Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM

Started Jun 6, 2013 | Discussions
Michael Thomas Mitchell
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Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
Jun 6, 2013

On either full-frame or APS-C...

These lenses have very similar focal lengths. Both are primes. Both are inexpensive. Why do you prefer one over the other?

tonyjr
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 6, 2013

The 40 has better coatings and is newer .

Better build unless you are talking about the mk 1.

To me the 40 is better on a crop [ wider ] While the new 50 II is a MK II and the new extender work better on the II's - I don't think so on the 50

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Spunky8
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to tonyjr, Jun 6, 2013

The 40 is my choice.  More compact; newer design; sharp, sharp, sharp.

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Shorthand
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Spunky8, Jun 6, 2013

Spunky8 wrote:

The 40 is my choice.  More compact; newer design; sharp, sharp, sharp.

I actually have stuck with the nifty fifty ... the extra 1.3 stops is worth it to me. At f/2.8 the nifty fifty is sharp sharp sharp too. My next lens instead is the new Sigma 30mm f/1.4 ... I need the subject background isolation at a something like that focal length.

DxOmark.com provides a nice head-to-head comparison, by the way:

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Compare-Camera-Lenses/Compare-lenses/%28lens1%29/966/%28lens2%29/196/%28lens3%29/187/%28brand1%29/Canon/%28camera1%29/619/%28brand2%29/Canon/%28camera2%29/619/%28brand3%29/Canon/%28camera3%29/619

Select measurements, then sharpness, then "field map" ... set all three to f/2.8 and you'll see that there is very little difference in pure sharpness performance, especially on crop bodies.  Pentagonal bokeh, of course, from the nifty fifty but it really doesn't bug me.

Honestly all three are insanely great lenses for the money ... people forget how spoiled we are.

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jitteringjr
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 6, 2013

If I had to pick, I would get the 40, but I like option #3 and saving up a little longer and going with the 50/1.4 instead.

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Kwick1
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 6, 2013

Slow and small vs fast and slightly bigger.  Your choice.

Me, I like fast, and great bokeh, even with the cheap 50/1.8

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Robert Deutsch
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 6, 2013

I've owned the original 50mm f/1.8 for a number of years (before the the DSLR age) and have never been very fond of it: slow to focus and sharpness not as good as I had hoped.  I bought a 40mm f/2.8 a few weeks ago, and this is a lens that I absolutely LOVE.  It's much sharper than my sample of the 50mm (which I bought used, and its performance may be sub-par), and I find the wider focal length (40 vs.50) useful.  It's more compact--another plus. Given the excellent high ISO performance of the 6D, f/2.8 is fast enough.

Bob

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nelsonal
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 6, 2013

The 40mm is the only lens I've ever bought on release day.  It's rediculously sharp, and one of my favorite lenses.  Looks a little silly paired with a 1D body, but allows me to basically put it in anything.

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glokenpop
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Why Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 6, 2013

Michael Thomas Mitchell wrote:

On either full-frame or APS-C...

These lenses have very similar focal lengths. Both are primes. Both are inexpensive. Why do you prefer one over the other?

You'd buy the 50 1.8 because you need the 1.8 and don't want to pony up for the sigma 30 or 50 1.4.

You'd buy the 40 because you want the new coatings, tiny size and mostly I imagine because it works well with the new cameras that have improved live view focussing.

Personally I'd get the extra dosh for the sigma lens (I have the 50)

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qianp2k
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 7, 2013

I own 40/2.8 and used to own 50/1.4.  40/2.8 is already very sharp at f2.8 in entire frame on 5D cameras and doesn't gaining more sharpness after stop down and actually becomes softer after f4.0.  50/1.4 needs to stop down to at least f2.2 or f2.5 to get reasonable sharpness and can match to 40/2.8 at f2.8 at least in most areas from center.  After stop down 50/1.4 getting sharper noticeably and extremely sharp at f5.6-8.0 on 5D cameras that is sharper than 40/2.8 at the same aperture, and is smoother.  50/1.4 is also better in bokeh so a better choice for portrait.

on 5D3, you can see 40/2.8 has the best mpix but barely better than two nifty-fifty.   It seems work best at f2.8-4.0 especially at f2.8 but other two Nifty-fifty lenses are getting sharper after stop down.

40/2.8 vs 50/1.4 vs 50/1.8 on 5DIII

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miked58
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to qianp2k, Jun 7, 2013

I have both and they are so small it doesn't really matter which is on my cameras. Both focus accurately and are sharp. The 40mm is better built and I treat it as a lens cap when looking to travel more compactly. I tend to have the 40mm on my 1Ds as it is more a walkaround lens on full frame and the 50mm is effectively a 90mm on my 60d or 650d for portraits.

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Michael Thomas Mitchell
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Thanks for all the replies
In reply to miked58, Jun 8, 2013

Thank you everyone for all of your input.

I have used the 50 1.8 for many years. Back in the film days, a 50 1.8 was often the standard (or "kit") lens in most amateur and enthusiast 35mm camera packages. But it fell out of favor -- with me and many others -- with the early proliferation of cropped-sensor digital cameras, such as Canon's original D30 (circa 2001).

I have been shooting 1.6x, 1.3x and "full frame" bodies for years now. But my wife still shoots only 1.6x. The 50 is just too tight on APS-C to be useful for anything resembling "general" use. (She has several general zooms, but is open to primes as she matures.) With an equivalent field of view of 65mm on APS-C, the 40mm pancake lens seems like a potential replacement for the functionality of the 50mm lenses of old.

But another possibility is the wonderful EF 28mm f1.8. On APS-C, it's roughly a 45mm prime, closer to the old-school 50. And at f1.8, it's nearly 1 1/2 stops brighter. It's also about the same size as the 50 1.4, small and compact. But, it costs nearly 3 times as much and, for some, doesn't have that "cool" factor of the pancake which transforms even mid-size bodies into much more "size-friendly" cameras for everywhere shooting.

So, I was intentionally a little vague about my motive in the original post so I could see what it is people truly like about their 40mm. Thanks to all again for the input!

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Marcos Villaroman
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40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 8, 2013

Michael Thomas Mitchell wrote:

On either full-frame or APS-C...

These lenses have very similar focal lengths. Both are primes. Both are inexpensive. Why do you prefer one over the other?

Another vote for the 40/2.8.  Newer design; smaller; works great wide open.  It is small enough I stick it in the front pocket of my camera bag instead of in the main compartment --- I always have it and it is so small, it makes my camera look small.

Another important thing for me:  I happen to like 35/40mm focal length over 50mm on both APS-C and full frame sensors.

I rarely used my 50/1.8 on my Digital Rebel.  As mentioned, I was not happy with the focal length.  I didn't like the hood, inability to use circular polarizers, and difficulty manually focusing it.

Sure you can get shallower DOF with the 50/1.8, but, I'm not a fan of its bokeh.

OTOH, if you really want to shoot as cheaply as possible with available light, the 50/1.8 is part of the equation.  I've met a photographer that stuck with a 50/1.8 and Digital Rebel with reflector for all of her portrait work until this day.  Can't get cheaper than that.

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mu55
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 9, 2013

I got the 40mm - impulse buy based on size... I got the 50L about 1 month later and the 40mm may as well be a lens cap.

The 40mm is very impressive though for it's size and price, gives the 24-70 f2.8 a run for it's money (until you try and zoom)

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2esetters
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM - indoors
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 9, 2013

Going to Italy in September and will want to take some pictures indoors without flash. Primarily general tourist photos in churches, museums, wineries, etc. with a 60D.

I have the 50 1.8 and also the new Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.0 C. Would the Canon 40 2.8 be better than either of those two lens for this purpose?

Limited funds, so anything pricier than $400 is not an option this year.

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MAC
MAC
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM - indoors
In reply to 2esetters, Jun 9, 2013

2esetters wrote:

Going to Italy in September and will want to take some pictures indoors without flash. Primarily general tourist photos in churches, museums, wineries, etc. with a 60D.

I have the 50 1.8 and also the new Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.0 C. Would the Canon 40 2.8 be better than either of those two lens for this purpose?

Limited funds, so anything pricier than $400 is not an option this year.

the 40 will not help you with that

if you are happy with your focus on the 17-70, stay with that ...for the os.  The 50 at f2.2 is nice for shallow dof

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2esetters
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM - indoors
In reply to MAC, Jun 9, 2013

Thanks, I kind of figured that as nobody was posting any low light examples.

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Just another Canon shooter
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to Michael Thomas Mitchell, Jun 9, 2013

The 50/1.8 is useless wide open for all practical reasons - soft and poor AF.

Yes, I know that occasionally you can get good pictures wide open, I have a few as well.

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Robert Deutsch
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM - indoors
In reply to 2esetters, Jun 9, 2013

2esetters wrote:

Thanks, I kind of figured that as nobody was posting any low light examples.

This was taken in a modelling setup that was to demonstrate flash, but I used the 6D/40mm without flash, at ISO3200, f/2.8, 1/125, so it represenst fairly low light.

Having said that, the 40mm f2.8 is not a low-light champion.  However, I would be more concerned with a 60D of the field of view not being wide enough for many indoor shots.  The 17mm of the Sigma would be better in that respect.

Bob

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Jeffrey Behr
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Re: Nifty-fifty vs 40mm f2.8 STM
In reply to qianp2k, Jun 9, 2013

Photozone...

http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/752-canon_40_28_ff?start=1

...certainly doesn't agree with "...actually becomes softer after f4.0."  Their sample's best average sharpness occurred at F5.6.

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