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Weddings? 50mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4?


Lucian 4 561
25 Oct 2012 9:32PM
I used a 50mm 1.8 lens at a wedding last weekend and got some decent results. I am now considering a 50mm 1.4 but have read reviews that say its image quality is very poor wide open so am wondering if there is any point in getting it as the whole purpose of buying it would be for its light gathering abilitys that are better than the 1.8. Any advice?

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25 Oct 2012 9:44PM
While the bokeh and shallow DOF created by shooting at f/1.4 can be very effective and flattering in portraits, its not always suitable for wedding photography.

With such a shallow DOF, if your focus is out by the smallest degree, the wrong area of the face will be thrown out of focus. Obviously in a lot of cases you might want to blur the background, but shooting at 1.4 could cause you more troubles than its worth.

That said, a 50mm 1.4 (not sure which brand you are referring to) is a pretty good little lens. As is an 85mm (or there abouts) portrait lens
Lucian 4 561
25 Oct 2012 9:49PM
Its canon i am refering to. i recently used a 85mm 1.8 lens to photograph a wedding ceremony and i used it at f2.5 with quite pleasing results. I have also got a 28mm 1.8 getting delivered this week so feel that it would be good to have a 50mm of better build quality but am worried that the photos may not be usable if i use it at f1.4.
779HOB 2 1.0k United Kingdom
25 Oct 2012 10:02PM
I use a Nikon 50mm 1.4 a lot and love it. It's pretty much my standard lens.
ianrobinson e2
5 1.1k 8 United Kingdom
25 Oct 2012 10:21PM
Lucian, if your a wedding photographer you should already know what is the best lens to use Smile.
Lucian 4 561
25 Oct 2012 10:25PM

Quote:Lucian, if your a wedding photographer you should already know what is the best lens to use Smile.


How would i know iif i have never used the lens i am asking about?

Wedding Photographer? Me? Since when?
Pete e2
13 18.5k 96 England
25 Oct 2012 10:33PM

Quote:Lucian, if your a wedding photographer you should already know what is the best lens to use

Can we start to just agree that some people disagree with Lucian, his photography and his questions. It's starting to become a ball ache. The question is a good one and one that many people of different levels will not know the answer to, so please let's forget who asked and consider anyone wanting to know advice about that type of lens. These threads get picked up in search engines...and it's a common question. Thanks to those who've answered.

An f/1.4 lens is 2/3rd stop faster than a f/1.8 but is generally softer when used wide open. That said the slightly softer and minimal depth of field are things that appeal. Also it's easier to focus in low light if you like manual focusing, and that minimal depth of field is really cool. I like using super fast lenses. They are heavier and more expensive though.
monkeygrip 6 574 6 England
25 Oct 2012 10:56PM
I use the canon 50mm f1.4 on every portrait shoot and at some point during every single wedding.

As Pete says some lenses if not all of them including this one are not the best performers wide open but I absolutely love it at f2.8 and have to say it is the least expensive yet most used lens in my bag.

I would say if you do plan to use it wide open the shallow depth of field leaves very little margin for error and maybe a wedding is not the best place to practice.
scottishphototours 10 2.5k 2 Scotland
25 Oct 2012 10:58PM
Your first and only consideration is if the client will enjoy the results you'll produce with these lenses at an aperture like f1.4.

The faster f1.4 lens will give you as the photographer a bright viewfinder image, resulting in better AF performance too. However the very narrow depth of focus will generally result in an image that may not appeal to your client, with disastrous results, unless you're using it sporadically for a particular effect which you've shown your client beforehand.

Used carefully on things like menus, dress detail, flowers, favours etc, the f1.4 could be fabulous but I wouldn't use it for portraits at f1.4 because of the very shallow depth of focus.
GlennH 9 1.9k 1 France
25 Oct 2012 11:30PM
The 50mm and 85mm f/1.2 lenses have the best reps for wide open performance, but as opined it'd be a risky business to shoot too many pictures with very fast lenses at a wedding. Both of the faster 50mm lenses and I think the 85mm lenses too have 8 diaphragm blades, whereas the 50mm f/1.8 you've been using has 5, which contributes to its notoriously poor bokeh.

Using fast lenses at wide apertures introduces other problems, too, including axial CA, which becomes very noticeable in today's high res files. I'm not sure how much of a real-world problem that is for most wedding photographers, but it's always a consideration for my purposes.

The point of upgrading to an f/1.4 might not be the obvious one of shooting at a wider aperture - the fast 50mm lenses tend to improve very quickly as you stop down, so at f/2 you have a lens that benefits from much better bokeh and optimised sharpness whilst still letting in plenty of light.
thewilliam 6 4.7k
25 Oct 2012 11:55PM
Lucian, it all comes down to which f1.4 standard lens you're using and the best ones aren't made by either Nikon or Canon!

You have a choice of the 58mm Voigtländer Nokton, which is quite expensive, the 50mm Zeiss ZE, which is very expensive or the 50mm Leica Summilux via an adapter which is extremely expensive. In terms of quality, you get what you pay for.

The whole point of getting an f1.4 is to use it wide open where the number of blades in the iris would be irrelevent. Stopping down is done only to get extra depth of field because good quality lenses perform very well when wide open.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
26 Oct 2012 12:09AM

Quote:the whole point of getting an f1.4 is to use it wide open where the number of blades in the iris would be irrelevent


At a wedding, all well and good for the arty look, but its not going to be everyone`s cup off tea, the main reason for a faster lens is for a brighter viewfinder in poor light.

Iris blades, the more the better unless the blades are curved.
strawman 10 22.0k 16 United Kingdom
26 Oct 2012 12:13AM
I hear the sigma 50mm lens has very good out of focus performance.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
26 Oct 2012 12:19AM
Yes I think Sigma use curved aperture blades.
Pete e2
13 18.5k 96 England
26 Oct 2012 12:31AM
Thanks everyone for keeping this about photography and not vendettas or personal gripes. That's what this site should be about. Let's keep it that way. Some really good answers and meaningful to anyone who has that f/1.8 or f/1.4 conundrum. Smile

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