Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?

Started Apr 6, 2013 | Questions thread
saintz Contributing Member • Posts: 551
Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?

Generally the image quality of legacy and modern prime lenses should be very close. It's relatively simple to design a prime lens, so modern advances haven't made leaps-and-bounds differences. Also, most of the f1.4-f2 50ish mm lenses being discussed were pinnacle lenses for their respective manufacturers and were expected to be the lens used 90% of the time by 90% of their pickiest users. They were good lenses, and there just haven't been huge jumps in prime lens design to make modern lenses much better, without being much more expensive.

Zooms are a different story. Zoom lenses are hard to build, especially when you have to design them on plotting paper. Modern computer design (and in camera image corrections) has made it possible to make a cheap zoom lens that performs pretty darn well (the Sony NEX 18-55 or Canon 18-55 IS are good examples). So a cheap modern wide-to-tele zoom lens will generally beat all but the best legacy zoom lenses.

As for a direct comparison, I would much rather shoot a portrait with a legacy 50 f1.4 (any of them) than a 18-55 at 55mm f5.6. It's not a matter of which is sharper (probably a wash at the same f stop) but the fact that the legacy lens can open up so much wider. That translates into a better, although less sharp, picture.

I would second the recommendations for the Asahi Pentax Takumar 50 f1.4 and Samyang/Rokinon 85 1.4. I would take either over the modern autofocus Canon 50 f1.4. Both will fit Canon, although the Takumar may not clear the mirror on a full frame 5D/6D.

 saintz's gear list:saintz's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS
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