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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 19 Feb 2008 (Tuesday) 16:17
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85 f/1.8 or 50 f/1.4 (low-light differences)

 
djeuch
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Feb 19, 2008 16:17 |  #1

Slightly different spin than most comparisons of these two.

I've currently got the 50 f/1.8, but decided to "bump up" to something with slightly better build quality. Knowing that there's a significant difference in focal length, here's my current dilemma:

I ordered the 50 f/1.4, but the place I ordered from is now out-of-stock, so I am now second-guessing if I should switch to the 85 f/1.8. I have no doubts that eventually I'll own both, but my primary need is low-light. I've got the 85mm range covered with my 70-200 f/2.8 (although 1 1/3 stops slower than the 80/1.8 ) and my 24-105 f/4L with a 580EX II does well with overlap and my "all purpose" lens.

However, there's a lot of times I need to take a non-flash picture.

f/1.4 versus f/1.8 is 2/3rds of a stop (not insignificant). I know the math, but has anyone run into the practical applications of f/1.4 where you knew that f/1.8 just wouldn't cut it?

I know I've had the same case with my 70-200mm... I've shot at 200mm, f/2.8, ISO 3200, at 1/30" and gotten a clear shot... Anyone shoot the 50/1.4 and knew nothing else would have made it?

Convince me to not change my order. :)


Canon 40D w/BG-E2N Battery Grip | Canon 5D w/BG-E4 Battery Grip | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM | EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | EF 85mm f/1.8 w/ET-65III | EF 50mm f/1.4 w/ES-71II | Canon 1.4x TC | Lowepro SlingShot 200 AW | B+W 77mm MRC (010) filter x2 | Speedlite 580EX II

  
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bsawle
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Feb 19, 2008 16:24 |  #2

The 85 1.8 is IMO is a better lens. The two lens are probably close in IQ but the 85 focuses much faster and more accurately. The 50 1.4 will give you 2/3 more light and you do not need as fast a shutter speed to render sharp pictures. It is kinda a toss up.


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nicksan
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Feb 19, 2008 16:31 as a reply to  @ bsawle's post |  #3

85 is sharper wide open than the 50...and if you factor in the faster ring USM of the 85 and its overwhelmingly positive, reputation the 85 looks like your lens!




  
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Mr. ­ Clean
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Feb 19, 2008 16:37 |  #4

I've had the 85 1.8 and now have the 100 f2, same lens. Either one are both better than the 50mm 1.4 AF is more accurate, everything is better wide open, the feel is better, they're just better lenses.
Strange thing about my 50 too is that it loves the IR assisted focusing more than sunny day daylight focusing. Pisses me off too. Same distance, comperable contrast, same aperture.
Not saying the 50 is bad at all, it's just not as up to snuff as the others.
Personally, I'd change your order.


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Mark_Cohran
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Feb 19, 2008 16:41 |  #5

The 85 f/1.8 is a much better overall lens than the 50 f/1.4.


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Sleepyd
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Feb 19, 2008 16:44 |  #6

If 50mm is the focal length you want then the 1.4 version is a step up, I find 1.4 usable when the focus is bang on and it's a more useful focal length for me - the 85 would be just too tight for me most of the time. It's certainly not a bad lens and super sharp from about F2




  
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Jman13
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Feb 19, 2008 17:12 |  #7

Well, for me, the 50mm is a good lens, but it has never really sung to me...and I plan on switching it out for the 85 f/1.8 pretty soon. The 85 is better built, sharper, and for my uses, a better portrait FL.


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steved110
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Feb 19, 2008 17:15 as a reply to  @ Sleepyd's post |  #8

You already have a 50mm lens. Get the 85 first as it is available now - sometimes the Gods send little signs...;)

I have just upgraded from the 50 1.8 to the 50 1.4 - I am planning to get a 100mm macro next so thought the 85 could wait, in addition for that focal range I like my 70-200 anyway.

But I must admit I was a little surprised by the build quality - and the AF wasn't as fast as I thought it would be - but still overall an improvement in spades over the 50 1.8 I am glad I upgraded, and will eventually have the 85 as well....but for my own reasons decided to go 50 1.4 then macro 100mm and then maybe the 85 if something else hasn't taken my fancy!

So unless you have a special thing for 50mm, I'd just go for the 85!


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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 , Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro
CanonEF 17-40 f/4 L Canon EF 24-70 f/4 IS L and 70-200 f/4 L :D
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djeuch
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Feb 19, 2008 17:38 |  #9

I hate you guys!

(okay, not really)

There's a $50 price difference, but I called up, was friendly (I always am with customer service), and they offered to go as low as possible ($41 difference now) and bumped to free shipping (another $7), so I'm essentially getting an 85mm f/1.8 for $34 more than a 50mm f/1.4.

Funny thing is, I'll probably end up owning both eventually, unless I'm successful in my detour to a 35L.

85mm f/1.8 it is! It'll be a bit on the long side for my indoor shots, but I've got my 24-105L if I need wide... just will have to stand far away for my non-flash shots!


Canon 40D w/BG-E2N Battery Grip | Canon 5D w/BG-E4 Battery Grip | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM | EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | EF 85mm f/1.8 w/ET-65III | EF 50mm f/1.4 w/ES-71II | Canon 1.4x TC | Lowepro SlingShot 200 AW | B+W 77mm MRC (010) filter x2 | Speedlite 580EX II

  
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TheHoff
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Feb 19, 2008 17:42 |  #10

djeuch wrote in post #4951927 (external link)
There's a $50 price difference, but I called up, was friendly (I always am with customer service), and they offered to go as low as possible ($41 difference now) and bumped to free shipping (another $7), so I'm essentially getting an 85mm f/1.8 for $34 more than a 50mm f/1.4.

So you pulled a reverse bait-and-switch on your order with a photo retailer with the result of securing a lower price. Nicely played, sir.


••Vancouver Wedding Photographer  (external link)••| [gear list] | Latest blog: 5 steps to stopping image loss (external link)

  
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Hazey
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Feb 19, 2008 18:04 as a reply to  @ TheHoff's post |  #11

Hi Guys,
I am after a recommendation of which to go for with these two lenses too. At this stage I only have an all purpose type lens...18 - 250 f3.5-6.3 Tamron. I want to get a lens specifically for portraits...firstly for my own kids/family and then hopefully for others. I am also 2nd shooting a friends wedding next month but it's a fairly casual arrangement. I like the 50 1.4 and have read lots of write ups...both for and against...but not heard much about the 85 1.8.
I want to be able to take photos indoors without a flash, but outdoors I want to be able to take full length and half length body shots. I like the bokeh you get on the 50, but sometimes thinks the DOF is a bit too shallow for my liking in some of the shots I have seen. Help me decide!
At the moment there are a 50 for $300 AUD and an 85 for $400 AUD second hand really close by to me. Both these lenses are double those prices new.


:) Hayley
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djeuch
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Feb 19, 2008 18:17 |  #12

I'll tell you why I think, ultimately, I may end up owning both.

50mm f/1.4 is a lot of light-gathering capability. Quite a bit wider than the 85/1.8, but as you can see above, the 85/1.8 is a "better" lens as far as focusing and image quality. In fact, you'll even find some people that either prefer the 85/1.8 over the 85L (or they own both) because of the focusing speed of the 85/1.8.

Honestly, I might end up not going 50mm as well. If I can stretch to get the 35L, I'll have my "wide f/1.4" lens covered, and that will just about obsolete my need for the 50mm focal length. Of course, we're also talking a 3-4x difference in cost!

85mm is known for portrait shots, albeit a little long on crop. On full-frame, it is king for portraits. You may find yourself standing farther away outside, especially if you want full length, but perspective and shallow DOF will very effectively isolate your subjects (one at a time). For me, if I was doing outside, I'd swap to my 24-105L instead (even at f/4).

My concern was the 2/3rds stop difference, but when would I need it? Shooting my sleeping children, I need all the light I can get... but then again, they're not moving! I've used my 70-200mm for that as well (f/2.8) even indoors.

Tough decision. When choosing only one, I chose the 50/1.4, but am ending up with the 85/1.8 instead... at least this time around!


Canon 40D w/BG-E2N Battery Grip | Canon 5D w/BG-E4 Battery Grip | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM | EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | EF 85mm f/1.8 w/ET-65III | EF 50mm f/1.4 w/ES-71II | Canon 1.4x TC | Lowepro SlingShot 200 AW | B+W 77mm MRC (010) filter x2 | Speedlite 580EX II

  
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Riff ­ Raff
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Feb 19, 2008 18:22 |  #13

I think the 85mm f/1.8 is a much better lens, though 50mm is a more useful focal length for me usually. I continue to wonder why they can't seem to get the 50mm "normal" lens right, when they have such winners on either side of it (e.g. 35mm f/1.4L, 85mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.2L). I thought the 50mm focal length was supposed to be easier for lens designers? I'm holding out hope that they'll replace the 50mm f/1.4 before too long, since I think it's one of the only lenses left in that class that doesn't provide distance information to the camera. Not to mention being the only lens with that weird clutch arrangement for full-time manual focusing with Micro USM.


Shawn McHorse - Shawn.McHorse.com (external link) / AustinRocky.org (external link)
DSLR: 5D Mark III Compact: S100 Flash: 580EX II Bag: Tamrac Rally 5
Lenses: 16-35mm f/2.8L II, 24-70mm f/2.8L, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS,
50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8

  
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TheHoff
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Feb 19, 2008 18:24 |  #14

Riff Raff wrote in post #4952259 (external link)
I think the 85mm f/1.8 is a much better lens, though 50mm is a more useful focal length for me usually. I continue to wonder why they can't seem to get the 50mm "normal" lens right, when they have such winners on either side of it (e.g. 35mm f/1.4L, 85mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.2L). I thought the 50mm focal length was supposed to be easier for lens designers?

50mm f/1.4 or 55mm f/1.8-f/2 SMC Takumar.. Pentax K / M42 screwmount. They're so bright that manual focusing is a breeze and they go for $20 to $70 on eBay. They're decades old yet the quality of the 50mm images blows anything that Canon shows out of the water at that focal length. You're right, 50mm should be easier for Canon. The 1.4 should be on the same quality level as the 85/1.8, 100/2, and 100/2.8 but it is not.


••Vancouver Wedding Photographer  (external link)••| [gear list] | Latest blog: 5 steps to stopping image loss (external link)

  
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djeuch
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Feb 20, 2008 18:14 |  #15

Ugh... even with free upgraded 2-day shipping, it's too slow!!!!! I HATE waiting....


Canon 40D w/BG-E2N Battery Grip | Canon 5D w/BG-E4 Battery Grip | EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM | EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM | EF 85mm f/1.8 w/ET-65III | EF 50mm f/1.4 w/ES-71II | Canon 1.4x TC | Lowepro SlingShot 200 AW | B+W 77mm MRC (010) filter x2 | Speedlite 580EX II

  
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85 f/1.8 or 50 f/1.4 (low-light differences)
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