you'll have the right tool for the right job.

    -Pete
     
  8. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Wow! I had no idea the format of that camera was that small! I agree.... 136mm on a 35mm is a bit longer than I'd be comfortable with indoors.

    -Pete
     
  9. JaimeGibb

    JaimeGibb TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the great advice!!

    Based on your responses, it seems that the 50mm is not as well made...is it still a fine lens to use professionally? Or should I invest in the 1.4 at some point?
     
  10. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    I see no reason why not to get one now. They do hold their value pretty good (not to far to drop price wise). As long as you take care of it. You will get a pretty good chunk of it back if you do sell it after getting the 1.4.
     
  11. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you are going to take a photo with 50mm f/1.8 of someone lay down on a ground in the way that the person's head is closer to the camera and the feet point away from the camera.

    With the 50mm lens, you may notice the person's head is a little out of proportion (bigger than it should). However, if you use the 85mm lens and backup a little more and take the same shot. The subject will look better.

    Of course, if the subject is standing up or sit on a chair, it is going to be fine on both lenses.
     
  12. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes I agree. When you look at the 50mm f/1.8 mkII lens in the used market, you will find it cost about 70 to 80 bucks. When the new one is about 90 bucks. So it's value really hold up.

    You can also try to find a older version of the f/1.8 in good condition, it is a better build lens. It has a metal mount, dof scale and the stronger feel plastic (weight a little more). I sold my F/1.8 MKII (bought it new) and bought the MK I (used).
     

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