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Author Topic: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?  (Read 9557 times)

ahsanford

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Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« on: March 30, 2013, 03:35:57 PM »
Hello folks,

I thought I'd start my Saturday with an absurdly long thread about 50mm primes.

Why I want a new 50mm...


My Canon EF 50mm F/1.4 USM is a lovely lens for the dollar.  Sharp, large aperture, etc.  But I have a few more dollars now, and I've noted that I am missing some of the niceties of a modern lens, an L lens, etc.  AF can hunt from time to time, and though it has USM, it famously has the older USM which is not super fast.  Of late, I've noticed that I miss focus a lot with children.  So AF speed is a big reason for the upgrade, but IQ is a constant area for improvement.

Basic brand filtering...

  • I am a Canon snob when it comes to lenses.  This is generally for quality / reliability / resale reasons.
  • Must have AF for this length (sorry, Zeiss)
  • I am not interested in the Sigma F/1.4 as it has mixed reviews on build quality, AF, etc.  I know there are some huge fans of that lens, but until I see a Sigma 50mm with the accolades and IQ of the new 35mm F/1.4 'art' series, I am not considering Sigma here.

As you guys always ask when someone pipes up about lens selection, here are my shooting needs...
 
  • I am an enthusiast only, been shooting about 9 years now
  • Currently happily using a 5D3, so climbing up to ISO 6400 is not a problem.
  • I never shoot in a studio environment.
  • I almost never use a flash.
  • I don't mind vignetting... In fact, I kind of like it sometimes
  • I'd rather crank up ISO than shoot fully open as everything is soft in the corners
  • I am in really low light, handheld situations all the time.  My subjects generally are not moving, but I occasionally shoot at rock concerts.  I generally prefer stopping down for sharpness and more useful DOF with IS than getting handcuffed into having to shoot fully open and accept softness and minimal DOF.
  • High priority needs for this length: Walkaround, Candids, Kids, Handheld low-light (Not moving subjects)
  • Medium priority needs for this length: Handheld Low-Light (Concerts), Street, Portraits
  • Low priority needs for this length: Landscapes, Handheld low-light (Gymnasium Sports)
  • Zero need for this length:  Video, Macro, Field Sports, Wildlife
  • I'll pay more for better gear at this stage.
  • Weather sealing is great for a landscape-prioritized lens, but as I live in a place with near zero inclement weather, sealing is not a must for me in this length.
  • I rarely take things to print.
  • I generally shoot my Canon 50mm F/1.4mm in the F/2 to F/5.6 range.  I appreciate what large aperture glass offers, but I almost always stop those lenses down for more sharpness, more working DOF, etc.

What I'm considering...


It is presumed by many (and absolutely expected by myself) that the EF 50mm F/1.4 USM will finally get a modern refresh like the 24mm, 28mm and 35mm lengths.  I own the new 28 and adore it.  I hold it in the same regard as my L glass -- it's a joy to use.

So I am eager to compare this likely new lens to the 50mm F/1.2L.  Being an engineer, I then overthought the crap out of this and made a lens comparison spreadsheet.  SEE ATTACHED.  I've flagged one as better than other in each category, but those are just my opinion.  Further, I'm not tallying total wins in each field.  See priorities above for what really matters to me. 

Please let me know where my assumptions are off, or where your personal experience might have a different opinion.  Which 50mm of the two do you think is right for me?

-A
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 03:49:56 PM by ahsanford »

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Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« on: March 30, 2013, 03:35:57 PM »

Axilrod

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2013, 04:18:50 PM »
This has to be one of the most thorough posts I've ever seen, and I feel like you kind of answered your own question.  If the new 24/28/35 are any indication of what the 50mm will be, I'd say yes, it's for you.  I mean if you're against going with 3rd party and/or manual focus that really limits your options.  The 50mm f/1.4 is an excellent lens (of course it could really use an update) and I loved my 50L for the longest time.  I ended up getting rid of the 50L in favor of the Zeiss 50mm Makro f/2.  It's worlds sharper than the Canon and made more sense for me since I shoot video primarily. 

I'd say wait on the 50mm f/2 IS or if Sigma comes along and releases a new 50mm similar to the 35mm I'd seriously consider it.  I shot with the new Sigma 35mm last weekend (and I normally hate 3rd party lenses aside from Zeiss) and was very pleased with the results.  IMO it's the sharpest 35mm available for Canon, and I've had 2 different 35L's and the Zeiss 35mm f/2. 

So just to make sure I got this right, you're trying to pick between the 50L and upcoming Canon 50?  I love the 50L even though it's somewhat flawed.  I feel like there is somewhat of a learning curve to it, but once you start nailing shots you really, really nail them.  The bokeh is out of this world and where you will see the biggest difference, color and contrast are excellent.  Build quality is excellent, and it's pretty sharp in the center (although it gets a bit soft below f/2).  Edges are pretty bad in terms of sharpness but it has kind of a nice effect when you are shooting portraits.  AF works very well on the 5D3, super fast.  Honestly I wouldn't expect much more in terms of sharpness if you already have a 50mm f/1.4, the 1.4 is sharper, especially on the edges.

More or less the 50L is great, but people either seem to love it or hate it.  I'd say there is plenty of room for improvement on that one.  I think it would be worth waiting to see what the 50mm f/2 IS is like and then make a decision. 

50mm f/1.4 vs 50mm f/1.2:

« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 04:27:16 PM by Axilrod »
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mrsfotografie

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2013, 04:48:03 PM »
This is a cool thread, being an engineer myself I can appreciate all the effort that went into the lens comparisons.

The 50mm F/2 IS looks like an interesting lens. I wonder if Canon will live up to expectations on this one, and if/when it comes to market, I'll be tempted to get one.

In the mean time I've found my home with the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 mk I for compactness and better build quality over the MkII. And for performance, dare I say: my superb Siggy 50 1.4 ;)
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ahsanford

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2013, 05:08:26 PM »
This has to be one of the most thorough posts I've ever seen, and I feel like you kind of answered your own question.  If the new 24/28/35 are any indication of what the 50mm will be, I'd say yes, it's for you.  I mean if you're against going with 3rd party and/or manual focus that really limits your options.  The 50mm f/1.4 is an excellent lens (of course it could really use an update) and I loved my 50L for the longest time.  I ended up getting rid of the 50L in favor of the Zeiss 50mm Makro f/2.  It's worlds sharper than the Canon and made more sense for me since I shoot video primarily. 

I'd say wait on the 50mm f/2 IS or if Sigma comes along and releases a new 50mm similar to the 35mm I'd seriously consider it.  I shot with the new Sigma 35mm last weekend (and I normally hate 3rd party lenses aside from Zeiss) and was very pleased with the results.  IMO it's the sharpest 35mm available for Canon, and I've had 2 different 35L's and the Zeiss 35mm f/2. 

So just to make sure I got this right, you're trying to pick between the 50L and upcoming Canon 50?  I love the 50L even though it's somewhat flawed.  I feel like there is somewhat of a learning curve to it, but once you start nailing shots you really, really nail them.  The bokeh is out of this world and where you will see the biggest difference, color and contrast are excellent.  Build quality is excellent, and it's pretty sharp in the center (although it gets a bit soft below f/2).  Edges are pretty bad in terms of sharpness but it has kind of a nice effect when you are shooting portraits.  AF works very well on the 5D3, super fast.  Honestly I wouldn't expect much more in terms of sharpness if you already have a 50mm f/1.4, the 1.4 is sharper, especially on the edges.

More or less the 50L is great, but people either seem to love it or hate it.  I'd say there is plenty of room for improvement on that one.  I think it would be worth waiting to see what the 50mm f/2 IS is like and then make a decision. 

50mm f/1.4 vs 50mm f/1.2:

Great response, appreciated.

Your portraiture comments and the PhotoZone data (which I had seen before posting) have me thinking that that 50 1.2L is the problematic diva that shines in very specific situations, like the 85L.  What it does it does brilliantly, but what I want to know (aside from the PhotoZone data) is how well it fares as an every day all-purpose walkaround lens.  As you can see on my list, my needs are the opposite of specialized -- I want something that is an 8/10 or 9/10 at everything rather than world class at one thing.

So, yes, the new 50 or if Sigma makes a 50 like their new 35, would be preferred.

I'm really curious to hear everyone's responses though.  Thank you x100 for not pushing the 'massive aperture  is better than IS' debate.  That is a debate of diminishing returns in the vein of political opinions.   :o

- A
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 05:12:15 PM by ahsanford »

ahsanford

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2013, 05:11:22 PM »
This is a cool thread, being an engineer myself I can appreciate all the effort that went into the lens comparisons.

The 50mm F/2 IS looks like an interesting lens. I wonder if Canon will live up to expectations on this one, and if/when it comes to market, I'll be tempted to get one.

In the mean time I've found my home with the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 mk I for compactness and better build quality over the MkII. And for performance, dare I say: my superb Siggy 50 1.4 ;)

Agree, 50 primes are great for the reasons listed and a boatload more. 

I am looking for the one that does everything at a high (not necessarily highest) level.  I would say the principal differentiator between F/1.8, F/1.4 and F/1.2 are AF speed, build quality and bokeh quality, but not necessarily sharpness.

Personally, I think the IS refreshes for 24, 28 and 35 are so roundly better in non-traditional critique areas (weight, small size, much more solid build, internal focusing, far better AF, etc.) that the 50 F/2 IS will be a massive upgrade in useability above and beyond any traditional IQ metrics.

Thanks for the post.

- A
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 05:13:01 PM by ahsanford »

wayno

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2013, 05:41:55 PM »
I find your thoroughness impressive but I can't agree with your assessment of the 50 1.4 - "much worse than (the) L"
They're not significantly different- optically- at least. Not in my opinion.

mrsfotografie

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 05:44:14 PM »
Personally, I think the IS refreshes for 24, 28 and 35 are so roundly better in non-traditional critique areas (weight, small size, much more solid build, internal focusing, far better AF, etc.) that the 50 F/2 IS will be a massive upgrade in useability above and beyond any traditional IQ metrics.

I suddenly realized that Canon has not changed the original aperture size in the refreshes of the 24, 28 and 35 mm lenses, so why would they change it for the 50 mm? A lens in this class will need a wider aperture to differentiate it from the 50 mm 1.8 II, and narrower than the 1.2L (both of which I'm sure Canon will keep in the line-up). So I suggest the new lens will be a 50 F/1.4 IS.   And the price will be around €1000.
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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 05:44:14 PM »

pdirestajr

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 05:59:27 PM »
Was there a rumor or an announcement about a 50mm f/2 IS lens that I missed? A lot of the language in this thread makes it sound like it's real. If not, why would it be f/2?
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sdsr

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 07:14:50 PM »
As you do a lot of hand-held low-light photography, are you bothered by coma?  This seems to be unavoidable with 50mm lenses on FF Canon cameras (and I expect elsewhere too - it was pretty bad on the Pentax 50mm 1.4 I used to own (aps-c, where it should be much less of a problem), while the Nikon 1.8 I tried a few months ago on a FF Nikon was much worse).  Few reviewers seem to comment on this, but lenstip has a separate entry for this on each of its lens reviews, which is useful.  I'm hoping that Sigma will upgrade its 50mm 1.4, not just so that it's better mechanically - the one I bought was one of the duds; it never focused accurately on anything - but better optically too: their new 35mm lens, among its other virtues, has remarkably little coma. 

ahsanford

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2013, 08:24:22 PM »
I find your thoroughness impressive but I can't agree with your assessment of the 50 1.4 - "much worse than (the) L"
They're not significantly different- optically- at least. Not in my opinion.

Optically, I agree 100% with you.  The F/1.4 is much better for me than the F/1.2L seems to be (based on the data I've seen).  That said, color / contrast are rarely reported on these data websites, and many folks rave about the color / contrast of the F/1.2L.

I just think that the focusing is slower on the F/1.4 than it could be, and that it lacks a great deal of modern design considerations, which I flagged on my chart.

Honestly, I would be perfectly happy with the IQ of the 50 F/1.4 with the build & AF speed of my L zooms.  I don't believe that lens exists, however.

- A

- A

klickflip

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2013, 08:25:19 PM »
the first thing I'll say is HAVE YOU ACTUALLY USED THE 50L 1.2 ? because is is such a difference form the 50 1.4usm. It is such a different piece of kit and you will notice that instantly. I had been lamenting over getting it compared to the 1.4 specs, heard about bad or slow  focusing mainly and that 1.4 is sharper, but those or so over exaggerated. And especially when it comes to using it , then seeing the images it produces afterwards.

It feels like a tank and on my first test in low light the 1.4 was hunting and not focusing and the 1.2 got it less than a second. My 1.4 wide open  is so soft and unusable unless I want a soft glowy and fringing look. The 1.2 is not.
And more importantly the 1.2 just renders scenes much much more beautifully images have more of a 3D look to them thats really smooth at the same time. I had always thought the 1.4's sharpness and rendering was a bit harsh though.

Now those charts posted on MTF must be way out, as everything I've read shows the 1.2 is much sharper than the 1.4 up to 2.8 or so then the 1.4 is sharper. And from my tests the 1.2 is not as less sharp as tests produce in the real world.

However none have really blistering focusing speed I'd say the 1.2 is twice as fast and has less tantrums while trying to find focus which is a big thing and much more reassuring.
 

As you guys always ask when someone pipes up about lens selection, here are my shooting needs...
 
  • I am an enthusiast only, been shooting about 9 years now
  • Currently happily using a 5D3, so climbing up to ISO 6400 is not a problem.
  • I never shoot in a studio environment.
  • I almost never use a flash.
  • I don't mind vignetting... In fact, I kind of like it sometimes
  • I'd rather crank up ISO than shoot fully open as everything is soft in the corners
  • I am in really low light, handheld situations all the time.  My subjects generally are not moving, but I occasionally shoot at rock concerts.  I generally prefer stopping down for sharpness and more useful DOF with IS than getting handcuffed into having to shoot fully open and accept softness and minimal DOF.
  • High priority needs for this length: Walkaround, Candids, Kids, Handheld low-light (Not moving subjects)
  • Medium priority needs for this length: Handheld Low-Light (Concerts), Street, Portraits
  • Low priority needs for this length: Landscapes, Handheld low-light (Gymnasium Sports)
  • Zero need for this length:  Video, Macro, Field Sports, Wildlife
  • I'll pay more for better gear at this stage.
  • Weather sealing is great for a landscape-prioritized lens, but as I live in a place with near zero inclement weather, sealing is not a must for me in this length.
  • I rarely take things to print.
  • I generally shoot my Canon 50mm F/1.4mm in the F/2 to F/5.6 range.  I appreciate what large aperture glass offers, but I almost always stop those lenses down for more sharpness, more working DOF, etc.

What I'm considering...



Now you say that most of your subjects arent moving then either should be fine unless your shooting in really dark environments a 5D III should be fine for most places, maybe a really dark bar would test it. But remember these aren't miracle machines to all situations! We now have imho stupidly high ISO options at our hands, and a lot of lenses / AF cant cope and imagine how difficult it would of been in the past on film and MF lenses. So I have to say to people get real about where you can expect to shoot and get a decent result, just because Canon says you 'can' shoot at 128000 . It or even 32000 is going to get compromised results. Now if its only capturing a moment that wasn't previously able to be captured then thats fine isn't it? And like you say you are an enthusiast. Should you expect to have a shooting and viewing experience and expectation that is similar to  the equipment being used in prime situations and conditions to give an absolutely stunning result.


Remember photography is a skill not a demo or expectation of technology just because you've bought it.

Release the artist in you and relax that engineer hat you don and you will learn more, understand photography & images  in new way. An engineer and artist combined is very powerful combination..

ahsanford

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2013, 08:27:05 PM »
Personally, I think the IS refreshes for 24, 28 and 35 are so roundly better in non-traditional critique areas (weight, small size, much more solid build, internal focusing, far better AF, etc.) that the 50 F/2 IS will be a massive upgrade in useability above and beyond any traditional IQ metrics.

I suddenly realized that Canon has not changed the original aperture size in the refreshes of the 24, 28 and 35 mm lenses, so why would they change it for the 50 mm? A lens in this class will need a wider aperture to differentiate it from the 50 mm 1.8 II, and narrower than the 1.2L (both of which I'm sure Canon will keep in the line-up). So I suggest the new lens will be a 50 F/1.4 IS.   And the price will be around €1000.

This has been debated at length (hence my footnote on the chart).  I've heard of F/2 IS, F/1.8 IS and F/1.4 IS in this forum.  We'll see what it ends up being, but I ran the chart assuming that Canon trades one stop of apeture for 3+ stops of IS.  It's a trade I would make for certain given what/how I shoot.

- A


RS2021

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2013, 08:35:19 PM »
I know the f/2 rumor has been around and has made its rounds.

At the risk of being the Grinch, I would lean toward no IS for the 50 near term...or if you really want me to be optimistic, then I would say Canon may create a new f/2.8 IS (like the f/2.8 versions of 28mm and 24mm).. while f/2 is conceivable, it is less likely than the f/2.8 IMHO, regardless of the rumors.

So even if they update 50 f/1.4 or f/1.2, they are sure to be non-IS versions.

My 2 cents on the reasoning:

Use of "IS" needs to be assessed in the context of a lens' typical use. True, you can use a 50mm for landscape, or a vase of flowers...but its dominant use is in portraiture, groups, and event shots...mostly related to "people".

As soon as you say people, especially lower light situations as in events, we are talking about movement of subjects that no amount of IS is going to help...but aperture will.  Yes, it is always good to have IS as a bonus feature regardless of typical function, but Canon choosing to release 24-70 II as a non-IS version suggests, at least for professional grade lenses, Canon designs based on "most likely use" and professional sentiments.

So they may well release a 50mm f/2.8 (and an off-chance f/2) IS as a new consumer line...but they may be in no hurry to replace the f/1.2 or even the f/1.4 which I agree could stand updating.
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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2013, 08:35:19 PM »

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2013, 08:35:47 PM »
Have you considered the Shorty McForty? Because it's an awesome lens that seems perfectly designed for at least 80% if not more of what you say you're looking for.

No IS, obviously, but I don't miss it and I doubt you would, either.

b&

ahsanford

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2013, 08:36:27 PM »
Was there a rumor or an announcement about a 50mm f/2 IS lens that I missed? A lot of the language in this thread makes it sound like it's real. If not, why would it be f/2?

A new Canon 50 with IS is absolutely 100% happening -- it just hasn't been announced yet.

Not a new rumor, but a logical next offering.  Again, the forums have covered this, but here is the logic:

  • Canon is systematically refreshing all their mid-grade USM primes with IS.  They have already made replacements for the 24, 28, and 35 prime.  The 50 and 85 would logically be next.
  • The current 50mm F/1.4 is 20 years old yet remains on many pros' cameras b/c the 50mm F/1.2L appears to have some limitations.  This key length needs an upgrade.
  • If people will gladly pay $1500 for L primes, they'll gladly pay $750 for non-L primes w/ IS that are as sharp or sharper.
  • Video. IS is helpful for that, I'm told.

Just my two bits.  But I think the reasons above lead to a new 50mm absolutely happening in the next year or so.

The only real debate at this junction is when and at what max aperture.  F/2 is where I am setting my expectation so that I might be pleasantly surprised by something quicker.  But, given what I shoot, it's a nice to have and not a must.

- A

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Re: Is the upcoming 50mm F/2 IS USM for me?
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2013, 08:36:27 PM »