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10-23-2009, 02:43 PM   #1
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50mm - what's the appeal?

I'm fairly new to photography (aside from auto mode point and shooting), so please don't take this as a dig, but I'm just wondering why many seem mad keen on 50mm prime lenses?

I routinely see Pentax-A 50mm f1.7 or f1.4s going for over twice what I paid for a mint Pentax-F 28-80mm zoom (heavier, but sharper than the later FA version), and auto focus examples seem to go for almost as much as I paid for my K-m. What's the appeal?

10-23-2009, 02:47 PM   #2
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they are fast, and usually quite compact

I wouldn't give up my M 50mm F/1.7 for the world
10-23-2009, 02:49 PM   #3
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When I want a certain effect the 50mm f1.4 can't be beat.
The same goes with my 55m f1.8
10-23-2009, 03:12 PM   #4
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They have much better image and are much faster.
Your zoom have F4-5.6 quality inferior to F1.7 quality of Pentax F 50mm.
And I really think is you wait enought you can get AF versions for much less.
Manual lenses are also very useful and are quite cheap.

10-23-2009, 03:22 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by little laker Quote
When I want a certain effect the 50mm f1.4 can't be beat.
The same goes with my 55m f1.8
I hope I can get one of those sometime relatively soon...

anyway, fifties? what's the appeal.
Well, there is millions of them. From f1.2 to f2.
They are some of the fastest lenses, and some of the best too.
It's hard to find bad fifty (by Pentax) I don't have first hand experience but I'd say even the x50/2 (considered by many the weakest of 50s) spanks F28-80 at comparable aperture.
Apart from that 50s are relatively compact lenses, and they offered normal (or near normal) FOV on FF (35 SLRs). Unfortunately on crop sensors they offer FOV of around 75mm (55 are around 83-84mm). And that's the problem with them these days. Optically still perfect but offering FOV that not everybody "digs". Anyway, they make still great lenses, and even better portrait lenses.
I personally have F50/1.7, and it's very fine lens. I don't think I use it as much as it deserves but at the same time I know I won't be parting with it anytime soon.

BR
Peter
10-23-2009, 03:25 PM   #6
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This may be a chicken-and-egg argument, and I'll not repeat the often voiced point about 50mm being the normal FOV for normal people at a normal viewing distance, but I've read more than one presumably knowledgeable person that noted that the 50-55mm focal length is the easiest FL to design and manufacture a fast lens for in the 135 format.

I haven't seen proof of that, but the preponderance of excellent, low(er) cost 50's in all brands would seem to support that view.

Could just be 'cause 50mm is normal, but I'd think there'd be some strong marketing ploys if there was an alternative FL.

H2
10-23-2009, 03:33 PM   #7
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I love my FA 50 1.4! It was the first prime that I wanted, when I first got into SLR photography. I use it for alot of sunrise pics, it has excellent IQ and limited flare especially with a hood.-----Stoge
10-23-2009, 03:41 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by pacerr Quote
This may be a chicken-and-egg argument, and I'll not repeat the often voiced point about 50mm being the normal FOV for normal people at a normal viewing distance, but I've read more than one presumably knowledgeable person that noted that the 50-55mm focal length is the easiest FL to design and manufacture a fast lens for in the 135 format.

I haven't seen proof of that, but the preponderance of excellent, low(er) cost 50's in all brands would seem to support that view.

Could just be 'cause 50mm is normal, but I'd think there'd be some strong marketing ploys if there was an alternative FL.

H2
The first AF prime lens i got was a FA 50 f1.4. at that time i also had the Tamron 18-250 so in theory, any FL was available to me. the 50mm FL lens got to be used a lot by me because it seemed to provide the kind of enlargement and the size of street objects that i wanted in my night exposures. Occasionally it wouldn't work and i would slap on the 18-250, e.g. when i was on a public pier and needed more magnification. But at the local tourist shop, i've sold more photos at 50mm than any other FL. Is this because i bought this prime lens first or for some reason get along well with this FL. Beats me, but favorable feedback has guided me to use that FL more, not because its called "normal" or something.

best wishes,

10-23-2009, 11:06 PM   #9
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50mm is cool. Just a focal length that could really test your creativity.
10-23-2009, 11:31 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dangermouse Quote
I routinely see Pentax-A 50mm f1.7 or f1.4s going for over twice what I paid for a mint Pentax-F 28-80mm zoom (heavier, but sharper than the later FA version), and auto focus examples seem to go for almost as much as I paid for my K-m. What's the appeal?
Your 28-80 is limited to apertures of f/4-ish or smaller; the 50's open up to f/1.7 or f/1.4, allowing for much faster shutter speeds and also allow for much shallow DOF when you want that effect. Plus a 50/1.7 or 50/1.4 is going to *much* sharper at f/4 than your zoom is.
10-23-2009, 11:42 PM   #11
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It's a versatile, creative and compact tool to get you learning about photography!
10-23-2009, 11:51 PM   #12
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While everyone else doles out praises for the 50mm, and I have one too. It is a real odd focal length for me, just a bit too long for tight shots and a bit too short for telephoto.

Now I can say this factually as I was able to graph my focal length use over the past 3 years and what I found out was that I use 35-40mm and 70-80mm more than half the time and every other focal length are a distant third.

If the zoom does you well, then think about where you take most of your pictures and find fast primes at those specific focal lengths and don't succumb to peer pressure just to have a 50mm.
10-24-2009, 12:32 AM   #13
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"50mm - what's the appeal?"

Well, it's very versatile. Not to mention sharp and fast. You can simply do things with a fast 50 that a zoom in the same range couldn't dream about.

Also I have noticed that I use the 50mm most of all my lenses so for me the FOV works very well. This is on FF, have tried 50mm on a crop sensor also but naturally found it a bot too long.
10-24-2009, 12:56 AM   #14
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In a nutshell:

- speed, f/1.4 is 3 to 4 stops quicker than any consumer "standard" zoom.
- affordability, compared to other sub f/2 lenses the 50mm is usually the cheapest.
- "normal" focal length which results in a perspective similar to what we see through our own eyes.

Faster lenses allow for more creativity through and pinpoint focus and give you my freedom to shoot in low-light. In general they're also extremely sharp stopped down.
10-24-2009, 01:01 AM   #15
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What hood do you use for FA 50 1.4? I've been looking all over the place for one!
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