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Prime lenses Query
Hi all,.

I am fairly new to the Digital SLR community and have a Nikon D80 with a Nikon DX AF-S 18-70mm and two Tamron lenses (55-200mm and 75-300mm). I have seen a lot of talk about the Nikon 50mm 1.8 in various forums and how good a lens it is and that it is a must have one... but just wonder is it one that I would benefit from seeing as I already havea lens that covers that range. There are some great prices for it around and I am just curious whether it is one I should consider..

Are prime lenses that much better than those that cover a wide range?.

I do a lot of family type indoor and outdoor shots and also landscape photography..

Thanks for your advice..

Peter..

Comments (15)

There coould be two benefits:.

1- the ability to make images in 1/4th to 1/8th the volume of light as the two zooms you identify..

2. the added sharpness at f/#s below about f/8 becuse the 50mm prime would already be "stopped down" when it reaches the max aperture of the zooms..

Van..

Comment #1

If you are taking pictures indoors without flash (low light) then yes, the extra aperture avaialble (f/1.8) compared to your kit lens (which will be about f/4 or f/5.6 at 50mm) will allow you to take pictures in much lower light. This is it's main advantage, and since 50mm lenses are so cheap compared to other focal lengths this is the easiest/cheapest way to get into low-light photography..

The optical quality of a prime is nearly always better than that of a zoom, although this may only be obvious if you look carefully at the edges of big enlargements - depends on the lenses..

Given your stated uses I'd think it is well worth getting one..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #2

Another advantage of a bigger aperture for portraits is the shallower depth of field...

Comment #3

Many thanks for the swift responses. You all confirmed what I had already heard about this lens and I'll be adding this lens to my collection shortly..

Peter...

Comment #4

Hi,.

I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong but the CCD of the D80 is 28mm or so across the diagonal and a 35 mm camera has a diagonal of 43 mm or so. So the 50 mm lens will be the equivalent of (off the cuff) 75 mm in 35 mm terms which won't be much use indoors or for landscapes but is heading towards a portrait lens focal length. But the DoF will be that of a 50 mm lens and that isn't quite as shallow as we'd want for portraits - assuming you're old fashioned enough to want a portrait lens..

Just my 2d worth..

Regards, David..

Comment #5

David Hughes wrote:.

Hi,.

I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong but the CCD of the D80 is28mm or so across the diagonal and a 35 mm camera has a diagonal of43 mm or so. So the 50 mm lens will be the equivalent of (off thecuff) 75 mm in 35 mm terms which won't be much use indoors or forlandscapes but is heading towards a portrait lens focal length. Butthe DoF will be that of a 50 mm lens and that isn't quite as shallowas we'd want for portraits - assuming you're old fashioned enough towant a portrait lens..

Just my 2d worth..

Regards, David.

Exactly right: the 50mm f/1.8 on a D80 will be equivalent to about a 75mm focal length in old money, a good focal length for portrait / individual people pics. The reason it is so often recommended is that it is so cheap comparred to other lenses that it is the easiest way into low-light photography with a prime lens. A 35mm f/1.8 (for example), which may be a more suitable general-purpose focal length, is much more expensive..

There's nothing much that can be done about smaller sensor camera having greter depth of field (given the same field of view) as full-frame sensors - it comes with the camera..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #6

The 50 lens on a Nikon with a 1.5 factor will be like a 75 mm lens in terms of crop factor only, not magnification. You will be able to use it just fine in doors, no 50 mm lens is a good portrait lens. The popular focal length for photography is 85 - 100 mm; the reason is what lenses do to the nose. Short focal lengths lengthen the nose, telephoto's flatten the nose..

Have fun with the lens and use it a lot to learn it; the more you use it - the more you'll want to use it. I just took a whole slew of shots with my newly purchased old Canon f1.8 Mk l lens a week ago. I had a number of lenses in my bag, but I chose to shoot with this lens exclusively as I was shooting in a well lit basement, shooting guys who were participating in an "operating" session involving model railroading. I didn't use the flash once. Using software I punched the shots up after wards and they turned out great..

Lets say I was in a church with great stained windows and I wanted a general shot of the interior. I'd grab the 50mm lens, place it on top of a pew and shot towards the front of the church with a longish exposure, like 1/15th of a second at f1.8; it would turn out...

Comment #7

Rsn48 wrote:.

The 50 lens on a Nikon with a 1.5 factor will be like a 75 mm lens interms of crop factor only, not magnification..

Nobody mentioned the word 'magnification'. The term used was 'field of view' which is different (and correct).Mike..

Comment #8

In London you can't get a decent haircut for US$100 - how good would the lens have to be to be a good deal? In fact it is outstanding. Also, using a fixed-focal length lens is a good discipline, because you have to solve framing problems photographically rather than by using the zoom...

Comment #9

Hi,.

Hmmm, switch on a digital P&S and a lot of dSLR's with the "kit" lens and you'll get a 28mm equivalent FoV which is about 75 (from memory), or a 35 mm which is about 65 (also from memory) but a 50 used as a 75 mm will only offer about 32 or so (the old fool is doing the sums in his head so beware). Either way it's not what I'd use for interior shots. Except for portraits....

The f/18 will be usefull indoor though..

Regards, David..

Comment #10

I know you are a Nikon man, but anyway - there is a lot of good general knowledge on the zoom - prime lens question in this thread in the Canon lens forum:http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=26532891.

Cheers,.

ObaobaCAN Sfourfive, Ssixzero, Pan FXzeroone, Canfourzerod, Sig18-200OS..

Comment #11

How about I'm right and you're right; and I'm wrong and you're wrong. Here is what you said:.

"Exactly right: the 50mm f/1.8 on a D80 will be equivalent to about a 75mm focal length in old money, a good focal length for portrait / individual people pics.".

Nothing about field of view or magnification, but most of the time if this sentence is written in these forums, the guy or gal is talking about magnification. So I give you the benefit of the doubt and say your are right and I am wrong..

85mm lens is still the better portrait focal length...

Comment #12

How about I'm right and you're right; and I'm wrong and you're wrong..

Fair enough!Best wishesMike..

Comment #13

Just wanted to close off this thread by saying that I got the lens last week and it has remained firmly on the camera ever since... I love it .

Thanks for all the advice, very much appreciated..

Peter..

Comment #14

85mm lens is still the better portrait focal length..

Perhaps, or perhaps not - it just depends on what the photographer wants..

Since hairs are being split, your statement above where you said, "The popular focal length for photography is 85 - 100 mm; the reason is what lenses do to the nose. Short focal lengths lengthen the nose, telephoto's flatten the nose" is simply wrong..

Lenses neither lengthen nor shorten noses. That effect is the result of camera to subject distance, not focal length. And camera to subject distance (assuming the same subject framing) is a function of FoV. So from the standpoint of framing a face and keeping a perspective that avoids exaggerating nose size, a 50mm lens on a 1.5x format sensor will have the same effect as a 75mm on a 35mm format camera. That's not much difference. Get a 55mm instead and the equivalence is 82.5mm..

55mm on a 1.5x camera is a decent portrait length - thought the bokeh may not be the best depending on the particular lens..

Jay Turbervillehttp://www.jayandwanda.com..

Comment #15

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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