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Prime Indecision

22 Dec 2012 4:57PM
I have decided to purchase and explore the world thru a prime lens. It's a tossup between the Nikon 85 1.8g or Sigma 50 1.4, but I'm stuck and having a difficult time actually picking one. Any thoughts or experience's good/bad with either lens would be extremely helpful in getting me out of this state of confusion. Grin

Thanks in Advance

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GarethRobinson 11 1.0k 2 United Kingdom
22 Dec 2012 5:06PM
what is your intended subject matter and are you using dx or fx, that will make the difference.
User_Removed 7 4.6k 1 Scotland
22 Dec 2012 5:21PM
As above.

If shooting FX and interested in portraits then the Nikon lens you mention could be good.

If shooting DX portraits or FX general photography, the 50mm lens might be better.

But it is "horses for courses" and you need to define the courses before we can recommend the horses.
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
22 Dec 2012 5:44PM
Any reason to not include the Nikkor 50mm, or 35mm in the list? or even wider?

Without knowing your existing kit, it's quite hard to suggest, but I would suggest that you might find the longer lens a little restrictive for general photography, unless you regularly shoot from a distance with your current lens. Full frame would suggest 50mm, crop would suggest 35mm as general walkround lenses.

Look at your pictures, which focal length do you use most? It requires discipline to use a single focal length, you find yourself looking for images that fit, rather than seeing the photo and adjusting for it. Your feet are the cheapest zoom you own, so why not set your existing lens to a single focal length, be disciplined and shoot as if you couldn't move the zoom. See where your interest (and artistic/compositional feel) takes you.

I have used the 85mm and found it brilliant, just too long for my kind of shooting, but I have several 50mms, including the 1.4 Nikkor, and cannot fault it..sharp, fast, light, very shallow plane of focus when I want it, and accurate focussing. It takes up little room in my bag...that is, when I steal it back from the missus! I had to get her a 50mm f/1.8 to pacify her!

GlennH 12 1.9k 1 France
22 Dec 2012 5:47PM
I have the 50mm Sigma if it's of any interest. A couple of examples shot at max aperture are here and here .

On my 5D it does/did (I got rid of the 5D) have a tendency to front focus at max aperture (something also observed by DP Review with their sample, I noticed). Closing down to f2 made AF more reliable using central AF point, as well as improving sharpness considerably. The Sigma also produces quite high levels of axial CA - correctable with varying degrees of effort using Lightroom's defringing tool.
22 Dec 2012 5:49PM
Hi, Sorry guy's n gal's I guess more info would make things a tad easier, lol. Ok... DX format camera right now possibly FX in the future. As far as subject matter I think more towards the general side as opposed to portraits, maybe portraits in the future, but for now general photography. aagghh I'm soo confusedTongue

22 Dec 2012 6:36PM
Hi Sooty and thanks , Now that you mention it there is no reason the 50 and 35 Nikkor lens aren't in the running. I have the 18-55vr kit lens and 70-300vr lens at the moment. I actually like the idea of having to think about the image that I want to snap instead of just zooming in or out. Your idea of setting a lens to one length and showing discipline is awesome, but there in lies the problem " discipline" I'm a little lacking in that department lol. I am going to try it but....

Thanks Glenn for the pics and your observations on the lens

GlennH 12 1.9k 1 France
22 Dec 2012 8:27PM
The Sigma is well known for its smooth bokeh (out-of-focus areas), which would be a reason to buy it over a large proportion of Canon or Nikon equivalents if that was a particular taste. When I brought mine though I was confronted with more of a learning curve than I'd experienced before - normally I just whack lenses on and start using them. I did that with the Sigma and promptly ended up with a high proportion of failures, so I had to get used to its quirks as much as possible before it became usable.

Nikon language is a little alien to me, but yes, a 50mm becomes something of a betwixt and between choice on a DX body. The new Sigma 35m f/1.4 is meant to be something rather special, but only to be considered if you have money to burn! A Nikon equivalent would seem a good choice.
dandeakin 9 209 3 England
22 Dec 2012 11:22PM
I would get a Nikon 35mm 1.8

They are exceptional.
LenShepherd 9 3.3k United Kingdom
23 Dec 2012 9:04AM
For general photography 50 mm is usually the better choice on DX format.
85 mm on DX is definitely telephoto being the equivalent of 135 mm in the film era.
Adding to your possible confusion 35 mm is normal on DX format.
As already suggested the 35mm f1.8 is excellent, but DX only.
As you are unsure why not start with a 50 mm f1.8 D which you can buy second hand for about 70? You can always trade it towards a more exotic f1 .4 lens, some of which cost over 1000
arhb Plus
10 3.3k 68 United Kingdom
23 Dec 2012 9:56AM
If you buy the sigma 50mm, get it from a local camera shop - I had AF issues from the outset with mine, and was able to take it back to the shop and change for the Canon equivalent,
that has been faultless. I am aware that this is not an isolated problem. Having the local shop makes it easier to go through the exchange process rather than an online purchase.

When the Sigma lenses work, they are excellent - just make sure you get one that does Smile
Sooty_1 7 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
23 Dec 2012 11:13AM
Only the 35dx is dx only, you can get a 35mm F/2 which works just as well on FX.

The OP needs to know if their camera will function with D lenses. If their camera is a D40 series, D3xxx or D5xxx it will have no mechanical linkage and will be limited to AF-G, AF-I or AF-S lenses, to maintain functionality.

The OP should still see which focal length they prefer before choosing, that will narrow your choices considerably and prevent wasting money. After all, buying a lens which just sits in your bag because you don't get on with it is a real waste. I would advocate the secondhand route too, from a reputable dealer if you can't get to see the item to check it.
GlennH 12 1.9k 1 France
23 Dec 2012 11:42AM
I was never sure about the Sigma focusing issues, in as much as focusing problems inherently exist to some degree in many very fast lenses, whether marque or third-party. The fact that it failed to focus accurately wide open was somewhat disconcerting, however, given most peoples' reasons for buying a fast lens in the first place. Normally such lenses invite focusing issues once they're stopped down slightly.
widtink 5 406 2 Scotland
23 Dec 2012 12:00PM
I bought the Nikon 50mm 1.8 D as my first lens and love it and for 79 quid brand new you can't go wrong as a general lens (great for portraits btw)Smile

23 Dec 2012 1:37PM
Thanks Everyone, My camera is without a built in motor so I'm going to take a serious look Nikon 50mm 1.8g. The reviews seem to quite good and the cost is more than reasonable (219.00 cad). I can always look at more expensive glass when/if my needs or talent level dictates new gear. No worries about any additional confusion LS Grin, I'm so confused most of the time I won't even notice a little extra lol

Thanks Again

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