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Archive 2012 · The age old prime question
  
 
alfarmer
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · The age old prime question


For a subject that's been covered to death you'd think the answers would be easy...but I'm not quite there yet so here goes.

I used to shoot a lot of candid baby portraits on my 5D with the 35L, which produced (IMHO) spectacular results. I'm considering getting back into "down on the floor" portraits and wondering which way to go on my 5D and 5D3 -- 24L, 35L, or 50L

From what I've read, the new 24L is great and I presume the 35L is as good as before. I've heard mixed reviews of the 50L, but am interested in it because I could stay farther away and get more bokeh, etc.

My concern with the 35L is there will be a 35L II release this fall. My concern with the 24L II is it might actually be too wide, requiring me to get quite close to the subject. That level of intimacy in a portrat can look really great, but it's not always a preferred look and I worry about the focal plane being too narrow (I'm almost always indoors and shooting wide open).

I currently have the 50mm f/1.4 and will be using the 100mm f/2.8L IS macro for longer portraits & facials (love that new lens!). I've never liked this 50mm as much as the 35L because the images just never had that "magical" look produced by Canon's L primes. I've also had sharpness issues with it wide open, but it's a great size for travel. :-)

So...is this decision easier than it seems?



Aug 17, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Photon
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · The age old prime question


You liked the results with the 35L, and you haven't changed cameras. Why not stick with the 35L?

You're interested in the 50L for reasons that make sense, but for "down on the floor" with very small people, maybe the intimacy of the 35 mm FL would be best.

Worried about the possible release of a 35L II? Why? The existing lens is excellent, and you presumably could be using it right away.

What do you mean by concern about the 24L "focal plane being too narrow"? The depth of field of any of these lenses at f/1.4 will be virtually identical when you adjust distance to have the same subject size. The apparent blurring of the background will actually be greatest with the longest FL, least with the 24.

So to return to my first point, the decision is never simple, but it seems you couldn't be far wrong with the 35L.



Aug 17, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Monito
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · The age old prime question


24 mm would be too wide. Baby's eyes would bulge and would seem to have no ears. All because you'd have to be so close.

Not to mention disturbing the baby from being so close.

Get the 50 mm f/1.4. Razor thin Depth of Field Fetish at f/1.2 is not needed.

Invest the money saved in lighting stands and backgrounds. You can get the candid look by setting up first and then gently plopping down the infant when you are ready to fire away.



Edited on Aug 17, 2012 at 04:47 PM · View previous versions



Aug 17, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Gunzorro
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · The age old prime question


I think you are right about the 24 taking in too much background, and probably too much DOF for some shots.

I don't know about your other concerns.

The 50/1.2 is pretty awesome in the little I've shot it. f/1.6-2.2 is pretty great! I'm not sure what it's MFD is, but it would probably be fine for babies. I'd think it would be a great lens for your use at f/1.2 to f/2.8.

Good luck deciding!



Aug 17, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Gochugogi
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · The age old prime question


The EF 85 1.8 USM focuses faster than all of those lenses, imparts a more natural facial appearance and allows better working distance for candid shots. I love my 50 1.2 but the 85 whips it red 'n bloody in terms of AF speed and reliability.


Aug 17, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Matt Kerby
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · The age old prime question


If you already feel comfortable shooting at 50mm but aren't so happy with the image quality, the 50L is a step up, but I think since you already have the 50/1.4 I'd go for the 35L and not worry about a pipe dream mkII. FWIW the 24L mkII is my new favorite. But maybe not for Pro portraits


Aug 17, 2012 at 05:57 PM
bbasiaga
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · The age old prime question


I agree with the others. 24mm will give some pretty big distortion up close. Love the 851.8. Looking at the 50 1.4 myself right now. What do you/don't you like about it?

-Brian



Aug 17, 2012 at 07:16 PM
alfarmer
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · The age old prime question


Brian, I wouldn't say I dislike the 50mm f/1.4 but I didn't get it for portraits. It's great as a travel lens because of its size and is generally pretty quick at AF.

Where it pales for me is in comparison to the 35L for portraits. When I had both and tried both on the same subject, there just wasn't any question which way to go. I don't know if that was a fair comparison, but the 50L didn't exist at the time.

If I got the 50L it would be with the expectation that it performed as well wide open as the 35L. If it did not perform as well or better than I'd consider that a disappointment.

Am I hearing people correctly that the 50L doesn't focus as quickly as the 35L?



Aug 17, 2012 at 07:44 PM
 

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splathrop
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · The age old prime question


The people who mentioned the 85mm f/1.8 are giving you useful advice. Don't get too hung up on red rings. The 35L is a highly versatile lens, delivering superb image quality. The 85 f/1.8 is a better portrait lens, especially for babies, because they fit the field better than grownups. On the other hand, if you want portraits that show the whole baby, plus bring the room, or the toys, or the swing set into it, get the Zeiss 21mm for that. You don't have to worry about quick focus, because you set it up to be in focus and depth of field does the rest.


Aug 18, 2012 at 02:32 AM
andyz
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · The age old prime question


Borrow or rent one or two or each and see how they perform, then decide. I would have leaned toward the 50 but it depends on how you shoot and what you're after.


Aug 18, 2012 at 02:57 AM
dimitris77
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · The age old prime question


I would buy the 35L because thats what it sounds like you need. If a 35Lmk2 ever comes out you can upgrade. Its not like its going to be a cheap lens anyways.


Aug 18, 2012 at 03:04 AM
thedutt
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · The age old prime question


the 35 and 135 f2s make a pretty awesome combo for candid photos on FF and price wise you may even save a few compared to the other options you are looking at.

How often did you find ourself shooting wider than f2 on the 35l ? Given how close you have to be to a kiddo, I used to stop down the f2 to 2.8.



Aug 18, 2012 at 03:59 AM
rscheffler
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · The age old prime question


I photographed my friends' kids growing up over the past 10 or so years and over that time my equipment has evolved somewhat. I've found I predominantly used 50mm, 85mm and 16-35 for wider, more environmental images. For a while I also used the 35 f/2, 24 TS-E and 45 TS-E, and not just because of the tilt function, but because of the nicer background rendering vs. the zoom.

The Canon 50 I currently use is the f/1.2L. As you've noted, it's a lens that people seem to either love or hate. I love it. Initially I didn't like it, because I was expecting it to be a 50mm version of the 85L, which it isn't. It's not as sharp at close portrait distances, but still plenty sharp, and for portraits it's also not necessarily a bad thing. This lens is under corrected for spherical aberration, which means the closer you focus, the slightly softer the image will be wide open. And, as you stop down, the focus will shift a bit away from the camera. But if you only shoot at or very near wide open, focus shift won't be a factor. While the lens has quirks, I find the images from it have a pleasing, lush quality. It's a bit difficult to describe.

I also own the 50 f/1.4 and have done side by side comparisons. There are differences in the final image, but minor. Notably the 50L does blur the background a bit more at equivalent apertures. The biggest difference though, IMO, is the 50L exhibits better AF consistency from shot to shot, which when following a toddler around, or young kids, can make a difference.

As for the 35L... there probably will be a new one coming, but with Canon's recent product pricing history, it will likely be in the near $2000 range. I'd just buy a used one for around $1000-1100 (lensrentals just had one listed for $1090, but already sold) and not worry about it, since that price should hold pretty steady even if a new one is announced soon.

I think 24 and wider can work for kids, but more for environmental vs. portrait shots. It will really depend a lot on how you arrange compositions and where in the frame the subject will be placed. Lately I've been favoring 28mm a lot, and also 21.

For example, here is 21mm on full frame at this lens's minimum focusing distance... You'll have to pardon me as it's not Canon gear, rather, the Leica 21mm f/1.4 M mount, at f/1.4. About its biggest drawback, other than price, is the 70cm minimum focusing distance, which for this kind of lens, is very far away. If there is a benefit, it's that distortion is less of an issue simply because you can't get crazy close with it. I think you can get a fairly good idea of what the 24 f/1.4L would give you in comparison - a slightly tighter crop and a touch more background blur:












And not quite so close:






After doing this casually for a number of years, I find that a combo of ~20/28/50 is a good range. But 28mm is kind of a dead zone for Canon since the 28 f/1.8 isn't highly regarded (I haven't used it and therefore won't comment further). While 85 is a great portrait lens, I find I usually work pretty close with younger kids and it's actually too long many times, thus 50mm has become my 'blow out the background' portrait lens.



Aug 18, 2012 at 05:14 AM
RobertLynn
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · The age old prime question


Perspective distortion with kids can be cool if not over done.


Aug 18, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Yakim Peled
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · The age old prime question


thedutt wrote:
the 35 and 135 f2s make a pretty awesome combo for candid photos on FF and price wise you may even save a few compared to the other options you are looking at.


+1


Happy shooting,
Yakim.



Aug 18, 2012 at 11:40 PM





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