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Wide aperture lenses eg f1.2 - why do people rave about them?

Sus 13 3.2k 9 England
28 May 2010 9:16AM
In professional photographer this week, a wedding photographer was raving about her Canon 50 mm f1.2 lens for weddings. But this lens is 1300, compared to 80 for the Canon 50mm f1.8!

What does fractionally more stops of light give you? Does anyone here own one? I'm just curious to know. At that price I can only dream.

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TSP 9 17 1 England
28 May 2010 9:29AM
its not just the stops your paying for with the f1.2 its corner to corner sharpness through the majority of the aperture range, build quality and a better, quicker, quieter focusing mechanism. I agree its a lot of money but if people want/need the best then most are willing to pay for it.
Pete Plus
17 18.8k 97 England
28 May 2010 9:31AM
It's not just the light, its the incredible shallow depth-of-field that you can get shooting at such apertures. Used well this provide sharpness only where essential and really nice out of focus highlights (bokeh)
And the other thing is the view through the viewfinder is ultra-bright and like looking through a window not a keyhole. The widest I've ever gone is f/1.4.
Fishnet 13 5.0k 5 United Kingdom
28 May 2010 9:37AM
I have a Minolta 50mm 1.7 and when I use it at it's widest I find it very hard to control what bit is sharp, the tiniest movement can render an eye out of focus.

My Nikon 50mm 1.8 gets very soft at it's widest and I rarely use it fully open, I find 2.2 or 2.8 to be good enough to blur the background for a portrait.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
28 May 2010 9:47AM
I've got the 50mm F1.4 and really like doing street stuff at F1.4 - thing is, even at ISO100 you often hit 1/8000th sec. and I've got the 5D set to compensate when this happens - i.e. it calculates that it needs a smaller aperture, and closes down to F2.2 (or whatever).

This is an archictectural shot @ f1.4, the vignetting is from the lens - the texture from concrete wall. But you see the rapid change to blur from sharpness


And this one of a socialist type in leeds shows how the background can blur even at reasonable distances with a f1.4


cameracat 14 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
28 May 2010 10:42AM

Quote:a wedding photographer was raving about her Canon 50 mm f1.2 lens for weddings

Personally that would be a complete waste of money for 99.9% of wedding photography......Sad

My reasons for this are firstly most if not all customers would not notice the difference in quality, Secondly when used on a FF camera you would have to be in their faces most of the time, Making candids a little obvious, A wedding day is all about the couple & their guests, With perhaps the exception of any formal shots, Photographers should be as discreet as possible, Hence a couple of decent zoom lens, With maybe a wide angle.

So why would anyone rave on about a 50mm lens costing 1300 quid, Probably for the " Kudos " of telling anyone who cares that they have one, Or maybe trying to justify the fact that they bought one, Unless your wedding couple are " Pro Photographers " I doubt they will have a clue what your talking about, Let alone care so long as the price is right.

RichBrew 8 151 England
28 May 2010 12:03PM
Subject isolation is one of the advantages with fast optics, as well as the ability to shoot in low light. Depth of Field can be controlled to great creative effect should it be desired, forcing the eye to look where the photographer desires.
I have two such lenses: the 85mm f/1.4D IF Nikkor and the 300mm f/2.8 AF-S VR Nikkor, both large aperture lenses in their class. The isolating properties of either lens is something to behold.

thewilliam 9 6.1k
28 May 2010 12:36PM
It's basically the law of diminishing returns - to get a little extra, we get to the stage where we pay a lot more for a tiny improvement. Remember "Professional Photography" and other comics exist to sell kit. Their advertisers expect to see such advice in editorials.

The cost of a wide aperture isn't just the price because they can weigh a ton. I'm sure they get heavier as the day progresses.

In some cases, but not all, the wider aperture lenses are the professional models and built to a higher standard than the entry-level options.

Most top-end lenses have their best performance one or two stops down from wide-open. From experience of using both f1.2 and f1.8 Nikon AIS lenses, and Rockwell agrees, the wider aperture beats the basic lens by quite a margin when used at f2.

Isolating the subject by using a wide aperture really only works for 85mm and longer lenses. I saw some test shots done with the f0.95 Noctilux and the subject isolation is a long way short of what we get from a tele.

Now that cameras go up to silly high ISO, we don't really need the wide aperture for exposure in low light.
spaceman 14 5.3k 3 Wales
28 May 2010 1:21PM
Is there really a noticable difference in DOF between 1.4 and 1.8?
Strobekid 11 369 United Kingdom
28 May 2010 1:38PM
Don't have 1.2 at the moment, but I love shooting at 1.4. I have 50mm and 85mm Nikons. Once you see how creamy characteristic of the lens, it soon becomes very addictive. I've seen shots taken with old Nikon 50mm 1.2, and its characteristics are similar, and somehow look magic. There was a guy on Flickr that uses Canon body, but loved the Nikon 50mm 1.2 so much, he bought it and uses an adaptor. You can pick one up for around 3-400. If you want to have a go, maybe worth a punt.
NikLG 12 1.7k England
28 May 2010 1:39PM

Quote:Is there really a noticable difference in DOF between 1.4 and 1.8?

It would make focusing in poor light easier, as the aperture is opened right up for
focusing, even if it's set to f8 or something ( for example ).
Strobekid 11 369 United Kingdom
28 May 2010 1:40PM

Quote:Is there really a noticable difference in DOF between 1.4 and 1.8?

Yes, it's noticeable. But as I wrote in my post above, it's the character of the shots that differentiate between the 2. The bokeh from 1.8 looks somewhat hard, whereas on 1.4, it looks so smooth and silky.
keith selmes 14 7.3k 1 United Kingdom
28 May 2010 1:42PM
In my limited experience of lens models, the difference is also in overall quality - my 1.4 works well wide open, whereas my 1.8, which is lighter and cheaper, needs stopping down a bit, so effectively its a bigger difference than just 1.4 to 1.8, more like 1.4 to 2.8 if not more.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
28 May 2010 1:53PM

Quote:Is there really a noticable difference in DOF between 1.4 and 1.8?

yeah - there really is

remember, at the lower "F stops" the numbers move slowly


whereas at the smaller end the jumps are bigger

F thirty something (is it 32, 33 - can't rememebr)

For a small jump you get a big difference when wide apertures are concerned.

Having spent a lot of time researching wedding stuff, you see a lot of togs selling the fact that they're "natural light only" and use fast primes as a result.

In many situations, my 70-200 F2.8 IS isn't fast enough for natural, far from it. You actually NEED these ultra fast lenses to do the job. AND these guys tend to be the ones selling a premium package.

If they can sell a wedding at 3000+ with primes, maybe the investment isn't folly? In the USA, they're charging huge bucks for these weddings

Actaully, one ot the most popular ones seems to be the 85 F1.2.

I've used one and felt the auto focus was pathetic, but the manual fine tuning you can do is amazingly precise.

So don't write the things off - they are specialist tools, most people would not benefit from them - but people who know how to use them AND how to market their use are making a killing from them
Strobekid 11 369 United Kingdom
28 May 2010 2:03PM
Good point from Ade about the relatively small number difference. 1.2 to 1.8 is same as 8 to 11, 11 to 16, and so forth. So the f stop gain is as much as the difference between cheaper f4 to f2.8 lenses. And think how much more that 1 stop costs, eg 300mm primes: f4 version 1000 f2.8 version 4000.

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