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Gear Talk => Lenses => Topic started by: EOBeav on August 18, 2013, 04:43:52 PM

Title: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: EOBeav on August 18, 2013, 04:43:52 PM
I attended a wedding over the weekend. While everybody was oohing and ahing over the bride, I of course was oohing and ahing over the fine photographic equipment in use. The photographer duo used 3 5D3's and a 5D2, some Alien Bee's and a bunch of L's.  I counted a 70-200 f/2.8, a 24-70, as well as some other red rings. These guys also moved around like this wasn't their first rodeo.  It looked to me like they knew what they were doing.

So, I was surprised when one of the guys was using a 50 f/1.4 instead of an L.  Later on in the day, I struck up a (brief) conversation with him. He seemed happy to oblige (I'm assuming that staying the heck out of their way had something to do with it). I mentioned the 50, and he said that while he loves the 50L, they couldn't justify it over the 50 f/1.4 simply because there was a negligible image quality gained for what it cost to own one.   

I know that there are several opinions and the subject has been beat to death here on CR, but it was interesting to get the view of a pro who boiled it down to a business decision.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: kennephoto on August 18, 2013, 05:18:12 PM
You have the 50 1.4 so why buy a 1.2? Spend the money that youd spend on the 1.2 on something different. I have the 1.2 and I life mine! I had an old metal mount 1.8 and while I liked that lens I dreaded the pentagon bokeh that would occasionally show up. Now I have the 1.2 and no more ugly bokeh.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: Vossie on August 18, 2013, 05:43:20 PM
If you do photography to make a living, you obviously have to balance investments intomequipment to the value that that equipment can bring to you. The price difference between the 1.2 and 1.4 is almost 1000$, so quite considerable.
There is quite some debate on this and other forums if people actually like the look of the 1.2 better than that of the 1.4. It's a matter of personal taste ofcourse.

BTW: Lensrentals did a nice 50mm shootout that shows that the sharpness of the 1.4 is very comparable to that of the 1.2: http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/01/the-great-50mm-shootout (http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/01/the-great-50mm-shootout)
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: DRR on August 18, 2013, 06:21:23 PM
Price aside - the 1.4 has a number of other advantages also.

Weight, for one, it's more than twice as light as the 50L 1.2. Smaller also.

The 50L has all that big beautiful glass, but that heavy glass has another disadvantage - it's a little slower to focus.

Of course the 50L is 4x more expensive too, so there is that as well. But it's got that dreamy 1.2 vs the 1.4 of the smaller 50.

Nothing wrong with either. I think many people look at it in a linear fashion - L > non-L, but you shouldn't look at it like that. They are two similar, but also very different tools, you need to pick the right tool for the job. Wedding photography is run and gun, a split second can be the difference between getting the shot and having it come out soft. In a case like that I honestly would choose the 1.4 every time. Also you're on your feet and carrying gear so the weight is a huge advantage also. For more posed photography, studio work, etc, the 50L would be the best choice. L glass isn't always the best option just because it's the most expensive one. Right tool for the right job.

Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: jdramirez on August 18, 2013, 06:23:38 PM
 I've had this conversation a few times... I  don't see a value in it,  but I  don't have unlimited funds.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: Dylan777 on August 18, 2013, 06:55:54 PM
Why do we want f1ish prime? For me, be able to shoot at wide open or near wide open. Photo below was shot with 50L + 5D III - jpeg, straight out from camera. only resized to post here.

If 50 f1.4 able to bring contrast, color and bokeh as 50L then I guess we wouldn't have this conversation today.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: Dylan777 on August 18, 2013, 08:01:35 PM
The 50L has all that big beautiful glass, but that heavy glass has another disadvantage - it's a little slower to focus

As an owner of 50 f1.4(x2) in the past, I do not see that at all. My current 50L focus much faster than f1.4.


Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: BrandonKing96 on August 18, 2013, 08:14:10 PM
Imo, even though I can afford a 50 f/1.4 right now, I'm still saving up for a 50L.
Not just for that f/1.2 aperture, but for the better build quality, better bokeh, and just better photo quality overall.  Yes it's not that much over the f/1.4, but essentially, you're paying for the red ring- which I'm very happy to do.  I could've had one, but I decided to buy a 24-70 mark II instead of the mark I.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: alipaulphotography on August 18, 2013, 08:18:37 PM
I've had experience with 50mm 1.8, 1.4 and the 1.2L

I currently have the 1.2L but not for any difference in sharpness or spectacular resolution bump over the 1.4. The 1.2 just has bokeh that makes certain photos sing. It isn't something you can measure or put an exact finger on.
It is this difference that you pay for with the 1.2.

If I wasn't making money out of photography, I would certainly settle with the 1.4 and be completely content that it is offering me 90% of what the 1.2 can.

Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: SteenerMe on August 18, 2013, 08:41:27 PM
Have the 1.4. Rarely used it. Then the 1.2. there has to be a reason not to use it to be removed from camera.  Its just simply special.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: EOBeav on August 18, 2013, 09:07:47 PM
Why do we want f1ish prime? For me, be able to shoot at wide open or near wide open. Photo below was shot with 50L + 5D III - jpeg, straight out from camera. only resized to post here.

If 50 f1.4 able to bring contrast, color and bokeh as 50L then I guess we wouldn't have this conversation today.

For a lot of shots, yeah. I find that I prefer the sharpness/bokeh quality on my f/1.4 after about f/2.  And a lot of times, I'll keep it at f/2.8.  At those aperture settings, there is virtually no difference in IQ between the two lenses.  And I think that's the point the guy was trying to make. 
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: thelebaron on August 18, 2013, 10:02:20 PM
law of diminishing returns comes to mind
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: Dylan777 on August 18, 2013, 10:22:07 PM
For a lot of shots, yeah. I find that I prefer the sharpness/bokeh quality on my f/1.4 after about f/2.  And a lot of times, I'll keep it at f/2.8.  At those aperture settings, there is virtually no difference in IQ between the two lenses.  And I think that's the point the guy was trying to make.

If f2.8 is your fav. then save your money for 24-70 II. It much more versatile and sharp @ f2.8

There is no fun shooting f2.8 with f1ish lens, that just me of course.

Besides, most wedding shooters would carry 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 anyways.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: EOBeav on August 18, 2013, 10:38:08 PM
Besides, most wedding shooters would carry 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 anyways.

And they had all of the above. I guess the point I was trying to make (that got lost somehow) was that they had the usual lineup of good L glass on different bodies, but one guy was sporting the 50 f/1.4 instead of the 50L. 
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: jdramirez on August 18, 2013, 11:01:25 PM
For a lot of shots, yeah. I find that I prefer the sharpness/bokeh quality on my f/1.4 after about f/2.  And a lot of times, I'll keep it at f/2.8.  At those aperture settings, there is virtually no difference in IQ between the two lenses.  And I think that's the point the guy was trying to make.

If f2.8 is your fav. then save your money for 24-70 II. It much more versatile and sharp @ f2.8

There is no fun shooting f2.8 with f1ish lens, that just me of course.

Besides, most wedding shooters would carry 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 anyways.

Not to be argumentative, but I know you are possibly the biggest supporter of the f/1.2 here.  Outside of the bokeh, can you replicate the contrast and color in lightroom? 

And again... not to be argumentative... or maybe I should say, With all due respect (Talladega Nights anyone?), I haven't heard of the 50 f/1.2L having a magic bokeh except recently.  The 135L yes, the 85mm f/1.2L yes, even the 200mm f/2L... I've even heard contrasting opinions regarding the bokeh of the 70-200mm f/2.8L Is mkii.

I know bokeh can be subjective, but would you contend that the 50's bokeh is on par with the 85/135/200?
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: knoxtown on August 18, 2013, 11:09:46 PM
Just wanted to jump in here...

Is the 50L a magic lens? Not even close, it certainly has its flaws. Most people definitely don't need it, but if you do, you already know it (and can easily justify it). For most people, the money is better spent on the new 24-70, or just a 50 1.4 and save the rest for something else you need. For my work, I need it and couldn't imagine working without it.

Is it as good as the 85 1.2 or the 135, nope. Does it compliment them for specific needs, absolutely.

All of that said, if you want it, buy it. Just understand that the images you get from it, for most people, isn't going to translate into a reason to spend 1500 on a 50.

Happy shopping everyone.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on August 18, 2013, 11:13:06 PM
I know bokeh can be subjective, but would you contend that the 50's bokeh is on par with the 85/135/200?

I'd contend that it's better.  The 50/1.2 was intentionally designed for superior bokeh, and I'd argue that Canon succeeded.  How do you design a lens for exceptional bokeh?  You don't fully correct for spherical aberration - and that undercorrection is the tradeoff that results in the 'flaws' some people perceive in the 50L, such as a slight reduction in sharpness and the focus shift when stopping down slightly with very close subjects.  Not only is the bokeh superior, the combination of a normal focal length with an f/1.2 aperture means relatively more blur for a close background than is achieved with longer lenses.  So, for close subjects with close, busy backgrounds, the 50L going to blur out the background more, and more pleasingly.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: Dylan777 on August 19, 2013, 12:05:32 AM
For a lot of shots, yeah. I find that I prefer the sharpness/bokeh quality on my f/1.4 after about f/2.  And a lot of times, I'll keep it at f/2.8.  At those aperture settings, there is virtually no difference in IQ between the two lenses.  And I think that's the point the guy was trying to make.

If f2.8 is your fav. then save your money for 24-70 II. It much more versatile and sharp @ f2.8

There is no fun shooting f2.8 with f1ish lens, that just me of course.

Besides, most wedding shooters would carry 24-70 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8 anyways.

Not to be argumentative, but I know you are possibly the biggest supporter of the f/1.2 here.  Outside of the bokeh, can you replicate the contrast and color in lightroom? 

And again... not to be argumentative... or maybe I should say, With all due respect (Talladega Nights anyone?), I haven't heard of the 50 f/1.2L having a magic bokeh except recently.  The 135L yes, the 85mm f/1.2L yes, even the 200mm f/2L... I've even heard contrasting opinions regarding the bokeh of the 70-200mm f/2.8L Is mkii.

I know bokeh can be subjective, but would you contend that the 50's bokeh is on par with the 85/135/200?

With raw file, photo above can be easily PP x2 to x3 better. Those are just one of goofy photos I took at work with JPEG. Standard setting on 5D III.

"I haven't heard of the 50 f/1.2L having a magic bokeh except recently" ==>  because you were too busy shooting with 50 f1.4 @ f2.8 that's why :P :P  ;D   ;)

"I know bokeh can be subjective, but would you contend that the 50's bokeh is on par with the 85/135/200?" ==> try to rent 50L. AFMA is almost required. start shooting from f1.2 to f1.6(mine is great at f1.4, others claimed f1.6ish). Magic distance 4-5ft away from your model. Once you done this exp, pls share your photos with us ;)
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: Random Orbits on August 19, 2013, 12:53:39 AM
Not to be argumentative, but I know you are possibly the biggest supporter of the f/1.2 here.  Outside of the bokeh, can you replicate the contrast and color in lightroom? 

And again... not to be argumentative... or maybe I should say, With all due respect (Talladega Nights anyone?), I haven't heard of the 50 f/1.2L having a magic bokeh except recently.  The 135L yes, the 85mm f/1.2L yes, even the 200mm f/2L... I've even heard contrasting opinions regarding the bokeh of the 70-200mm f/2.8L Is mkii.

I know bokeh can be subjective, but would you contend that the 50's bokeh is on par with the 85/135/200?

The topic comes up from time to time, but this has been going on for years.

The 50L is not for everyone.  For IQ parameters that are easily compared (i.e. resolution), the 50L is not leaps and bounds above its non-L brethren.  I tried the 50 f/1.4 on several crop bodies (including the 7D) and it was a maddening experience.  AF accuracy and consistency was bad from f/1.4 to f/2, and colors were flat/tended to washed out wide open.  I had the 17-55 f/2.8 IS at the time, and I saw no value in the 50 f/1.4.  Test reviews tend to evaluate lenses using LV pointed at static subjects.  The 50 f/1.4 that I used performed much better in LV, but there was no way that I'd use an AF lens only in that way, and with AI servo, it tracked horribly.  The experience was so bad that I didn't even try another fast prime for a while.  It wasn't until I tried a 35L that it dawned on me how much better the 50 f/1.4 should have been.  I got my 50L used because after reading a lot on the net, I was inclined not to like it.  I figured I could resell it at a slight loss, at least well within a rental fee, so I gave it a go.  It's been a couple years, but I still have it, and for a while it was my most used lens because I didn't have a midrange zoom for a while after moving to FF.

If you are expecting to use the 50L like how you would use any L lens, you will be disappointed.  It has a lot of quirks, and I won't bother shooting near MFD with it.  However, if I'm with friends and family and it's dim (esp. indoors or at night and when no one wants/expects the flash to go off all the time), the 50L is my first choice because I can rely on it wide open and because it's the most versatile focal length for me.  Would I sell if it Canon comes up with a better alternative?  Absolutely.  Do forum members that own the 50L own it just because of the red ring?  No, but it is on the correct side of the cost/benefit analysis for us.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: dirtcastle on August 19, 2013, 01:31:32 AM
I'm satisfied with the relative IQ of the 50/1.4. But the build quality makes me nervous for sure.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: Haydn1971 on August 19, 2013, 02:05:56 AM
This discussion could change soon - given that Canon has been busy replacing its old non-L primes with new models that are twice as expensive...

The 24mm, 28mm & 35mm have all been replaced with new fancy IS lenses, there have been suggestions on here that the 28mm f1.8 could be at risk of being chopped - why have 2 primes at what is today a odd focal length - which leaves the 50mm f1.8 & f1.4, both pre digital, both rather flimsy affairs, with the current ISO performance of new cameras, I'm half expecting a replacement f2.0/1.8 IS at a premium and a less than £150 nifty fifty f2.8 pancake without IS, with the 85mm following soon after, don't bother with the 100mm because the L is still "quite" cheap, but perhaps a cut price ultrawide prime to follow too...  16-18mm f2.8 prime perhaps ? Would it need IS ???  Would it kill sales on the 14mm ?

Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: mwh1964 on September 02, 2013, 09:54:38 AM
Just got the 50L of CL. What a nice piece of photographic equipment. Have been shooting exclusively @1.2-1.8. Think it's really sharp and fantastic at these f-stops. Really have to concentrate to nail focus though, but results pay off the efforts. Really good bokeh as well even though I don't have some of the bokeh fantastical lenses to compare with.   Much better build quality than my 50 f1.4. No comparison actually. Probably going to keep both as they serve different purposes. Will see how it turns out following the initial first love. So far I am really happy with my purchase.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: alexturton on September 03, 2013, 08:03:28 AM
Just got the 50L of CL. What a nice piece of photographic equipment. Have been shooting exclusively @1.2-1.8. Think it's really sharp and fantastic at these f-stops. Really have to concentrate to nail focus though, but results pay off the efforts. Really good bokeh as well even though I don't have some of the bokeh fantastical lenses to compare with.   Much better build quality than my 50 f1.4. No comparison actually. Probably going to keep both as they serve different purposes. Will see how it turns out following the initial first love. So far I am really happy with my purchase.

any sample shots?
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: RLPhoto on September 03, 2013, 08:44:05 AM
I like 50L. It has everything I need in a 50mm.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: Act444 on September 03, 2013, 05:00:57 PM
Ever since switching to FF, I've been looking for a decent 50mm lens. I've yet to find one.

I tried the 50L. Couldn't get a SINGLE sharp shot with it even after nearly 100 pics and fiddling with focus adjustment. I really wanted to like it but I know the soft shots would frustrate the --- out of me. So I wrote it off.

The 50 1.4 was much easier to use, but lacked the durability and weather sealing. Pics also had an odd color to it (couldn't really put my finger on it). As another poster mentioned, even on a 5D3 the servo tracking was horrendous...
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: spacetimeroger on September 14, 2013, 09:37:44 PM
I use a 50mm f/1.4, professionally—all the time—I certainly wouldn't mind having the L version, but since I'm usually covering events, concerts and weddings, it's rare that I will end up using a high speed lens at this focal length wide open—and the 50 1.2 is a lens that begs to be shot wide open. Typically I'll keep my 50 around f/2-f/2.8. I've found that I like it a lot at f/2-2.8. It just renders a very nice look.

One photo attached here, at f/2.8 from a wedding I shot a few weeks ago, nothing particularly spectacular for showing off the lens, but it's a shot I had handy. 7D, ISO 1600, f/2.8, 1/250th, bounced flash.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 II is nice, of course, but I find that range so uninspiring that every time I've used a lens in that range (I used to use the older 28-80mm f/2.8-4 L) I'm disappointed with the shots...seems like they always end up rather "flat" to me. There's no substitute for zooming with your feet when it's possible to do so. There's also something to be said for the way small lenses can allow you to get closer to the action without freaking out the subject and allow you to get more dynamic compositions.

Plus the 50mm f/1.4 is super light, much lighter than a 24-70mm f/2.8, and weight definitely matters when shooting weddings & events--you're on your feet for 10+ hours shooting, and since I shoot so much with my 80-200mm f/2.8 L when I'm out, it's nice to be able to take a break from it with something like the 50/1.4 and give my arm a rest--plus it's just a fun lens to shoot with, and if something where to happen to it, it's easily replaced.

Maybe one day I'll grab the 50/1.2, just because I do like superfast lenses, but I don't think I'd get rid of my 50--it's a nice lens to leave on all the time because of it's size and speed. Actually, scratch the 50/1.2, I just need to save up $3-4K for a used 50mm f/1.0 L.
Title: Re: Conversation with pro re: 50L vs. 50 f/1.4
Post by: RMC33 on September 14, 2013, 10:40:03 PM
I can vouch for the magic of the 200 f/2~