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08-23-2009, 03:06 PM   #1
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50mm f2 vs 1.7 vs f1.4 vs f1.2?

Noob question,
I've seen on several sites that you will often get better pictures if the lens is not used wide open. For example, "this lens is not sharp wide open, but stop it down and it's one of my sharpest lenses"
If so, then why is the 50mm f1.2 so much more expensive than the f1.4 if you're not going to use it wide open anyway? Is a stopped down 1.2 lens set at f4 different than a 1.4 lens set at f4?
Thanks in advance.

08-23-2009, 03:22 PM   #2
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This is actually a very good question as I often wondered about this also with people going out of their minds paying top dollar for some of these!
Anyway, some lenses differ as to where they are sharpest stopped down.
These lenses might already be sharp (compared to other lenses) just sharper stopped down.
Some produce nice images too that you can only get at its widest open.
There are some instances that you also need the fast lens and getting the photo (though not it's sharpest) but better than the other ones with the aperture opening limiting..meaning, you simply cannot get the shot because you can't open up the aperture more. A not so sharp image is better than no image at all or unacceptable image.
These lenses are also some sort of a rarity that is why people go crazy over them even if they are expensive.
There is also the issue of bokeh.
Some of these lenses produce great bokeh plus the fact that you can get razor thin DOF where even if a subject is just right beside the other, you can isolate that subject that you want to shoot and blur the rest.
08-24-2009, 09:40 AM   #3
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1. Sharpness isn't everything. Just because a lens isn't as sharp wide open as stopped down a bit doesn't make it useless. There may be reasons to use it wide open when the situation calls for it. Eg, extremely low light, or if you want very shallow DOF. Or maybe even if - as for portraits - you actually *want* a little softness.

2. Even if you never use the 50/1.2 at 1,2 it's probably sharper at f/1.4 than the 50/1.4, sharper at f/1.7 than the 50/1.7, sharper at f/2 than the 50/2. "Probably"; I don't own the lens. But I do know the 50/1.7 is *way* sharper at f/2 than the 50/2.
08-24-2009, 09:50 AM   #4
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The bokeh may also have something to do with it too.
Generally accepted that the 50/1.2 has one of the smoothest creamiest bokeh around (sounds like I'm promoting an ice-cream...)

08-24-2009, 11:32 AM   #5
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The viewfinder should be brighter with the faster lenses.
I did read however, the difference is limited: the viewfinder should be brighter on a f2.8 than on a f4 but the difference would be less obvious (if still there) between a f2 and a f1.4 for instance.
08-24-2009, 11:56 AM   #6
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The Pentax 1.7s are a bit of an exception of the rule of "stopping down" however, since it is known that it's sharper than the others (1.4, 2) at 1.7 I'm not sure if it's sharper than the 1.2 at 1.7
08-24-2009, 12:05 PM   #7
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50mm 1.2, for me it's all to do with a brighter viewfinder.

I you can get your hands on one you will see also the superb build quality, I'm guessing it's about then, you will want one.
08-24-2009, 12:30 PM   #8
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I have 50 1.4's (M, F, and had an FA) and I rarely shoot them wide open. Usually f2 is the minimum I shoot at, so I wouldn't pay the hundreds of dollars more for a 1.2 because it just isn't going to be much sharper (if at all) at f2 than I already have, nor is the viewfinder going to be much brighter, if at all. And I get AF with the F 50mm f1.4 for hundreds less.

08-24-2009, 01:46 PM   #9
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Thanks for the input

I wondered if part of it was the "feel" of the lens. I have "A" lenses, "M" lenses, and the kit lens that came with the k20d. I probably take my better pictures with the kit lens but have the most fun with the others. There's something about learning what aperture/shutter speed/film speed combination will work in real life that's especially gratifying. My challenge now is learning to focus quickly and accurately.
08-24-2009, 01:56 PM   #10
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There is also an element of 'bragging rights' associated with the faster of these lenses. That certainly adds to the price.
08-24-2009, 04:03 PM   #11
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I find the 1.7s to have the best ratio of price to performance (at 1.7), but of course they can't go to 1.2 or 1.4 for the extra bokeh and shallow DoF.

I don't think I'd give up my M50/1.7 for anything.
08-24-2009, 04:31 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
There is also an element of 'bragging rights' associated with the faster of these lenses. That certainly adds to the price.
This contributes to the allure of owning one..
08-25-2009, 12:09 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by GerryL Quote
This contributes to the allure of owning one..

And to the fact that a lot of us have, let's be nice and say several (could have said a shitload) of 50's.
08-25-2009, 02:57 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Damn Brit Quote
There is also an element of 'bragging rights' associated with the faster of these lenses. That certainly adds to the price.
Sort of like "Yay, I own a lens I severely overpaid for with an aperture I'll probably never shoot at, and even if I do, I'll have the shallowest DOF known to man!"
08-25-2009, 03:28 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by K-9 Quote
Sort of like "Yay, I own a lens I severely overpaid for with an aperture I'll probably never shoot at, and even if I do, I'll have the shallowest DOF known to man!"
Shush, my 1.2 isn't even here yet and you're already ruining it
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