Good 50mm Lens For Sony Nex ... on a Budget?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions
Michael Everett
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Re: Canon FDn vs. others
In reply to ProfHankD, Mar 28, 2013

ProfHankD wrote:

For the two Canon 50mm f/1.4 I've tested, I found the "silvernose" FD to be surprisingly different from, and significantly better in build and IQ overall than, the FDn.

Just the opposite in my experience.

If you get one be sure to pay the extra for one in good condition, because it was a pro lens in its time, and many have taken a lot of rough treatment.

The Canon FDn line makes an engineered optical performance gap between consumer and pro lenses. For Canon FDn (as for EF), pro lenses generally get the "L" designation, like the f/1.2 L. The f/1.8 and f/1.4 were the standard kit lens options. However, the FDn f/1.4 is an upgrade over their  f/1.8 in IQ as well as speed.

True but very few lenses had that L designation, and it usually meant that there was something special about it, special elements, extra-fast or something of that sort.  The Canon F1, a pro camera and Canon's answer to the Nikon F, commonly came with the FD 50/1.4.  In the 1970s the L designation was so rare that non-L lenses cannot be considered not-pro lenses.  Even the FD 35/2, which had a thorium element, did not have an L designation.

It is mechanically a very solid lens, however.

What? The FDn lens line is among the first to be nearly 100% plastic bodied, and the hacks needed to make a bayonet compatible with the technically-superior-but-awkward-to-use FL/FD breech lock mount produced one of the weakest bayonets ever made. There is also an issue involving the aperture defaulting to open rather than closed, making stuck-open apertures more common in Canon FD/FDn mount and requiring a pin in the NEX E-mount adapter. Something about the build/glass/coatings also seems to make old Canon lenses a tad more prone to fungus growth than most lenses. In summary, FDn build is still better than your average modern (plastic-bodied autofocus) lens, but totally outclassed by most manual lenses -- including the Canon FL line.

I will admit that the build quality usually is not a problem for FDn lenses, the lightweight plastic makes many FDn lenses balance well on a NEX, and the pin in the NEX adapters means all FDn lenses behave as presets (not just manuals). Still, "very solid" seems a very generous rating....

I'll concede your argument on this one.  I just know that my FDn lenses work beautifully and I have had no problems them.

As I said in a previous post, I am becoming more and more convinced that the sample matters almost more than the type, which makes buying one a tricky business.  Just make sure you have return privileges.

Michael

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Crono_DL
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Re: Good 50mm Lens For Sony Nex ... on a Budget?
In reply to Louno, Mar 28, 2013

Consider the Nikon Series E 50mm 1.8. They're rather inexpensive and there are plenty of them floating around on eBay. Many of them are in very good condition also. The advantage with this lens is its small size, and it's also very sharp for an old lens. It's can be slightly hazy wide open, but just stopping down half a notch to around f2 sharpens it up a bit, and stopping down further sharpens it even more. An adapter will set you back only about $15.

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Danny

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ProfHankD
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Sample variation
In reply to Michael Everett, Mar 28, 2013

Michael Everett wrote:

As I said in a previous post, I am becoming more and more convinced that the sample matters almost more than the type, which makes buying one a tricky business.

Actually, I've seen very little sample variation among the "duplicates" in my manual lenses.

Basically, manual lenses tended to be very solidly built -- as opposed to autofocus lenses, which use lower mass materials and looser tolerances to reduce friction, thus making minor misalignments very common. If you have a lot of sample variation in a manual lens, there's a good chance it's from the bad lens having been taken apart and reassembled somewhat out of tolerance. I've also seen a flipped element -- some of the relatively flat elements merely increase aberrations when flipped, so the error might not be obvious.

Just make sure you have return privileges.

I agree with that. Also be sure to "get it in writing" (in the ad or via email) as to what the condition is for eBay lenses concerning things like fungus and haze before you buy. I'm a bit wary of lenses that have perfect-looking glass in an obviously corroded body (often coming from areas of the world known for high humidity) -- I think they're more likely to have been completely rebuilt to remove fungus/haze and hence more likely reassembled somewhat incorrectly.

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boardsy
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Re: Canon FDn vs. others
In reply to ProfHankD, Mar 28, 2013

ProfHankD wrote:

Michael Everett wrote:

I tried a few, including the OM 50 1.8 Japan version, the Zeiss Planar 1.7, the Canon Fd 50 1.4, and the Canon FDn 50 1.4.  The Canon FDn outperformed them all, including the Zeiss.  It's so sharp it's almost scary, and it is even sharp at 1.4.  FDn prices have gone up, and a good one is now around $100, but it's worth it IMO.

I've said this before, but based on the over 125 lenses I own and have tested, the Canon FDn adoration that often surfaces in this forum is not well grounded. (I don't have enough experience with Zeiss or OM glass to comment on those.) The Canon FDn line was produced in huge quantities, and they only work on mirrorless digitals, so many FDn lenses are widely available and not too expensive, but the FDn 50mm f/1.4 is somehow commonly selling for about twice what the IQ/build would justify relative to most competitors.

From what I've seen, Canon FDn lenses tend to have very good contrast, but other IQ attributes (color, bokeh, edge sharpness, etc.) are often poorer than for competitors. For the two Canon 50mm f/1.4 I've tested, I found the "silvernose" FD to be surprisingly different from, and significantly better in build and IQ overall than, the FDn.

Really? According to your fdreview.com review "Around f/5.6, this lens is a winner: perfectly sharp with high contrast across the APS-C frame. At wider apertures, bokeh are better than average (MUCH better than its f/1.8 siblings) ... which also gives glow and low contrast wide open...a bit below average in IQ wide open. Of course, a bit below average is still darn good when talking about fast 50s." Personally my only gripe with the FDn 50/1.4 is slightly odd bokeh wide open, where sharp lines diverge. I prefer the bokeh on the FDn 35/2, the Olympus OM made in Japan 50/1.8, or the Minolta MC Rokkor PG 50/1.4.

50/1.4 at f22 (just to see!):

Wide open, hand-held snap in low light, through thick cabinet glass:

^ Both on the old 14MP NEX-5, from JPG, not RAW.

It is mechanically a very solid lens, however.

What? The FDn lens line is among the first to be nearly 100% plastic bodied, and the hacks needed to make a bayonet compatible with the technically-superior-but-awkward-to-use FL/FD breech lock mount produced one of the weakest bayonets ever made.

If you say so, but my FDn 100/2.8 (got cheap due to a loose mount which just needed a simple  screw-tightening job), 50/1.4, 35/2, (feather-weight) 28/2.8, and 24/2.8 work perfectly and are an almost perfect weight and ergonomic compromise between plastic, glass and metal - not as "re-assuringly" hefty as say my MC Rokkor PG 50/1.4 but more easy to carry, handle and focus.  I often have to Gaussian blur portraits taken by the 50/1.4 and 35/2, they're too sharp!

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ProfHankD
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Re: Canon FDn vs. others
In reply to boardsy, Mar 28, 2013

boardsy wrote:

ProfHankD wrote:

From what I've seen, Canon FDn lenses tend to have very good contrast, but other IQ attributes (color, bokeh, edge sharpness, etc.) are often poorer than for competitors. For the two Canon 50mm f/1.4 I've tested, I found the "silvernose" FD to be surprisingly different from, and significantly better in build and IQ overall than, the FDn.

Really? According to your fdreview.com review "Around f/5.6, this lens is a winner...."

Yes, really. Here's a larger intact quote:

"Around f/5.6, this lens is a winner: perfectly sharp with high contrast across the APS-C frame. At wider apertures, bokeh are better than average (MUCH better than its f/1.8 siblings), but that seems to come from undercorrected SA, which also gives glow and low contrast wide open. Overall, it's a bit below average in IQ wide open. Of course, a bit below average is still darn good when talking about fast 50s."


I guess I also should mention that I don't buy a fast 50 primarily to use at f/5.6...  still, my FDReview gave it scores of IQ 8.5/10 and build 8/10 -- and I stand by that. My FDReview of my "silvernose" f/1.4 gives it IQ 9/10 and build 8.5/10.  My FDReview of the FDn f/1.8 gives 7/10 for both IQ and build... so yes, I really do think the f/1.4 versions are much better than Canon's f/1.8.

Let's compare some more.  My PentaxForums review of the SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4 gives it 10/10 overall (for the best bokeh of any fast 50) with detailed breakdown of Sharpness: 9, Aberrations: 9, Bokeh: 10, Handling: 9, and Value: 10. The Tak's 55mm f/1.8 brother I gave 9/10 overall, with Sharpness: 10, Aberrations: 9, Bokeh: 9, Handling: 10, and Value: 10.  The M42 Mamiya/Sekor 55mm f/1.4 (which I would call the best of my fast 50s overall) I rated 10/10, with details Sharpness: 10, Aberrations: 10, Bokeh: 9, Handling: 10, and Value: 10 ... and it cost me $30 shipped.

In summary, Canon's 50mm f/1.4 is a very respectable lens -- slightly below average for a fast 50, but way better than Canon's f/1.8 versions (which are still pretty good, as nearly all fast 50s are).

The thing that drives me nuts is seeing people say what a bargain an FDn 50mm f/1.4 is at $100 when the average similar lens that outperforms it sells for more like $20-$50. I understand that people are not entirely rational about these things. For example, http://www.dpreview.com/news/2011/11/18/customersvaluenikonfound that Nikon and Canon benefit from consumers being increasingly willing to pay more simply because of the brand. However, I'm an engineering professor, so brand overriding performance forces me to comment.

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daddyman
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Re: Good 50mm Lens For Sony Nex ... on a Budget?
In reply to Louno, Mar 28, 2013

Konica Hexanon 50/1.7 is super sharp and cheap. The KH 50/1.4 is almost as sharp and has really nice bokeh. I have both.

Mike

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oklaphotog
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Minolta Rokkor 45/2 Pancake!
In reply to Louno, Mar 28, 2013

Louno wrote:

Hi everyone,
I think I've decided to purchase a NEX camera (either new NEX-3R or used NEX-5R), but I'll also be needing a 50mm (or similar) lens  that I plan to use mainly for food photography (for a recipe blog).

I want very sharp image with shallow depth of field and nice "creamy" bokeh, all this on a budget, is it possible?

I would have liked to get the Sony NEX DT 50mm f/1.8 OSS however, it is a little expensive (350$ +tx) for me to buy right after the initial camera purchase... I`d rather not use any adapter on the NEX body to minimize bulk but it might be worth it to save money. I started looking at some used lens, I'm not sure where to begin, there are a lot, maybe you guys can help narrow it down?

I know I could get a very good like new condition AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D for 100$, the converter is about 25$. Is there anything better available? Or something equally good but with an adapter that would allow access to a better selection of lens maybe?

I see there are some other adapters for around 15-30$ and for many different mount types... Are there some type of adapter that are considered more "versatile" or give access to the most variety of quality lens on a budget and that work well with the NEX system?

Note that I would like to avoid paying 200$ just for an adaptor, I know this might mean the loss of auto focusing but I dont think it's much of a deal? It seems pretty easy to manual focus with the "focus peaking" feature...?
Thanks !

Minolta Rokkor 45/2 Pancake, Pentax 55/1.8, Minolta Rokkor 50/1.4, Minolta Rokkor 58/1.4, or Zeiss Jenna MC PANCOLAR 50/1.8 are all very affordable and very good.

The Minolta 45/2 is an amazing lens, KEH has one in EX+ for $56.00.

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Louno
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How about the CANON EF 50mm f/1.8 II ? any cheap stabilized lens?
In reply to Louno, Mar 30, 2013

So I still am not sure If I should get the NEX-3N or 5R...

But, I just received my airmile statement, and, realized that I could get the CANON EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens , "free" ...

I looked at some pics and stuff but I dont know if its a good lens, I saw some samples and although some reviews said the lens was sharp, it seemed to me it wasn't as sharp as some of the lenses I saw in Kuuan's really cool flicker set ... it seems to me like the OM Zuiko Auto-S f1.8 , Pentax A f1.7 and M f1.4 could be better...? Maybe some of the other lenses mentioned too like the canon fdn, takumar etc....

As a side note, does anyone know what would be the cheapest (used) stabilized 50mm lens one could likely find? Does it require the very expensive adapters to make the stabilization work?

Oh, and big THANKS for all the feedbacks!

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LifeIsAVerb
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Re: Canon FDn vs. others
In reply to Michael Everett, Mar 30, 2013

I'll concede your argument on this one.  I just know that my FDn lenses work beautifully and I have had no problems them.

As I said in a previous post, I am becoming more and more convinced that the sample matters almost more than the type, which makes buying one a tricky business.  Just make sure you have return privileges.

Michael

I read somewhere where the writer knew someone who worked as a photographer for Time/Life who would buy four copies of each lens he was considering. Tested them all, chose the best, and sent the rest back. YMMV.

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verybiglebowski
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Re: How about the CANON EF 50mm f/1.8 II ? any cheap stabilized lens?
In reply to Louno, Mar 30, 2013

Louno wrote:

So I still am not sure If I should get the NEX-3N or 5R...

But, I just received my airmile statement, and, realized that I could get the CANON EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens , "free" ...

I looked at some pics and stuff but I dont know if its a good lens, I saw some samples and although some reviews said the lens was sharp, it seemed to me it wasn't as sharp as some of the lenses I saw in Kuuan's really cool flicker set ... it seems to me like the OM Zuiko Auto-S f1.8 , Pentax A f1.7 and M f1.4 could be better...? Maybe some of the other lenses mentioned too like the canon fdn, takumar etc....

Canon EF 50 f/1.8 is an electronic aperture lens. That means that without expensive electronic adapter, you won't be able to set the aperture. (You can use EOS camera to pre-set the aperture, but that is PITA. Also, stay away from adapters with a "built in aperture", they will vignette in most cases.)

On top of that, it is probably the least convinient lens for manual focusing on the market and its built quality is mediocre at best.

On the other hand, it is one of the sharper 50mm lenses, but it suffer from heavy CA wide open and bokeh is nothing to write home about. I wouldn't recommand this lens for NEX to anyone.

As a side note, does anyone know what would be the cheapest (used) stabilized 50mm lens one could likely find? Does it require the very expensive adapters to make the stabilization work?

Sony SEL 5018. Any other combination, (using LA-EAx and Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS i.e) will be more expensive, not to speak about size and weight.

Oh, and big THANKS for all the feedbacks!

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Jun2
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Re: How about the CANON EF 50mm f/1.8 II ? any cheap stabilized lens?
In reply to Louno, Mar 30, 2013

CANON EF 50mm f/1.8 II is a piece of crap, you need to pay at least $200 for an adaptor to use it.  Any $50 legacy lens will be better than that.

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Mojn
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Re: Good 50mm Lens For Sony Nex ... on a Budget?
In reply to Louno, Mar 30, 2013

I got a Chinon 50mm 1.7 for 20$. It beats my AF Nikkor 50 1.8 and Olympus 50 1.8 in sharpness and bokeh, but not my Nikkor AIS 50 1.2 (different price point though). You might also take a look at the Cosinons, especially the 55 1.4.

Adapters: Got my 4 KiwiFotos adapters for ~40$ each. They are all perfect.

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Louno
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Re: Good 50mm Lens For Sony Nex ... on a Budget?
In reply to Mojn, Apr 1, 2013

Mojn wrote:

I got a Chinon 50mm 1.7 for 20$. It beats my AF Nikkor 50 1.8 and Olympus 50 1.8 in sharpness and bokeh, but not my Nikkor AIS 50 1.2 (different price point though). You might also take a look at the Cosinons, especially the 55 1.4.

Adapters: Got my 4 KiwiFotos adapters for ~40$ each. They are all perfect.

Wow, interesting, i just looked at some samples, there aren't much but the few I saw looked really sharp with nice bokeh too, do you have any?

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rayman 2
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Re: Good 50mm Lens For Sony Nex ... on a Budget?
In reply to Louno, Apr 1, 2013

Louno wrote:

Mojn wrote:

I got a Chinon 50mm 1.7 for 20$. It beats my AF Nikkor 50 1.8 and Olympus 50 1.8 in sharpness and bokeh, but not my Nikkor AIS 50 1.2 (different price point though). You might also take a look at the Cosinons, especially the 55 1.4.

Adapters: Got my 4 KiwiFotos adapters for ~40$ each. They are all perfect.

Wow, interesting, i just looked at some samples, there aren't much but the few I saw looked really sharp with nice bokeh too, do you have any?

If you want to get into food photography invest a little more and get a nice micro Nikkor 55mm 2.8

they are the sharpest lenses that were made and they have a nice bokeh and they were

made for tabletop photography..... just beware of a little problem they can suffer from sticky blades

from time to time.....

These lenses were so sharp they were used for lots of purposes in Hollywood in the film business

when pictures were blown up to theatrical size.....

The scene of Indiana Jones Raiders of the lost ark in the cave were shot with that lens on an F3 that was stop motioned.......

Peter

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mgn2
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50mm = 35mm on NEX?
In reply to rayman 2, Apr 1, 2013

Just to be sure - getting one of these legacy 50mm lenses (meant for 35mm cameras) and putting it on the NEX with an adapter gives a ~ 35mm (50mm/1.5 crop factor) on the NEX/APS-C sensors or does it convert to a 50mm (APS-C equivalent) view?

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Jefenator
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Re: 50mm = 35mm on NEX?
In reply to mgn2, Apr 1, 2013

50mm on APS-C is what I would call "75mm equivalent". It gives a mild telephoto viewing angle, about what you'd get with a 75mm lens on a full-frame sensor.

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Mojn
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Samples, Chinon 50 f1:1.7 and Olympus 50 f1:1.8
In reply to Louno, Apr 1, 2013

First a regular image (test images are so boring in the long run):

Chinon 50 1.7 @2.0 handheld.

To the tests. All on tripod. Focus on triangle. Corner sharpness of Chinon not visible here, but clearly better than Olympus.

Chinon @1.7

Chinon @2.0

Chinon @2.8

Olympus @1.8

Olympus @2.8 - blades look awful from now

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Louno
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Re: Samples, Chinon 50 f1:1.7 and Olympus 50 f1:1.8
In reply to Mojn, Apr 3, 2013

Mojn wrote:

First a regular image (test images are so boring in the long run):

Chinon 50 1.7 @2.0 handheld.

To the tests. All on tripod. Focus on triangle. Corner sharpness of Chinon not visible here, but clearly better than Olympus.

Chinon @1.7

Chinon @2.0

Chinon @2.8

Olympus @1.8

Olympus @2.8 - blades look awful from now

Hi Mojn, thx for the comparison shots, I find the Chinon @ 2.0 shot to be the best. I am definitively considering this lens

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saintz
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Re: Good 50mm Lens For Sony Nex ... on a Budget?
In reply to Louno, Apr 3, 2013

The Pentax Takumar versions (SMC, Super, Super Multi Coated) are my favorite. The 50 f1.4 can be had around $50. Make sure you know if you're getting a Pentak K mount or M42 mount so you know what adapter you need.

Second choice would be the Minolta 50 f1.4. Then a Canon FD or Nikon.

The cheap $10 eBay adapters work fine for these.

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Jun2
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Re: Good 50mm Lens For Sony Nex ... on a Budget?
In reply to saintz, Apr 5, 2013

saintz wrote:

The Pentax Takumar versions (SMC, Super, Super Multi Coated) are my favorite. The 50 f1.4 can be had around $50. Make sure you know if you're getting a Pentak K mount or M42 mount so you know what adapter you need.

Second choice would be the Minolta 50 f1.4. Then a Canon FD or Nikon.

The cheap $10 eBay adapters work fine for these.

Super Tak is about $80-90 now (that's coming down from over $100).  The other versions are even more expensive.  8 blades Super Tak also more expensive.

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