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Old Mar 16, 2008, 9:11 AM   #11
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Hi guys, thanks for the overwhelming response and support here.

The camera would be used by me for walkaround, and by my wife for taking photos of our daughter.All her friends have the 50mm for flash-free indoor shots, so I guess we have to get one too. If the 50mm wasn't so important, I'd probably go for the nikon d60 w. the 18-135.

Now I have to consider if the f1.4 50mm is worth the extra expense over the f1.8 50mm.

I'm thinking of getting a sigma EF-500 DG STflash to go with the camera.

Thanks again!
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Old Mar 16, 2008, 9:27 AM   #12
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kent:_kurt wrote:
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Now I have to consider if the f1.4 50mm is worth the extra expense over the f1.8 50mm.
That's half an f-stop (or .5 EV) more for better low light performance, plus less depth of field than the f/1.8 wide open. Besides being nice to have, you can one-up all your wife's friends. That might be worth its weight in gold. [suB]:-)[/suB]

kent:_kurt wrote:
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I'm thinking of getting a sigma EF-500 DG STflash to go with the camera.
And there's no rule that says you can't use a flash with fast lenses.
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Old Mar 16, 2008, 10:22 AM   #13
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TCav wrote:
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kent:_kurt wrote:
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Now I have to consider if the f1.4 50mm is worth the extra expense over the f1.8 50mm.
That's half an f-stop (or .5 EV) more for better low light performance, plus less depth of field than the f/1.8 wide open.
Not only that, but the 1.4 has better IQ and better bokeh. But, you also have to determine if 50mm is the right focal length for your indoor shots. That's 75-80mm on a 1.5 or 1.6 crop camera. That can get pretty tight depending on the types of shots you want. So, it's also worth considering a wider lens in addition to the 1.4 over 1.8.

Still, the reason so many people use the 50mm 1.8 is it's $75. That's a tremendous bang-for-the-buck.
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Old Mar 17, 2008, 3:13 AM   #14
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TCav is correct.

The standard (35mm equivalent) length for "portrait" photography is around 80 to 200mm. This is of course for tight head and shoulders or head only shots. The longer focal length allows you to get in tight without getting too close to the subject and risking unwanted distortion.

Consider two of the world's greatest portrait photographers Steve McCurry and Annie Liebowitz. Steve McCurry works mostly at around the 85mm (equivalent) focal length. It's not so long that he can't get any background in the frame if he wants to but long enough that he can get in fairly tight. Of course it's worth noting that many (even most) of his pictures are of children so for adults he often prefers something like a 50mm equivalent. But contrast that with Annie Liebowitz. She uses much wider angle lenses as her portraits generally cover the whole body of the person and some of their environment too, typically the room in which they are sitting. She will very often use a 28 or 35mm equivalent wide-angle lens. (Equivalent is very relevant because she often uses medium format cameras.)

So I despair a little when people say that ~80mm is the "right" length for "portrait" photography. Actually there are a wide range of focal lengths that can be used to great effect depending on the style of the photographer. My personal favourite is 50mm (equivalent). But then I'm a 50mm (equivalent) fanatic and have the view that you can do just about anything with a standard lens.

I would second John's recommendation that if you can afford it (and you like the 50mm focal length on a crop camera) then the 50mm f1.4 is a very nice lens. It's better built, has better optical properties, much faster AF. But of course it is more expensive.

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