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Thread: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

  1. #1

    Default 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    i got the 17-55 lense with me that i use with my 50D as recommended by my friend.

    now that i want to move on and get myself another lense, which is cannon's 50mm for potrait shots.

    i always see people saying 50mm is a good potrait lense but i dont understand why is that so?
    is it because of the 1.8/1.4 f stops?

    also, if comparing to my 17-55mm, whats the difference other then the f-stops? 17-55mm also has 50mm in its range, and why people still need a 50mm only lense??

    still learning thru trial and error..
    thanks for reading!

  2. #2
    Member Cartman2000's Avatar
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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    if you have the money, buy the 50mm 1.4. 85mm 1.8 would be a good alternative

  3. #3

    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by Enyaw View Post
    i got the 17-55 lense with me that i use with my 50D as recommended by my friend.

    now that i want to move on and get myself another lense, which is cannon's 50mm for potrait shots.

    i always see people saying 50mm is a good potrait lense but i dont understand why is that so?
    is it because of the 1.8/1.4 f stops?

    also, if comparing to my 17-55mm, whats the difference other then the f-stops? 17-55mm also has 50mm in its range, and why people still need a 50mm only lense??

    still learning thru trial and error..
    thanks for reading!
    50mm is good for portraits and indoor shots as what you mentioned have 1.8/1.4 which is 2-3stops faster, therefore enable you to shoot at reasonable shutter speed without flash.

    However, why only for portraits as when you go into F2.8 and below, the Depth of Field is so thin that a person's face can be having only 1eye is focused (sharp) while the other is not. That's why it's not so suitable for group shots as only 1 or a few person will be focused while the rest be blurred.

    50mm was famous because it was considered "standard lens" during the film era where it uses full frame 35mm. However do be mindful when used on a digital camera (or cropped body), it becomes 80mm (1.6x crop) which is quite tight if you used it indoors and can be only good if you shoot normally half body or facial shots.

    For "normal shot" (50mm equivalent), you can look for 35/2, 28/1.8 or even sigma 30/1.4 which will give you nearer to 50mm which you can take group photos or full body shots indoor, though you need to go nearer physically for facial ones.
    Last edited by Ouverture; 11th May 2009 at 02:19 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    I'm a poor person with a 5D. I only got 1 lens and thats 50 mm f/1.4 USM!

    It's great for about almost everything on a full-frame.

    But since it functions like a 85 mm on a 1.6x i guess it's highly recommended vs the actual 85 mm f/1.8 USM (more useful on FF body IMHO)... too tight for me when i tried it on a 20D.

    Other alternative is the equally good 28 mm f/1.8 USM which will give you a equivalent focal-length of 45 mm. This will function very well as a standard lens. Performance is more or less equal.

  5. #5
    Moderator diver-hloc's Avatar
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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    f1.4 if you got the buget.... f1.8 if you don't.....

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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    Go read up on f/stops and why a larger aperture may be more advantageous than a smaller one in some situations, and you will understand why f/1.8 or f/1.4 has a certain advantage compared to f/2.8.

    Here's a hint: a large aperture allows more light to hit the sensor. What does that mean for your photography in terms of shutter speed and ISO, and how does it help you?

  7. #7

    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    The 17-55mm is already an excellent portrait lens. Between the 17-55 and the 50mm f/1.8, I would prefer to use the 17-55. There are a few reasons for this:

    1. The zoom offers me greater flexibility and helps my creativity a lot. 50mm is very restrictive, especially indoors, but sometimes we also want 50mm to get in close indoors. 50mm is great for outdoors though. My prime for indoor portraits was the 35mm f/2.

    2. I find that the 17-55 produces better colour compared to the 50mm f/1.8. I have not done a controlled environment test, but I feel that the colour of the 17-55 is richer.

    3. I hardly use the extra f/stop of the f/1.8 because I find it a bit difficult to control the desired DOF. I do go down to f/2.2 or so... but most of the time, I'm just on f/2.8 when there is sufficient light. I find the DOF of f/2.8 to be nice enough. If I put it on say f/2, I will get more missed shots when I shoot portraits of fidgety people, like my baby. If you open wider than f/2.8, the subjects need to be still or posed.

    4. The 17-55 has IS. OK, the lens is not long, so there is no real need for IS. But in low light and you want to handhold, you can get better sharpness at lower shutter speeds. This just about negates the advantage the wider aperture of the f/1.8 has in low light.

    So, if you need a prime at 50mm, you should get the 50mm f/1.4. The 50mm f/1.8 has very little advantage over your existing zoom. That is why I sold off my 50mm f/1.8 after I bought the 17-55.
    Last edited by nottipiglet; 11th May 2009 at 10:50 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    i also feel that since u already have the 17-55 f2.8, i don't exactly suggest getting a 50 f1.8. the 50 f1.4 maybe, becoz of that extra stop.

    when using the 50 f1.8 (for me at least), i don't stop down to f1.8 or f2 anyway, not juz becoz DOF is thin, but also because its not at sharp when so wide open. i would usually use f2.8 or higher, although i heard the sweetspot for this lens is like f4 (or was it f8?) ... hence, the 50 f1.8 would be redundant if u alr have the 17-55 ...

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    I had a copy of the 50mm f/1.8 II that was sharp at f/2, thus giving me a one stop advantage over my fastest zoom. I honestly think the issue of the 50mm f/1.8 II being soft wide open is sometimes blown out of proportion by pixel peepers. Under normal usage, the 50mm f/1.8 II is plenty sharp even at f/2.

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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    50mm f1.8 is too light for my shaky hands. i need more weight of the (17-55) lens..and IS helps a lot for indoor, lowlight shots.
    the 17-55@f2.8 is as good as the 50@f2 or f2.8 so i went for 85mm prime instead, to avoid overlap at 50mm length.

  11. #11
    Senior Member jnet6's Avatar
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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    you should get either 82/1.2 or 135/2 for portrait shots.

  12. #12

    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    50D is a crop camera so by 35mm, 50mm is 80mm which is good for half body portrait shots as well as product shoots. to get optimum sharpness usually have to set from f4 there.
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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by aungzawwin View Post
    50mm f1.8 is too light for my shaky hands. i need more weight of the (17-55) lens..and IS helps a lot for indoor, lowlight shots.
    the 17-55@f2.8 is as good as the 50@f2 or f2.8 so i went for 85mm prime instead, to avoid overlap at 50mm length.
    too light for shaky hands? haha i thought ppl usually only complain about lenses being too heavy for shaky hands ... i for one wouldn't mind lenses that are light

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    Default Re: 17-55mm 2.8 vs 50mm 1.8 vs 50mm 1.4

    Quote Originally Posted by jeremyteocx View Post
    too light for shaky hands? haha i thought ppl usually only complain about lenses being too heavy for shaky hands ... i for one wouldn't mind lenses that are light
    yeah..that's true i got more blurred pics(due to cam shake) with very light lenses..

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