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Old Jul 28, 2005, 10:40 AM   #1
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Just got my Rebel XT a few weeks ago, and while I've been an enthusiastic digicam operator for a few years, I'm at the bottom of the learning curve in SLR land. I.e., beyond underdstanding the general principles of shutter vs aperture, and ISO film speeds, I haven't done much.

Based on a few web articles describing the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, I'm intrigued.

At the moment I still have the kit lens. I've already noticed a wide variation in sharpness and other issues based on focal length and aperture. Given that one primary category of subjects for me will be my two sons (a 22 month old and one due in Sept), I like the notion of a lens that:
  1. Is really good for portraits, and
    [/*]
  2. Performs well indoors (i.e., the f/1.8 rating)
    [/*]
On Dell.com I noticed that there's the $100 f/1.8 lens that I've read about. But there's also a f/1.4 USM model for quite a bit more ($350ish I think). So my questions:
  1. I presume the USM will give me better auto-focus performance. Worth it? I'm guessing not, but on the other hand, candids of two active boys might be helped by a speedier auto-focus.
    [/*]
  2. Is f/1.4 going to give me a noticable margin for low light situations?[/*]
Given that it's a fixed focal-length lens, and I'm at such an early stage, I'm guessing that the $100 lens will probably be the Right Thing(tm). But any thoughts or recommendations are most welcome.


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Old Jul 28, 2005, 11:34 AM   #2
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I own the EF 50 1.8 and it works fine. I use it mostly for indoor night photography. I've done some good work in candle-lit rooms with it. The lens is plastic and not very well made. There's an older model of the same lens with a metal body that's available used on Ebay (sometimes). You can find the plastic one (the II model) for $75 if you look around, while the metal mount one (the I model) often fetches $150 on Ebay.

The f/1.4 version is a lot better built and does produce better bokeh than the cheaper f/1.8 models.

Either of these lenses will yield good portraits and teach you a lot about depth of field. Sharpness is always better when stopped down a little bit, but either lens would probably serve your purposes.
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Old Jul 29, 2005, 10:38 AM   #3
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Another quick couple of newbie questions:
  1. are the 50mm lenses in question actually 88mm-equivalent on the Rebel?[/*]
  2. is the 18-55mm kit lens really 18-55 or is it 28-88 (35mm equivalent)?[/*]
My guess is that the Canon EF-S lenses are marked in their true focal length when used with an APS-C sensor, but I haven't seen anything that verifies this. (so therefore, the answer to #2 above would be: "yes, it's really 18-55")

Why I'm asking is that I'm trying to get a sense of how long the fixed-length 55mm f/1.8 lens is going to be. When I extend the kit lens to 55mm, it seems awfully long for indoor shots, which worries me. If the fixed-length 55mm lens is going to be even longer (88mm), then I'm even more worried.

Thanks!

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Old Jul 29, 2005, 11:37 AM   #4
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28.8 - 88mm is the actual focal length for the kit lens. My best guess is that canon wanted to stay consistent with their numbers on all lenses rather than doing something like, "okay, well, if you use an EF-S lens, it shows the true focal length but if you use a regular EF lens on an aps-c sensor multiply by 1.6, etc. etc."

The focal length for 50mm is actually 80mm equiv

So basically, the focal length is around the same thing on the long end of the kit lens.

You have to be wary of using a prime on younglings. I tried taking pictures of my 9 month old nephew with my kit lens and it was a real benefit to have a zoom. I actually didn't even end up liking the pictures i took at 55mm, the others were somewhere like 30-40mm. but it depends on your picture-taking style, i guess. I preferred taking the whole body of the baby rather than focus in on the head.
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Old Jul 29, 2005, 12:56 PM   #5
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Thanks for the clarification---it's nice to know that they are keeping the focal length specs consistent.

BoYFrMSpC wrote:
Quote:
You have to be wary of using a prime on younglings. I tried taking pictures of my 9 month old nephew with my kit lens and it was a real benefit to have a zoom. I actually didn't even end up liking the pictures i took at 55mm, the others were somewhere like 30-40mm. but it depends on your picture-taking style, i guess. I preferred taking the whole body of the baby rather than focus in on the head.
Yup, that's why I'm concerned about the focal length of the f/1.8 lens. So far, I don't think I've taken a single picture inside the house where I stretched the kit lens out to 55mm. Similar to your experience, it's usually in the 25-40 range.

I'm guessing that for candids I'd spend a lot of time in the corners of the room to get the kind of framing I usually aim for, which make me question whether I'd actually use the f/1.8 lens or if it would just sit in the bag.

So am I barking up the wrong tree? Would I be better off with a decent quality 28-115 zoom as the "leave it on the camera in the house" lens? One obvious tradeoff is it will almost certainly be a slower lens than the 50mm-f/1.8. One less obvious (to me) is whether the fixed-length lens has a big sharpness advantage (which is what I liked in the samples I've seen).

What to do, what to do...


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Old Jul 29, 2005, 11:57 PM   #6
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Well, I think f/2.8 should be decent enough for indoor photography. The things I would consider as super low light (and requiring some aperture > 2.8 ) would be something like a bar or nightclub.

If it's just a regualr.. decently lit place (say, the type of lighting found in most peoples' bathrooms), then I think f/2.8 should be able to pull it off... But then again... I never handled an aperture faster than the lens kit :roll:

Another thing that was mentioned was that you'll need to stop down a notch or two if you want the sharpest quality out of (most) lenses. So if you get the 1.8... at least you can stop down to 2.8, whereas on a zoom, you have to stop down from 2.8 (there are no current zooms faster than 2.8 ).

Another thing I don't think you mentioned was if you preferred no flash photography... because a flash could certainly help you here :-)

Another thing you can try for one day is to force yourself to stay at ~50mm on the kit lens and see if you can get by with it. if you can, then you're good to go for prime.

if you "zoom out" by taking a few steps back and knock over some expensive vase, then maybe a zoom is better for you. Or maybe another prime with a smaller focal length.

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Old Jul 30, 2005, 12:49 AM   #7
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See Petteri's (well-respected over at DPR) review between the 50 f1.8 (MK1) and the 50 f1.4 at http://194.100.88.243/petteri/pont/R...4_vs_f1.8.html
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Old Jul 31, 2005, 12:26 PM   #8
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Hi there,

well, I use the 1,8 /50 mk I with my 10D mainly for Portraits (at 80mm it´s a classical portrait lens) and avaiable light shots. You have to consider the very shallow DOF when used wide open- again, good for portraits, but also good for photographing "babies in action"?

If you step down to get more DOF, say to f 3,5 -5,6, you could consequently stay wirth your kit-lens.

Last but not least - I wouldn´t recommend using a flashgun on your newborn:|- the kid may be shocked for life (and it´s not good for the babies´s eyes).

Ciao, Wolfie

Afterthought:

If you were prepered to spend the money for the 1,4 50mm, you should take a look at a fast wide-angel prime, too (theSigma 1,8 20mm for example).

-itgives you rd. 32 mmused with your EOS

- it allows you to"close in" on your babies

-the DOF is - since it´s a wide-angel - not that shallow







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Old Jul 31, 2005, 9:06 PM   #9
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I have a 20D and the F1.4 50mm lens.

If i had done it all over again, I would have saved the extra $$$'s and bought the F1.8.

Better to spend the dollars and get yourself a really nice wide angle zoom.

-- Terry
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Old Jul 31, 2005, 11:42 PM   #10
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I'd check other places than Dell.com that EF 50 F1.8 can be found for 75$ or less from places like B&H photo video

50mm F1.8
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

50mm F1.4
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...ughType=search

Basically the EF 50 F1.8 is a fast adequate prime, no USM fast focusing and incredibly inexpensive.

The 50 F1.4 is fast focusing with its USM drive, is built better and has a bit more light gathering ability. But it costs about 4x the f1.8 version.

Peter.
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