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50 1.4 bokeh vs. 60 2.8 bokeh for portraits on a crop body

Anurag Agnihotri , Apr 20, 2010; 04:56 a.m.

Hi,
I could find the examples of both...but unfortunately, there is no way of telling if the 50 1.4 was mounted on a crop body or a full frame body, therefore the question....
I intend to buy something fast for portraints...50 1.4 would be the obvious choice, but 60 2.8 also can be nice with the added benefit of being a macro lens. I like that because i want to shoot flowers.
Do you guys have an experience with these lenses...can you show/direct me to few examples of portraits shot with both the lenses. I want to see the difference in background blur with these. Ideally, if i can get nicely blurred background with 60mm wide open, i would go for that rather than 50 1.4.
regards,
anurag

Responses

Matthijs Claessen , Apr 20, 2010; 07:22 a.m.

Uhm...

50/1.4 at 1.4 on a 40D is here.

60/2.8 at 2.8 on a 40D is here.

Both are pretty good, the macro probably a bit more sharp if you pixel peep and the 50 can blur a little better if that's your prime requisite. But in the end both are good for your purpose I'd say.

Personally I can only vouch for the 50 which is pretty good image quality though I'd love it to be a little bit tougher.

Bueh B. , Apr 20, 2010; 08:39 a.m.

Very fast lenses like the 50mm f/1.4 are not super-sharp wide open and have a bit dreamy glow. This means you usually don't use them wide open but stop down a little. Bokeh will still be great but sharpness and contrast are visibly improved. Most of the time I shoot the 50mm prime at f/2.2 or so. Don't expect to use lenses like this one at f/1.4 often.

However, if you really need the speed, an f/1.4 lens is much better than an f/2.8 lens, because you can have up to 4x faster shutter speeds. And there are times when you need that, even if resolution is not at its optimum. On the other hand, it focuses not extremely close and therefore is not really useable for macro photography (at least without extension tubes).

Another option for great background blur is simply using longer lenses. The 85/1.8, 100/2, 135/2L or 200/2.8L all have a stronger bokeh than the shorter lenses. Their main drawbacks are that working distance is different and you need faster shutter speeds when you shoot hand-held.

Bueh B. , Apr 20, 2010; 09:08 a.m.

Forgot to add: There is although a Tamron 60mm f/2 macro lens. Maybe this lens is the best of both worlds for you.

Stephen O'Sullivan , Apr 20, 2010; 11:03 a.m.

Both will be sufficiently sharp -- at the apertures that are useful for portraits! Portraits are rarely taken at apertures that wide (bigger than 2.8) because most photographers (and customers?) want the entire face sharp. If you're taking a shot of an individual and you want only an eye in focus with the rest blurred, then 2.0 and larger works. But getting the whole face will be a challenge, AND forget about it if you are shooting more than one person.
I think the 2.8 will be plenty big for portraits, plus you've got the option of the macro feature of the 60mm.

John Deerfield , Apr 20, 2010; 12:50 p.m.

I agree with Stephen. You only need the f/1.4 is you need the extra two-stops of light; which you won't for a portrait. The 50mm is a great lens but if you want to do Macro, I'd get the 60mm. Background blur is really a matter of focal length: the longer the FL, the creamier the blur. So if you really want to blur the background, use the 100mm macro! But now you need more distance to work with. Also, to avoid any confusion, the DoF will be a matter of aperture and distance and NOT focal length. Meaning a 100mm lens will have the same DoF as a 50mm lens provided the subject is framed the same way (you will be further from the subject using the 100mm lens); you can look this up on a DoF calculator. However, the bokeh will be creamier with a longer lens.

Jim Krupnik , Apr 21, 2010; 12:08 a.m.

I use both lenses. The 50 f/1.4 offers a wider aperture, which can be important on a crop camera, as they need nearly an extra stop more aperture opening to achieve the same shallow DOF as a FF 35mm camera due to the smaller sensor size. Likewise, the FF 35 needs a bit more than a stop wider lens to get the same shallow DOF as a 6x6 camera, which needs a bit wider lens to get the same DOF as a 6x7 camera, and on and on... That's why larger format camera users don't get too excited about not having many lenses wider than f/4. The 110 f/2.8 on an RZ 6x7 camera is capable of DOF so shallow, it helps to use a magnifier to nail correct focus! On a 4x5 view camera, f.5.6 is is able to deliver great seperation..

F/2.8 isn't bad though on a crop camera, and the 60 macro lens is a great performer of a lens. Far better wide open than the 50 f/1.4 stopped down to f/2.8, for that matter. But, the 50 f/1.4 is also a fine performing lens when stopped down a bit, and wide open, it can blur almost any background, as well as nearly see in the dark. I love them both...

Here is a wide open comparison of the two. The overhead image is the setup, so you can see the relative positions of the subjects. The camera (50D) was on a tripod just shy of six feet away from the focus point.

The focus point in both test shots was the fender bulge on the STi model directly above the centerline of the left front wheel. I simply swapped lenses between shots (Some people ask, so no, I do not switch of camera or strobe when swapping lenses. The camera doesn't care). The top larger image was taken with the EF-S 60 f.2.8 lens in manual mode, wide open. Lighting was a single ceiling/umbrella bounced 580EXxx in ETTL mode.

The other pic was taken with the EF 50 f/1.4 wide open, from the same position, and using the same strobe setup.
Both were washed through DPP at same standard settings, except for bumping the exposure on the image shot with the 60 f//2.8 up a bit (I had the camera set for partial metering at the time). Don't let the color difference fool you. I used the same click color balance recipe for both, while one was shot at 1/60, and the other shot at 1/80. Pure accident, but since there was a rather bright 4800k CFL lamp above to mix with the strobe, using the same WB setting for both makes for different color. Sharpness was bumped up on both from the standard "3" to "5". That's about it. The tripod only served to keep the distance even, and was set up on a carpet, so don't judge either lens for ideal sharpness. I had to keep things a bit loose as well, since hitting the same general focus spot took a bit of "heavy hands" tripod adjusting.

The funky steel Elephant was left behind by my old Hindu neighbors. It's a candle holder that paints the room with patterns of pinpoint light. I have to shoot that someday too....

It is interesting that the difference in field of view between the two lenses is greater than I expected. I suppose that little 10 mm makes a larger impact when you start out with a base of only 50 mm.

That probably explains why I go for the 50 f/1.4 for shooting in the dark, and the 60 f/2.8 tends to get far more portrait and wedding play in my kit.

Anyway, the pics.... Save them to your PC to view them full sized on your screen. All but the setup shot are pretty big, and if you need to peep pixels, I can post really big jpg versions....

Jim Krupnik , Apr 21, 2010; 01:58 a.m.

Of course, you really have to keep in mind that the EF-S 60 f/2.8 lens can also do what is illustrated in the pics below, while the EF 50 f/1.4 can't even dream about it. They are different lenses, but just in case anyone had the feeling that there was nothing special about a modern, true macro lens, even wide open, compared to a typical prime lens, I offer this perspective...

Both shots were made with the EF-S 60 f/2.8 lens hand held (honest), and using only the "one shot" AF of the 50D. It really shines with "servo" AF, but I wanted an "all lens" couple of shots, complete with my 6' 5" frame trying to ball up to steady the camera, and my poor ability to hold the camera square to the subject while shooting wide open.

I just positioned the model of the Subaru STi closer to the near edge of the table, composed, and shot. Rather than try to mislead by stopping the lens way down, both shots were made wide open at f/2.8, using the central AF spot of the 50D for focus lock. At macro distances, any AF spot seriously shines as a useful tool. You can nail the focus to perfection on stupid small subject details. Unreal...

The main difference in these shots are that in the first shot, I placed the AF spot on the Brembo brake caliper behind, and between two framing wheel spokes. In reality, the wheel spokes, and the brake caliper are only separated by at most, three mm of depth. For the second shot, I placed the AF spot on the outer surface of one of the wheel spokes, near the center of the wheel. How is that for control? How is that for lens AF accuracy? I have the previous version of the EF 100 mm f/2.8 macro for my FF cameras (it is being traded now for the new IS model, and I can't wait), but the EF-S 60 f/2.8 is the perfect length for a crop camera, compared to the 100, and has a better AF response (IMHO).

Talk about sharp, and having total control over DOF, the EF-S 60 f/2.8 really delivers. Even wide open. The 50D is no slouch either, but I always had great results with this lens ever since the 30D was the latest xxD model.

Keep in mind, these are direct RAW to jpg Canon DPP conversions of the left front wheel on the same Subaru STi model used in my previous post comparing DOF between the 50 f/1.4, and the 60 f/2.8. I just moved in closer with the 60 f/2.8 to take the shots. The images are complete. There was no cropping whatsoever. No special tweaking. Just a "standard" picture style RAW to jpg DPP conversion with the sharpness bumped up only from "3" to "5" for monitor viewing. DPP users know that "5" is a barely perceptible bump, and makes things look more natural on a monitor.

Both shots were hand held with zero hand/body bracing. The 60 f/2.8 is just an awesome lens, and even if the 50 f/1.4 wins the heart of the OP for now, the 60 f/2.8 is a good bet for a future pick. Sorry, but every time I use the this lens, I lose control. It's the fault of the OP this time. He made me open the drawer, and break out the lens..... :).

Save the pics to your PC, and display them locally for full size viewing. Again, pixel peepers are welcome to seriously large images to browse if need be.


Anurag Agnihotri , Apr 22, 2010; 12:00 a.m.

Hi, thanks for the feedback.
Was very helpful.
anurag

Yakim Peled , Apr 22, 2010; 08:35 a.m.

I'm with Jim. The AF accuracy of the 60/2.8 is much better than that of the 50/1.4.

Happy shooting,
Yakim.

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