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Old Nov 9, 2007, 2:31 AM   #1
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OK, so as you may remember I use my 50mm f1.4 a lot, and was contemplating going for
a better (or at least more expensive) option.

I did wonder about one of the new MF Zeiss Nikkor mount lenses with an adapter, but then realised that I wouldn't get AF confirmation when using manual focus unless I spent a lot of money on a special adapter. Which then brings the price of the lens up so high that I might as well consider the 50L.

So what about the notorious focus issues with this lens? Let us assume first that the lens and camera are in proper calibration (which of course they may not be if you are unlucky, but this is easily remedied with a trip to the service centre).

Well as I understand the matter it comes down to this. As we know the lens always does its AF with the aperture wide open. But with the design of the new 50L the plane of focus changes as the lens is stopped down. Now at small apertures (say f11-f22) the increased DOF usually compensates for this. And of course at larger distances from the camera DOF increases too, so compensates for this.

So where this really seems to bite is around the f2.8 to f4 mark at close focus distances, where you will get an AF lock and then take the shot, but end up with a back-focussed picture. To work around this it should be possible to press the DOF preview at f2.8 and f4 and close distances and then use AF, to get focus perfect.

For some reason it only seems to hurt when using the centre AF point. And because this is an optical aberration due to the design of the lens (it's very hard to fix) the same thing occurs when you MF using the centre of the frame. When using any other AF point you will not notice any backfocussing.

So what then are the advantages of the lens?
  • Amazing f1.2 aperture for very shallow DOF on portraits.
    [/*]
  • Jolly nice bokeh for a 50 - good bokeh is easier with longer lenses.[/*]
  • L construction.[/*]
  • Very fast AF.[/*]
  • L colour rendition.[/*]
  • Very sharp in the tests, and possibly even sharper in the real world than most tests show because the testers may not have compensated for the focus issue.[/*]
  • Full-time manual override on AF.[/*]
  • Focus confirmation when using MF (which I think I might do quite a lot, probably in combination with a different focus screen).[/*]
Disadvantages?
  • Limitations imposed by the focus issues.[/*]
  • Fairly expensive (but my photography fund now more than covers it).
    [/*]
  • CA is apparently not fantastic, but much less apparent on a 5D than a high pixel density camera. But I expect I shall have a 5D Mk II in a couple of years, so it may become more of an issue. But then I use DXO so most CA is automagically disappeared for me anyway.
    [/*]
My f1.4 is too soft to be really usable at 1.4, but by f2 it's very nice. But the contrast is quite low and I love the punch of the L colour on my 24-105, I would love that on a fast 50. So I would gain the colour, better feel, much better wide aperture performance, better general AF and full-time MF override.

http://www.vanwalree.com/optics/spherical.html

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Old Nov 9, 2007, 2:20 PM   #2
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congrats on ur purchase..

i am trying to choose between 50L and the 35L. I wanna go bit wider since i find 85mm more than good for getting closer.

I found the 85 quite tight in Indian weddings where i use the most, and i feel 35mm would be wide enuff for group pictures.

please post some pictures form the new 50L
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Old Nov 9, 2007, 2:20 PM   #3
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congrats on ur purchase..

i am trying to choose between 50L and the 35L. I wanna go bit wider since i find 85mm more than good for getting closer.

I found the 85 quite tight in Indian weddings where i use the most, and i feel 35mm would be wide enuff for group pictures.

please post some pictures form the new 50L
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Old Nov 10, 2007, 2:33 PM   #4
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So I didn't use my f1.4 beyond f2 very often, and now I can go all the way down to f1.2.

Boy that extra 1.5 stops stops make a difference! Shooting in really overcast London wintery light at ISO200 I am still getting 1/200s.

Also the colour is L colour, big difference to the f1.4 and just the same as my 24-105L.

On the evidence of just a couple of shots I may have to learn to cope with the backfocus thing even at f1.2.

But - I got the EE-S focus screen!! And the 50L is wonderful on manual focus with wide apertures, much faster than having to mess around with selecting which focus point to use with the wheel or joystick. I purchased from York Cameras in London, and the guys there were great. They put the focus screen in another 5D for me to test with both the 50L and the 24-105. It is certainly the case that the 24-105 gets MUCH darker with the new screen, but the cameras AF didn't seem to mind much at all - it still locked on just as fast and sure. So I think I'll keep the MF screen on for now, as long as you are carful about dust it only takes 5 minutes to change it anyway.

I traded in my 50mm f1.4 and my Sigma 12-24. I found I was never using the Sigma; the image quality really wasn't up to it, and the Canon 24-105 is so good at 24mm that the Sigma became a novelty lens. I had put it on my camera only twice in about 4 months and not been terribly impressed with the results either time. I think I'd rather use the Canon at 24mm and invest in some stitching software and a good panoramic head.

And now I'm down to 3 lenses: 70-300DO, 24-105L, 50L. As my interests move further away from all things telephoto I suspect I may end up replacing the DO with a 70-200 f2.8L at some point. Or maybe even the 135 f2 L.

Just a few photos (not to judge IQ really) two of them were through a glass window.

A final goodbye from my 50mm f1.4 (taken yesterday)...





And a hello to the 50mm f1.2...

Clearly I'm going to need to sort out my focussing because I thought I had focus confirmation on the 10.30 AF point (which should have put the text on the mustard in focus - but clearly it's focussed a bit behind here)...




And a couple of the sort of thing I got this lovely beast for...





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Old Nov 11, 2007, 10:30 PM   #5
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lovely tones on the third and fourth picture

please do share some fotos from the 50 L once u get it. I would be really interested to see them ..i am just trying to decided between 50f 12 adn 35 L
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Old Nov 12, 2007, 2:19 AM   #6
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The last 3 were the 50L.
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