Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?

Started Jan 25, 2013 | Discussions
tamasine
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Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
Jan 25, 2013

The biggest headache with considering the move from DX to FF is what lens to get.  I use the 16-85mm mainly with my D90 and it's been absolutely fantastic.  It mixes great IQ with a size and weight that is completely manageable.

Looking at the comparisons in FX, I'm not 100% convinced there is anything comparable, without either 1) spending a lot more, or b) carrying something a lot heavier.  The most obvious choice would be the 24-85mm VR, and perhaps that would be fine for me.

However, I also have the 50mm f1.8G, which being 50mm on FF, might do a good job for most of my photography.  I guess the biggest issue is landscapes...I realise that there are no 'landscape lenses' as such, but 50mm might be a bit restricting if it's not possible to be the right distance from the subject.

Since it's a relatively inexpensive, small, light but flexible lens, do any of you actually use it on your full frame cameras most of the time?  Please feel free to post your pics too - especially landscape ones.  Has anyone passed on the pro glass lenses to use the 50mm?

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BobSC
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013

I use my 50/1.4 on dx a lot.

In film my favorite lens was 35/1.4

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Sener
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013

I do. Not the G anyway, but I've been using this focal length since DX (I used a Sigma 30mm on my D7k). I am using a 50mm 1.8 D on my D700 right now. The D will soon be upgraded to one of the G's, cannot decide yet. As a newcomer to FF I am one step ahead of your plan

FYI I never used zoom lenses. So can't comment on that.

As long as I see it, 50mm is a good all-around FOV in FF. No wonder why it was distributed as the kit lens in the past with film cameras. It is wide enough that you can capture a nice building from a moderate distance, and enough to create a soft background when you are shooting a portrait. Also a comfortable FOV for street and candids.

But I don't think you make the best out of an FF sensor with just a 50mm lens. You do not use a zoom, you need 1 or 2 primes too. I am thinking of a wide (20 or 14mm) and a tele (70-200 or a 180mm) prime to complete my setup. What I am trying to say is; 50mm is fine for a lot of the general photography but if you need to get specific (wider or more tele, or more bokeh) it will not be enough. Nor will it provide the flexibility of a zoom.

But a good FF-compatible zoom lens comes with caveats as you already mentioned in your post.

So it is a bit of a two edged-sword. I say primes are fun. You already have the 50 G. Buy your FF and start using it with the 50. You can then fulfill any shortcomings with another prime.

Also any lens can be a landscape lens, but of course it depends on your style of shooting. Although I long for a wider FOV, 50 was enough for me in some situations.

Here goes a landscape I made with my 50.

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paulski66
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013

I imagine the 24-85 VR will give you approximately what you have now with the 16-85: good sharp images, distortion (especially at the wide end) and vignetting, light yet fairly high-quality build (by which I mean it's a good step up from the 18-55 VRs I've handled, but certainly not a 24-70 f/2.8). The only thing you'd really be losing is reach at the long end, which personally is rarely an issue for me.

To answer your question, though: I don't mainly use the 50mm 1.8g on my d600, and in fact I should probably use it more. But the times I've used it, I've been very impressed with the results. Very sharp, contrasty images, fast autofocus. If that focal length turns you on, I think it would make a great day-to-day lens for you.

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lukep
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to paulski66, Jan 25, 2013

on my D600 - yes the 50mm is great for people and family and party shots and events.  But if I were walking around or you are outdoors say on vacation or dinner... 35mm is better in my opinion.

but the kit 24-85 is good, so just jump at that lens, it can do a lot and its very sharp especially stopped down to 5.6

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joejack951
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013

tamasine wrote:

Looking at the comparisons in FX, I'm not 100% convinced there is anything comparable, without either 1) spending a lot more, or b) carrying something a lot heavier.

If you look at equivalent apertures, the 24-120/4VR is like a 16-80/2.8 on a DX. That would be one massive lens (look at the 17-55/2.8 to get an idea). While the older version of the 24-120VR (f/3.5-5.6 I think) might not have the best rep, perhaps it would be good enough for you as a light weight walkaround lens. It's certainly far cheaper than the new 24-120 and equivalent aperture-wise, you'd still be gaining over your current 16-85 lens.

The new 24-85VR seems like a decent contender as well if you are ok with giving up some focal length range. I don't know what it gives up build-quality-wise to the 16-85 but it does have a number of other shortcomings relative to the 24-120/4VR that may or may not matter to you.

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tamasine
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to joejack951, Jan 25, 2013

I've read a few reviews for the 24-85 VR and they're generally quite good.  I don't really need more reach...most of my photos are shot between 24mm - 50mm (16-35 DX equivalent).

I know some will say you have to spend big bucks on good glass for a FF camera but I was hoping I could find a lens that would give me very good results with the D600 without breaking the bank, and without lugging around a brick

That's why I thought about the 50mm, although I agree that for the shooting I do, I don't think that 50mm will be wide enough.

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goosel
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yes -nt-
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013
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sroute
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013

In my film days I shot 28mm and 100/135mm most of the time. On film rangefinder cameras, 35/85. On the D800 35/85, but I also want a 20mm or thereabouts too. Never owned a zoom on a "real" camera. 35mm is my normal lens.

50 I personally find less useful so I don't often carry one. The one exception has been the Zeiss 50/1.5 Sonnar in M mount, I loved that lens but didn't own it for long as I've been doing a platform change. I like it more for its special rendering rather than focal length - I'd like it even more if it were a 75 or 85mm, just for portraits, which is how I used it on an APS-C crop camera.

Here are three shots of a cityscape at (roughly, these were 18mm, 25mm, and 75mm on 1.5x crop APS-C body) 28mm, 50mm, and 110mm:

28mm

50mm



110mm

Over the years I've moved from 28mm being my favorite go-to lens length to 35mm, finding it more useful overall.

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paulski66
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013

tamasine wrote:

I've read a few reviews for the 24-85 VR and they're generally quite good. I don't really need more reach...most of my photos are shot between 24mm - 50mm (16-35 DX equivalent).

If this is the case, then I think you will be just fine with the 24-85 VR. I imagine optically its on par with the 16-85.

I would try to kind a god deal on the d600 kit, like those they were offering around Christmas. And by all means hold onto the 50mm 1.8g.

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WhoAmI5423
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013

I definitely use it (50mm 1.8D) a lot more on on my D700 then my D90 but it's far from being my main lens.  I actually use my Sigma 85mm more then anything else!

Just for fun, go to http://www.cpr.demon.nl/prog_plotf.html and do an analysis of your current photos.  You should be able to get an idea of what you usually use in a 35mm equivalent which should really help you make your decision!

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ralphcramdon
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 25, 2013

tamasine wrote:

The biggest headache with considering the move from DX to FF is what lens to get. I use the 16-85mm mainly with my D90 and it's been absolutely fantastic. It mixes great IQ with a size and weight that is completely manageable.

Looking at the comparisons in FX, I'm not 100% convinced there is anything comparable, without either 1) spending a lot more, or b) carrying something a lot heavier. The most obvious choice would be the 24-85mm VR, and perhaps that would be fine for me.

However, I also have the 50mm f1.8G, which being 50mm on FF, might do a good job for most of my photography. I guess the biggest issue is landscapes...I realise that there are no 'landscape lenses' as such, but 50mm might be a bit restricting if it's not possible to be the right distance from the subject.

Since it's a relatively inexpensive, small, light but flexible lens, do any of you actually use it on your full frame cameras most of the time? Please feel free to post your pics too - especially landscape ones. Has anyone passed on the pro glass lenses to use the 50mm?

the 24-120/4 is the new 16-85 for fx and a much better lens

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gomoku
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 26, 2013

I use my 50mm f1.4g on my D800 more than any other lens. I also own the 28mm f/1.8 and the 85mm f/1.8 which are both very lightweight and sharp. The total weight is 2kg and this is my kit for short travels, events and family.

I would consider just getting the 28mm if I were you.

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Margouillat
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 26, 2013

I use mostly the 50mm f/1.8G, small, cheap enough, efficient ! It's focal length is often considered as "boring" by many, but I find it great

http://www.fluidr.com/photos/archivue/tags/50mmf18g/interesting

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Guidenet
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In reply to tamasine, Jan 26, 2013

I used the 50mm back a long time ago because I had to. It was all I had in 1959. I bought my first 50mm since then with the new 50 f/1.8G last year and bought it because it was only $219 brand new. After a week or so of use, I realize is a great sharp lens. The problem is I don't really use it and it now stays on the shelf more than with my kits. I find it too darn wide for most portraiture I do and way too long for walking around or landscape.

I have an absolute pristine old 35-70 f/2.8D that does an incredible job during he somewhat rare times I even need or want a mid-range zoom. Again, it generally stays more on the shelf then with me and for the same reasons. I just don't use those middle focal lengths much. It's not because they're boring but more for me, because they are frustrating. They're either too long or too short for what I want or need at the time and they hog up kit room in the bag (and it's large roller). I could fit an extra SB800 in that spot maybe.

The only mid range I carry much is the 60 f/2.8G Micro because it has it's own uses and I like it's rendering. When I don't carry the superb Sigma 150 f/2.8 macro because of size, the little 60 gets the nod.

For many years, my bread and butter lenses were the 35mm and 105mm. Later, the 35mm and 85mm become my go anywhere lenses with a few others tagging along with them. A couple months ago, I bought the new Nikon 28 f/1.8 and find it to be an incredible lens and I finally retired 35mm from that kit and to the shelf.

Here would be a typical vacation fun kit for me and a D800 and D3S

  • Nikon 16-35 f/4 Zoom
  • Nikon 28 f/1.8G
  • Nikon 85 f/1.4G
  • Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 Zoom or 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 Zoom or maybe both

I might also throw in a Sigma 15 f/2.8 Fisheye and that 35-70 f/2.8 zoom but only as afterthought type additions. All would depend on where I'm going and how long, of course, but that's typical.

I might walk the streets on holiday with that 85 f/1.4 on the camera and the 28 f/1.8 in my pocket or belt attached lens pouch. Maybe one on each camera. That middle range just doesn't give me much.

So, the 50mm you might keep mostly because it's too inexpensive to not keep it,but only you can decide if it does or doesn't fit your particular shooting style. See if you shot much at 24mm with your current zoom on the D90 and if you did, look at the 35mm. If you shot more at 18mm, get the 28 f/1.8. It's incredibly inexpensive as well.

If you're just now going to FX, the new 24-85 might be the choice, especially when basically given away as part of a bundle. That's a no-brainer.



28 f/1.8



85 f/1.4

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glo
glo
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 26, 2013

Since you have a 50, there's no harm in keeping it, certainly you'll find a use for it. For me, there's no such thing as a main lens unless I'm shooting an event, food shots, portraits, etc. They all require a different lens. The 24-85 is a nice lens, even if you get it, I'd not get rid of the 50. Your 50 will get you images you can't get with a 24-85. Don't know your experience or the the type of shooting you do. There are those who are happy with one lens for everything.

glo

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joneil
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to glo, Jan 26, 2013

glo wrote:

Since you have a 50, there's no harm in keeping it, certainly you'll find a use for it. For me, there's no such thing as a main lens unless I'm shooting an event, food shots, portraits, etc. They all require a different lens. The 24-85 is a nice lens, even if you get it, I'd not get rid of the 50. Your 50 will get you images you can't get with a 24-85. Don't know your experience or the the type of shooting you do. There are those who are happy with one lens for everything.

g

+1 on everything above.   Back in my film days, I found my  "normal" everyday lens was 35mm, and today it is my 24-70mm zoom.    But there are times you will be glad you have that 50mm, so don't get rid of it.

Today, in terms of primes, I find my 24mm f2.8 is almost my "everyday" lens.  Small, light and sharp, and I like shooting buildings and landscapes.

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perthwestaustralia
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 26, 2013

I use 50mm 1.8D on my D600 80% of the time. I love it. Perfect for out and about portraits of young kids. Tried different things but always come back to it. Light weight and reliable.

Other than that it's the new version of 80-200mm for kids sports.

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Guidenet
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to joneil, Jan 26, 2013

joneil wrote:


glo wrote:

Since you have a 50, there's no harm in keeping it, certainly you'll find a use for it. For me, there's no such thing as a main lens unless I'm shooting an event, food shots, portraits, etc. They all require a different lens. The 24-85 is a nice lens, even if you get it, I'd not get rid of the 50. Your 50 will get you images you can't get with a 24-85. Don't know your experience or the the type of shooting you do. There are those who are happy with one lens for everything.

g

+1 on everything above. Back in my film days, I found my "normal" everyday lens was 35mm, and today it is my 24-70mm zoom. But there are times you will be glad you have that 50mm, so don't get rid of it.

Today, in terms of primes, I find my 24mm f2.8 is almost my "everyday" lens. Small, light and sharp, and I like shooting buildings and landscapes.

Sure there are those who are happy with one lens for everything, but those folks must have a fairly narrow interest in photography overall. The ability to interchange lenses with an interchangeable lens camera is ther reason for these type cameras, obviously. We are able to match the correct lens to the job at hand. There are many various jobs and therefore many various lenses to do them with.

Sure, if all you shoot is landscape and buildings, you can get by with one lens, but if you also like to do head and shoulder portraits, you may just need something else. If you like landscape and also like to do birding, you're likely in big trouble trying to get one lens to do both. This is obvious and I know you both know this, so I'm not sure why we'd even suggest this concept as other than somewhat absurd.

There are just too many various genres of photography from Sports to Macro, all requiring different cameras and lenses. This is one of the best reasons to own a big system camera like Nikon. We have so many options we can pursue and those options are needed, not optional in many cases. If you deem a 20 f/2.8 is your one sweet lens, macro is going to be out of reach mostly for you. You'll not be doing formal portraits much either. Birds and wildlife would be a pipe dream.

The 50mm is a great in betweener type lens to learn on especially back in the film age prior to the 43-86 zoom, Heaven forbid. Today, novice photographers can learn on mid zooms where they might get a better feeling for various mid range options. Later, if and when their interests begin to move in some direction, specialty glass becomes more and more a requirement. They might have to also invest in lighting, support systems, different bodies and other accessories to accomplish their goals and desires.

Being happy with one lens strikes me as being somewhat stagnant in one's endeavors, don't you think? I mean it might sound good to say, but does it really mean a whole lot given we're all using interchangeable lens cameras for a reason, hopefully?

This is only my opinion and not meant to be arrogant or contentious.

From one extreme to another. heheh

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RKBouknight
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Re: Does anyone use a 50mm as their main lens on a full frame?
In reply to tamasine, Jan 26, 2013

I concur with Guidenet above.  My first Nikon, an FM in 1978, came with a 50/1.4.  Of course, I was happy with the 50 at the time, did not have anything else.  That was many lenses ago.

For some reason that I can't put a finger on, I have never been happy with a mid range zoom on a camera.  Have tried most of them, VR, 2.8, and so on.  They are slow, or big and heavy.

Somehow I never had a 28 prime until I wound up with a 28/f2 AI a couple of years ago.  Really enjoy that lens, don't feel limited by it.  This is the lens that lives on the camera, and I don't at all feel the need to take a bag of other lenses unless I have a specific photo task in mind.  If I add an 85, 105, or 135 in a pocket, then I can shoot almost anything.

With the sharp 28 on high res D600 or 800 bodies, I can crop the FOV to achieve similar results to a 35, and almost a 50 if pushed a little.  Distortion with the 28 is considerably less than most 24's, so people's heads don't egg out as much.  I tried the one lens concept with 35 AF & MF lenses, but prefer the 28.

I have enjoyed the 28 so much that I am considering the 1.8 AFS version.  Not so much for the AF, but so that I could use the profile to correct distortion if necessary in a photo.

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