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Author Topic: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?  (Read 9125 times)

Dylan777

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Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« 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
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 10:44:06 AM by Dylan777 »
Bodies: 1DX -- 5D III
Zooms: 16-35L f4 IS -- 24-70L II -- 70-200L f2.8 IS II
Primes: 40mm -- 85L II -- 135L -- 200L f2 IS -- 400L f2.8 IS II

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Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« on: October 12, 2012, 10:00:45 AM »

nightbreath

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #1 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?
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 10:34:41 AM by nightbreath »
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2n10

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #2 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.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #3 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.
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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #4 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.

CanonGirl

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #5 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.   :)

nightbreath

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #6 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.
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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2012, 10:23:33 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #7 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.
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sandymandy

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #8 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.

Martin

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #9 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.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 11:08:59 AM by Martin »
5D3, 35L, 85 1.8, 135L, 24-70L, 70-200L IS II, 580 EX II.

verysimplejason

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2012, 11:26:47 AM »
50L.  It's dreamy bokeh is legendary.

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #11 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.

Chewy734

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 11:48:56 AM »
50L.  It's dreamy bokeh is legendary.

Same for the 135 f/2L. :)

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 11:48:56 AM »

PavelR

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #13 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 ;-)

SJTstudios

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #14 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

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Re: Which Prime: 50L or 35L?
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2012, 12:07:08 PM »