He ain’t lying – THE BEST PRIME LENS. Period. by Peter McKinnon

mangobutter

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Dec 11, 2014
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Color me skeptical about prime lenses, when you can pick up a 24-70mm f2.8L zoom for the same price. If you look at the lens resolution charts on Canon's website, it appears that the 24-70 is a much better performing lens. I'm certainly not an expert but below is the 50 mm and the 24-70 at 70mm MTF chart. From what I can see, the zoom blows the prime away. Since switching to primarily zooms, the versatility of a variable focal length lens works for me.

Eh I'm guessing you don't know how these tests work, but they're often low-moderate frequency tests as well as these #s are wide open. It's a bit misleading to compare a super fast prime vs. a zoom.

When it comes to high-frequency resolution such as MTF50, especially periphery at optimum aperture, zooms are absolute garbage compared to primes.

In this case you're looking at 2.8 vs 1.2 at mid frequency. So yeah the zoom will show higher numbers.

But for ultimate detail in an absolute sense, particularly towards the mid/edges/corners, a decent prime will trash a good zoom in fine details. Go read Roger Cicala's blog at lensrentals on this.
 
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InchMetric

Switched from Nikon. Still zooming the wrong way.
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More YouTube nonsense :sleep:

The whole video is about Peter McKinnon, the lens comes second....waste of time to watch :-(

Just utter nonsense from a narcissist

That video is a meaningless series of commercials.

Dude always seems arrogant to me ‍‍

This sounds like those girls who insist that the prettiest girl is a b**** and stuck up.

Guy none of us have ever met shows a lot of personality, confidence, and presumably is very successful at what he does. That can really make some people feel insecure.

I thought the perspective on the versatility of the lens was useful, and how it can create isolated images that can make a big 70-200 unnecessary. I like mine for indoor family/kids shooting.
 

lloyd709

I'm New Here
Mar 6, 2014
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I don't get all the hype over this lens - a few guys that I have a lot of repsect for say the same thing. It's just no one mentions size, weight, cost and the legendery levels of vignetting wide open (you are looking at more than 3 stops - I know vignetting can be nice sometimes but it's a lot easier to add than take away)! ... and please don't say 'you just need to stop down a bit'!!! Now give me a 1.4 verson with close to the level of sharpness but at half the weight, size, price and vigneting and I'd then probably say 'best prime ever'!!!

Forgot to beat my drum - if a manufacure wants to make the 'best prime ever' they just need to make a 65 1.4 - because for some reason only known to the lens gods no one makes one. Give me any one of these over Canon's 50 1.2 any day - whoever made it!!!
 
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VegasCameraGuy

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Be careful with that sharpness comparison: the zoom is at f/2.8 and the 50mm is at f/1.2. You should really compare the 50mm stopped down f/2.8 to compare the sharpness
Unfortunately, that's how the charts are published. While I don't know how much sharper 1-1/2 stops would add. My point is simply that with modern optics why tie yourself to a fixed focal length (prime) when a zoom gives you more possibilities for the same price. Heavier I grant you but having the ability to go from a moderately wide-angle to a short tele allows shots that you can't get with a 50mm. I don't miss the 1-1/2 stops as I like to shoot at f8 when possible and let IS and IBIS help with the slower shutter speeds. The link below illustrates using the 24-70 for a full-length shot of a model and then cropping the image down to her eye to show how sharp the lens is.
 

danfaz

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Color me skeptical about prime lenses, when you can pick up a 24-70mm f2.8L zoom for the same price. If you look at the lens resolution charts on Canon's website, it appears that the 24-70 is a much better performing lens. I'm certainly not an expert but below is the 50 mm and the 24-70 at 70mm MTF chart. From what I can see, the zoom blows the prime away. Since switching to primarily zooms, the versatility of a variable focal length lens works for me.
I wouldn't take the charts too seriously. I had both lenses and the 50 was the better performer in just about every regard, at least for what I shoot.
 
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kaihp

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Unfortunately, that's how the charts are published. While I don't know how much sharper 1-1/2 stops would add. My point is simply that with modern optics why tie yourself to a fixed focal length (prime) when a zoom gives you more possibilities for the same price. Heavier I grant you but having the ability to go from a moderately wide-angle to a short tele allows shots that you can't get with a 50mm. I don't miss the 1-1/2 stops as I like to shoot at f8 when possible and let IS and IBIS help with the slower shutter speeds.
Oh, we're not arguing about the versatility of zoom lenses! I have 4 zooms and 'only' 2 primes, so you're preaching to the choir.

For sharpness vs aperture, look no further than TDP. Bryan publishes test chart results for all aperture values and comments on how the images improves (or not) with aperture. Uncle Rog sometimes measures (and publishes) sharpness across aperture, but only for primes (zooms take too long time), and usually only for a specific educational purpose.

PS: I believe that there are 2.5 stops between f/1.2 and f/2.8, not 1.5 stops
 

AlanF

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Unfortunately, that's how the charts are published. While I don't know how much sharper 1-1/2 stops would add. My point is simply that with modern optics why tie yourself to a fixed focal length (prime) when a zoom gives you more possibilities for the same price. Heavier I grant you but having the ability to go from a moderately wide-angle to a short tele allows shots that you can't get with a 50mm. I don't miss the 1-1/2 stops as I like to shoot at f8 when possible and let IS and IBIS help with the slower shutter speeds. The link below illustrates using the 24-70 for a full-length shot of a model and then cropping the image down to her eye to show how sharp the lens is.
The whole point of the f/1.2 is that it has an f/1.2 aperture, and the widest on the 24-70 is f/2.8. If you need f/1.2 for light and bokeh, get the prime. If f/2.8 is enough for you, get the zoom. Both are damn good lenses. Opticallimits, a great site, one of the very best, has mtfs for both lenses as a function of f-number.

24-70_50mmmtf.png
50_1.2_mtf.png
 
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SwissFrank

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Dec 9, 2018
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But more realistically, the 14/15 - 35mm's and 100 - 500mm with either a 50mm, a 50mm + 85mm, or a 24 - 105mm covers everything you could come across minus macro (and if that's important, skip the 85mm and go for the new 100mm macro).
Back in the 90s, when I had at least a dozen EF lenses, I read a guy say you just needed the 17-35, 50/1.4, and 70-200. He wasn't exactly wrong.

In the 70s, the US Army gave you a 35, 50, and 135 I think.

I'd advise people who want to get into photog to start off with a 50/1.4 even today. Then get a tilt/rotate flash, then a bounce panel, then an off-camera flash cord. The lighting is really more important than focal length a lot of time.

I had all the 50mm optics (1.8 MkI, 1.4, 1.2, 1.0) for the EF and probably shot 20% of my shots with the 1.4 or 1.8. (1.8 was my always-in-the-backpack lens until I got a Contax G2 outfit.)
 

SwissFrank

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Back to the main subject: I haven't tried either but the Leica APO-Summicron 50/2 ASPH and the 50mm Otus are both apparently in the running for sharpest lens ever.

The Canon 50/1.2 is a steal in comparison. You could buy like 4 or 5 for the price of the Leica. And the Canon goes to f/1.2 so if you had to decide between them that should make it easy.

But the vignetting is EXTREME. You can correct in-camera but it is sooooooo extreme that the camera may simply not have enough exposure to give great results. Things that should be zone II or even III are literally just 0 values or something. No amount of boosting 0 is going to give you a natural-looking image. I love 50mm but I don't use my 50/1.2 much. OTOH I use my Leica M 35/1.4 all the time on my R, because its so compact, and makes good-looking images.
 

john1970

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Back to the main subject: I haven't tried either but the Leica APO-Summicron 50/2 ASPH and the 50mm Otus are both apparently in the running for sharpest lens ever.

The Canon 50/1.2 is a steal in comparison. You could buy like 4 or 5 for the price of the Leica. And the Canon goes to f/1.2 so if you had to decide between them that should make it easy.

But the vignetting is EXTREME. You can correct in-camera but it is sooooooo extreme that the camera may simply not have enough exposure to give great results. Things that should be zone II or even III are literally just 0 values or something. No amount of boosting 0 is going to give you a natural-looking image. I love 50mm but I don't use my 50/1.2 much. OTOH I use my Leica M 35/1.4 all the time on my R, because its so compact, and makes good-looking images.
What adapter are you using for the Leica M to RF mount?
 

stevelee

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The funny thing is a couple of years ago he swore the only prime lens anybody needs is the EF 24 1.4 L II.

We are all on a creative journey and what suited us a few years ago probably doesn’t suit us now, and almost certainly won’t in a few years time. If the 50mm focal length works for you the RF 50 seems like a very nice lens, if you have RF cameras. If the focal length doesn’t suit you or you don’t have RF bodies don’t sweat it, use what you have.
I used a 50mm prime yesterday for the first time in years. I bought the EF 50mm f/1.4 years ago to shoot portraits with my T3i. I bought the 6D2 almost four years ago. I put the 50mm on it yesterday to shoot some indoor pictures after a piano recital, one group shot of the teacher and her pupils, and one of her playing a duet with a girl. Using available light in the living room, I figured I needed a relatively fast lens, and the focal length seemed about right. I might have done better stopping down some and using a higher ISO, but I just left everything on auto and made several tries. Some of the shots didn’t have enough depth of field to get everyone sharp, but one picture of each scenario looked really good, and I was quite pleased with the photos. Perhaps the kit lens would have done almost as well at ISO 800 or so. I had it along just in case.

I conclude from this that the lens is good to have on hand, but I wouldn’t be motivated to spend a lot of money on a 50mm prime that I might use every four years or so, even if I were buying RF lenses.
 
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Hector1970

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For me the EF 50mm 1.8 is/was the best Canon lens ever. It was cheap and light, reasonably sharp and a multipurpose lens. Good for portraits and street. I used it for shallow depth of field (which was an important creative break through ), and I used it with adapters as a macro lens. It was a great learning tool to get the exposure triangle. It’s been superseded in my collection by far more expensive lens but nothing advanced my photography as much as that lens.
 

YuengLinger

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I don't get all the hype over this lens - a few guys that I have a lot of repsect for say the same thing. It's just no one mentions size, weight, cost and the legendery levels of vignetting wide open (you are looking at more than 3 stops - I know vignetting can be nice sometimes but it's a lot easier to add than take away)! ... and please don't say 'you just need to stop down a bit'!!! Now give me a 1.4 verson with close to the level of sharpness but at half the weight, size, price and vigneting and I'd then probably say 'best prime ever'!!!

Forgot to beat my drum - if a manufacure wants to make the 'best prime ever' they just need to make a 65 1.4 - because for some reason only known to the lens gods no one makes one. Give me any one of these over Canon's 50 1.2 any day - whoever made it!!!
Perhaps if 50mm was one of your favorite focal lengths, if shallow depth of field something you cherished and incorporated often, and if you shot with this lens for a few weeks, you'd understand "the hype." I don't mind the weight, and in real-world use, the vignette is no problem for me. The R6/R5 shadows clean up so nicely that, even when a subject is not centered, everything is fine.

The cost of the lens is tough to swallow, but with inflation, it is negligibly higher than its EF counterpart introduced in 2006. Furthermore it uses more material and has a lot of tech crammed in that wasn't part of the older L-series lens.


As for others comparing to zoom lenses, that's a different conversation.

The Youtuber is just trying to convey some of his excitement about the image quality of a great lens, and also some thoughts on the versatility of the focal length and aperture range. I don't think he was trying to scientifically, once and for all prove that 50mm is the ultimate, best ever focal length. In the online world, we have to put up with clickbait titles. For now. Maybe they'll fade from fashion some day.
 

CanonFanBoy

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Back in the 90s, when I had at least a dozen EF lenses, I read a guy say you just needed the 17-35, 50/1.4, and 70-200. He wasn't exactly wrong.

In the 70s, the US Army gave you a 35, 50, and 135 I think.

I'd advise people who want to get into photog to start off with a 50/1.4 even today. Then get a tilt/rotate flash, then a bounce panel, then an off-camera flash cord. The lighting is really more important than focal length a lot of time.

I had all the 50mm optics (1.8 MkI, 1.4, 1.2, 1.0) for the EF and probably shot 20% of my shots with the 1.4 or 1.8. (1.8 was my always-in-the-backpack lens until I got a Contax G2 outfit.)
Off camera flash cord? Off camera flash cord? They're on sale at the Smithsonian gift shop this week... in the year 2021. ;)
 
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koenkooi

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Perhaps if 50mm was one of your favorite focal lengths, if shallow depth of field something you cherished and incorporated often, and if you shot with this lens for a few weeks, you'd understand "the hype." I don't mind the weight, and in real-world use, the vignette is no problem for me. The R6/R5 shadows clean up so nicely that, even when a subject is not centered, everything is fine.
[..]
The amount of vignetting also changes with the focus distance on this lens.