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  1. #1
    We just can't have nice things... darkrainfall's Avatar
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    Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    I haven't been on the forums in a while, but I was happy to see that my profile was still alive. I need some advice on whether I should buy the 50mm f1.4 lens or the 50mm 1.8. The f1.4 seemed to be the obvious choice, but after a discussion with some guys at work, who seem to think the f1.8 is a lot sharper when shooting at F8, I don't know which to buy. I'd appreciate any advice or suggestions. Thanks!!

  2. #2
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    I'm going to say that you can't go wrong with either, but if you don't need the extra 2/3 of a stop with the f1.4 then I'd recommend the f1.8. It's very inexpensive and sharp, and the out of focus areas seem just a little better than the f1.4 that I have (last two points based on what I've seen, I've never shot with the f1.8). Some people don't like the build quality of this $100 lens, but has anybody actually worn one out?

    If you do shoot a lot in low light, sometimes 2/3 of a stop is a huge difference and much more imortant than any of my other points. I used to do that a lot, so that's why I bought the f1.4...

  3. #3
    Ex-Modster Old Timer's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    I've about decided to invest in a the 50mm f1.8. I keep seeing all these wonderful images with this lens and for the price how can you go wrong. I figure that if for some reason I'm not satisfied I can always go back and get the f1.4 and still not be hurt much.
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  4. #4
    Check out our D300 Pro Review! deckcadet's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    The 1.8 is fantastic but the 1.4 is supposed to be sharper at wider apertures.
    I guess it depends on what your primary focus is going to be- if you want to use it most in lower light, the 1.4 will be a better bet. The 1.8 would be sharper at f/8 in most cases, so if that's what you want to shoot at most of the time, then the 1.8 would be better.

    I like the 1.8 optically, but buildwise you get what you pay for. It's not as solid as more expensive primes like the 1.4, plus its focus ring is of a style I'm not keen on, but that's just nitpicking.
    Harrison
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  5. #5
    We just can't have nice things... darkrainfall's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    *smile* It seems like this was a tougher question than I thought. Thanks for the advice though! I think I will purchase the 1.8 right now and if I am unhappy with it, I'll pick up the 1.4 later. Neither lens is too expensive, so this seems like a good way to go.

  6. #6
    light wait photophorous's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    I have the 1.8, and I like it a lot. Have not used the 1.4, so I can't compare. I bought my 1.8 used from my local camera shop, and it is engraved with the local news paper name and phone #. It has signs of heavy use, but it still works great. Very sharp, and to my eye the bokeh is very nice as well. For the price, I don't think you can go wrong with the 1.8.

    Paul

  7. #7
    Hardcore...Nikon Speed's Avatar
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    Talking You Didn't Mention...

    What you are going to use the lens for.

    I opted for the f1.4 over the f1.8 version, because I'm into astronomy and astrophotography. It has been nice to have the extra light when shooting indoors/low light events like weddings as well. I usually went with the old "step down one or two stops for a sharper image" axiom. And at that, I can usually shoot indoors using available light at f2.0 and still get 1/30th second in most situations (using ISO400).

    Ironically, I didn't shoot people with this lens until I got my D200. Now I'm finding that for some situations, I like opening it up all the way to f1.4. I don't know that the bokeh is that much, if any, better than the f1.8, nor do I think the diffence at f8 is going to be great between the two.

    I do know that in the five years I've been on PR, I have yet to hear anyone say they didn't like their 50mm f1.4 or f1.8 lens!
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  8. #8
    photo gallery Mod. starriderrick's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    Quote Originally Posted by photophorous
    I have the 1.8, and I like it a lot. Have not used the 1.4, so I can't compare. I bought my 1.8 used from my local camera shop, and it is engraved with the local news paper name and phone #. It has signs of heavy use, but it still works great. Very sharp, and to my eye the bokeh is very nice as well. For the price, I don't think you can go wrong with the 1.8.

    Paul
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  9. #9
    Hardcore...Nikon Speed's Avatar
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    Talking Nikon Rocks !!

    Yes it does!

    :-D
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  10. #10
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    After reading comments here and the reviews on Amazon, I decided to go with the f1.8 lens at $124.95. Thank you!

  11. #11
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    NO. WRONG PURCHASE

    You just said that you have a D5100 (in another post).

    If you got the 50 f1.8 for $124.95 then it is the D version. This does not have an autofocus motor and on your D5100 it won't autofocus. And manual focus on the D5100 is no fun.

    You should get the 50mm f1.8 AF-S. OK, it's more expensive but it's also even better than the D version
    Charles

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  12. #12
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    Get the 1.4. Better glass inside!

  13. #13
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    I am shooting with the D5000 and I am trying to decide between the AF- S DX 35mm f1.8G or the AF-S 50mm f1.8G. The later is an FX lens and my camera is a DX. I know it will work fine, but what will happen to my image? I think the middle of the image will be in focus, but what about the rest since the image will be projected on a smaller sensor?

  14. #14
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    The rest of the image will just be drawn on the parts of the camera internals around the sensor. As these are all matt black there won't be any reflections so all you will see on your final picture is the part that falls on the sensor.

    There is no difference in focus between shooting with a DX lens and a FX lens. I don't see where you got that idea from.

    Of course the view you get with a 50mm lens is different from what you get with a 50mm lens. On a DX sensor camera:

    - 35mm is a "normal" view, like human perception, neither wide-angle nor telephoto. I use it a lot with people in the street
    - 50mm is a moderate telephoto lens. People often use it for impromptu portraits, like across the family dinnertable
    Charles

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  15. #15
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    Hummm - ok - I was looking for a lens that was better in low light. Football season is over for us this week, but the farther into the season the less pictures I can take because it gets too dark and the lights on the fields are horrible. What do you suggest?
    Last edited by new2dslr; 10-21-2011 at 12:21 PM.

  16. #16
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    "the farther into the season the less pictures I can take because it gets too dark and the lights on the fields are horrible"

    Welcome to the world of available light photography. Start out by looking for an angle where the quality of the light is not too bad i.e. faces are not in shadow. Try setting the light balance yourself. It will be never be as good as sunlight but after all, the event is at night. I find the raw look of stadium light adds to the atmosphere

    You're trying to do sports with a D5000 in low light. Your camera is pretty well equipped for this (same sensor as my D300). If you run short of light then set 3200 ISO or even 6400 ISO if possible. The colour is a bit off but at least you can usually set a fast shutter speed to stop action.

    You're doing sports which means you're at a distance from the subject so a tele lens is useful to bring the action closer.

    - Go for the 50mm f1.8 AF-S rather than the 35mm f1.8 (it's a tele lens on the D5000).
    - Don't get the 50mm f1.8 D or the 85mm f1.8D (won't autofocus on your D5000)
    - The professionals choice is the 70-210 f2.8 AF-S but I imagine it's out of your budget
    - Check out the 80-200 f2.8 AF-S (not the D version). This was discontinued a few years ago but it's still available. It's huge and expensive but less so than the 70-120
    Charles

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  17. #17
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    I tried the night portrait, night landscape. On M mode I had the iso at 2500 the metering on spot the flash compensation at +1.0 and exposure compenstion at +2.0 on A and S the same I think

    I was hoping that by using my 18-55mm f3.5 - 5.6G lens that it would be short enough to let the light enough and that my setting would help after half time.

  18. #18
    Junior Member Bookie's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    Quote Originally Posted by new2dslr View Post
    Hummm - ok - I was looking for a lens that was better in low light. Football season is over for us this week, but the farther into the season the less pictures I can take because it gets too dark and the lights on the fields are horrible. What do you suggest?
    I use a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 non os for hockey and gymnastics. It worked good on the D40 but now I have a D7000 and a ton better. D40 didn't have the higher iso for shooting in the dungeons that some of the gymnastic meets were in. It also worked very well with a D5000 that I borrowed from a friend.
    D7000
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  19. #19
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    I tried the night portrait, night landscape
    >> I would forget about using the built-in programs. We don't know exactly what the logic of the camera is so we lose control

    On M mode
    >> I would only use M mode if the light was fairly constant and I knew exactly what I was doing. However it may be a good choice in this case

    I had the iso at 2500
    >> No point in using less than 3200 ISO. The image quality (noise, sharpness) is quite satisfactory and it allows you to use a slightly faster shutter speed that might make the difference between an unacceptably blurred image and a just acceptable one

    the metering on spot
    >> You're using spot metering in manual mode to meter just a portion of the image and set the exposure accordingly for a whole series. This is not a bad idea as the lighting is pretty much constant. Under sports field lights you tend to get large areas of shadow on a moving subject that confuse matrix metering and make it overexpose the image. I imagine that you're shooting in JPG so your possibilities of correcting exposure errors are limited. Usually I shoot RAW with Matrix metering on auto mode and correct the exposure afterwards in the lab. But then I'm lazy..

    the flash compensation at +1.0
    >> I imagine you're using the built-on flash (shudder). The range of the built-in flash is very limited and the colour of the light coming from the flash is certainly not the same as that of the field lights. Your camera is probably setting light balance for the field lights which means that your flash light is coming out blue (check the shadows, skin colours with a ghastly blue tinge - that's your flash). I would forget about the flash and just use available light. At least the colour will be consistent. However with your 18-55 you are limited (read on)

    and exposure compenstion at +2.0
    >> This means you're spot metering on the wrong thing. Try to choose a mid tone

    on A and S the same I think
    >> I would use S mode but I have a doubt about using spot metering. Each time you depress the shutter release you will do an automatic exposure on whatever happens to be in the spot metering zone at the time. If you're not careful it could be a dark zone, a light zone - loss of control. I would use matrix metering which effectively takes a reading from 450 spots then the camera tries to figure out the correct exposure. It's not perfect but it's usually quite close.
    I would use "S" mode with the shutter speed set to 1/250s or 1/500s because this is the shutter speed that you need to freeze a moving subject. "A" mode is useless - we're not doing a portrait or a landscape here, depth-of-field is unimportant, we don't really care about the aperture.

    I was hoping that by using my 18-55mm f3.5 - 5.6G lens that it would be short enough to let the light enough and that my setting would help after half time.
    >> Now you lost me. At the wide-angle setting the maximum aperture is f3.5 which is 1 and a third stops wider than the maximum aperture setting at the tele setting (f5.6). However to get a good wide-angle shot of a football game you have to be out on the field with the players, right in the thick of it. Seems rather unlikely (not very familiar with American football).
    I imagine that you're on the sidelines with the players at a distance so you need a tele. If you're shooting at 55mm that means your maximum aperture is f5.6. Let's imagine that you're at 3200 ISO, your exposure is 1/60s f5.6, your results are going to be blurred by subject motion (unless you use flash). However if you fit a 50mm f1.8 you can use an exposure of 1/500s f2 which is much more likely to give you a sharp result. The only thing you have to be careful of is the depth-of-field it's much less at f2 than at f5.6. Make sure you're focussing on exactly the right point..
    Charles

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  20. #20
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    Ok - to sum up your suggestions... for the 18-55 lens use shutter priority, with a shutter speed of 1/250 or 1/500, matrix metering and an ISO of 3200. Will I need a tri/mono pod?

    When I get my 50mm lens, use shutter priority and set the shutter speed at 1/500. Yes - I am on the sidelines - they don't usually let amature (or professional) photographers on the field with the players -LOL!

    At the beginning of the season I use my 55-300 mm 4.5- 5.6 lens. I get some great shots. I can really zoom in and then I don't have as much work later. I've been using the smaller lens and then editing the pictures later. I'm having fun learning. your help is valueable.

  21. #21
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    thanks for the tip Bookie

  22. #22
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    ...for the 18-55 lens use shutter priority, with a shutter speed of 1/250 or 1/500, matrix metering and an ISO of 3200. Will I need a tri/mono pod?

    A tri/mono pod is mostly useful to avoid camera shake at slow shutter speeds. We usually reckon that if you are using a shutter speed of 1/the-focal-length-in-use then you are pretty sure of having camera shake. (This is assuming that you have a steady hand and you don't press the shutter release like you're playing the piano)

    You don't need a mono/tripod for your case.

    - To freeze movement we have already decided that you are going to try using a shutter speed of 1/250s which is much faster than the 1/60s that you need with your 18-55 at 55mm to avoid camera shake. If you were using your 55-300 at 300mm then you would be just over the limit.
    - To shoot sports you need to be mobile to follow the subject. A tripod is a clumsy thing to operate, more suited to static subjects. A monopod is much less efficient at avoiding camera shake but it allows you to follow the subject plus its weight stabilises the camera

    I'm surprised you haven't mentioned VR. Recent 18-55's have this feature which (theoretically) allows you to break the 1/focal-length-in-use rule by about three full stops i.e. with a 55mm lens instead of having 1/60s as your minimum you have (ummm - 1/60 > 1/30 > 1/15 > 1/8) one eighth of a second as your minimum to avoid camera shake. But at 1/8s your running football player has become an artistic blur.

    So you have a 55-300 f4.5-5.6 as well as a 18-55 f3.5-5.6?

    - I assume that you've been shooting with the 18-55 at 18mm f3.5 to get the most light through the lens then cropping.
    - If you have been shooting with the 18-55 at 55mm f5.6 then it would be better to use the 55-300mm at 55mm f4.5. There's 2/3 of a stop more light coming through. Big difference when light is low
    Charles

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  23. #23
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    Both the lenses I use have VR. I used the 55-300 lens at the beginning of the season. It was light for almost the whole game and I didn't have much of a problem. Toward the end of the season it becomes a big problem so I used the 18-55. We also had light rain for some of the later games. I was hoping it would diffuse the harsh stadium lights, but it didn't really. With the 18-55 I did go in and crop the photos. It does become more time consuming to do it this way , but at least I have photos. I see you shoot both cannon and nikon. do you see much of a difference? (picture quality,color, ease of use, quality of camera) I have several friends who use Cannon EOS - and know nothing about their cameras and don't care to learn all the features it has. They leave the camera on Auto and shoot away. I would really like to learn how to utilize my camera so I can get the shots they can't. One friend had a son graduate with my son and we compared photos. Our school colors are Maroon and White. The boys were in maroon robes and the girls in White. When we compared photos we noticed that her photos had more of a reddish tone to the maroon and mine where closer to the ture color. Is that due to the camera or the settings or the paper they are printed on or the printer or a combination?

  24. #24
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    N2D> I see you shoot both cannon and nikon. do you see much of a difference? (picture quality,color, ease of use, quality of camera) I have several friends who use Cannon EOS - and know nothing about their cameras and don't care to learn all the features it has. They leave the camera on Auto and shoot away. I would really like to learn how to utilize my camera so I can get the shots they can't.

    Fr>> I shoot 2 Nikon mid-level pro DSLR's with lots of lenses. These two DSLR's have almost the same features and user interface.

    I also use a Canon "expert's compact" (S95) which is small enough to carry around with me all the time. It looks like a point-and shoot but the lens is the equivalent of a 18-70 f2-f4.5 with VR (drool), the camera goes up to 3200 ISO and it has lots of buttons and dials so I am fairly in control of it. I do a lot of available light shooting with this camera of static subjects.

    Before you ask - the S95 is not suited for what you want to do. The autofocus would have difficulty in following a moving subject, and the small sensor means that the image quality at 3200 ISO is quite a bit worse than a DSLR. I only use it if I'm in a situation where I can't take a DSLR.

    I make sure that I master the features that I need on my cameras to have control and forget the rest. I have no problem leaving the camera on auto (Program mode - my cameras don't have green mode) if I know that it will give me the results I need. I always shoot RAW and develop in Lightroom so any differences between Canon and Nikon colour etc. are pretty much eliminated.

    N2D> One friend had a son graduate with my son and we compared photos. Our school colors are Maroon and White. The boys were in maroon robes and the girls in White. When we compared photos we noticed that her photos had more of a reddish tone to the maroon and mine where closer to the ture color. Is that due to the camera or the settings or the paper they are printed on or the printer or a combination?

    CT> Combination. It might be colour balance, exposure, contrast, saturation, calibration of the printer.. I always do my own prints so I control the process from start to finish. If something is not right then I can (try to) correct it. Then redo it the next day because it still doesn't look right but that's the joy of working in the digital lab, always something new to learn.
    Charles

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  25. #25
    Member wedding photographer's Avatar
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    Re: Nikon 50mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.8

    Get the 1.4 you like good looking photos. Everything else is secondary! Quality is the most important. It is not worth taking a photo if you won't like it at the end.

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