35mm or 50mm F1.4?

Started Feb 2, 2013 | Questions thread
Guidenet Forum Pro • Posts: 15,748
Re: 35mm or 50mm F1.4?

Swiss L wrote:

I will pick up my new D800 in a few weeks to photo our new baby. I am coming from Cannon so will be starting frm scratch. I will start with the 24-120 f4 and a fast prime. My question is on full frame which prime is the best general all-purpose focal length a 35 or a 50 f1.4. I will add a wide prime or zoom in the future as my understanding of the camera improves and if the baby allows!

That is an impossiible question to answer. Some of us love the 28-35mm range and use it like a normal walkaround. Others prefer the 50-60mm range. Remember, in FX these are not head and shoulder type portrait lenses like they could have been on a crop camera. If you're looking for that, get the 85 f/1.4 or f/1.8 instead.

I have the excellent 50 f/1.8G which might be the best 50mm made by Nikon right now. It cost only $219 and I bought it just because of that. I don't generally use the middle ranges on Full Frame, so that $219 usually sits on the shelf in the camera safe.

On the other hand, 35mm has been my range for many years.. about 1960, but this last year I bought the new Nikon 28 f/1.8 for $699 as I remember and it is absolutely superb. Sigma just released a new 35 f/1.4 which is also proving to be excellent for close to $900. Either of these two would make an excellent choice depending on which focal length you marginally prefer. I love it a little wider as I get older. Other's don't.

So, it really depends. Your Zoom is general purpose so what do you want this prime to do? If it's for low light, you're getting two to three stops but what will you generally take pictures of? If it's the baby, I'd go the 85mm or at least the 50 f/1.8G.

Later, look closely at the 16-35 f/4 VR to go with the zoom you have.

One more thing. Take your new camera and lens and set it to 28, then 35, then 50, then 85 and try it for a few hours to simulate the images you're going to take. See which does what you want and buy that.

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Cheers, Craig
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