NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm

Started Mar 19, 2013 | Questions
Leonard
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NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
Mar 19, 2013

Will the 50 mm take appreciably better photographs than the 18-55 mm zoom set at 50 mm ?

Thank you.

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Leonard

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Sony Alpha NEX-7
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ec1k
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to Leonard, Mar 19, 2013

Leonard wrote:

Will the 50 mm take appreciably better photographs than the 18-55 mm zoom set at 50 mm ?

Thank you.

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Leonard

Yes

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TopGeek
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to ec1k, Mar 19, 2013

+1

I have both lenses - the 50 f1.8 takes much sharper photos.

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captura
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to Leonard, Mar 19, 2013

Leonard wrote:

Will the 50 mm take appreciably better photographs than the 18-55 mm zoom set at 50 mm ?

Thank you.

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Leonard

No, if you limit the 18-55 to a FL between 24 and 30mm and the aperture to f8, the 18-55 will outperform the 50 in sharpness, especially at the center.

Recently, the 50mm has been over-rated and the 18-55, mounted on one of the newer cameras (distortion correction enabled plus PDAF lens firmware) has been underestimated.

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DtEW
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to Leonard, Mar 19, 2013

Yes, if you are interested in taking portraits and need the subject isolation of low f-stops.

No, if you are interested in taking landscapes and other still life and will stop down the lens to f/8-f/10 (yes, f/10).

Yes, if you are shooting handheld in variable light.

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Jeff Kott
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to captura, Mar 20, 2013

Leonard wrote:

Will the 50 mm take appreciably better photographs than the 18-55 mm zoom set at 50 mm ?

Thank you.

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Leonard

No, if you limit the 18-55 to a FL between 24 and 30mm and the aperture to f8, the 18-55 will outperform the 50 in sharpness, especially at the center.

I don't get your point. If you're comparing the 18-55 to the 50 are you suggesting that you can set the 18-55 to 24-30 at F 8 and then crop that photo to a 50 mm equivalent field of view and your cropped image will be better than the 50/1.8 at F 8?

What if you want to shoot at F4? Or F 1.8?

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Jeff Kott

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nrcole
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to captura, Mar 20, 2013

Literally no part of that was relevant to his question.

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nrcole
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to Leonard, Mar 20, 2013

All depends on what you mean by better pictures. I suspect that if you set the 18-55 at 50 and wide open at 5.6, and the 50mm prime stopped down to 5.6, the results would be comparably sharp across the frame, although the prime might be slightly sharper.

However if you want to shoot in the dark, or isolate your subject with a smooth out of focus background, you need a bigger aperture, which is where a prime lens comes in handy.

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seachicken2000
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to Leonard, Mar 20, 2013

At the long end, most often I am using the kit zoom for a people pictures, and I what I want is a sharp center and good-looking bokeh. The 18-55 does this unusually well for a kit lens.

The 50mm lens is the best native lens in the system for me. Most people view it as just a decent modern 50mm lens; it is, but it's more than that. This lens has been designed to shoot portraits and it's all about the rendering, and this lens renders beautifully. The SEL 50mm is also extremely sharp in the center, right from wide open.

Stopped down it's sharp everywhere. Here's a 100% crop from the extreme corner at f/6.3. I can't really see any meaningful difference between corner and center at this aperture. Even pixel peeping on the NEX-7 sensor, it could hardly be any sharper.

As DtEW points out, at f/8 upwards, even though the 50mm prime will be the sharper of the two on paper, the reality is it won't make much difference as both will appear sharp in print. The question is how much sharpness do you want/need.

The biggest difference between them is the max aperture: f/1.8 is a world away from f/5.6 in terms of DoF control. My impression is (I can't provide any evidence) that the stabilization on the 50mm is more effective than the kit lens's.

Since you have a NEX-7 and have paid the price for all those extra pixels, why not? Or how about an adapted prime? A $30 Pentax SMC Takumar (and many others) stopped down is plenty sharp too.

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wb2trf
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Absolutely yes is the answer to your question
In reply to Leonard, Mar 20, 2013

Will the 50 mm take appreciably better photographs than the 18-55 mm zoom set at 50 mm ?

Thank you.

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Leonard

I test a lot of lenses under fairly standardized conditions.  The 50mm is notably sharper than the kit at 50 and it gives you the capacity to shoot in much lower light and to use shallow dof to defocus the background much better.

If you really need comparison shots I can  put them up.

I agree with the poster who said that the 18-55 is better now with the newer cameras, and is a good lens, but the 50mm is significantly better.  I have tested maybe 10 50mm lenses for center and edge sharpness and bokeh, many that are supposed to be great.  None are better IQ than the SEL 50mm that I have found.  Within the SEL18555 range I shoot with the Canon FD24 2.8, the Sigma 30mm 2.8, the Pen F 40mm 1.4 and the SEL5018.  Each of these is notably sharper and offers more aperture than the SEL1855, but for what it is the SEL1855 is still good.

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Crono_DL
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to Leonard, Mar 20, 2013

Optically, the 50mm will be sharper throughout the frame. You will also have a wider aperture for creative purposes. But whether you will take better photos with one lens or the other has more to do with what you like to photograph and your skills.

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Danny

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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to Leonard, Mar 20, 2013
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captura
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Re: NEX 7 with 50mm versus 18-55 mm
In reply to Jeff Kott, Mar 20, 2013

Leonard wrote:

Will the 50 mm take appreciably better photographs than the 18-55 mm zoom set at 50 mm ?

Thank you.

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Leonard

No, if you limit the 18-55 to a FL between 24 and 30mm and the aperture to f8, the 18-55 will outperform the 50 in sharpness, especially at the center.

I don't get your point. If you're comparing the 18-55 to the 50 are you suggesting that you can set the 18-55 to 24-30 at F 8 and then crop that photo to a 50 mm equivalent field of view and your cropped image will be better than the 50/1.8 at F 8?

What if you want to shoot at F4? Or F 1.8?

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Jeff Kott

Well I meant to say 40mm not 30mm as the useful range of the 18-55 is 24-40mm. (a typo.) So I am comparing the 50/1.8 to the 18-55 at 40mm, not a big difference in DOF. You could also compare the 18-55 at 35mm to the 35/1.8 but that would be carrying things too far.

What I am saying is that under some circumstances the 18-55 can be a very useful lens; much more so than when first introduced on the NEX-3 and 5. Overall it does not compete with the 50/1.8, but if used carefully on a camera with distortion correction and PDAF enabled, it can be useful.

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