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Thread: Which 50mm lens?

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    Which 50mm lens?

    I never knew there actually exists a 50mm 1.2 lens from Nikon, and it is still being manufactured.
    It's an MF lens but that doesn't bother me much.
    I would like to replace my 50mm 1.8 with something faster because I really like the shallow DOF with the 50mm wide open.
    I was looking at a Nikon 50 1.4, the 50 1.2 and even the Sigma 50 1.4.

    Can you give me some advice on this please?

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    You can take this advice with a pinch of salt as I've never used the Nikkor 50/1.2 or the Sigma for that matter. The 50/1.2 doesn't have a very good reputation for wide open performance so you might find yourself stopping down to get a sharper image in which case you might as well just use the Nikkor 50/1.4 which I've found to be a very nice lens and quite sharp wide open. The Sigma has a great reputation for wide open sharpness and especially Bokeh but you should research any possible focusing and QA issues with this lens before committing.

    The 58/1.2 Noct-Nikkor Ais is the go for wide open performance however it commands and very high price on the second hand market. There info about it here as well as a comparison to the Nikkor 50/1.2 further down the same page.

    Some Noct's currently on Evilbay;
    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Nikon-Noct-Ni...item4aa4dc6fa2
    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Nikon-AI-S-1-...item563f226feb
    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Nikon-AIS-58m...item2eaffb1465

    I would just buy the Nikkor 50/1.4 and be done with it but the Sigma has a reputation for BOkeh so that might suit you better.

    Zeiss makes a 50/1.4 in the Nokon mount as do Voigtlander so you might want to look at those too.

    JJ
    Last edited by jjphoto; 27-09-2010 at 9:15am.

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    Wow that is one heck of a steep price tag! Thanks so much for the information JJ, I appreciate you putting this together.
    I have a Zeiss 35mm already and love it, but I also have a weakness for the Sigma as well as the Voigtlander...

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    After some research it seems like the Sigma is the winner when it comes to sharpness wide open as well as the bokeh wide open.
    I am mainly interested in performance at 1.4, so by the looks of it, I cannot get around the Sigma, can I?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kajo View Post
    After some research it seems like the Sigma is the winner when it comes to sharpness wide open as well as the bokeh wide open.
    I am mainly interested in performance at 1.4, so by the looks of it, I cannot get around the Sigma, can I?
    Yeah! I have both, and the Sigma is definitely going to be better for 99.9% of all your needs.

    Occasionally the 50/1.2 can be the better lens ... such as @ f/1.2

    If it were my money being spent on only one lens, the difference between the Sigma and Nikon f/1.4's are too small to worry about.. so price and availability differences would make more of a difference as to which one to get.
    Note tho that the Sigma is a big lens.. especially for a 50mm! approx twice the size of the Nikon 50/1.4.. but the biggest impact is on the diameter of the lens, rather than the length.
    I prefer the larger diameter as it seems to fit more snugly/comfortably/ergonomically into my hand especially when 'tweaking' focus a little bit here and there.
    Another note too tho.. if you already have other lenses with 77mm filters and you have a set of filters that you like to use(as I do with my Pols).. the Sigma is 77mm.. saves on having to get another damned filter!
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Yeah! I have both, and the Sigma is definitely going to be better for 99.9% of all your needs.

    Occasionally the 50/1.2 can be the better lens ... such as @ f/1.2

    If it were my money being spent on only one lens, the difference between the Sigma and Nikon f/1.4's are too small to worry about.. so price and availability differences would make more of a difference as to which one to get.
    Note tho that the Sigma is a big lens.. especially for a 50mm! approx twice the size of the Nikon 50/1.4.. but the biggest impact is on the diameter of the lens, rather than the length.
    I prefer the larger diameter as it seems to fit more snugly/comfortably/ergonomically into my hand especially when 'tweaking' focus a little bit here and there.
    Another note too tho.. if you already have other lenses with 77mm filters and you have a set of filters that you like to use(as I do with my Pols).. the Sigma is 77mm.. saves on having to get another damned filter!
    Very good point.
    My whole filter system bases on the 77mm, so that is an advantage for sure!

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    Ok the Sigma it is. I am not looking for the best price. I saw some on ebay from Hong Kong that come with a 1 year int. warranty as well for about $485
    That's a pretty good price (cheaper than the US).
    http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Sigma-50mm-50...item5637e7562c

    Is that a good option to buy one? I am only wondering, if they are notorious for focusing problems, it would be hard to give them back...

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    They're not really 'notorious' for focusing problems, but they do seem to get a bad rap.

    This would be the 'thirdparty fear factor' .. where thirdparty lenses will be under closer scrutiny, than those lenses of the genuine manufacturer, would be.
    I think a lot of social issues could be explained due to this phenomenon.
    I think there is a situation where many genuine manufacturer lenses will also be having 'focus' issues, but the users simply don't understand it correctly enough.

    Look up the term 'focus shift' and how it affects fast prime lenses. Very few, if any, will not be affected by the problem.. of course except manual focus lenses, like the 50/1.2

    If you have a D300 or better/later camera body with focus micro adjust, this feature is ideal to determine if the lens has any 'focus issues'. If it does, you can take it to a local Sigma repairer to get it adjusted properly.

    Also note! Apparently the local distributor for Sigma, has this deal where they price match any grey import price. look for prices according to a local grey product, get in touch with Sigma's distributor and see how ya go!.. you then get an official product for the same price and no warranty issues.

    ps. mine is over a year old now and still going strong!

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    They're not really 'notorious' for focusing problems, but they do seem to get a bad rap.

    This would be the 'thirdparty fear factor' .. where thirdparty lenses will be under closer scrutiny, than those lenses of the genuine manufacturer, would be.
    I think a lot of social issues could be explained due to this phenomenon.
    I think there is a situation where many genuine manufacturer lenses will also be having 'focus' issues, but the users simply don't understand it correctly enough.

    Look up the term 'focus shift' and how it affects fast prime lenses. Very few, if any, will not be affected by the problem.. of course except manual focus lenses, like the 50/1.2

    If you have a D300 or better/later camera body with focus micro adjust, this feature is ideal to determine if the lens has any 'focus issues'. If it does, you can take it to a local Sigma repairer to get it adjusted properly.

    Also note! Apparently the local distributor for Sigma, has this deal where they price match any grey import price. look for prices according to a local grey product, get in touch with Sigma's distributor and see how ya go!.. you then get an official product for the same price and no warranty issues.

    ps. mine is over a year old now and still going strong!

    Thanks heaps for your reply. I will try to find the Sigma distributor in Sydney and ask them to match the price...obviously they won't match the price I found on ebay, but having less hassle just in case, is worth paying for.
    I have a D300 btw. so I should be able to compensate any focusing issues in camera...

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    One more question:
    Where can I get the Sigma 50 1.4 cheaply in Australia? Ebay has it for $485 which is a fantastic price, but I'd obviously prefer a local dealer where I can go to if I happen to buy a soft lens?

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    Dwi have it for 438$
    I got my 10-24 there and it showed up in2 days. They have a warranty with a local mob as well
    http://www.dwidigitalcameras.com.au/...idProduct=2196

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    The dealer for Sigma is called C R Kennedy. They supply Sigma gear, as well as Pentax, Vanguard etc to Australian retail shops. Try doing an online price match with someone like Teds maybe, too. There is an option on their website and you give them a link to an Australian site selling cheaper. I got my Canon 24-70 f2.8 L for the d-d photographics price of $1680 which was a bargain at the time And all genuine Australian stock with proper warranty etc (even though canon lenses are international warranty anyway - something like Sigma you'll want a local repairer like C R Kennedy).
    Canon stuff 5Dmk1 w/ 24-70 f2.8L, Canon 5Dmk1 w/70-200f2.8L, 100mm f2.8 macro, 50mm f1.4, 580exII
    Alienbees B800, Lumopro 160, Manfrotto 155XPROB w/ 498RC2, Lowepro ProRunner X450AW
    Phew!

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolffman View Post
    Dwi have it for 438$
    I got my 10-24 there and it showed up in2 days. They have a warranty with a local mob as well
    http://www.dwidigitalcameras.com.au/...idProduct=2196

    That is a great price indeed, but after the shipping it's at $480, like the ebay price.
    Do you know where the local mob is for warranty purposes? Is it C R Kennedy?

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    DWI use a third party company for warranty, the details are on their website. CR Kennedy will price match Grey importers. I recently got a price match on a superzoom without too much hassle.

    Email them at this address mskcrk@crkennedy.com.au with a link to the website that you want to price match, they will also include shipping in the price match but you will get 2 years official warranty with the lens instead of a third party warranty.

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    Thanks a lot for the tip Wechap, I emailed them the specs. Lets see what they come back with...

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    Got a reply already. They can offer the lens for $500. That's pretty good considering that ebay has it for only $20 less from HK and with only one year warranty. Whereas CR Kennedy offers it with two. Am about to pick it up now. Thanks heaps guys. Can't wait to put this lens to good use!

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    Ok I received the lens today. It does front focus as well, but shooting with the D300, I simply adjusted the focus and now it's perfect. No need to send it back really...

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    you have to be careful when you determine if a fast aperture lens 'front focuses'.

    at what focus distance does it 'front focus'?
    at what aperture does it front focus too?

    fast aperture lenses are notorious for focus shifting.
    That is they don't exactly focus perfectly at the point you think they should have, and as you stop them down, adding to the extra DOF inherent with stopping down, the actual focus point usually moves back.

    So, what this could mean), is that if you set the body to focus behind the correct plane of focus with AF micro-adjustment, and you shoot slightly stopped down(say f/2.8), the af adjustment then forces the lens to focus slightly behind giving the situation where you may then experience backfocus.

    the manner in which you tested could also have an impact on whether the front focus is due to the lens as you believe it to be, or the type of target you chose... as well as the focus distance.. etc, etc.

    I did a static wall chart focus test with my lens too, and saw a 'bee's reproductive organ' bit of front focus too, but when I focused on some thing else(my favoured testing targets are AA batteries! ) there was no front/back focus issues!.
    The main thing to note, is how you're going to use the lens, in general.
    That is, what main aperture value you'll most likely use, and at what focus distance too. if you're doing full body shots, then most likely 2-3m, so at that distance inherent DOF will mask the focus shift anyhow. If you want close in, tightly cropped shoulder-face shots(say @ 1m) then more accurate focusing at your most likely used aperture should be the priority.

    Google the term fast aperture, focus shift, and you will get thousands of articles describing the phenomenon.


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    Thanks for the reply Arthur. I will mainly use this lens wide open, and focussing either close up or almost infinity, so my setting of +20 that I determined with the adjustment should do for most scenarios that I am going to shoot. I did not realize that the focus point shifts depending on the aperture.

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    I think you will be happy with the Siggy you just bought. I have owned the Nikon 50/1.4G, the Sigma 50/1.4 and a Voightlander 58/1.4. I have sold the Nikon G but I have kept the latter two, as the serve different purposes for me.

    The Sigma is built to perform at its peak wide open and at the larger apertures, I did not see any noticable improvement stopping down past f/4. I also had the lens sent in to CR Kennedy for focus adjustment - it front focused on my D700 requiring an AF fine tune of +13, and the focus on my D90 body was erratic at best. Since getting it back it still required an AF Fine tune value of +10 , but atleast the error was fairly consistent and I could set and forget the AF Fine tune value for the lens when mounted.

    Apart from this issue - I also found the Sigma more prone to AF hunting in lower light and strong backlit situations. I could hold my hand up in front of diffuse window light (so my hand was strongly backlit and it would just refuse to lock on.

    These AF nuances aside, the lens really is quite stunning wide open, with more centre contrast and sharpness than the Nikon 50 G . which makes it a great people lens.

    The Voightlander 58mm f1.4 Nokton is a little gem. It is as sharp, if not sharper than the Sigma wide open, it is smaller and more compact, and it is full time manual focus. It performs better than the Sigma when stopped down, however I did not get a chance to compare it to the Nikon 50/1.4G.

    It is built to a high standard, and those who like manual focus will be well catered for with a buttery smooth focus ring with a decent throw. It has a unique drawing style illustrated by the sample below. I am contemplating getting a reversing ring adapter for the Voigtlander and seeing how it performs mounted backwards as a macro lens.

    Below are some samples from the Siggy and the Voigtlander, for anyone else who may be considering their 50mm options.

    Sigma @ 1.4

    summer by kaiserkudo, on Flickr

    little-one by kaiserkudo, on Flickr

    Voigtlander @ 1.4

    _DSC7193 by kaiserkudo, on Flickr

    _DSC7190 by kaiserkudo, on Flickr
    Nikon D750
    Olympus m/43
    Rolleicord IV


    My SmugMug

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