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The Forgotten Lens
October 2, 2007 5:45 PM   Subscribe

50mm, the Forgotten Lens Why You Should Ditch That Zoom for a Classic 50mm "Normal" Lens.

A good article to send to people who are thinking of buying a new camera, but have no idea what they need. (Also, Your camera does not matter.)
posted by ColdChef (116 comments total) 91 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, I just picked up a 50mm f/1.8 and it's fucking great. The feel of 50 (which as the article foot notes is functionally, on my XT, 85mm or so, but the right ballpark still: prime, not wide, not long) is really nice, though I'm having to readjust to not framing with the zoom.

"Zoom with your feet" indeed. Suddenly I remember why I was always moving around so much when I was framing shots in high school photography class. Shooting someone head and shoulder in a small room is actually tricky.

It's a nice width for getting a close portrait without having to get right up in someone's face. And a reasonably fast 50 will open up enough that you can really isolate your subject against a less-focused background without much trouble (see DaShiv's excellent comment on the subject of fast lenses and depth of field). And the 50 f/1.8 is just nuts cheap.
posted by cortex at 5:57 PM on October 2, 2007


Beautiful. I couldn't agree more, though I was partial to my 58mm lens. I wish shooting film weren't so damn expensive. If only I could stick a digital "back" into my 35mm SLR (a Minolta srt200, fwiw), I'd be a happy man.
posted by TonyRobots at 5:59 PM on October 2, 2007


Boy do I love those primes!
posted by aubilenon at 6:12 PM on October 2, 2007


cortex: Is this where I repeat what I told you about that 50 for everyone else?
posted by The Bellman at 6:16 PM on October 2, 2007


The 50 1.4 on a full-frame is a thing of beauty. If you want to learn how to shoot, start with a 50. If you're at a "higher" level and things have been getting stale, go back to your roots.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 6:17 PM on October 2, 2007


Heh. Depends on whether or not they have an extra three hundred bucks kicking around, TB.
posted by cortex at 6:18 PM on October 2, 2007


In a nutshell: you should buy a 50mm prime because you'll get a wider aperture for your money, and everyone LOVES wider aperture.

Also, what TonyRobots said re: film SLR and digital back. My father's Canon EF (the camera, not the lens mount) was heavy and eventually got waterlogged due to an unfortunate camping trip from hell (lesson learned: ZIPLOC BAGS DAMMIT), plus I blew $400 on it on the sly in high school to get it fixed after dropping it (my dad found out anyways), but I think it's still the camera I loved the most.
posted by chrominance at 6:18 PM on October 2, 2007


I've spent thousands of dollars on lenses, and yet my simple $100 Canon 50mm f/1.8 is probably my favorite to shoot with. It's kind of funny, actually, as I mostly do landscape work... you wouldn't necessarily think of it as a suitable landscape lens, but I'm pretty happy with it.
posted by jal0021 at 6:18 PM on October 2, 2007


At the end, he says if you have a DSLR (without a full frame sensor) you should not get a 50mm, as it will look very zoomed. Rather, he says you should get a 35mm lens for the same effect.

Some of the camera makers are using full frame sensors these days, though.
posted by delmoi at 6:18 PM on October 2, 2007


jal0021 - the one of the tornado is amazing.
posted by rtha at 6:23 PM on October 2, 2007


I love my 50mm, however I wish I didn't have a cropped sensor on my Rebel. After seeing how much my friend's 5D can see, it feels like everything I shoot with my camera is super cropped.
posted by Brainy at 6:24 PM on October 2, 2007


Ah, I should be getting a 35mm then!
posted by Brainy at 6:26 PM on October 2, 2007


The article doesn't dwell on it, but, if it's functionally an 85mm (it gives you the FOV an 85mm lense would give you in a 35mm film camera or in a full-frame digital) then it's effectively a portrait lens rather than an everyday "neutral, natural, more eye-like" lens. And equivalent-quality 35mm lenses, which more or less give you the 50mm-on-35mm-film FOV are more expensive.

My favourite 50mm lens was actually a f1.2 55mm Zuiko for my Olympus OM-2m. I only borrowed it, so I don't have it, but I would buy it if I started to use the OM-2 again. As TonyRobots says, if only I could stick a full-frame digital back into it...
posted by kandinski at 6:27 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Canon's 50mm f/1.4 is fantastic - way better than the 1.8 in all respects. Its a dream to use... yet its rarely the right tool for my job - 70-200 f.28 IS and 24-70 do most of the work. But when I need it, I sure do love having that lens to pull out.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:28 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


The 50mm lens, for the 35mm frame, is equivalent to what the human field of vision can focus on. When you look at something, you're generally seeing it in the same perspective as a 50mm lens. This is why it's called a "normal" lens. (Actually, it's closer to 45mm, but 50's a nice round number. By the same token, 35mm approximates the entire field of vision not including peripheral vision, which is why it's a popular wide angle focal length.)

In all of my SLR kits, I had a wide prime, a normal prime, and a tele-zoom. I used the normal lens more often than any other. It saw things generally the way I did. The best was a 45mm "pancake" lens... it made my SLR as toteable as a large P&S, and had fantastic image quality.

The problem in the modern day is that you can't get a normal lens for a DSLR. You can get zooms that cover the "normal" range in its journey from wide to tele, and you can get wide angle prime lenses, but nobody makes a "normal" prime lens paired with the DSLR imager.

You can use a 50mm prime designed for 35mm SLR systems, but now you have a short tele, equivalent to a 75mm or 80mm lens. Some people love this focal length, especially those who shoot a lot of candids and portraits, but it's by no stretch the lovely, full-frame "normal" field of view. (Pentax and Sony have lovely primes designed for 35mm systems. They're not so hot for DSLR... unless you want short teles. Which I don't. Even the 60mm-equivalent Pentax's 40mm gives is too tight.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:32 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


My Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM is one of the sharpest lenses I own.

OK, I've said it before and I'll say it again. The lens he's talking about is this one. The lens cortex is talking about is this one. Both are fabulous lenses, both Canon, both 50mm, one is less than a stop faster and about $250 more expensive. Why in God's name would you buy it?

Well I shot with the f1.8 for a few weeks, then had the chance to try out the f1.4. After trying both, I sucked it up and plunked down for the more expensive lens. Voth is right: the f1.4 is simply the best lens I have ever used, of any size, of any speed, at any price (though I'm not pro enough to have used the $3,000 versions). Not only does the lens feel 100 times better in terms of its quality of construction, the images pop in a way that I've never seen with any other glass. It's absolutely stunning what a difference it makes, even in the hands of a hack like me. If you are inspired by the article and want to try a 50mm, beg, borrow or steal the f1.4 for a bit and see if it isn't worth scrimping and saving for this amazing piece of kit. You won't regret it.
posted by The Bellman at 6:36 PM on October 2, 2007


The lens I love is a fixed 100mm macro on an APS-sized sensor. It depends what you want to shoot but I sure agree with the advice to get a good prime that matches the FOV you most like to shoot.

Also, I love any excuse to see what photos fellow mefites are proud of. Keep self-linking!
posted by jepler at 6:38 PM on October 2, 2007


On DaShiv's recommendation, I got a 50mm 1.4 for my Rebel XT and it is just awesome. I know that it's really an 85mm because of the "crop" factor, but it's still great, especially for portraits. I can't wait to get a full-frame one day and put this lens on it.
posted by Mid at 6:42 PM on October 2, 2007


It's great for live music shoots. You can pry my 50 from my cold dead finger.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:43 PM on October 2, 2007


Slap: Isn't the answer to that just to use a 28mm or 35mm? For a 1.6 multiplier that gets fairly close to "normal", no? Or am I missing something? Yes, a really fast 35mm is going to cost a few bucks (well, over a thousand, actually) but you can an f2.0 for relatively cheap.
posted by The Bellman at 6:43 PM on October 2, 2007


Also: This thread is useless without . . . DaShiv.
posted by The Bellman at 6:44 PM on October 2, 2007


I agree with TonyRobots, I miss film. And I miss being in the darkroom and the smell of chemicals and the anticipation when you place the sheet of light sensitive paper thats been exposed beneath the enlarger into the tray filled with developer. That split second before the image comes up as you agitate the tray. Grab it with the tongs and move it along to the stop bath and into the fixer. Wash it, let it dry, and then do it all over again.

Thanks for the post ColdChef.
posted by Sailormom at 6:47 PM on October 2, 2007


My 50mm lets me shoot indoors without a flash. Love it!
posted by ColdChef at 6:53 PM on October 2, 2007


For those of you looking for awesome, cheap, fast lenses, don't forget about manual focus lenses. The Zuiko 50mm 1.4 is an awesome lens, and is dirt cheap. Especially if you've already got an Olympus film body. Those of us in the DSLR world tend to forget about manual-focus lenses, but they're out there, and nobody wants them anymore.

Also, don't forget that if you're going to use an older lens on an APS-C size sensor, there's some depth of field changes, as well.


The one reason I've ever actually wanted to buy a Leica body was so I could use the Leica 50mm f1 - like I could ever afford it...
posted by god hates math at 6:58 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I totally agree on the Zuiko 1.4. I've been using an old Olympus OM-2 for about 10 years and that Zuiko 50 1.4 is the lens that's almost always on the body when I take it out.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:02 PM on October 2, 2007


Bellman - 35mm x1.7 is still too tight, and it's a retrofocus design. It's not as compact or light, nor as sharp or distortion free as a non-retro optical formula woud be.

That said, I like a 28mm lens almost as much as a 50mm, so I'm seriously thinking about a Penxtax DSLR with their wide-angle pancake.

I'm madly in love with my old Zeiss MM lenses, especially the 45mm pancake. It's time to let go, tho... too much of a PITA to buy, process and scan film for everyday photos, and I'm falling out of love with my digicam. The lens is nice, for a digicam, but not that nice, and framing and off-camera flash are too much trouble.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:02 PM on October 2, 2007


I have such fond memories of my Micro Nikkor 55mm lens, along with my trusty Nikon FM, we were a total team. I would never have survived High School without it. It gave a shy fat kid something to hide behind and the confidence to ask for entry to places I'd previously feared to tread. As the year book photographer everybody HAD to like you. LOL
Together we saw our first DeadHeads dancing in the mud at the US festival, witnessed Cheap Trick open for Frank Zappa, and spent some wild times with Kansas, The Outlaws and Molly Hatchet all the while exploring the beauty of both Kodachrome and Agfa B&W film. I spent so much time behind the lens and in the darkroom, for years I swear I only saw things in the zone system. I eventually moved on to a 85mm portrait length lens and my sport 180 that I worked an entire summer for was to die for, but that 55, that was a LENS. Man! Those were the days! Great post ColdChef!
posted by HappyHippo at 7:08 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and are we linking to times we're glad we had our 50mms handy? I pick this and this, among others.

P.S. Is there a way to link to the larger sizes without forcing people to log in to flickr? To see how the lens performs (as well as the true beauty of my senior son) you need to see these pics in large.
posted by The Bellman at 7:19 PM on October 2, 2007


my cheapo canon 50/1.8 is awesome. cost me about 80 bucks, and shoots the best portraits, great depth of field shots, etc. the autofocus kinda sucks, but for that price, why wouldn't everyone have one?
posted by blendor at 7:20 PM on October 2, 2007


I had the Canon 50 1.8, dropped it at a wedding, and bought the 1.4. Yes, it's only one stop faster. But I've got to agree with The Bellman, it's the best lens I own. It's more of a portrait lens on my 30D, so I have the 35 f2 as a normal prime. But I find that I don't use it as much as the 50, even with the 1.6 crop. The 50 seems to render scenes closer to how my mind composes them. Maybe there's a closeup lens on my optic nerve...
posted by Ella Fynoe at 7:21 PM on October 2, 2007


I love my 50--it's all I've been shooting with since I upgraded from a decades-old kit lens. There are not one but two flickr groups devoted to the Canon 50mm f/1.8.
posted by muckster at 7:24 PM on October 2, 2007


I love the idea of shooting a 50mm prime, but I really like photographing wildlife, and to get the good shots, you just need a longer lens.
posted by quin at 7:32 PM on October 2, 2007


I love the 50mm 1.8! Though focusing is an exercise in patience.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:35 PM on October 2, 2007


Nice shots, 'Ell! And the funny thing is, it's less than a stop -- only about half a stop -- but the lens just seems to perform so much better. Maybe it's cognitive dissonance over the extra 25 bucks!
posted by The Bellman at 7:39 PM on October 2, 2007


I love my 50mm 1.8, too! I regret not listening when people told me to buy the camera body instead of the kit, because I swapped out the kit lens as soon as I got the 50mm home, and I haven't taken it off since. The 1.4 is next on my list.
posted by mewithoutyou at 7:50 PM on October 2, 2007


I still have my old Pentax K1000 kicking around somewhere with, I would imagine, a 50mm lens on it. Last I picked it up and cocked the shutter, it seemed to be working fine.

What's the digital equivalent of a Pentax K1000 with 50mm fixed-focus lens?
posted by davejay at 7:56 PM on October 2, 2007


I just ordered a 50mm 1.8 for my dslr. Reading this great article reminded me how fun it was to shoot with a 50 in high school.
Thanks!
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 8:06 PM on October 2, 2007


I adore the 30mm Sigma prime I just got for my Nikon DSLR. 30mm is just right with the crop. I also have the 50mm 1.4 Nikkor, but it's too hard to use socially - I keep running out of room to back up.

(This thread feels like it has the wrong color.)
posted by voidcontext at 8:07 PM on October 2, 2007


I just bought my first DSLR about a month ago (an XTi), and avoided the kit lens in favour of the 50mm f/1.8. I'm loving the low-light indoor shots I can do, but after trying out a friend's 70-300mm IS lens in Stanley Park on a nice day, I'm itching to get a decent zoom. In those sort of conditions the zoom seems to offer more opportunities, especially, as quin notes, with regards to wildlife. I guess it's a grass-is-greener thing, especially when you're just starting out and you've only got one lens. I can see why spending thousands on glass is so addicting.
posted by good in a vacuum at 8:09 PM on October 2, 2007


I've got a 50mm f1.8, and it's a great go-to lens that takes up a fraction of the space of a bigger zoom. I took a trip to Spain last month, though, and I took the opportunity to borrow a friend's f1.4. I've used it in the past and the difference is noticeable enough to pay attention to...

The flexibility of a zoom is nice, but I'm always pleased at the higher quality coming out of my small handful of primes.
posted by verb at 8:12 PM on October 2, 2007


Depends on whether or not they have an extra three hundred bucks kicking around

WTF, cortex? The 50 mm / 1.8f for my Nikon D70 DSLR only cost me ~$140 new at a brick-and-mortar shop in CT.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:16 PM on October 2, 2007


Pentax makes a 31mm f1.8, I think. But it's crazy expensive.

My simple, cheap 50mm f1.7 is my favourite lens for lugging to concerts. (Though for some of the clubs I go to, the fisheye is nice, too).

Thanks for the great photos, all.
posted by hamfisted at 8:20 PM on October 2, 2007


My 50mm f/1.8 Canon was my lens of choice for months at a time...until I got the f/1.4 and it's full-on photopacolypse now.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:21 PM on October 2, 2007


Zen: That's cortex's point. The Canon 50mm f1.8 is $75 and a very fine lens. The f1.4, at half a stop faster, is $315. That was his point (and the point of a bunch of discussion here).
posted by The Bellman at 8:23 PM on October 2, 2007


This should be included in the box of every digital SLR sold. Great article.
posted by tmgstudio at 8:49 PM on October 2, 2007


Ditto on the Canon 50 1.8. I carry three lenses in my bag: 50 1.8, 85 1.8, 28-135 IS. They're pretty much.

I think prime lenses should be the purchasing focus of every serious beginning photographer. You get superior image quality for a lower price, and they help you learn to move around, which makes you a better photographer regardless of which lens you're using.
posted by towelmonkey at 8:55 PM on October 2, 2007


the f1.4 is simply the best lens I have ever used, of any size, of any speed, at any price

Wait til you get your mitts on a 1.2.
posted by pokermonk at 8:58 PM on October 2, 2007


I have a deep love for the old Canon A1. Especially because I could easily afford the 50mm f1.4, and if I want to splurge, I can get silly lenses, like the 50mm f1.2, or even the 85mm f1.2. And it looks really cool. Classic. Way nicer than the crappy 80's Canons.

(OTOH, it's too heavy, and easy to screw up the film loading, and you can forget to set the ISO and ruin a roll, and it takes FILM for God's sakes.)
posted by smackfu at 9:01 PM on October 2, 2007


And don't forget you can use it as a loupe!
posted by Calloused_Foot at 9:05 PM on October 2, 2007


Wait til you get your mitts on a 1.2.

I did that! For about two hours. It was like having God hold your hand and buy you ice cream.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:08 PM on October 2, 2007


The 50mm POV is a tricky beast to use, a chameleon among lenses. It's boring and hard to make interesting photos with this POV. Most of the time it feels too long to me, while occasionally it feels too short -- and rarely just right. It took me months of limiting myself to street shooting with a single lens to really "get" this POV, because it forces you to be disciplined about composition rather than relying on dramatic perspectives or tight details to make things work. Usually I hear most photographers preferring either the 28/35mm or 85/135mm POV, but rarely the 50mm POV.

Why even bother with it? Because becoming competent with the 50mm POV was also the single best exercise in my photography education.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX is my preferred lens for this POV on crop sensor cameras. It has focusing issues for a few users (none for me so far) and the occasion edge sharpness/highlight distortion problems, but it's the cheapest way to get the ultrafast f/1.4 aperture at this focal length, and is a great bokeh lens to boot. A few photos to illustrate the versatility of this lens and the 50mm POV to create perspective effects:

intimate
normal
sweeping

A few tips I've learned from trial and error: using a large aperture setting improves the intimate effect in close-ups, while paying attention to foreground/leading lines and horizons (and stopping down for DOF) enhances the depth of "wider" compositions at this POV. What it comes down to though is that if you can compose well with the 50mm POV, you'll be able to compose well with virtually any other lens. Give it a try.

35mm x1.7 is still too tight, and it's a retrofocus design. It's not as compact or light, nor as sharp or distortion free as a non-retro optical formula woud be.

Only Sigma DSLRs have a 1.7x crop factor. All other non-Canon crop DSLRs have 1.5x (really about 1.52-1.53x or so) and Canon DSLRs have 1.6x, which makes 35mm lenses perfectly reasonable choices to achieve a 50mm POV. Four-thirds DSLR's (Olympus, Panasonic) have a 2.0x multiplication factor for POV equivalency but not really cropping, as their lenses natively have much smaller imaging circles.

And there's nothing wrong with retrofocus 35mm designs. For example, this photo was taken with a retrofocus 35mm lens on a crop body camera for a 50mm POV. Anyone who has used the lens (Leica 35mm 'lux ASPH, the pre-ASPH is non-retrofocus and a worse lens) can tell you that it has no issues with sharpness or distortion, and it's still compact and light. Of course, it's also a rangefinder lens...
posted by DaShiv at 9:09 PM on October 2, 2007 [13 favorites]


Faster doesn't equate to better. The Canon (and Contax, and Nikon) 50mm f/1.4 is better than the 50mm f/1.8 because the f/1.8 is cheap to make, and designed to be a throw-in lens on entry level equipment.

The f/1.4 lens is designed with the discerning eye of the optics snob in mind, as well as the pro photographer: it's a full stop below f/2, and so a "standard" speed, and so it's easy to figure out exposure changes. It's right in the sweet spot for speed and optimal optical quality.

While a 50mm f/1.2 or f/1.0 lens is certainly faster, the increased surface area of the front element and changes in optical formula to get that extra stop or two means you're compromising image quality somewhat.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:09 PM on October 2, 2007


Canon makes a 35mm f/1.4 USM lens for you digital camera owners who missed 90% of the point of the article (unless you are a 5D owner). Of course the lens will set you back over $1000 which sort of misses the other point the author is making, as well.
posted by spock at 9:11 PM on October 2, 2007


The Nokton 50/f1.5 and Ultron 35/f1.7 are the nicest primes I've ever owned. Shame about the loser behind them.
posted by scruss at 9:50 PM on October 2, 2007


Some 1.0 goodness.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:59 PM on October 2, 2007


When the price of film cameras collapsed a few years ago, I finally got the opportunity to conduct my own bake-off, and I filled a drawer with a bunch of different varieties of Nikkor 50mms. (...And when this digital 'fad' is over, I'll be sitting pretty....)

Unless you have some reason to really, really need the speed, I found the 50/ f2 or the old 50/ f1.8 to be better choices than the Nikkor 50/ f1.4.

And as Slap*Happy said above, When you look at something, you're generally seeing it in the same perspective as a 50mm lens. This is why it's called a "normal" lens. (Actually, it's closer to 45mm, but 50's a nice round number. I would argue for a 40mm or 45mm as having all of the virtues touted for the 50mm view, and then some.

So try walking around with a $40 Canonet, with its surprisingly good 40mm/f1.7 . You'll wonder why you'd ever need to carry more kit than that.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 10:27 PM on October 2, 2007


Canon's 50mm f/1.4 is fantastic - way better than the 1.8 in all respects.

I have both, and I find the 1.4 slower on focus and shooting, much heavier (not made of light plastic), and it was more expensive. When my 1.8 broke (flopping around in luggage while traveling), I should have replaced it with another one. I get one more stop, but I don't like it nearly enough as the 1.8 (mostly because of the speed issues).
posted by mathowie at 10:38 PM on October 2, 2007


And suddenly, we have stepped into the age old argument of who can discern High-end from Ultra-High-end.

1.8 is good. 1.4 is better, but 1.2 and 1.0 is godlike.

But none of them will make a humming-bird stop in the air at eight feet.

So I love the idea of the 'Natural lens', But unless it will help me to blur a humming-bird wing, while showing it's head in sharp focus, it's not my lens, as good as it may be.
posted by quin at 11:10 PM on October 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've taken some of my favourite photos ever using my cheapie Nikon 50mm f/1.8, and have often wondered if a fast 35mm prime would be even better (being a DSLR user.)

But it has to be said, the 18-200VR zoom I bought earlier this year has saved me a lot of lens changes, and can deal with low light shooting almost as well (due to the image stabilzation, just so long as no-one moves) - I am not 100% convinced, but I am also quite lazy...
posted by pascal at 11:15 PM on October 2, 2007


So, now that I'm inspired, can y'all stop talking about Cannons and tell me which of the fixed-focal length "Four Thirds system lenses I should look at getting for my Olympus?
posted by Jimbob at 11:25 PM on October 2, 2007


The Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 is equivalent to 50mm in 35mm. Optics by Leica - I don't know if it's to the same standards as the stuff they design for their own equipment, but damn... this means I'm probably going to give the Pentax a pass and look into an Oly 510 with Panasonic lenses.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:36 PM on October 2, 2007


I get one more stop, but I don't like it nearly enough as the 1.8

Actually, you only get two-thirds more of a stop.

As for utility, the "normal" perspective is junk. Give most shooters a 28-200 zoom and graph where they spend most of their time. I guarantee you it's on either end of the spectrum. How's the saying go? Bad photographers take pictures. Good photographers make them. It's in the extremes where we exercise our creative metal, manipulating the perspective to selectively direct the viewer's eye to the principal subject matter. A 50mm doesn't catch enough side action to mimic human peripheral vision, and isn't tight enough to zone in on a particular subject without including a bunch of other crap that competes for the viewer's attention. It is a lazy lens. On a SLR it's a monstrosity, because you can't even use it as a "walk around" lens without attracting attention to yourself.

The strongest merits are that the lens group is simple enough for manufacturers to offer big apertures for cheap. A 50 on a cropped sensor makes a decent portrait lens in a pinch. And it's cheap enough to take to a dark club and not worry if it gets a few beers spilled on it.

As for pure lens aesthetic, there are gajillion sexier lenses out there. The Nikon 200mm f/2, for instance. Or the exotic f/1.0's linked above, or the stupid-rare medical/scientific lenses like the 105 f/4.5 UV.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:37 PM on October 2, 2007


Also...

But none of them will make a humming-bird stop in the air at eight feet.

That's because even the fastest shutter is no match for the shortest pulse of light. Which is to say, use a flash.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:39 PM on October 2, 2007


tell me which of the fixed-focal length "Four Thirds system lenses I should look at getting for my Olympus?

That's like asking what kind of performance muffler you should get for your Edsel.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:42 PM on October 2, 2007


Optics by Leica

Optics by Leica? Pshaw. Optics designed by Panasonic, built by Panasonic, and only "approved" by Leica... "using measurement instruments and quality assurance systems that have been certified by Leica Camera AG based on the company’s quality standards."

/postflood ends
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:51 PM on October 2, 2007


Slap*Happy, don't listen to old Civil_Disobedient. My Olympus E500 has brought me much joy.
posted by Jimbob at 11:54 PM on October 2, 2007


As for utility, the "normal" perspective is junk. Give most shooters a 28-200 zoom and graph where they spend most of their time. I guarantee you it's on either end of the spectrum.

This is because they are using it as two primes rather than as a zoom. Prime-A is as wide as they can go, because they're trying to cram everything up to and including the kitchen sink in the shot. Prime-B is as tight as they can go, because they want to see something distant close up. The focal lengths in the middle are where good photographers should live... cinematographers certainly do. Zooming allows better framing without having to move your body or swapping lenses. If you're moving your body anyhow, because you're racked all the way in or all the way out 100% of the time, something is wrong, or you really want to buy two primes, one wider and one longer than the zoom you got. Better optics and wider apertures.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:03 AM on October 3, 2007


Sorry, but I refuse to give up my 85mm 1.8 for a paltry 50mm.

It's my magic lens, and I use it with a Nikon FM, a camera body that's seen more of the world that most people.
posted by Neale at 12:12 AM on October 3, 2007


I wish shooting film weren't so damn expensive. If only I could stick a digital "back" into my 35mm SLR (a Minolta srt200, fwiw), I'd be a happy man.

i know it exists/existed...i saw it once...imagine a roll of 35mm film with the film hanging out, except its hard plastic with a digital sensor on it. the 'roll' contains the memory and etc. this forum says its crap, tho, but does contain the keywords to search for (efilm, silicon film, etc)

took a while to find it, but on the way i found this site which is badass if u like retro photo methods...i do! (just got f-ing BELLOWS for my d200...LOVE them!) (is it possible to just get one bellow?)

but, on topic, i got the nikon 50/f1.2 and adore the image quality, but yeah, it's a bit close on a dslr...thinking of switching for a 35mm
posted by sexyrobot at 12:18 AM on October 3, 2007


I'm pretty sure the Summilux Aspherical is a Leica design - they use it for M and R series lenses. I'm not too concerned if Panasonic builds it... Zeiss had a similar arrangement in place with Contax, and I loves me some Zeiss MM glass.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:19 AM on October 3, 2007


The focal lengths in the middle are where good photographers should live... cinematographers certainly do

Wide and tight, wide and tight. That's all you ever see. Wide sweeping vista, followed by close-up of protagonist's eyes staring out into it, followed by a wide shot of a group of bad guys approaching, always from behind, followed by another closeup of our hero's eyes, this time looking ever-so-slightly to the side, then another closeup of maybe a smirk starting to grow in his smile...
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:30 AM on October 3, 2007


This completely ignores the need for a macro lens. If I had a macro lens I wouldn't have to crop so damn much. Well, that and I have no idea what I'm doing.
posted by IronLizard at 12:52 AM on October 3, 2007


not so forgotton :) When I bought my Canon 10d the 50mm f/1.8 was one of the two first lenses I bought with it.
posted by so_ at 1:10 AM on October 3, 2007


This completely ignores the need for a macro lens.

Well, you could always reverse the 50.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:30 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


The Canon 50mm f/1.8 (version 2) is a nice versatile and useful little lens.
I've happily used it on my 5D in all manner of situations where any of my other lenses would have been either too big, too slow, or too obtrusive. It's a perfect lens to have on during a night out or at a party, particularly if you allow others to use the camera, as unless they're au fait with an SLR system they tend to get confused over using the zoom :)

I got some great shots from the front of a rather intimate gig by Raging Speedhorns, but unfortunately the nifty-fifty got itself moshed against a wall... whoops.

The replacement - the f/1.4 version - is, to me, definitely worth the price difference: it focusses faster, it's quieter, it uses a more standard filter size, it has a distance scale (very useful for guesstimating shots when it's too dark to focus properly)... it just feels, and acts, better.
posted by Chunder at 2:02 AM on October 3, 2007


As for utility, the "normal" perspective is junk.

Meh. If it was good enough for Cartier Bresson, it's good enough for me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:56 AM on October 3, 2007


I'm just drooling over the concept that any lens goes as wide as f1.0. I've never had lower than f2.8, even on my ancient 35mm camera.
really sad story - when I was 15-16, my dad let me use his second best 35mm for a photography class. It was made in the Soviet Union and worked so well. But then someone stole it out of my locker - before I was finished the class even.
posted by jb at 2:57 AM on October 3, 2007


I shoot the majority of my photos at 50mm on my 5D since my only other lenses are a 15mm fisheye (used for stitching together 360 degree panoramas) and a 200mm f/2.8 for when subjects aren't easily approachable (zoo, concert, etc).
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:27 AM on October 3, 2007


My Pentax K-1000 came with a 50mm in the box. I added a 28mm and a 1:1 Macro, and those three did me fine forever, until I got sick of film. Now, I look at my Nikon kit lens that came with the D50, and kind of weep. F5.6? Come on.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:03 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


The main advantage of the (despite what the article says) standard-ish elcheapo 50 mm 1.8 is that it offers good optical performance at a very cheap price.

That said, the standard kit for photojournalists / travel photographers is 2 bodies, one fitted with a wide zoom (28-35 or wider) and a telephoto zoom (80-200 or so). Pro zooms come with a 2.8 iris (4.0 for ultra-wide zooms). Notice the absence of 50mm optics in those kits.

Also, these pro-zooms can be expensive ... but for the price of a new Nikon 50 1.8, you can find these days a second hand 35-70 2.8 AF macro zoom from the 80's-90's.

Finally, not all 50mms are created equal.
posted by magullo at 5:27 AM on October 3, 2007


I have to second (third? tenth?) the recommendation of the Canon f/1.4- really worth the investment. All kinds of fun stored up in that lens.
posted by louie at 5:31 AM on October 3, 2007


If it was good enough for Cartier Bresson, it's good enough for me.

Uh, M. Bresson used Leica rangefinders. Not giant, noisy SLRs, which is what we're all talking about here.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:37 AM on October 3, 2007


Canon's 50mm f/1.4 is fantastic - way better than the 1.8 in all respects.

I have both, and I find the 1.4 slower on focus and shooting, much heavier (not made of light plastic), and it was more expensive. When my 1.8 broke (flopping around in luggage while traveling), I should have replaced it with another one. I get one more stop, but I don't like it nearly enough as the 1.8 (mostly because of the speed issues).
posted by mathowie at 1:38 AM on October 3 [+] [!]


Hmm. Well, maybe I'm lucky or you simply used a not so hot copy of the lens. Mine's nice and quick. Can't say the weight difference matters much to me since I spend most days with two large bodies and much larger/heavier lenses around my neck. But the 1.4 is much more solidly built, is faster and has a manual focus ring that you can actually use. No way I'd go back to the 1.8.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:09 AM on October 3, 2007


So, on my nikon SLR [with crop factor] I find the 50mm 1.8 to be a really odd focal length, and as a result I really don't use it that much at all. [even though, as with the Canon model linked a few times it does have great optics for a ~$100 lens.

But the story is on, and I've solved that odd focal length issue by instead using a Sigma 30mm 1.4 [flickr group for lens]

Not to say its the only lens I shoot, or even carry with me, but its that go to lens when I'm not carrying much or don't know what I'm going to be shooting / just want to walk around.
posted by 10sball at 6:24 AM on October 3, 2007


That's because even the fastest shutter is no match for the shortest pulse of light. Which is to say, use a flash.

Whaaaa...? Most cameras can't sync to a flash at more than 1/180 or 1/250 of a second.

My most used lens is a Sigma 28-105/2.8-4 zoom on my Pentax K10D. I find the majority of my time spent in the 60-85mm zoom range, this gets me sufficiently away from the subjects that they are a little more comfortable. When shooting serious sports, I use a Sigma 70-200/2.8, occasionally coupled with a 1.4x teleconverter. Next up on the purchase wish list is something in the 16-50mm range, which is a little wider than the kit lens.
posted by insulglass at 6:25 AM on October 3, 2007


When I first started buying lenses for my Canon SLR, I bought primes (50 1.4, 85, 1.8). They are great lenses, but on a cropped sensor camera, I've found that they're only really good for taking portraits of people in low light situations. The background blur on both primes is quite impressive though.

I've recently ponied up and bought the 24-70mm 2.8 L, and the 70-200m 2.8 IS L. These lens offer so much more ability to compose a shot. I combined this with the 10-22mm ef-s wide angle zoom, and the primes are very rarely on my camera anymore. However, I still pull them out for the occasional artistic portrait.
posted by jsonic at 6:31 AM on October 3, 2007


The 50mm 1.7 that sits on my K1000 is quite nice. The 50mm f/1.8 that sits on my Digital Rebel XT, not so much. I need to get a 5D. I wonder when they'll make them nice and small.
posted by chunking express at 6:32 AM on October 3, 2007


This completely ignores the need for a macro lens. If I had a macro lens I wouldn't have to crop so damn much. Well, that and I have no idea what I'm doing.
I'm super-fond of my 100mm f2.8. It's delivered for me more than a few times...
posted by verb at 6:57 AM on October 3, 2007


I'm so in love with that Sigma 30mm I borrowed from DaShiv, it's going to be my next lens. All of these were taken with it (stupidly) wide open with a little bit of flash fill.
posted by Skorgu at 7:39 AM on October 3, 2007


Just to note - any Canon cropped sensor users here should definitely try the 28mm f1.8 lens. I picked up a second hand copy at Fixation here in London and it's without a doubt my favourite lens. I've taken maybe 90% of the last 4000 or so shots with it. The focus is fast, the colour and shadow reproduction is excellent, and it works out at just the wide side of normal.

I'd say well over 90% of the photos in this collection are taken with it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jodi/collections/72157602108072759/
Note I'm talking about equipment here, not any skill I have (or more likely lack) as a photographer.
posted by Magnakai at 8:07 AM on October 3, 2007


Whaaaa...? Most cameras can't sync to a flash at more than 1/180 or 1/250 of a second.

In a dark scene, a flash is essentially simulating a shutter that acts as long as the flash duration. If it's dark enough, you can use a flash with a 1 s shutter speed and still get a perfectly crisp image.
posted by smackfu at 8:15 AM on October 3, 2007


A while back I taught b+w photography in night classes. It's been my own experience that to get the most out of a camera, you need to figure out what's happening in there in terms of optics and mechanics. Conversely, if you rely too much on the camera to take the picture, you don't learn how to do photography. So - 'focusing with your feet' - exactly. There are of course uses for zoom lenses but using them because you can't get a good comp at 50mm isn't one of them. Again, learning how camera speed, ISO, aperture, depth of field and so on are all related, helps you to start making rather than taking photographs (as someone else said).

I echo Devil's Rancher comment above, if I picked up any lens with f4.0 - 5.6 on it, I'd put it straight down again (sub $200 PoS's excepted - maybe). Anyway, I have a Nikon FM2 w/ a manual Nikkor 50mm 1.8 - the lens protrudes about 3/8" I think, add another 1/8" for the filter ring. It can go anywhere and take anything, once you've figured out how to use it. The other fave is the manual Nikkor 24mm f2.8. Beautiful. And never had an SLR zoom lens.

Great post and conversation, thanks!
posted by carter at 8:43 AM on October 3, 2007


>The Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 is equivalent to 50mm in 35mm.

The page exaggerates. With a 1.6x crop factor (due to a less-than-35mm sized sensor) a 25mm lens would be the equiv. of a 40mm lens on a 35mm camera.
posted by spock at 9:11 AM on October 3, 2007


There is also confusion regarding flash sync speeds. Rather than explain, I'll link. Most digital camera buyers don't even know why they might want a hot shoe or external flash sync. A leaf shutter has the ability to sync at ANY speed, which is why you'll see it in old professional film cameras like Mamiya & Hasselblad (where the shutter was genearlly built into the lens, not the camera body). A good discussion of Digital Camera Shutters here.
posted by spock at 9:21 AM on October 3, 2007


I shot thousands of frames in my Nikons with the 50mm f/2 (couldn't afford the 1.4). Now that I have a Canon with a 1.6x crop factor, the 18-50mm f/3.5-5.6 Sigma is my workhorse lens. I'll have to go through my EXIF info to see what focal length I use the most.
posted by tommasz at 10:02 AM on October 3, 2007


Uh, M. Bresson used Leica rangefinders. Not giant, noisy SLRs, which is what we're all talking about here.

Which is kind of a shame, as I read this entire thread hoping for hot tips on a brilliant and cheap new lens for my Epson R-D1s.

Interesting that there are no rangefinder-ists in this thread, actually. (Personally I only use one because it's all I've ever known, to the extent that I can barely take a photo with an SLR without collapsing into confusion.)
posted by jack_mo at 11:20 AM on October 3, 2007


>The Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 is equivalent to 50mm in 35mm.

The page exaggerates. With a 1.6x crop factor (due to a less-than-35mm sized sensor) a 25mm lens would be the equiv. of a 40mm lens on a 35mm camera.


No, the page is correct. To repeat what I had posted above:
Only Sigma DSLRs have a 1.7x crop factor. All other non-Canon crop DSLRs have 1.5x (really about 1.52-1.53x or so) and Canon DSLRs have 1.6x, which makes 35mm lenses perfectly reasonable choices to achieve a 50mm POV. Four-thirds DSLR's (Olympus, Panasonic) have a 2.0x multiplication factor for POV equivalency but not really cropping, as their lenses natively have much smaller imaging circles.
So the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 has the POV of a 50mm lens (in terms of traditional 35mm photography). It's also the biggest and heaviest of the "50mm POV" lenses on the market -- 24% heavier than the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 for other crop body systems and 76% heavier than the Canon 50mm f/1.4 for full-frame bodies. And coming from a name like Leica -- renowned for their compact, jewel-like rangefinder lens -- it's more than a bit disappointing.

A bit like the Four Thirds system in general, IMO. Promising in theory, but still hasn't delivered years later. We're still waiting for the E-1 replacement after how many years now? Olympus's feet-dragging is especially precarious now compared to how quickly and aggressively Sony has been putting together its new Alpha system. Also, I was hoping for a rangefinder-like compactness from Four Thirds (or heck, even OM-sized lenses -- those were for full frame 35mm SLRs!) and a similar elegance of use and design, but overall Four Thirds body/lens sizes remain surprisingly large despite the decreased sensor size. Their body sizes aren't significantly smaller than the low-end "standard" crop factor DSLRs (like the Canon XTi, Nikon D40, Pentax K100D, etc), lenses like the Panasonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 are surprisingly hefty, their f/2.8 zooms disappointingly close down to f/3.5 on the long end, and their long lens are priced astronomically despite having the pronounced 2.0x multiplier advantage. It's becoming a harder and harder system to recommend without reservations, especially since Nikon's D3 (and Sony's upcoming DSLR) shows that the other major players are moving in the other direction: larger sensors.

And to bring it all back: more companies moving to larger sensors make it more likely that you'll be able to use a 50mm lens on your DSLR in the future and maintain the 50mm POV. I think the pricing of Canon's upcoming 5D replacement will be a bellwether for the pricing trends of full frame. There is a glimmer of hope that Canon may price the 5D replacement more competitively against Nikon's D300, which could lead to a tumble in full frame prices the way Canon's original Digital Rebel did for low-end DSLRs. If Canon keeps the previous 5D pricing though, full frame will likely remain unaffordable to the masses for years. I'm hoping for the former -- but with Canon being Canon, hoping but not hopeful.

Interesting that there are no rangefinder-ists in this thread, actually.

I had an R-D1 photo posted above. The rangefinder market moves glacially, but the CV 25/4 P Color-Skopar released in April is a new rangefinder-coupled version of that lens, perfect for the R-D1/s (I framed wides on the R-D1 by shooting two-eyed and guesstimating the framing, thanks to the 1:1 finder). Stephen Gandy has it at CameraQuest.

There were also the new Leica Summarits announced in July, but they're all a bit long on the R-D1/s, alas. (Although the new 35/2.5 makes for a 50mm-ish POV on the R-D1/s.)
posted by DaShiv at 11:35 AM on October 3, 2007


Whaaaa...? Most cameras can't sync to a flash at more than 1/180 or 1/250 of a second.

Hardly. I can sync up to 1/850 between my D70 and my SB-26/SB-28, and that's using POS Gadget Infinity wireless remotes. Were I using Pocket Wizards, or *gasp* an actual cable, I'd probably get 1/1000 to 1/1250.


And of course, there's that article Spock linked to.
posted by god hates math at 11:38 AM on October 3, 2007


If this thread was a porno, DaShiv would be John Holmes (the 70s version, that is).
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:42 AM on October 3, 2007


I have owned the 50 ƒ1.0L and found it to be very disappointing, not to mention costly (although I paid less than $2K for it at Glaser's in Seattle). Yes, it's fast but it is far from sharp, in fact it's downright soft. And it is really heavy. I sold it on CL a few weeks after buying it.

I have an 50mm ƒ1.4 but seldom use it. My very favorite 50mm is Canon's 50mm ƒ2.8 Compact Macro. Now that is a razor sharp lens that can be had quite reasonably and is versatile. I like it for portrait work despite its achingly s-l-o-w autofocus. It's just. so. damn. sharp.

On a 30D I use a 35mm ƒ1.4L and have been happy with it as a general all-around prime lens.

My favorite prime of all time? The Canon 135mm ƒ2.0L. Awesome.
posted by bz at 1:40 PM on October 3, 2007


Well, you could always reverse the 50.

Touché. That's a great hack.
posted by IronLizard at 2:17 PM on October 3, 2007


In a dark scene, a flash is essentially simulating a shutter that acts as long as the flash duration. If it's dark enough, you can use a flash with a 1 s shutter speed and still get a perfectly crisp image.

Nail -> Head.

It amazes me that people will talk about dropping hundreds of dollars on a "decent" lens without batting an eyelash and yet still don't own a decent flash or flash meter. People just think flash photography is black magic... a switch you turn on when it's dark outside. "How does the image turn out right automatically, or how do you fix it when it's completely wrong?" It's a mystery!

Take everything you think you know about photography: focal lengths and shutter speeds and circles of confusion and zones and the like... there's a whole 'nother set of "stuff" like that when you start playing with flashes. Not just flash for exposure. Flash for fill, flash for stopping motion, flash for color... there's a great big world of fun experimentation out there and people are just too scared to step away from their auto-everything camera bodies.

All this talk about fast lenses is just gadget masturbation. At least for night shots, all the ED glass in the world won't hold a candle to someone with a sub-$100 Vivitar 285 that knows how to use it properly.

Unless that person is DaShiv, anyway.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:44 PM on October 3, 2007


I'm intrigued. I just bought a Nikon D40 (which I really like), and now I'd like to get a 35mm prime for it. Can I just buy any Nikon-compatible auto-focus 35mm lens for it, or is there a specific one I need?
posted by redshifter at 3:07 PM on October 3, 2007


jack_mo: Interesting that there are no rangefinder-ists in this thread, actually.

Hey! I put in a plug for a Canonet, with its great, fast 40mm lens! That's a (pardon the expression) canonical RF....
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 4:32 PM on October 3, 2007


I'm intrigued. I just bought a Nikon D40 (which I really like), and now I'd like to get a 35mm prime for it. Can I just buy any Nikon-compatible auto-focus 35mm lens for it, or is there a specific one I need?

If you want fast and AF, then you want the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. If you don't mind manual focus, the Nikkor 28mm 2.8 is much smaller, less expensive, and probably a little bit sharper.

I'm just drooling over the concept that any lens goes as wide as f1.0. I've never had lower than f2.8, even on my ancient 35mm camera.

F/1.0 is fast, but you can buy one at a store. If you want fast then give NASA a call. (warning, offer only valid if you are Stanley Kubrick)

All this talk about fast lenses is just gadget masturbation. At least for night shots, all the ED glass in the world won't hold a candle to someone with a sub-$100 Vivitar 285 that knows how to use it properly.

I'd really like to see some images from a Nikkor 50mm 1.4 on a D3 at ISO 25.6k, down to 1600 or so. Even The 60mm 2.8 Micro might be able to see in the dark on that body.

If you only concern is night shots, then you are missing most of the fun of fast primes. A wide aperture creates some interesting creative opportunities.

Which is kind of a shame, as I read this entire thread hoping for hot tips on a brilliant and cheap new lens for my Epson R-D1s.

I'll trade my d70 in for a digital rangefinder as soon as the prices drop. The Epson and Leica cameras are far too expensive for cameras that lack full-frame sensors. If I had silly amounts of money lying around, I'd own both in an instant though.

Voigtlander is the source for cheap glass for your Epson. Leica is the source for quality glass. If money were no object, an M8 and a Noctilux would be a great starting point. Maybe a wide and ultra wide too.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:44 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I bought my first dSLR about a year ago (a D50) but I was always struggling with the slow kit lens. A few weeks ago I picked up the cheapie Nikkor 50mm 1.8, and have been really enjoying it, despite the crop factor. Yeah, it's a bit close sometimes, but I feel like I'm finally having fun with my camera.
posted by threetoed at 8:58 PM on October 3, 2007


Canon Digital IXUS point and shoot camera on me all the time.
posted by Poagao at 1:05 AM on October 4, 2007


What a link! Thanks, b1tr0t!
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:21 AM on October 4, 2007


If only Canon realised how much misery their shitty little 18-55 kit lens has caused. You can tell how unpopular an item is by looking on eBay for used ones. They're giving those kit lenses away.

I love my 50mm 1.8, but now you guys are making me want a 1.4. Of course, I should just listen to the man upthread and get the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX.

Either way, I think I need to save for a 5d and then mod my 400d to shoot IR.

*sigh* I'm not rich enough for this hobby. I guess it's time to shoot another wedding.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:28 AM on October 4, 2007


DaShiv writes 'I had an R-D1 photo posted above. The rangefinder market moves glacially, but the CV 25/4 P Color-Skopar released in April is a new rangefinder-coupled version of that lens, perfect for the R-D1/s (I framed wides on the R-D1 by shooting two-eyed and guesstimating the framing, thanks to the 1:1 finder). Stephen Gandy has it at CameraQuest.

'There were also the new Leica Summarits announced in July, but they're all a bit long on the R-D1/s, alas. (Although the new 35/2.5 makes for a 50mm-ish POV on the R-D1/s.)'


Oops, obviously wasn't paying attention! Thanks for the pointer to the CV 25/4 P Color-Skopar.

b1tr0t writes 'Voigtlander is the source for cheap glass for your Epson. Leica is the source for quality glass. If money were no object, an M8 and a Noctilux would be a great starting point. Maybe a wide and ultra wide too.'

Yeah, I have a Voigtlander 35mm/f1.7 and I'm having so much fun with it at the moment that it's daft to be looking for another lens to play with, to be honest. A Noctilux would indeed be a great starting point, though it's a wee bit pricey for a relatively talent-free hobbyist.
posted by jack_mo at 5:33 AM on October 4, 2007


The other source for cheap RF glass is the Soviet Industar. They work well with Tri-X developed at ISO 400, but are probably too soft and have too many imperfections for use with high resolution film or digital. You will need a screwmount-to-M adapter to use these on an R-D1.

The Fed/Zorki cameras made a nice cheap introduction to RF photography, but the high cost of film makes them financially uncompetitive with midrange dSLRs.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:20 AM on October 4, 2007


I posted about buying cheap Range Finders here on MetaFilter a long while back. Range Finders are cool and will make you look like a better photographer than you are, for real yo. The ladies (or boys) will love you.
posted by chunking express at 8:46 AM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Canon Digital IXUS point and shoot camera on me all the time.

I've had two, loved carrying them around with me at all times (one survived completely unscathed when six people attacked me, incidentally) but they die quickly and horribly with just the smallest dropping on the floor.

Also can someone just tell me flat that if I want a 50mm lens like what the guy is going on about, but I have a canon DSLR, I should buy a 35mm lens? Is that right?
posted by criticalbill at 1:28 PM on October 4, 2007


chunking express writes 'Range Finders are cool and will make you look like a better photographer than you are, for real yo. The ladies (or boys) will love you.'

I took a Contax into a camera shop to be repaired once, and the bloke behind the counter muttered to his mate, 'That's not a camera, that's male jewellery'.
posted by jack_mo at 4:37 PM on October 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also can someone just tell me flat that if I want a 50mm lens like what the guy is going on about, but I have a canon DSLR, I should buy a 35mm lens? Is that right?

Anything in the 28-35mm range would do the job on a Nikon or Canon 1.5x / 1.6x camera.

"Normal" 35mm lenses range from 40mm to 60mm, so don't feel tied to perfectly reproducing the 50mm focal length.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:10 PM on October 4, 2007


I should buy a 35mm lens? Is that right?

Yes. You can get the 35mm f/2 at KEH for under $200. If the weight of your wallet is too burdonsome, you can get the 35mm L f/1.whatever USM for $1100. :)

Their used glass is top-notch. /satisfied customer
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:51 PM on October 4, 2007


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