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Gear Talk => Lenses => Topic started by: Dylan777 on October 12, 2012, 10:00:45 AM

Title: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Dylan777 on October 12, 2012, 10:00:45 AM
Hi guys,
I decided to upgrade all my lenses to “L”. Early this week, I sold my last non-L 50mm f1.4 on CL for $290. That wasn’t an easy decision, but I did it.

I currently have 16-35 II, 24-70 II and 70-200 f2.8 IS II (5D III body). As you can see, I’m pretty much covered from 16 to 200mm at 2.8 straight. It’s time to add a prime to my bag.

Question is which prime?  I’m leaning toward to 50L or 35L – my feeling right now is 55% on 50L and 45% on 35L.

So, which prime will deliver best sharpness at wide open for portrait general shooting & portrait? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Dylan
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: nightbreath on October 12, 2012, 10:05:35 AM
35L is dramatically sharper than 50L, but corners are soft on 35.

85L is very sharp wide open.

Why do you ask from sharpness perspective? Doesn't focal length bother you?
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: 2n10 on October 12, 2012, 10:07:44 AM
I would use your zooms since you have both lengths covered and see which length gives you the effect you are looking for in your portrait photos.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: neuroanatomist on October 12, 2012, 10:15:00 AM
The 50L is not known for sharpness wide open - the center is ok, the corners are soft.  The 50L is known for it's wonderful, creamy boken (which is achieved at the design cost of intentionally undercorrected spherical aberration, and that results in a hit on sharpness and the focus shift).

The 35L is substantially sharper in the center, although with that lens the corners suffer a bit wide open, as well.

But honestly, I think you're asking the wrong question - start with focal length.  The 35L is great for capturing 'environmental portraits' - where the person occupies a smaller portion of the frame, and you want to show the location in the shot.  If you get close enough for the tighter framing of a more traditional portrait, you end up with a lot of perspective distortion.  So, you get a sharper image of an enlarged nose - something most people won't find very flattering.    ;)

So, for most portraits uses, I'd go with the 50L over the 35L (since you're using FF, the answer might be different for APS-C).  In fact, for portraits I think the question you should be asking is 50L vs. 85L II vs. 135L.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Standard on October 12, 2012, 10:20:02 AM
Decide what focal length you'd want and base your decision of that. My copy of the 50L is sharp wide open. No focus shift issue here. It's my most used lens. If you're serious about the 50L, then I'd recommend purchasing it new with newer date code and you won't have any problem.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: CanonGirl on October 12, 2012, 10:21:29 AM
35mm is too wide for portraits, unless maybe you're taking group shots.  85mm is just about perfect on a FF body, and the 85L is highly favored for this purpose.  The 50L gives roughly the same field of view (about 80mm, with a slightly different depth of field) on a crop 1.6x body.  I have both a 5D Mark III & 7D, as well as the 50L, which I really love.  In my case, since I have both body types, I went with the 50L, as I have the 70-200L 2.8 IS, etc., and the 50L filled a nice gap in my lens coverage and provided f1.2.  It really helps my 7D to avoid high ISO when shooting at weddings, etc.  My 5D Mark III handles high ISO with ease, so working with f2.8 or even f4 lenses is no big deal.  Of course, the 85L is a f1.2, too, but the 50L was a better fit for me.   :)
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: nightbreath on October 12, 2012, 10:23:33 AM
In fact, for portraits I think the question you should be asking is 50L vs. 85L II vs. 135L.
35L is great for group and dynamic portraits though.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: neuroanatomist on October 12, 2012, 10:38:05 AM
My copy of the 50L is sharp wide open. No focus shift issue here.

Not sure if these two statements are linked, but do note that focus shift does not apply when shooting wide open.  Really, it's a property of the lens design, so yours has it.  Whether you actually notice it or not, is another matter.  If you don't shoot close to the MFD when slightly stopped down, you won't see it because the effect won't have any meaningful impact on focus.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: sandymandy on October 12, 2012, 10:47:17 AM
+1 for 50mm 1.2 L. You can just leave it on your camera all day long and have a useful focal length.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Martin on October 12, 2012, 10:58:49 AM
35L then 85L than 50 1.2 or 50 1.4 II or L (my strongest request for Canon).

If you ge ta  good copy of 35L it's pretty sharp. I really like the lens.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: verysimplejason on October 12, 2012, 11:26:47 AM
50L.  It's dreamy bokeh is legendary.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: FY on October 12, 2012, 11:48:12 AM
If sharpness comes first, I would love to recommend zeiss 35 f1.4 ZE, and then zeiss 50 f2 ZE.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Chewy734 on October 12, 2012, 11:48:56 AM
50L.  It's dreamy bokeh is legendary.

Same for the 135 f/2L. :)
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: PavelR on October 12, 2012, 11:51:58 AM
50L.  It's dreamy bokeh is legendary.

Same for the 135 f/2L. :)
The same on 200/2 + sharpest wide open ;-)
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: SJTstudios on October 12, 2012, 12:07:08 PM
I'd go for the 35 l, for same reasons everyone else says, just for a more usable prime than a 50. Your 24-70, and 70-200 may work better for portraiture if you stand back, so get the 35 first. Than, if you really want bokeh, the 85mm 1.2 l ii would work better than a 50 for portraits. A fifty is a specialized lens, so is the 85, but if you really need to ask the question, perhaps the 50mm l 1.2 isn't for you. It is after-all "the fast-fifty" the 35 will work well as a general first prime, the 50 was made to replace the 50mm 1.0 and fill in the gap between the 35 and 85, for those who use primes. Get the 35, and then the 85 for the "real" bokeh, because a zoom fills the gap better than a 50mm.

Also, for those who say its hard to use the 35 up close, they're right, but a zoom is better for candies and headshots, a 35 fits more in, and that's hard to mess up a shot with, you need to be quick to move if you want to capture that moment with a 50
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: RLPhoto on October 12, 2012, 12:18:59 PM
50L Would be my choice, but thats me. Heres Pt.1 of series Im working on, you may want to look at it.

http://ramonlperez.tumblr.com/post/33253428138/fast-prime-shoot-out-pt-1-85mm-1-2l-ii-mini-review (http://ramonlperez.tumblr.com/post/33253428138/fast-prime-shoot-out-pt-1-85mm-1-2l-ii-mini-review)
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Zlatko on October 12, 2012, 12:19:30 PM
Question is which prime?  I’m leaning toward to 50L or 35L – my feeling right now is 55% on 50L and 45% on 35L.

So, which prime will deliver best sharpness at wide open for portrait general shooting & portrait? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.
Choose your preferred focal length, not based on sharpness. 
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: kbmelb on October 12, 2012, 12:25:55 PM
I always break it down to how you shoot. If you shoot a lot of natural oriented/horizontal shots go 35. If you shoot vertical/portrait oriented shots go 50.

I have lots of razor sharp shots with my 50L. It takes some AFMA tweaking though. It is well documented that the focal plane of this lens is curved. Therefore I suggest adjusting using the focal point you use most. If you dial in the center point your shots focused with outer points are going to be off miserably. With my copy I found my center point to be a 14 step difference than the next-to-outer-most points. It went from -7 at center to +7 on the outer.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: nightbreath on October 12, 2012, 12:38:01 PM
It is well documented that the focal plane of this lens is curved. Therefore I suggest adjusting using the focal point you use most. If you dial in the center point your shots focused with outer points are going to be off miserably. With my copy I found my center point to be a 14 step difference than the next-to-outer-most points. It went from -7 at center to +7 on the outer.
Did you try it with new focusing mechanism of 1D X / 5D Mk III?
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: cliffwang on October 12, 2012, 12:47:31 PM
For indoor or outdoor?  For indoor shoot I like 50mm better.  I have tried 35mm(not L lens), but it's too wide for me.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Random Orbits on October 12, 2012, 12:57:54 PM
35L.  It's a nice focal length for environmental portraits (esp. at night) and for use indoors, where there is typically less space.  You can always crop the images a bit in post.  If I'm outside where space isn't an issue, I'm usually using longer lenses than the 35 or 50 anyway, especially for children who tend to move a lot.

Both 35 and 50 are sharp enough for portraits.  For use stopped down, your 24-70 II is going to be able to match the 35 and will be sharper than the 50, so the instances where you'd use a fast prime would be for shallow DOF or in low light, where corner sharpness is not an issue.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: AudioGlenn on October 12, 2012, 01:34:24 PM
35L.  It's a nice focal length for environmental portraits (esp. at night) and for use indoors, where there is typically less space.  You can always crop the images a bit in post.  If I'm outside where space isn't an issue, I'm usually using longer lenses than the 35 or 50 anyway, especially for children who tend to move a lot.

Both 35 and 50 are sharp enough for portraits.  For use stopped down, your 24-70 II is going to be able to match the 35 and will be sharper than the 50, so the instances where you'd use a fast prime would be for shallow DOF or in low light, where corner sharpness is not an issue.

+1
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Jamesy on October 12, 2012, 02:01:28 PM

I have lots of razor sharp shots with my 50L. It takes some AFMA tweaking though. It is well documented that the focal plane of this lens is curved. Therefore I suggest adjusting using the focal point you use most. If you dial in the center point your shots focused with outer points are going to be off miserably. With my copy I found my center point to be a 14 step difference than the next-to-outer-most points. It went from -7 at center to +7 on the outer.
I have always heard of focus shift on the 50L but never bothered to research what it meant - your explanation makes total sense - thank you!
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: kbmelb on October 12, 2012, 04:10:01 PM
Did you try it with new focusing mechanism of 1D X / 5D Mk III?

Yes, on my 5DIII. That is where I really noticed it. I tried some AFMA tutorial I found on the web and it used the center point to determine the adjustment. Then I went out on a job thinking the lens would be locked in and I missed every shot badly. So I switched up to my mkII, I had it dialed in and I realized later it was because I used outer points when I did the adjustments. So I went back and did that to mkIII and now they are sharp.

I have always heard of focus shift on the 50L but never bothered to research what it meant - your explanation makes total sense - thank you!

I think the focus shift and curved focal plane may be two different issues. I don't know, but since I don't notice it maybe they are related. From what I understand though, focus shift is because the lens focuses wide open at 1.2 then during actuation squints down to whatever f/stop and for whatever reason focus is off.

How great would it be to set AFMA for multiple AF points and f/stops? Like you can for range on a zoom lens. It would take some time to set up but man the results would be so worth it.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: robbymack on October 12, 2012, 05:21:04 PM
Hi guys,
I decided to upgrade all my lenses to “L”. Early this week, I sold my last non-L 50mm f1.4 on CL for $290. That wasn’t an easy decision, but I did it.

I currently have 16-35 II, 24-70 II and 70-200 f2.8 IS II (5D III body). As you can see, I’m pretty much covered from 16 to 200mm at 2.8 straight. It’s time to add a prime to my bag.

Question is which prime?  I’m leaning toward to 50L or 35L – my feeling right now is 55% on 50L and 45% on 35L.

So, which prime will deliver best sharpness at wide open for portrait general shooting & portrait? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Dylan

with the f2.8 zoom trinity do you really need a prime?  Ok I jest we all need new (more) gear.  Since this will obviously be a costly decision, i say rent the 35, 50, 85, and 135 L and see what floats your boat.  Or simply set your zooms to those FL and go shooting for a day to see what fits your eye best.  I suspect with the gear you already have there is a good chance you already know what FL you want the most.  My $0.02: I spent a brief weekend with the 24-70ii and that tells me you won't see a vast improvement over the zoom with the 35 or 50L unless you really need the extra stops, so maybe lean towards the 85 or 135L. 
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Caps18 on October 12, 2012, 06:16:35 PM
I would go with the 50mm f/1.2, but that is me.  It will be my next lens, although the 35mm f/1.4 & 24mm f/1.4 are tempting for the photos I take.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Dylan777 on October 13, 2012, 01:39:42 AM

Thanks guys for all your wonderful thoughts.

I'm going to enjoy my KILLER-COMBO 24-70 II and 70-200 f2.8 IS II for now. Both handle in low light very well with 5D III. I really like the 50L, but I'm going to wait for version II. Current version seems to have too many issues.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: Chris_prophotographic on October 15, 2012, 06:34:11 PM
24 mk II on a 7D is gold, 35 L is better for the 1D X is good at 2.0(still ver very good at 1.4 but thats me) 70 - 200 MKII does allot of the  portrait work less distortion.


24 on the 1 D X feels a bit too wide or high distortion up close but neat for rock and close work.

So many sexy options i dont think you can miss wit a newer prime just the question is, what do you want to achieve/shoot.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: SJTstudios on October 16, 2012, 08:50:44 PM
I always break it down to how you shoot. If you shoot a lot of natural oriented/horizontal shots go 35. If you shoot vertical/portrait oriented shots go 50.

I have lots of razor sharp shots with my 50L. It takes some AFMA tweaking though. It is well documented that the focal plane of this lens is curved. Therefore I suggest adjusting using the focal point you use most. If you dial in the center point your shots focused with outer points are going to be off miserably. With my copy I found my center point to be a 14 step difference than the next-to-outer-most points. It went from -7 at center to +7 on the outer.

This guy has the right idea.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: jdramirez on October 18, 2012, 10:09:34 PM
It's always been my understanding that the 50mm f/1.4 actually outperforms the f/1.2 at practically every aperture... which is why I can't understand why someone would upgrade when it is technically a downgrade.  So my vote would be the 35L. 

Maybe that is just rumor and innuendo, but it's a tale I choose to believe.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: RLPhoto on October 19, 2012, 09:40:30 AM
It's always been my understanding that the 50mm f/1.4 actually outperforms the f/1.2 at practically every aperture... which is why I can't understand why someone would upgrade when it is technically a downgrade.  So my vote would be the 35L. 

Maybe that is just rumor and innuendo, but it's a tale I choose to believe.

The 50L is better from f/1.2 - f/2.8. After that the 1.4 Is sharper.
Title: Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
Post by: AmbientLight on October 19, 2012, 10:57:10 AM
In case you are going to shoot a lot wide open for portraits or night shots I strongly recommend the 50L.

Nevertheless as Neuro stated in this thread you should question your preferred focal length, because although 35mm is somewhat similar to 50mm it is not the same. The 50mm will give you tighter portraits or night shots with more reach. If you want to shoot wider, go for the 35mm, if it is the opposite you should buy the 50mm.

I own and absolutely love the 50mm. I use a 24mm f1.4 for wider shots with fast aperture, because I feel 35mm focal length is not really something for me, but that is exactly the point in focal length preference.