What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?

Started Jan 31, 2013 | Discussions
blakninja
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What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
Jan 31, 2013

Hi,

I know Sony has a SEL35F18 but it's around 500$. But I'm looking for an alternative cheaper option. I am looking for something between 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 to 50mm f1.4 to f1.8.

I am planning on using a cheap adapter (rainbowimaging), do you guys have any lenses to recommend? My budget for the lens is ~60$ to 100$.

The kind of photo I'd like to take is full body portrait with good blur. Example:

Thanks for the help!

RGBaker
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

Well, I think in your price range you'll be restricted to one of the fast 50mm legacy lenses.  I have and like the Canon FDn 50mm f1.4 -- it is reasonably light, remarkably sharp, and affordable.  There are many similar options from other legacy manufacturers.  You can save a few dollars by opting for an f1.8 or f2.0 lens -- they won't deliver quite the shalllow DOF (and so bokeh, which is I guess what you mean by 'blur') but in truth they will probably work just fine in a typical shot.
Wider than 50mm you will have options like 40mm at a similar price, but as wide as 35mm and as fast as f2.0 prices will increase dramatically, nearer to $200 -- faster than f2.0 and you are looking at prices higher again.
You'll see a couple of examples in my Flickr samples below -- note that you'll need a little distance from your subject to get a full body with a 50mm.
Cheers,
GB

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blakninja
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to RGBaker, Jan 31, 2013

I tried the SEL35F18 from Sony and the blur (bokeh) in the background is not strong enough, so I'm really looking for lower than f1.8 then. Also, 50mm on NEX is just to far.. 35mm would be preferable.

That means, I have to higher my budget to 200$ then. Do you have any good suggestions for 35mm and f < 1.8?

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jbwong
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

if you feels like sel35f18 bokeh is not your taste then you may try the cheaper 50mm

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zink
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

The old Olympus Pen-F 38/1.8 or 40/1.4 are great, small and fun to use.

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cptrios
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to jbwong, Jan 31, 2013

So what I'm getting from you is not that the bokeh on the SEL35 isn't nice enough, but that there "isn't enough background blur," basically? I.e. the depth of field isn't thin enough? Unfortunately then, your only choice is to get a 35 with a faster aperture than f/1.8...and as RGBaker said, your choices there are extremely limited. And all of them will be manual focus, obviously. Some options (prices are my estimates based on the last time I looked at them, which is not all that recently):

- SLR Magic 35/1.4 ($279) Biggish and not great in terms of sharpness

- Samyang 35/1.4 ($300-400) Huge, especially with the adapter, but great IQ all around

- Nikon 35/1.4 AI-S ($350-600) Decent but really showing its age

- Voigtlander 35/1.4 ($400-500) Much more compact than the others but IQ is again just "decent"

Everything else is a whole lot more expensive.

Unfortunately, what you're trying to do (wild field of view, low depth of field) is one of the situations where an APS-C sensor really does become a big drawback. If I may make a suggestion: go get a legacy 50mm f/1.2 lens and step back a few feet. There are plenty out there in the $100 range. I reckon you would have needed to be about 15 feet away from the dancers in your above photo with a 35mm lens, which means you'd need to be about 25 feet back with a 50mm. 50mm and f/1.2 at 25ft will get you a marginally slimmer DoF than 35mm and f/1.8 at 15.

If this kind of shot is your main use for your camera, I'd very strongly consider ditching your NEX stuff and investing in a used Canon 5D and a nifty fifty. You'll get the whole thing for under $600 if you play your cards right.

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Letsgokoulos
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

blakninja wrote:

I tried the SEL35F18 from Sony and the blur (bokeh) in the background is not strong enough, so I'm really looking for lower than f1.8 then. Also, 50mm on NEX is just to far.. 35mm would be preferable.

That means, I have to higher my budget to 200$ then. Do you have any good suggestions for 35mm and f < 1.8?

First of all, you have to accept the fact that you will loose AF functionality if you do not get one of the E-lenses.

It will be difficult to find 35mm lenses with larger apertures than f1.8, and I am not sure they will provide with the bokeh you are expecting, particularly at the price you are offering...

There are many 50mm lenses with apertures as large as f1.2 that most likely would provide you with the proper bokeh, such as Minolta MD or Canon FD. Again, I think your budget is far too low for such lenses.

You can also try the Konica Hexanon 40mm f1.8, which is quite a sharp lens and will give good bokeh at f2. This lens should be within your budget.

Marc

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blue_skies
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

blakninja wrote:

I tried the SEL35F18 from Sony and the blur (bokeh) in the background is not strong enough, so I'm really looking for lower than f1.8 then. Also, 50mm on NEX is just to far.. 35mm would be preferable.

That means, I have to higher my budget to 200$ then. Do you have any good suggestions for 35mm and f < 1.8?

The image you showed is likely not shot with a 35mm, or a very fast one (f/1.2 or f/1.4 on APS-C, slower on FF).

Your best bet is to use a longer FL and take a larger distance.

In AF emount, your only option is the 50/1.8, and, hopefully, the rumored 85/1.8 (and not f/2.8). Each of these lenses will increase your bokeh by reducing the DOF.

But your budget will have to increase, unless you want to go MF.

Voigtlander has a 35/1.2 (large) lens that may get you close to what you want.



35mm/f2.0

35mm/f2.0

35mm/f2.0

35mm/f4.0

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Cheers,
Henry

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blakninja
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to Letsgokoulos, Jan 31, 2013

Thanks for the suggestions.

No I won't do only these types of photo so I won't be ditching my NEX

I'm currently looking at Minolta MC 50mm f1.4 and Canon FD 50mm f1.4. They're about the same price. Don't know which one is better. I guess I'll live with the drawback of backing off 25 feets. I don't mind MF.

The Voigtlander 35/1.2 is 1000$+ lol.

@blue_skies I'm looking for the bokeh similar to your first photo, but at a distance of the third photo (full body).

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blakninja
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blue_skies, Jan 31, 2013

The first photo is it f2.0 or f1.0? The details says f/1. I like the amount of blur it has.

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blue_skies
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

blakninja wrote:

The first photo is it f2.0 or f1.0? The details says f/1. I like the amount of blur it has.

It was taken  with the Zeiss ZM 35/2.0 lens at f/2.0

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Henry

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verybiglebowski
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

Why not try Fujian 35 f1.7 or lensbaby - sweet 35. Neither is high IQ lens, but both has unique character and good separation possibilities. Fujian is around 30 USD, while sweet baby can be found used for 200 in a composer.

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cptrios
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

Blakninja, another thing you could try is a "bokehrama" (a name which reflects the continued loss of the actual meaning of the term "bokeh"). This would consist of taking several shots of a subject at a closer distance, then stitching them together into the equivalent FoV that you want. Of course you need your subject to remain entirely still, so it wouldn't work all that well for people dancing!

http://www.daifukusensei.com/blog/?page_id=52

It's also known as "the Brenizer method," which bothers me to no end, as people have been doing it since long before Brenizer made the video that popularized it.

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

How about konica 40/1.8?

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wictred
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Jan 31, 2013

The Konica AR 40mm F1.8 is dirt cheap.

It is rather compact, but to make use of the lens wide open you really need to have a lens hood, so it's not that compact after all.

It also has quite a bit of purple fringing at F1.8 (which disappears at f2.8), but I understand so does the Sony SEL35F18 ... maybe not so much.

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TiagoReil
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Feb 1, 2013

blakninja wrote:

I tried the SEL35F18 from Sony and the blur (bokeh) in the background is not strong enough, so I'm really looking for lower than f1.8 then. Also, 50mm on NEX is just to far.. 35mm would be preferable.

That means, I have to higher my budget to 200$ then. Do you have any good suggestions for 35mm and f < 1.8?

IF 3518 is not enough you have certain options, but they are generally not cheap, or a bit cheating.

1-Longer: As some people said, if 3518 is not enough, it is better to go larger instead of faster. A 50mm, a 85mm, etc. That will give you smoother background blur. But the cost is that you will have the background compressed and and less into the photo.

2-Faster: The other option is going faster. For the nex, the only option is going manual. CV 35 1.4, SRL magic 35 1.4, or CV 35 1.2. They are not cheap, and you wont get more light (the sensor doesn't get 1 more step of light really), but you will get the shallower DoF, and for that a much more blurred background. Still, the blur could or could not be pleasant for you. More blur is not the same as good blur. Generally wider lenses give less attractive blur, while longer lenses, cause there is compression, gives more uniform and nicer ones, but again this is a matter of taste. Also, as these are all manual focus, and you will go for the Shallow DoF, you know you are going to miss a lot of shots.

3-Cheat: If you want to preserve the 35mm angle of view, any more or less fast 35mm, (sony 1.8, minolta 2.0 with LAEA2, or sigma 2.8) and cheat with Photoshop. You will be surprised how good it looks when you know what you are doing.

Personally, options 1 and 3 are the more reasonable ones. Option 2 will be expensive, and with a lot of misses, and you will probably still wont like the bockeh. Don't completely dismiss cheating. PS does incredible things now.

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fermy
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Feb 1, 2013

There are only two 35mm lenses I am aware of that are within your budget:

1) Fujian 35mm f1.7

2) Porst/Universar 35mm f1.8. Here are some shots with Universar and my first impressions review of it: http://forum.mflenses.com/viewtopic.php?t=49764

The review is not entirely accurate. It turned out that the colors that I didn't like initially were my/NEX fault (I changed picture style to the one that I didn't like and forgot about it).

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Michael Everett
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to verybiglebowski, Feb 1, 2013

verybiglebowski wrote:

Why not try Fujian 35 f1.7 or lensbaby - sweet 35. Neither is high IQ lens, but both has unique character and good separation possibilities. Fujian is around 30 USD, while sweet baby can be found used for 200 in a composer.

Don't bother with a Fujian.  I bought one just out of curiosity (I paid $19 for it).  The edges are a disaster, but if you are looking at only the center then you get plenty of blur around the edges.  The problem is the Fujian is not much better even in the center, especially at 1.7.

There are a lot of 35mm f2 or so lenses available at a reasonable price, but I agree with the responses that your best bet is to get a fast 50 and zoom with your feet.

Michael

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verybiglebowski
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to Michael Everett, Feb 1, 2013

Michael Everett wrote:

verybiglebowski wrote:

Why not try Fujian 35 f1.7 or lensbaby - sweet 35. Neither is high IQ lens, but both has unique character and good separation possibilities. Fujian is around 30 USD, while sweet baby can be found used for 200 in a composer.

Don't bother with a Fujian. I bought one just out of curiosity (I paid $19 for it). The edges are a disaster, but if you are looking at only the center then you get plenty of blur around the edges. The problem is the Fujian is not much better even in the center, especially at 1.7.

There are a lot of 35mm f2 or so lenses available at a reasonable price, but I agree with the responses that your best bet is to get a fast 50 and zoom with your feet.

Michael

Yes, but this fuzziness can add creative effect and suggests the movement, that can make such a shots more intriguing and dynamic. It is not everything about corner sharpness...

Wide angle will also help for dynamics in this kind of scene, so 50mm = (75 on NEX) is useless IMHO.

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boardsy
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Re: What 35mm f1.4 to f1.8 lenses would you recommend?
In reply to blakninja, Feb 1, 2013

Pen-F 38/1.8 might give you a little more length for more bokeh/oof, but still shorter than 50mm and faster than f2? Similarly Konica-Hexanon AR 40/1.8. This is Canon FDn 35/2 wide open in low light, maybe not perfectly focused. Step back to get a full body shot will reduce the background blur significantly, but a little Photoshop guassian blur would help that:

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