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03-12-2010, 11:41 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by little laker Quote
If your going to use a fast 50 often enough they're all cheap. I believe that the most expensive main brand one, being the Sigma 50mm f1.4 is still only around $500.00 US... which can often pay for it's self with one shot
Indeed! And the trick to using it on an APS-C camera, as with any lens, is to be in the right place at the right time. (Duh.) Think of a 50's image as being a 28's or 31's or 35's or 40's with all the extraneous stuff cropped out. Narrow your gaze to what's really important in front of you. Get that money shot! Attain wealth and fame!

As I started to say above, a 50 or 55 can just be considered more intimate. OR it can put you at a greater distance. In an earlier discussion with Marc, he lavished praise on his 40mm. I said in the 35/FF film era, that would have translated to a 60mm lens, and NOBODY made such a lens AFAIK. Pentax made some 58's long ago. But Russians produced ZILLIONS of the excellent Helios-44 58/2 lens. (Mine cost US$19 on eBay, including shipping.) I joked that maybe the Russians either liked tighter close-ups, or found it prudent to shoot from a safe distance. Either way, it works.

So get and use a fast 50-55-58 (maybe all of them!) and treat it as a short tele where you can pick out something near or not too distant, isolate it from the irrelevant crud behind it -- or stop down and get a really sharp, tight image of what you're staring at. As with any prime, zoom with your legs. Just don't back off that steep edge...
__________________________________
My 50's brag list:

Pentax FA 50/1.4 - (US$197)
Meyer Oreston 50/1.8 - ($45)
Meyer Domiplan 50/2.8 - ($13)
Zeiss Tessar 50/2.8 - ($55)
Argus-Chinon 55/1.7 - ($3)
Asahi Takumar 55/1.8 - ($8)
Super Takumar 55/2 - ($20)
Helios-44 58/2 - (US$19)


Last edited by RioRico; 03-12-2010 at 11:48 AM.
03-12-2010, 11:53 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
The thinness of DOF depends on distance from lens to subject, and f-stop, and focal length. Assuming you're shooting the same lens and f-stop, DOF gets thinner as the camera gets closer. Generations of 35/FF photographers didn't seem to have too much trouble focusing fast 50s, and because of the wider FOV on FF/35, they (we) could work closer to a subject.


So we use focus screens, and learn to focus manually (like those generations of 35/FF photographers); ...
Sort of, but not quite. The focus aids and the quality of the finders of the earlier age were put together with the idea that every photo depended on the photographer's ability to focus. I just started using m LX after a CLA, and, with the 50/1.4, the difference in ease of focus jumped out at me. The K100d and K-x are not in the same universe, and even the larger finders and aftermarket screens I have in the K10/20d aren't nearly as quick as the LX/MX finders. As I get older, If I had one thing I'd personally like to see improved first in Pentax DSLRs it would not be another megapixel or two, or another ISO stop, but better MF capabilities and focus checking for the finders.
03-12-2010, 12:23 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
And before someone else jumps in to argue this, note I *did* acknowledge that there 8are8 those who 8do* like the special-purpose FOV provided by 50mm on APS-C. I do agree that different people will have different preferences in terms of focal length. I'm just sugesting that you don't leap to the conclusion that it will happen to be a focal length you like enough to spend $350 on until you do some experimenting to see for yourself. Because it happens to be the only $100 AF lens for Canon or Nikon, it seems a no-brainer choice on those systems - not because it's especially useful, but simply because it's especially cheap.
When you say things like "special-purpose FOV" it casts a stigma. It makes it sound like if someone buys such a lens they will rarely use it. This is not necessairly true, and in many cases becomes the opposite of the truth. I'm not the only person on this forum for whom the fast 50 is the go-to lens.

For a inexperienced photographer lens purchase selection is not an absolute process, but you treat it as such. Instead of describing 50mm as a "not very usefull focal length" you should be suggesting that people try one of the less expensive alternatives, say the A 50 2.0, to see if they like it before they drop the big bucks on something they may or may not like.

On a last note Marc, if you are going to continue to question the usefullness of a 50mm lens on APSc then I have a challenge for you. Spend two weeks with nothing but a 50mm lens on your camera. Now there are a couple of rules, namely: the lens must be A series or better, preferably F or FA. Also you must shoot at least 5 unique shots every day, and they can't just be pictures of the inside of the trunk of your car. You actually must try. Obviously if you have a paying gig then you can use whatever you want for it.

If you do that then I will go two weeks with nothing but my 28mm. Same rules for me as for you. Deal? I can start on the 25th, as I am headed into a couple of messy weeks and I don't think I'll bea able to do any shooting until then.
03-12-2010, 12:46 PM   #19
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I, for one, would love to see what each of you talented photographers, would come up with in that challenge.

However, like so many issues, I don't think the view of the 50mm is black or white. I don't think I use the 50 nearly as much on APS-C as perhaps you and some others do, but that does not mean it is not useful. It just does not occupy the completely essential place (for me) that it did on film. Still, you guys go at it, and we will all learn something.

03-12-2010, 02:48 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steve Beswick Quote
When you say things like "special-purpose FOV" it casts a stigma. It makes it sound like if someone buys such a lens they will rarely use it. This is not necessairly true, and in many cases becomes the opposite of the truth. I'm not the only person on this forum for whom the fast 50 is the go-to lens.
Well, like I said, I knew someone would want to argue the point. I tried to put in sufficient qualifiers to make clear I was *not* claiming it *would* necessarily turn out to be useless. Just that the factors that made it the default choice 20-30 years ago no longer apply today.

QuoteQuote:
For a inexperienced photographer lens purchase selection is not an absolute process, but you treat it as such.
No, quite the opposite. It's those who say "everyone needs" this lens (or indeed, any specific lens) who are making it into an absolute. I'm with you in arguing that lens choices are too personal for that to ever be true.

QuoteQuote:
Instead of describing 50mm as a "not very usefull focal length"
That's something I specifically *avoiding* saying in this thread, because I've been called on this - quite correctly - before. Instead, I said it was not as generally useful on APS-C as on film - and I'd stand by that claim as it applies to most people. There's a reason 50's were popular on film, and assuming it was a valid reason, it becomes a valid reason to prefer a *different* lens on APS-C.

QuoteQuote:
you should be suggesting that people try one of the less expensive alternatives, say the A 50 2.0, to see if they like it before they drop the big bucks on something they may or may not like.
That's what I did, and what I almost always do in these threads, although I rarely name that lens specifically. If I name one, it's more like to be the M or A 50/1.7.

QuoteQuote:
On a last note Marc, if you are going to continue to question the usefullness of a 50mm lens on APSc then I have a challenge for you. Spend two weeks with nothing but a 50mm lens on your camera.
An interesting challenge. But I'm quite sure I'd find things to photograph - I used it quite a bit when it was my only prime & my only fast lens. I just eventually decided I wanted wider (and longer) primes more. The real test would be to spend two weeks with a 50, and then two weeks with each with a 40, 35, 28, and 24 (for instance), to see which you end up liking best. Even though I've never done this, since I own a 50, 40, and 28, and at various times in the last few years each of them has been my default prime, I do have some idea of how this would play out for me. But I guess I'm not sufficiently motivated to actually do this - I didn't buy a DSLR and a bunch of lenses so that I could not take full advantage of them for two weeks.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 03-12-2010 at 03:33 PM.
03-12-2010, 03:12 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by Steve Beswick Quote
On a last note Marc, if you are going to continue to question the usefullness of a 50mm lens on APSc then I have a challenge for you. Spend two weeks with nothing but a 50mm lens on your camera. Now there are a couple of rules, namely: the lens must be A series or better, preferably F or FA. Also you must shoot at least 5 unique shots every day, and they can't just be pictures of the inside of the trunk of your car. You actually must try. Obviously if you have a paying gig then you can use whatever you want for it.
That's a piece of cake for me, I've done that sort of thing several times with several different length of primes. Although it's always been either screwmount or full manual lenses.
I find that it gets tougher with anything longer than 135mm Although I've also used my 200mm f2.8 Zeiss (the hardest lens I've ever had to learn) and and my 300mm f4.0 Super Tak for 2+ week periods straight.
03-12-2010, 03:47 PM   #22
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First off I would like to say sorry if my last post came off a bit rude. That was not my intent.

QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
... Just that the factors that made it the default choice 20-30 years ago no longer apply today.
If you ask me this sentence is exactly how it should be said.

QuoteQuote:
No, quite the opposite. It's those who say "everyone needs" this lens (or indeed, any specific lens) who are making it into an absolute. I'm with you in arguing that lens choices are too personal for that to ever be true.
I agree with this whole paragraph.

QuoteQuote:
That's something I specifically *avoiding* saying in this thread, because I've been called on this - quite correctly - before. Instead, I said it was not as generally useful on APS-C as on film - and I'd stand by that claim as it applies to most people. There's a reason 50's were popular on film, and assuming it was a valid reason, it becomes a valid reason to prefer a *different* lens on APS-C.
True, but if someones intended task is portrait photography then it is far more valuable than it ever was in the 35mm era.

QuoteQuote:
That's what I did, and what I almost always do in there threads, although I rarely name that lens specifically. If I name one, it's more like to be the M or A 50/1.7.
Ah ha! You do like 50mm lenses! I knew it!

I usually suggest the A 50 2.0 for two reasons:
It is the least expensive lens that will meter correctly on DSLR's.
It does not have the aperture ring issues of the A 50 1.7.

QuoteQuote:
An interesting challenge. But I'm quite sure I'd find things to photograph - I used it quite a bit when it was my only prime & my only fast lens. I just eventually decided I wanted wider (and longer) primes more. The real test would be to spend two weeks with a 50, and then two weeks with each with a 40, 35, 28, and 24 (for instance), to see which you end up liking best.
The point of the exercise I had in mind is to demonstrate the usefulness of the 50mm FOV relative to other lenses. Another way to look at it is to show that it is quote possible to do good work with nothing but a 50mm.

QuoteQuote:
... But I guess I'm not sufficiently motivated to actually do this - I didn't buy a DSLR and a bunch of lenses so that I could not take full advantage of them for two weeks.
To bad. It is a great exercise to re-sharpen ones skills. I'm not trying to imply that your skills need sharpening - it's just never a bad idea for anyone.
03-12-2010, 03:51 PM   #23
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To the O.P. -

I think the real point is that the proverbial fast 50 is the cheapest way into the prime lens game. For example, the A 50 2.0 is most likely the only A series lens you can get for under $75, and it can be had for less than $50.

03-12-2010, 05:53 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
The thinness of DOF depends on distance from lens to subject, and f-stop, and focal length. Assuming you're shooting the same lens and f-stop, DOF gets thinner as the camera gets closer. Generations of 35/FF photographers didn't seem to have too much trouble focusing fast 50s, and because of the wider FOV on FF/35, they (we) could work closer to a subject.
Even at f16, the "fast" 50mm lens on a K-x (ASP-C sensor) needs to be 27 feet away to get in hyperfocal distance, thanks to Hyperfocal Distance and Depth of Field Calculator - DOFMaster. A "slower" M 28 2.8 on the other hand can work at f5.6 from 24feet out.


QuoteQuote:
So we use focus screens, and learn to focus manually (like those generations of 35/FF photographers); and with newer dSLRs we have Catch-In-Focus aka trap focus, which nails things pretty well. I've just been shooting with a Tak 55/1.8 and Chinon 55/1.7 wide open in dim light, and trap focus works just fine.
Are you saying trap focus and the focus indicator relies on a different in-camera mechanism to determine what is in focus ?

QuoteQuote:
As always here, we get personal preferences. Some shooters have no need or use or desire for any specific type of lens. I yawn over discussions of birders' lenses, etc. (And I can't afford such goodies anyway!) We know and like what we're used to (if it doesn't bore us to death).

Still, fast lenses are prized, which is often reflected in the cost. Speed not only allows for low-light or fast-shutter shooting; IQ generally peaks at a wider f-stop. At a specific focal length, an f/1.4 lens stopped down to f/2.8 is usually sharper than an f/2.8 lens wide open. At any focal length, faster is often more desirable. (50mm seems to be THE sweet spot. Someone else can point out the other super-fasts.) Some slow lenses are incredibly crisp throughout their aperture ranges, like my little Tele-Takumar 200/5.6 -- what a gem! But it doesn't get used as much as my fat Vivitar 200/2.8. Imagine that...
I thought the question presented was whether 50mm is as much of a sweet spot on ASP-C ? I suppose it is.

Last edited by tokyoso; 03-12-2010 at 06:00 PM.
03-12-2010, 07:28 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by tokyoso Quote
Even at f16, the "fast" 50mm lens on a K-x (ASP-C sensor) needs to be 27 feet away to get in hyperfocal distance, thanks to Hyperfocal Distance and Depth of Field Calculator - DOFMaster. A "slower" M 28 2.8 on the other hand can work at f5.6 from 24feet out.
First, sharp-from-here-to infinity wasn't mentioned before.

Second, that calculator is up its a$$. On a 50mm at f/11, hyperfocal is 16 feet, DOF is 8 feet to infinity. At f/16 with a hyperfocal of 12 feet, DOF is 6 feet to forever. (I personally tend to be a bit more conservative by a stop; just a CYA.) My source: DOF scales on the Zeiss 50 in my hand right now.

Third, nobody argues that a wider lens doesn't have thicker DOF. That's not the point. You use a longer lens to close on a subject, to separate them from their surroundings. On APS-C, 28mm is a great wide normal, 24mm grabs even more area, and 18mm or 21mm really gets a big chunk of scenery. But you don't use those to surgically isolate a subject.

QuoteQuote:
Are you saying trap focus and the focus indicator relies on a different in-camera mechanism to determine what is in focus ?
No, but the camera reacts faster than you do and so is more likely to capture the subject in-focus.

QuoteQuote:
I thought the question presented was whether 50mm is as much of a sweet spot on ASP-C ? I suppose it is.
50mm is a sweet spot for lensmakers. Good cheap fast 50's are a sweet spot for shooters, whether 35/FF or APS-C. Using a fast 50 is like HDR or gay marriage -- if you don't like it, don't do it.
03-12-2010, 07:56 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
First, sharp-from-here-to infinity wasn't mentioned before.

Second, that calculator is up its a$$. On a 50mm at f/11, hyperfocal is 16 feet, DOF is 8 feet to infinity. At f/16 with a hyperfocal of 12 feet, DOF is 6 feet to forever. (I personally tend to be a bit more conservative by a stop; just a CYA.) My source: DOF scales on the Zeiss 50 in my hand right now.

Third, nobody argues that a wider lens doesn't have thicker DOF. That's not the point. You use a longer lens to close on a subject, to separate them from their surroundings. On APS-C, 28mm is a great wide normal, 24mm grabs even more area, and 18mm or 21mm really gets a big chunk of scenery. But you don't use those to surgically isolate a subject.
why not? perhaps not surgical, but you certainly can...
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/85796-28mm-prime-lens-bokeh.html

btw, I crop to square...

QuoteQuote:
50mm is a sweet spot for lensmakers. Good cheap fast 50's are a sweet spot for shooters, whether 35/FF or APS-C. Using a fast 50 is like HDR or gay marriage -- if you don't like it, don't do it.
very enlightening.
03-13-2010, 09:09 AM   #27
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Wow! I did not expect to stir up such a hornets nest of philosophical lens discussion! And I feel a bit foolish as I made an error someone pointed out early on that I think led to all of it...

Looking (or listening) back, the podcast did say 50mm on a full frame... thus... and I don't know the 'exchange rate' but I guess for my K7 it would be more like a 35mm...

While I'm sorry for eliciting this discussion on the basis of my own error, I do appreciate all the great advice it generated!

Now... Can we all agree that I 'must have' a 35mm???
03-13-2010, 09:35 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by Javaslinger Quote
Now... Can we all agree that I 'must have' a 35mm???
As I said above, the true 'normal' size for full-frame would be 43mm, but that was often considered wide-normal. On full-frame, 50-55 would be a long-normal. The equivalents for APS-C are 28mm and 35-40mm. Is either a "must-have"?? That all depends on your style of shooting. Considering that you can get REALLY REALLY GOOD sharp 28 and 35 manual primes for VERY VERY low prices, I'd say that yeah, you should grab some. See Pentax Lens Review and Specification Database - Main Index for details on specific lenses.

I pretend to be bored with normality, but I still keep Takumar 28/2.8 and 35/3.5 in my bag. Or more likely, a faster 35: my Isco Westron 35/2.8 or the Mir-1 BV 37/2.8. At the other end, a fast 24mm ain't so cheap but ain't too bad either. I'm hoping my Vivitar 24/2 is fixable; like a 50/1.4, it is MUCH faster than a zoom at that focal length.

Last edited by RioRico; 03-13-2010 at 09:48 AM.
03-13-2010, 10:45 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Javaslinger Quote
Wow! I did not expect to stir up such a hornets nest of philosophical lens discussion! And I feel a bit foolish as I made an error someone pointed out early on that I think led to all of it...

Looking (or listening) back, the podcast did say 50mm on a full frame... thus... and I don't know the 'exchange rate' but I guess for my K7 it would be more like a 35mm...

While I'm sorry for eliciting this discussion on the basis of my own error, I do appreciate all the great advice it generated!

Now... Can we all agree that I 'must have' a 35mm???
Well, 35-40 was my thought, but others are still partial to the 50. Like Rico says, you either go that way or you don't!

35-40mm lenses are also pretty easy to make and focus well. That is the lens of just about every point and shoot camera of the film age. However, they didn't come packaged with just about every film SLR body sold, so they are a bit more expensive.

Last edited by GeneV; 03-13-2010 at 11:12 AM. Reason: typo
03-13-2010, 10:55 AM   #30
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Sorry, I am late to the party.. Seriously, great discussion here.

For fast 50s, there are so many great third party lenses out there (mostly in m42 mount). I have collected the mamiya/sekor, yashinon, cosinon, chinon (Tomioka) (all 1.4) in the last six months. Yes, they are a bit long for indoor shooting with APS-C camera (someday, there will be a FF Pentax - ), but outdoor they are fine. I usually carry at least one fast 50, MF/AF (or else my 43mm) in my camera bag just in case I need the extra stop or DOF.
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