Canon 50mm F/1.4 or 85mm F1.8?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by burstintoflame81, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    So I am making a lense purchase,

    I can either get

    1- Canon 50mm F1.4 USM and also a kenko 2x teleconverter

    or

    1- Canon 50mm F/1.8 and Canon 85mm F1.8 USM.

    Which package would you get and why?
     
  2. chammer

    chammer TPF Noob!

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    the 1.4 is built a bit better, but the 50 1.8 is beyond amazing. for me i just cant justify almost $300 more when the 1.8 is more than enough for my needs.

    have not tried the 85mm so i cant comment on that.
     
  3. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    I should also add that I am using the Canon Rebel XS body so I have the 1.6x factor to consider.
     
  4. chammer

    chammer TPF Noob!

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    yep, the 50d is too...and i was using an xsi before that with the 50 1.8. :)
     
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, I own both lenses. My suggestion would be to buy the Canon 85mm 1.8 lens so you have a true short telephoto lens with super optical quality. In terms of "value"per dollar spent, Canon's 85/1.8 is one of the biggest value propositions in their lens lineup; the Canon 50/1.4 EF is quite a bit less of a "value". It's hard to describe it actually, except that the 50/1.4 has some odd operational quirks, some hesitations in focusing under certain real-world conditions. Considering the price, the 50/1.4 Canon feels rather pedestrian and almost cheaply built, whereas the 85/1.8 feels more solidly made and in my experience, performs totally flawlessly.

    Canon's 50/1.8 EF-II is a simply dreadful performer in terms of focusing. Loud, loud,loud focusing which is slow, erratic, and unpredictable and unreliable. It has a very skinny, high-geared,narrow, cheesy, front mounted manual focusing ring that is simply terrible in operation. This little plastic 7-ouncer has one fewer lens elements than other modern,low-cost 50's, and has a clunky 5-bladed lens diaphragm that yields big,ugly hexagonal out of focus highlights, and the 50/1.8 also has exceedingly harsh,nervous bokeh, and also has very poor anti-reflection coatings so shooting toward strong light sources with the 50/1.8 Canon is risky during the bright weather months when the sun's rays are really strong.

    I am a pretty experienced photographer with decades of 50mm experience, and the 50/1.8 EF-II is simply the lowest-quality lens Canon has in its lineup; it's "sharp" only when it hits the right focus, but its images are very far below the "look" you will get from the 85mm 1.8 EF, or the 50/1.4. Canon's economy 50mm lens is widely applauded by beginners for whom it is their first 50mm lens, or their very-first prime lens,and I would strongly suggest that the $100 you'd spend in buying this el cheapo Canon lens would be far better spent applied toward a decent zoom lens. The Canon 85/1.8 OTOH, is a remarkably good 85mm lens---the seventh 85mm lens I have owned since 1982,both Canon and Nikon, and for the *money spent*, the Canon 85 is unmatched on today's market; it is a slightly better lens than Nikon's 85/1.8 AF or Nikon's 85 1.4 Ai-S or 85 f/2 Ai or AiS lenses.

    Buy once, buy right. Get the 85mm and enjoy one of the best medium-high speed 85mm lenses made since the 1960's.
     
  6. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I was kinda leaning towards the 85mm. The 50 mm ( based on what roughly 50mm looks like using the kit lens, doesn't seem like what I would use the most. I want something I can use for some close sports like Volleyball, or boxing or something but that is open enough that I can easily throw a 2x teleconverter on it and not lose to much light. ( hopefully I am using the right terms, I have only been at this for a couple weeks )

    I am glad that you let me know that the 50mm isn't that good. I figured at $99 how good could it be. Thanks guys.
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've owned both and I like them both. Both travelled together in my bag on numerous occasions. It is a matter of the focal length suits you needs. For cropped sensors, I say there is more of a use for the 50mm focal length than the 85mm.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Volleyball?????? The 85mm is a PERFECT focal length for many volleyball situations! Especially when using a crop-framed body. I have shot volleyball occasionally since the 1980's, and always found that the high speed aperture of an 85mm f/2 to f/1.4 lens gave me a slight measure of focusing accuracy edge, typically shooting at ASA 1600 at f/2.8 at somewhere around 1/250 to 1/400 second on poorly-lighted courts; using the lens wide open will get you a faster shutter speed, but at the expense of some depth of field and the slight big of "focusing accuracy cushion" you gain by focusing at 1.8 but shooting stopped down to f/2.8.

    On a crop-body camera, an 85 is still an 85mm lens, and it does not "magnify" anything, but it does crop off the edges of the lens's field, and so on a 1.6x body, with an 85mm lens you will be standing 34 feet away to get a field of view that is 8.47 feet tall (or wide), so at 34 feet, it makes for the perfect framing lens for photographing say, a volleyball player going up to make a spike or block shot, or to photograph two boxers standing toe to toe from 50 feet away.

    The added benefit of using 85mm on crop-frame is that, at longer working distances like 35 to 50 feet, you have *ample* depth of field,and focusing accuracy problems are reduced quite a bit compared when shooting very close on FF. 85mm is a wonderful indoor court sports lens on 1.6x.
     
  9. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    <darn... hit send too early>

    As I was saying... i found the 50mm more useful on a cropped sensor as such I would focus on that purchase first. This brings down the decision to the f/1.8 versus the f/1.4.

    I would still recommend the 50mm f/1.4 because of several reasons; better build, USM, and more aperture blades. Unlike some that posted above, I found the upgrade from the f/1.8 version to the f/1.4 well worth the cash ( and my f/1.8 version was the Mark I with the metal mount and better build).

    I would not recommend the 2x teleconverter though.... I would rather save the cash and put it towards another lens purchase; 85mm f/1.8 being a wonderful option.
     
  10. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    Well, I just ordered the Canon 85mm F/1.8 USM along with a Kenko Canon Mount 2x Teleconverter (ordered it before reading your post. ) I want to try it out on my Tamron 70-300mm for taking wildlife shots so I can keep my distance. Will a teleconverter increase the macro ability as well or are only extension tubes good for that?
     
  11. camz

    camz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Op, I completely agree with Derrel and I have both lenses as well. The Canon 50 1.4 is my second most used lens but as far as my favorite it is the 85mm 1.8. I actually prefer it better when I know there is enough light to shoot with then my 85 1.2L. I've been shooting on location portraiture for 9 years and weddings for 3 seasons(offcourse I'm not as old as Derrel being that i'm 30 :lol: ;)). I have owned 2 copies of this lens. I find the 85 1.8 faster in focusing then the 50 1.4 and also find it more consistent in overall image capture and build quality. Obviously I vote the 85 1.8 but keep in mind with your cropped body your looking at a ~135mm so chammer's recommendation makes absolute sense giving you a ~ 80mm with the 50 1.4. I don't know what type of photography you do but with the givens keep in mind about your shooting space when making the descision as well. In my opinion the only way to maximize the superior 85 1.8 is to shoot with a Full Frame where the 85 1.8 just shines.
    Don't know if you have that option though..

    Happy shooting :D

    Edit: hehe just saw your post that you had already purchased. Cool!
     
  12. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, I figured it would be a little longer, but I think that would be most useful to me. I still have my kit lense, 18-55mm if I need to do anything closer up. Granted its not as good of a lense but it will hold me over. If I find the need for something like a 50, it would only be if I was going to make money ( ie. weddings ) and then I would break down and buy one. I am actually very new, but have been doing a lot of writing. I have been working crazy hours lately, and don't get much time for shooting but that will change soon. I wanted to get 1 good prime lense I can use in low light so thats why I am making this purchase. I am hoping that if I stick with this and can actually prove to my wife that I am good at it ( ie. winning some contests, doing some weddings, maybe selling some prints/photos ) I can talk her into allowing me to buy a Canon full frame Markd. Thats gonna take some time though. Unless I sell my Taylor guitar, which I just couldn't ever do.

    Thanks for all of the help guys.
     

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