Difference?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Joecoral, 15 Aug 2008.

  1. Joecoral

    Joecoral Member

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    Whats the difference between the 50mm f/1.8, and the 50mm f/2.5 Macro?
    I understand the aperture is a little wider on the 1.8, but why is it not marketed as macro whilst the 2.5 is?
    and why does "macro" make it more expensive?
     
  2. Tom

    Tom Member

    It probably focuses closer, but don't hold me to that. And the price difference is probably due to build quality, accuracy and lens quality. The 1.8 is as cheap as you can go, but it shows in the quality. For such a cheap lens it is still quite sharp and I like the colours it gives.

    Tom
     
  3. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Expert

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    which company make are you looking at? canon, nikon? sigma? company own brand?

    mark
     
  4. Joecoral

    Joecoral Member

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    canon
     
  5. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Expert

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    about £115!

    the 1.8 is a cheap half decent entry level prime lens.thats about it.

    the macro, again is just entry level stuff realy. they'll both give good images. the macro allows you to do macro photography.

    the 1.8 will be better in low light.try lookingfor the 1.4 version on ebay. a way better lens! ;)

    with lenses you get what you pay for. ultimately, you may up spending twice by buying cheap in the first place. i did and it cost you a small fortune in the end.

    mark
     
  6. Joecoral

    Joecoral Member

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    whats the difference between a prime and a macro then, as I always assumed the 50mm f/1.8 could be used for macro photography?
     
  7. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Expert

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    only lenses that state "macro" can be used for macro. its to do with there internal design. clive (ceg) will explain better.

    a prime lens is designed for one purpose. its designed to do certain jobs very well. some zooms etc are good at one end the scale and poor at the other etc. but with a prime you know what yopur getting. roughly how it works. ceg is the man for good explanations.

    although expensive zoom lenses are awesome there also...you've guessed it...expensive. where as a top end prime is still within reach to some degree. if i had the money again to buy what i had, i'd buy primes every time. it gutts me to think ive let some stunning lenses go.

    and over to you ceg :D

    mark
     
  8. Joecoral

    Joecoral Member

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    ok, thats for all the help saintly! :D
     
  9. Mark Evans

    Mark Evans Expert

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    no probs, im not the best at explanations, alltrhough i was good when in front of the headmaster, when i was a kid :lol: ...talk my way out of anything then...

    mark
     
  10. oldwhitewood

    oldwhitewood Member

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    The 50mm f1.8 will be good quality, don't let the price put you off. You just need to know how to use it to get the best out of it. Shoot with it at F4 and you'll find it to be really sharp.
     
  11. Joecoral

    Joecoral Member

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    thanks oldwhitewood
    im pretty sure the 50 f/1.8 is gonna be my next camera-related purchase
    once my bank account has recovered from setting the tank up!
    JC :D
     
  12. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Macro lenses are defined by their ability to produce an image size on the film plane similar to the size of the object that you are taking the picture of. This is essentially a magnification, so if I took a picture of a penny and I laid the film negative (or slide) on the table the diameter of the image of the penny would be the same as the penny itself. This makes more sense with film of course but the same relative magnification occurs with digital.

    It's a lot more difficult to design a macro lens as you need more lens elements inside the barrel to accomplish this magnification at close ranges yet to keep the same perspective of ordinary lenses at normal distances. Additionally, macro shooting typically results in very shallow depth of field so that only very small areas of the shot are in focus. To compensate, one can stop down to very small apertures like f16 and smaller but the performance of the lens degrades rapidly at these apertures due to light diffraction. In general the quality of the lens elements in macro lenses are higher and macro lenses in general are among the sharpest of a manufacturers lens range.

    Here is a typical example of the use of a macro lens. The subject here is Micranthemum umbrosum, whose petals are typically only a few millimeters wide. The image was produced by a 105 mm macro which, when mounted on and APS sized sensor in this camera has the perspective of a 157 mm lens. In macro photography focusing is critical. As you can see here only a very shallow area has optimum focus. It should be said that normal lenses such as the prime 1.8 can be fitted with "close-up" lenses to enable magnification at close range. You can therefore adapt most other normal lenses for this type of use. A dedicated macro lens is a convenience.
    [​IMG]

    A 50 mm lens is probably the easiest lens to make and requires the fewest compromises in optical design. It's very easy therefore to make a sharp fast (large aperture) lens which enables you to shoot hand held in low light situations and to still avoid blurring due to shaky hands. There is almost a full 1 stop difference between these lenses' maximum apertures (f1.8 vs f2.5). On modern DSLRs this 1 stop can be made up by doubling the ISO sensitivity, which, for normal shots only comes at a very small price in noise.

    I personally would not think of these lenses in terms of "entry level". These are terms with which vendors use to suck us in to part with our hard earned cash, knowing that most male photographers are gadgetheads. Award winning photographs have been taken with entry level equipment, so think more in terms of optical performance as well as in terms of what kind of photography you want to do. Does a 50mm lens adequately cover the range you want to shoot in or is it only an occasional thing? The difference between a f1.8 and f1.4 is only half a stop.

    If your photographic regime is mostly low light then yes, the 1.4 will pay for itself, otherwise it's not worth the extra cash. If you will only dabble in macro shots then the f2.5 may not be worth the extra cash either. Check the prices of close up lens add ons, which can perhaps get you even higher magnifications used on a 1.8.

    Cheers,
     
  13. Tom

    Tom Member

    I would say that "entry level" often compares with optical quality and of course price. With the 50mm series, the 1.8 is cheaper than the 1.4, which is cheaper than the 1.2. It's the same way round for quality. The 1.2L is a stunning lens and costs over a thousand (as far as I can remember). I would therefore say that the 1.8 is "entry level", as the majority of people wouldn't shell out over a thousand to get the best lens, when they're not that serious about it.

    Same goes for the cameras. When I bought my 350D, it was labelled as the entry level DSLR from Canon. It's the cheapest, and, of the DSLR range it was the least "capable". Next up the 30D, 5D, 1D etc.

    That's just as I see it, not trying to argue ;)

    Tom
     
  14. ceg4048

    ceg4048 Expert/Global Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Tom,
    I hear what you're saying. Every vendor sets the prices for their gear based on the features included in their product, so yes, the cheapest lens has the fewest features. The question in this case is whether the photographer actually needs the features and whether those actually deliver a better end product within the shooting regime. At f2.8 and beyond for example, the performance of the 1.2, the 1.4 and the 1.8 lenses will be pretty much identical in terms of sharpness, distortion, contrast and color rendition. There are bound to be slight differences but not that you would see in normal photography. The more expensive lenses will probably be constructed using more metal and will be more rugged and robust so pros would opt for this lens. Since the price of gear is amortized over the life of it's use for a pro it's a no brainer to buy the 1.2, but for us, we're not going to see much a difference in our photos unless we spend a lot of time in shooting regimes like night photography, astro-photography and so forth.

    It's the same story with Image Stabilization (IS) and Vibration Reduction (VR). This feature carries a £200-£300 premium but they have nothing to do with the optical quality of the glass inside the lens. The IS/VR version of a lens has the same optical quality as it's non IS/VR counterpart. If you shoot from a tripod you actually have to turn IS/VR off as it degrades the image. So if you do most of your work on a tripod, such as in studio work, this feature is mostly useless. Likewise, if you shoot mostly at high ISOs and wide open with fast shutter speeds, or with flash, IS/VR doesn't help. Hand held, under normal or dim lighting IS/VR are worth their weight in gold.

    The only reason I'm so adamant about this is because I use a lot of old and entry level lenses, some of which aren't even autofocus. The lens used on that macro shot example is 15 years old. These lenses have primitive or no microchips and some don't talk to the camera, but metering works and I can focus manually so this is not a big deal. Some of the old lenses equal or actually outperform the newer ones and are more rugged because they were all metal in those days. I see a lot of talk on various sites about how this or that new lens is the ultimate or whatever, and I think to myself hmm.. maybe, from a features standpoint, that might be true but the high prices are a a clear sign of gouging, and optically, old and entry level gear still does a great job. Canon users don't have much of a choice because compatibility issues render old gear unusable on new cameras, but Nikon users are in luck because old and entry level lenses still deliver the goods. The humble entry level Nikon 50 mm 1.8D is one of Nikon's sharpest lenses, ever, while their brand new 24-120 VR is one of their most pathetically softest lenses, ever. Sadly, many have figure this out and prices of used lenses have soared... :arghh:

    All I'm saying is that we ought not to foo-foo a lens just because it's labeled entry level or because it's old technology, because the current technology is more geared towards producing the optical excellence of yesteryear at a cheaper production cost of today. Occasionally we see something that couldn't be produced yesterday such as a high performance wide-to-tele zoom which was unthinkable 30 years ago. We should pay the price of the extra features only if we can't achieve our photographic objectives with the less expensive or older gear.

    Cheers,
     
  15. Joecoral

    Joecoral Member

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    thanks ceg, you come through for us again!
    thats really cleared up the issue for me, many thanks!
    JC :D
     

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