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Equipment Prime Lens advice

Discussion in 'Photography, Art & Design' started by ModMonkey, 2 Dec 2010.

  1. ModMonkey

    ModMonkey Size 11 Carbon footprint

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    I'm desperately trying to decide on what prime lense to buy and just looking for some real advice. The reviews online are fair for all the options but they seem aimed at the pro rather than the lowly amateur like me. I shoot with a Nikon D40 so need the AF-S for auto focus.

    Basically I'm looking at

    Nikon 35mm 1.8g
    or
    Nikon 50mm 1.4g

    I mainly take portrait pictures of the Family with some landscapes thrown in.

    Initially I had pretty much decided on the 35mm as I figured that 50mm with crop factor would be too close in for most "normal" situations. However I had the chance to play with the 50mm 1.8 canon equivalent in low light and was impressed with the results. I guess the 1.4 would be slightly better than this, I like the blurred background effect in general and if I understand the f numbering correctly the 1.4 would achieve this really well.

    I'm not sure if there are is anything else I can add to this but hopefully someone with one or both of these lenses can comment.

    Thanks
    Greg
     
    Last edited: 2 Dec 2010
  2. GregTheRotter

    GregTheRotter Minimodder

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    Get the 35 1.8.
     
  3. Pookeyhead

    Pookeyhead It's big, and it's clever.

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    35mm 1.8G


    50mm on a D40 is quite telephoto, with an equivalent focal length of 75mm or so... OK for portraits, but as you want landscapes as well.. not too good. The 35mm offers a "normal" perspective (like a 50mm on a full size chip would), which is still OK for portraits, but much better suited for wider scenes.

    The35mm is a very sharp lens too. It gets a bit soft past f11 due to diffraction, but from f2 to f8 not much can beat it for the money. That's not to say it's rubbish at 1.8 or 16 and 22.. it's just ultra sharp if you stop down a bit.

    I only recently bought this lens, as I usually use a 24 to 70 f2.8, but I'm getting sick of the weight. I've only taken a few test shots with it so far, but its very sharp (as is the case with most prime lenses when compared to even very expensive zoom).

    [edit]

    Here's a test shot I took just after buying it a couple of weeks ago. (ISO 500.. f2.8)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 3 Dec 2010
  4. ModMonkey

    ModMonkey Size 11 Carbon footprint

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    that makes things easier, thanks guys. saves me a bit of cash to splash elsewhere which is good too!

    PS. That poor statue, being made to wear L'pool colours...
     
  5. paulcurtis26

    paulcurtis26 What's a Dremel?

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    I recently went through the same process and decided on a 50mm f1.8 canon lens, I agree with the views above that on your Nikon the 35mm 1.8G would be great (I recently used that exact combination on a recent trip to slovakia and the images are great, works well at a small aperture f11-f13 for landscapes and equally well at f1.8 for sharp portraits
     
  6. eddie_dane

    eddie_dane Used to mod pc's now I mod houses

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    The 50mm would be much better for portraits. The established standard of appropriate focal length for portrait is between 85 and 135 (and some prefer 200mm when they can use it - because the longer the focal length, the easier it is to create shallow depth of field and nice backgrounds). The 35mm would be a much better all-rounder. you could still take decent portraits with the 35mm but it would also be more use to you for other things like landscapes since you mentioned that specifically.

    Both are great lenses, it really comes down to your priorities.
     
  7. IvanIvanovich

    IvanIvanovich будет глотать вашу душу.

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    +1
    i do portraits primarily for my living, and you really do want something closer to a 135 for that. for more general use like street photography i generally use my 44.
     
  8. Threefiguremini

    Threefiguremini What's a Dremel?

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    What other lenses do you have? If you've already got something wide (maybe the kit lens) then you could have the 50 just for portraits. Nikon have just (like yesterday) announced a new 50mm 1.8 which is looking pretty sweet plus it's reasonably priced (under £200). Not available yet though if you need one quickly
     
  9. stuartwood89

    stuartwood89 Please... Just call me Stu.

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    I got myself the 1.8 35mm and it's an amazing lens. It's a feels a bit cheap, but it's a very good quality lens. I shoot with the same camera and it's an ideal replacement for the 18-55mm kit lens that came with it.

    This lens comes with a hood as well, as well as a small carry bag which currently holds my old lens.
     
  10. Ramble

    Ramble Ginger Nut

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    That's incorrect, the 50mm on a crop sensor offers the same field of view as a 75mm, but they are certainly not the same (in terms of perspective, distortion, etc.).
    Get the 50mm.
     
  11. GregTheRotter

    GregTheRotter Minimodder

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    I still think you'd get more use out the 35mm which equates to 50mm with the crop factor. You can still do the odd portrait shot with 50mm as well as have a general purpose lens. You can add the 50mm later on. Or you could just get the 50mm 1.8 and the 35 1.8. I've got the 50 1.8. Can't complain.

    A shot with the D700 & 50mm 1.8D at f1.8; (You would need the 35mm in your case to get this look/focal length)

    [​IMG]

    A few shots with the 85 1.8D (something like what you'd get with the 50mm on crop)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You can see how the first image seems to have more depth to it, while the second two seem a bit more flat. Depends on what you want to shoot. Most of the closeup shots on this page are shot on a crop body 35mm F2D;

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregtherotter/sets/72157609652688788/
     
    Last edited: 28 Apr 2011
  12. smc8788

    smc8788 Multimodder

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    But that's the thing....you wouldn't be able to get those shots with the 35/1.8G because it has godawful bokeh, which makes it terrible as a portrait lens. As a general lens it's great and it's very sharp, just don't expect to be taking any decent portrait shots with it because you won't get the subject isolation like in the shots above.
     
  13. GregTheRotter

    GregTheRotter Minimodder

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    Any lens at mfd will give you bokeh that is fine. It was in a museum so not much to make a distracting background. Ok so maybe what I got was best case scenario? It will also depend on distance behind the subject. If you take a portrait shot with the background being foliage then obviously the bokeh will be distracting.

    Fact is, you can't polish a turd. A crap photo taken with a 50 1.4G will still be a crap photo, whereas a great photo with a 50 1.8, regardless of how much of a bokeh junkie you are, will still be a great photo.

    Portrait photos aren't always shot wide open anyway (studio photography for example). Anyway, it doesn't matter what we say because people shoot landscapes with a 70-200VR f2.8 lens, it doesn't matter what lens you use. There is no rule stating that lens if for that purpose.

    For someone who's getting into photography, I would have thought they would be better off with a lens that is more of a do it all lens, even if you don't get the best bokeh. Anyway, I shot all my family photos with a 35mm F2D on the D80. I can't imagine having bought the 50mm as my first lens because then every time I wanted a shot of my family when indoors, I would have been backing up into walls, even more than I was with the 35F2D.


    Shots with 30 1.8G on crop bodies (owners disabled linking);

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rlnv/5252793381/sizes/l/in/pool-41068966@N00/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/owmyhands/5223608374/sizes/l/in/pool-41068966@N00/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/joits/4813593573/sizes/l/in/pool-41068966@N00/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/joits/5343436069/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/joits/5133072240/

    It's not about what has the best bokeh, as someone's first prime lens, it's about making photos that give you pleasure. Regardless of what us seasoned gear heads think about what makes a good photo good.
     
    Last edited: 28 Apr 2011
  14. smc8788

    smc8788 Multimodder

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    Yeah fair enough, I would agree with most of that. But considering these two statements in the OP, I can't help but feel the 50 would be more suited to what he's looking for:

    You can take good portrait pictures with the 35 if you know what you're doing and watch your backgrounds, but both of the above are more easily achieved with a 50, at least for me anyway. Ideally you would probably want to have both, but to find out which focal length is more suitable for what you shoot you can always just set your kit lens (assuming you have one) to each of the focal lengths for a bit and see which you prefer.

    Edit: this discussion is probably all academic anyway, since the OP posted this topic nearly 5 months ago so has probably made up his mind already :)
     
  15. GregTheRotter

    GregTheRotter Minimodder

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    I said what I said because I figured the OP was talking out his butt ;) No offence OP. You can't say 'I want that smooth background for portraits' and then say I want a landscape lens if you have to chose only one of those two lenses, if you are wanting the traditional 'wide angle lens' for landscape use. You can't have everything. If he's going to be shooting stitched landscape shots, and portraits then fair enough, by all means go for the 50mm.
     
  16. JazzXP

    JazzXP Eh! Steve

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    I went through the same choice a while back. Ended up with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 over the 35mm as I didn't want the distortion that goes with shooting at 35mm. The 50mm is a great short telephoto on a crop sensor and absolutely beautiful for portraits when you want to be shooting other things too.

    You have to learn the limitations of it though, no taking indoor group photos with it (unless it's a large room), but for solo photos it's fantastic.

    I was all prepared to buy the 35mm at the end of last year too, but then I had a play with one (my Dad has one) and wasn't overly impressed with the focal length (lens itself is quite nice though) - it just really didn't suit my shooting style. On the other hand, if you want to do street photography, it's much better than the 50mm (although a 24mm would be better, but unfortunately there's not a cheap AF-S version of that out yet).

    If you want to wait a few weeks, Nikon have announced the 50mm f/1.8 for $220 (US) or £199 (GBP) so that might be a cheaper option for you.
     
  17. GregTheRotter

    GregTheRotter Minimodder

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    ^ lol 'distortion. pff. It's called perspective. 35mm lenses don't distort.
     
  18. JazzXP

    JazzXP Eh! Steve

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  19. GregTheRotter

    GregTheRotter Minimodder

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    It seems we are looking at the term distortion in different contexts. I was interpreting it as it is used in lens reviews; mushroom distortion, barrel distortion etc that some lenses produce. Anyway.

    By that token, you could say ZOMG you HAVE to use a 500mm lens because it provides the least 'distortion' for my subject. Note all those shots are head shots. You wouldn't shoot a head shot with a 35mm lens, and a portrait photo doesn't exclusively mean 'head shot', it can be a full length portrait photo, so again, your fears of distortion aren't entirely valid. Bah, we are wasting our time, you're wasting yours and I'm wasting mine. This is the reason I stopped posting on newbie photog forums. It doesn't matter what lens you get first, as whatever the choice, you'll see the limitations and work around them till you get that other lens.

    If you think that distortion is a reason to go 50mm over 35, then good for you, I can't see much reason in that though. Kind of like saying go for the 5fps camera over the 3fps when you don't shoot sports exclusively;

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 2 May 2011

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