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Author Topic: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range  (Read 4773 times)

Act444

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Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« on: April 30, 2012, 07:27:21 PM »
Hi all,

Currently considering a prime/fixed focal length lens in the 85-100mm range and would appreciate thoughts, impressions, recommendations.

Amateur shooter here (not pro). I have a 60D- I mostly use zoom lenses, the only fixed-FL lens I have is the 35 1.4, which is great (starting to use it a bit more after ignoring it for a while). I used to have the 85 1.8 but traded it in towards a 70-200 2.8 (totally the right decision, love that lens), but now I'm starting to look for a possible alternative when I don't necessarily want to carry around the extra weight and/or gather attention.

Mainly this lens I might use for occasional sporting events (when 70-200 isn't practical due to weight, etc.), taking shots of flowers/foliage, and for shots when I want the background as blurred as possible. I'm not much of a portrait photographer- there are times where I've been asked to take someone's picture, but that is not really what I do (or have experience with).

Lenses I've been looking at:

I was considering buying the 85 1.8 again. Great lens, but from my usage the 70-200 2.8 is just as sharp at 85mm/2.8, and has better focus too. Too much purple fringing at 1.8 in my opinion.

85 1.2- tried it in store today. Amazed at the quality but was taken aback by how slow the focusing is. It's pretty bulky too. But I was wowed at the test photos I took with it- especially the test portrait shot which looked professional with almost no effort on my part...my concern here would be for the times I substitute the 70-200. I feel this lens would struggle to keep up with even moderately-paced action. I did run a quick test (took a burst of shots of someone walking away from camera), seemed ok but hard to tell. Expensive, too, but not completely out of range (better be a solid reason to drop 2K on a specialty lens!)

100 2 - also played around with this in store. Fast focusing, which is great...light weight, which is both good and bad (good being easier on the neck, bad being harder to steady since there is no IS). However, I found myself somewhat displeased with the purple fringing at f2 and the image quality (seemed a bit soft). Still, it is being considered mainly because of its inconspicuousness.

135 2 - tried this out as well. Excellent quality and light weight (same points as above). Quick focusing. However, I feel that because of its longer focal length, its usefulness is somewhat reduced. I can see this being a great substitute for the 70-200 though as far as sports go (mainly shooting in dimmer indoor environments).

Any others? I'd like to stick with Canon lenses if possible (I had a Tamron 17-50- it served my needs for about a year, then I traded it in for the 17-55 2.8 and afterwards, wondered what took me so long to do it). What are your recommendations, experiences, etc.? Any help would be appreciated
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 07:37:50 PM by Act444 »

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Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« on: April 30, 2012, 07:27:21 PM »

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2012, 07:55:36 PM »
There is only one choice for you in my opinion, given the prime lens consideration and the focal length range. That is the Sigma f/1.4 85mm. It is astonishing, really--more useful than the Canon f/1.2L. I actually ordered a second copy today. It's fast enough to shoot basketball, and by fast, I mean both the f-number and the focusing speed and accuracy. My first copy did need considerable microfocus adjustment, however. Afterwards it is super sharp across the board; er., I mean, across the frame.

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elflord

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2012, 08:44:50 PM »
If you want something in the 85-100mm range, faster than f/2.8 and a step up from the 85mm f/1.8, your only choices are the Sigma 85mm f/1.4, the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 and the Canon 85mm f/1.2.

I'd recommend taking a good hard look at the Sigma 85mm f/1.4. It's one of the best lenses that nobody knows about.

tdp compares it with the 85mm f/1.2, the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 and the Canon 85mm f/1.8. The Sigma is close to the 85mm f/1.2 and blows away the Zeiss and the f/1.8 in this test.

http://thedigitalpicture.com/Reviews/Sigma-85mm-f-1.4-EX-DG-HSM-Lens-Review.aspx

Lenstip sing its praises, recommending it over the brand lenses from Sony and Nikon:

 http://www.lenstip.com/index.html?test=obiektywu&test_ob=277

Definitely a contender if you're looking in the 85-100mm range and want something that is a step up from the 85mm f/1.8

Act444

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2012, 09:37:22 PM »
Thanks, guys. I'll take a look at this one as well. Although- I do have reservations about going 3rd party again after my experience with that Tamron lens mentioned earlier.

Something in TDP's review of the Sigma 85mm had me a little nervous:

Quote
I have been using the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens a lot over the last few months with a frame count in the thousands. I find this to be a very useful lens - and one I really like to use. When I get an accurately-focused image, I really like the image quality from the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens - it is really nice. But accurate focusing is this lens' definite weakness - getting accurate focus has been an issue.
 
As of Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens review time, I have purchased (retail) three and returned two of these lenses. The first lens was consistently front focusing. The second lens was focusing so inconsistently that I wished for the first one back. The third lens is focusing very inconsistently, but does seem to average to the correct focus distance. I cut my losses and kept this copy of the lens.

Yet, the other review claimed there were no major focusing issues with the lens. I guess they were using the Nikon version though.


I like the price, though. Half that of the Canon 1.2...

Also, any owners of the 85 1.2, 100 2 or 135 2 that can vouch for their performance?

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 09:44:35 PM »
I'd vote for the 85mm f/1.8 plus Lightroom.  That Purple fringing can now be removed in most cases, its a thing of the past!
 
Here is a before and after 100% crop of some nasty pupple fringing from my 85mm f/1.8.  The new defringe feature in LR4.1 RC2 seems to work well.
 
Before:
 

 
After
 

elflord

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 10:21:05 PM »

I had to microfocus adjust mine by several clicks. If it makes you nervous, go to a brick and mortar where you can try it out in the shop.

I own the 135mm f/2. I use it as a (fantastic!) portrait lens on full frame, but it would also work well as a sports lens -- it is light and has very fast autofocus. As an APS-C portrait lens however, I wouldn't see much point in getting it if you already have the 70-200mm f/2.8. An 85mm will give you a nice shallow dof effect without having to stand back a long way.

To compare the two lenses, the Sigma 85mm does not AF as quickly as the Canon 135mm. I didn't have any problems with the AF accuracy (one shot, center point 5D MkII) after micro adjusting.

Regarding the TDP review -- I don't get why he didn't just keep the first lens (if he micro adjusted it, which he can do on the bodies he uses, he would have been set)

iaind

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2012, 02:37:15 PM »
Have a look at the 100 2.8LIS Macro
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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2012, 02:37:15 PM »

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2012, 11:33:58 PM »
Have a look at the 100 2.8LIS Macro

+1.  The 100mm macros would give you more creative flexibility for your foliage/flower shots than other choices.  The 100L has IS and is more suited for general photography than the non L 100mm macro.  I would not recommend any of the 85mm variants because portraiture is not your primary interest.

Act444

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2012, 11:40:13 PM »
Ah, now that's a thought...I never considered macro lenses because I assumed they were specialty tools. Curious: would such a lens work for the occasional sporting event (stopping fast action) as well? And I SUPPOSE the occasional portrait shot should such an occasion arise?

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2012, 03:28:25 PM »
Macro lenses have special capabilities but they don't have to be specialty tools.  You trade zoom range and the the largest apertures for distance/magnification flexibility.   100L worked ok for the occassional sporting event but it IS so much easier with the 70-200 (I got the 100L first).  It works fine for portraits too, but again the 70-200 would give you move flexibility.  I think you would use the 100L a lot more  if you had a 70-200 f/4 instead of the f/2.8.  The 70-200 f/2.8 is a very flexible and capable tool.  Where macros excel are flower shots and detail close ups.  Most telephoto lenses have fairly long MFDs and middling to low max magnifcation factors.  Macros do tend to open up a whole new perspective.

Act444

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2012, 08:55:48 PM »
Hey all,

So I went back to the camera store today to try the two lenses recommended by folks here- the Sigma 85mm 1.4 and the Canon 100mm macro lens. The Sigma lens feels great; focusing seemed a tad inconsistent but more or less averaged the right distance. Not sure I want to go through the whole 3rd-party focus thing again, though, so I'm going to rule that one out at this point.

The Canon 100mm macro, OTOH, I thought was great. It's a little larger than I'd like, but the macro capability does open up a whole new realm of possibilities (NONE of the lenses I currently have can focus close). It's also weather-sealed, unlike the 85s so at least crud won't get in it so easily (already a long piece of hair(?) from goodness-knows-where found its way behind the rear element of my 35 1.4 after just one outdoor session, grr)...the one drawback I did see of the 100L was that one does have to manage the focus range of the lens (it can be quite slow if left on "full" the whole time) depending on what it's used for, but I do like it. Thanks for letting me know about this one, folks.

As I was walking back from the store, it struck me that I could actually get BOTH 100mm lenses (the macro L and the cheaper f2) and still spend less money than I would on the 85 1.2 alone. The macro 100mm is still too "obvious" of a lens when I don't want to draw attention in general shooting, wish to use in certain venues, etc. The 100 2 is small, fast, yet has decent reach. And the f2 opens up the option for shooting sports in darker environments. For the one I tried, the image quality didn't seem to match the other L primes, but it's a tradeoff that I'm willing to take. I think I'd actually have unique uses for both...something to think about, I guess.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 09:34:48 PM by Act444 »

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 01:11:11 AM »
The Canon 100mm macro, OTOH, I thought was great. It's a little larger than I'd like, but the macro capability does open up a whole new realm of possibilities (NONE of the lenses I currently have can focus close). It's also weather-sealed, unlike the 85s so at least crud won't get in it so easily (already a long piece of hair(?) from goodness-knows-where found its way behind the rear element of my 35 1.4 after just one outdoor session, grr)...the one drawback I did see of the 100L was that one does have to manage the focus range of the lens (it can be quite slow if left on "full" the whole time) depending on what it's used for, but I do like it. Thanks for letting me know about this one, folks.

As I was walking back from the store, it struck me that I could actually get BOTH 100mm lenses (the macro L and the cheaper f2) and still spend less money than I would on the 85 1.2 alone. The macro 100mm is still too "obvious" of a lens when I don't want to draw attention in general shooting, wish to use in certain venues, etc. The 100 2 is small, fast, yet has decent reach. And the f2 opens up the option for shooting sports in darker environments. For the one I tried, the image quality didn't seem to match the other L primes, but it's a tradeoff that I'm willing to take. I think I'd actually have unique uses for both...something to think about, I guess.

Glad to hear that the 100L worked out well for you.  Happy shooting!

Act444

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2012, 01:24:41 PM »
Had time to play around with the 100L more extensively yesterday, took it out on a shoot. All I can say is wow. This is the lens that turns out I needed, but didn't know about. Have to thank you guys for making me aware of this! I have to say the sharpness is insane too. Definitely up there with 70-200, 35L...

I've ordered my own copy, should be here early next week!

Also looking at the 100 f2 for back-up sports use (70-200 will ALWAYS be first choice, but of course it's not always practical/possible)- has an extra stop, so that could be useful too.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2012, 01:27:49 PM by Act444 »

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2012, 01:24:41 PM »

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2012, 01:37:15 PM »
Also looking at the 100 f2 for back-up sports use (70-200 will ALWAYS be first choice, but of course it's not always practical/possible)- has an extra stop, so that could be useful too.

Now that you have full-blown L-disease, it might be worth looking into the 135L, which is also f/2 but can be used wide open, lol!

Act444

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2012, 01:47:19 PM »
L-disease. lol. Possibly, but I definitely know better than to simply trust the red ring- it's the shots that come out of it that count the most! (Example: the 17-55 2.8 IS delivers similar quality to my 24-105mm L...and I used to have the 85 1.8 which gave many L zooms a run for their money in terms of sharpness)

I did try the 135L. Great lens. However, price aside, I'm really looking for something more inconspicuous. I don't want something so big/obvious that I may not be able to get into a venue with it, for example. The 100 2 is smaller, lighter, just as fast...not to mention half the price too. I'm normally willing to pay more for image quality, but I think this might be a situation where I have to compromise.

I'd love to hear from someone who does have the 100 2- or perhaps even the 135L to hear impressions.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2012, 01:59:33 PM by Act444 »

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Re: Seeking lens in the 85-100mm range
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2012, 01:47:19 PM »