35/1.4L or 50/1.4

Which lens for low light photography on a 10D?


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Amfibius

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#1
Help me decide on which lens to get! I need a lens for low light photography with no flash - I want to use this lens to shoot dinner parties. I have both focal lengths covered with my 24-70/2.8L already, but none of the lenses I own are fast enough to shoot in extreme low light. So I have decided that I "need" a low light lens ;) Besides, the 24-70/2.8L is big, cumbersome and heavy.

I do not think I want a 50/1.8 (AWFUL BUILD QUALITY!) or a 35/2 (too slow for my needs - only 1 stop faster than my 24-70/2.8L).

I will be using this lens on a 10D.

Pros of a 50/1.4 over a 35/1.4L:
1. 50/1.4L is cheaper at A$600 compared to A$2000, and readily available on the secondhand market.
2. 50/1.4 is small, light and unobtrusive.

Pros of a 35/1.4L over a 50/1.4:
1. Focal length of a 50/1.4 on a 1.6x camera is too long - 80mm. This is effectively a short telephoto lens. I think the focal length problem will be the real issue here.
2. 35/1.4L has ring USM instead of the cheaper USM motor the 50/1.4 uses.
3. Better build quality.
4. Shorter focal length = better handholdability.

Both of these lenses are known to be incredibly sharp. Any other thoughts?
 

Mar 7, 2004
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#2
Amfibius said:
Help me decide on which lens to get! I need a lens for low light photography with no flash - I want to use this lens to shoot dinner parties. I have both focal lengths covered with my 24-70/2.8L already, but none of the lenses I own are fast enough to shoot in extreme low light. So I have decided that I "need" a low light lens ;) Besides, the 24-70/2.8L is big, cumbersome and heavy.

I do not think I want a 50/1.8 (AWFUL BUILD QUALITY!) or a 35/2 (too slow for my needs - only 1 stop faster than my 24-70/2.8L).

I will be using this lens on a 10D.

Pros of a 50/1.4 over a 35/1.4L:
1. 50/1.4L is cheaper at A$600 compared to A$2000, and readily available on the secondhand market.
2. 50/1.4 is small, light and unobtrusive.

Pros of a 35/1.4L over a 50/1.4:
1. Focal length of a 50/1.4 on a 1.6x camera is too long - 80mm. This is effectively a short telephoto lens. I think the focal length problem will be the real issue here.
2. 35/1.4L has ring USM instead of the cheaper USM motor the 50/1.4 uses.
3. Better build quality.
4. Shorter focal length = better handholdability.

Both of these lenses are known to be incredibly sharp. Any other thoughts?

wide angled lens for dinners!
 

mpenza

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#3
feel that 35/1.4L would probably be a better choice for indoor party pics as you could be closer to the guests (especially when you want to include more than one person in the pic). but is it wide enough for the pics that you'll be taking? if it's wide enough and money is a constraint, maybe a 35mm f/2 would do.... just bump up ISO a notch.

There's another choice, EF 24mm f/1.4L USM. I'm not too sure abt it's performance though. it was not listed at Photodo.
 

Nov 19, 2002
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#4
Get the 50/1.4, then with the difference of A$1,400 between this lens and the 35/1.4, upgrade to the EOS 1D body. :devil:

35mm x 1.6 = 56mm
50mm x 1.3 = 65mm

Then you not only get a fast lens, you also get an ultra fast and high performance body. Your 24-70 also becomes much more useful. ;)

Pls pardon me if this sounds like a silly suggestion to you. :embrass:
 

Amfibius

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#5
Raymond Cheah said:
Get the 50/1.4, then with the difference of A$1,400 between this lens and the 35/1.4, upgrade to the EOS 1D body. :devil:
Intriguing suggestion, I must say! :eek:

Unfortunately the difference between a new 1D-II body and the secondhand value of my 10D is more than A$1400 :(
 

ST1100

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#7
Amfibius said:
Intriguing suggestion, I must say! :eek:

Unfortunately the difference between a new 1D-II body and the secondhand value of my 10D is more than A$1400 :(
Raymond was refering to the 1D, not the 1DmkII. A$1400 should cover the diff between a used 10D and a used 1D, right?
 

ST1100

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#8
mpenza said:
There's another choice, EF 24mm f/1.4L USM. I'm not too sure abt it's performance though. it was not listed at Photodo.
i second the 24/1.4. Wider, and even better handholdability.
 

clive

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#9
since u r usind the 10d..then can also try the EF 28mm/f1.8 USM
 

sequitur

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#10
uh

personally i think a 35/2 should suffice. as much as yes, the f2 and 2.8 are just 1 stop apart, but considering that at f2.8 you might be getting a shutter speed of say 1/15, but at f/2 you'd be getting it at 1/30 - which IMHO is a LOT of difference when it's at these kinda levels.
 

mr_jason

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#11
Since you want to shoot dinner parties, I guess that will mean more group shots than individual portraits. For this f/1.4 would be, IMO, pretty useless, as the depth of field would be too thin. Certain members of the group will be in focus, while others will not be. This is my experience shooting at f/1.8 for such shots. For individual portraits, the 50mm f/1.4 focal length would be good enough, as the 35mm f/1.4 would be slightly too wide.

Low light, no flash and group shots are very very hard. You either get insufficient depth of field, or shadows, or a combination of other negatives.

I agree with sequitur that 35mm f/2 should be just about right, for small group shots. Shoot around f/4.5 onwards with flash and higher ISO.

Alternatively can also try an IS zoom lens, maybe 28-135mm IS. No doubt it's a slower lens, but the IS feature allows handholding at slow shutter.

I think your 24-70mm f/2.8L will do fine, as I used to use mine with fill flash for such kind of shots you indicated and turned out pretty nice results.
 

Amfibius

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#12
Thanks for your suggestions guys.

Mr_Jason, you make an excellent point. F/1.4 will definitely have too shallow DOF to take group pictures. For that I suppose I will have to use flash. If i'm going to use flash, I already have the lenses I need: I have a 17-40, a 24-70, a 28-135IS, a 100/2.8 macro, and a 100-400 IS.

I intend to use this lens as a walkaround lens where I can snap pictures of individuals without using the flash. I have found that flash at dinner parties (or restaurants) is very distracting.

Sequitur, since I can already shoot at that focal range at F/2.8, I would want greater than 1 stop faster shutter speed to make the upgrade worthwhile. IMHO, F/2 is not worthwhile.

I think i'm leaning towards the 35/1.4.
 

ST1100

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#13
FWIW:

- The 35/1.4 may be too short for individual candids. i find an EFL of ~85mm about just nice, but YMMV. i would prefer a 50/1.4 for candids on a 10D.

- The 35/2 is sharp. Meaning that the optical performance between the 35/1.4 and 35/2 is really not very big. You might want to think about the opportunity costs of that $1400.

- The 1D suggestion is, IMO, very good. A 1D will acquire focus MUCH faster than a 10D can in those conditions, assuming no assist beam.

- If you're switching between flash and ambient in those conditions, you have to remember to switch aperture (for DOF), WB (unless RAW), and sometimes shooting mode, esp if you do flash work in manual mode. Of course, you might even have to change lens. i do a lot of shooting under these conditions, and sometimes i forget. Disaster.

Just me 2 cents.
 

Amfibius

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#14
I forgot to respond to the 1D suggestion. Yes you are right, the difference in body cost between the 10D and a secondhand 1D is about $1.5k.

But there's a good reason why I won't get any 1-series camera. THE SIZE! The darned camera is just too big! I have tried a BG-ED3 grip on my 10D and no matter what anyone says, I still don't like it.

The 10D with a 50/1.4 (or a 35/1.4) is a nice, compact camera which takes extremely high quality photographs. As a bonus, I can use the pop-up flash if I don't feel like attaching my 550EX. I can't imagine walking around a party with a 1D with my 24-70/2.8 and a 550EX attached.

As for acquiring focus, I only use the center AF point on the 10D. With ambient light at night it is good enough to acquire lock for my needs.
 

Red Dawn

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#15
Hi

Amfibius, u want a small and light camera with great low light capabilites with fast, small lenses that excel at wide open apertures? u're the perfect candidate for a certain German camera :devil:

but just so that we don't go off topic here, the 35 f1.4L is likely to be more suitable for you. however bear in mind that lens is not terribly impressive in terms of sharpness or contrast at f1.4. But if you need f1.4......then u don't have much options. you may also want to consider the wider 24 f1.4L. in extremely low light, the 24 f1.4L will allow you to handhold at slower shutter speeds compared to the 35 f1.4L

btw depending on how low light level is, the AF will your 10D WILL be frustrated. I had assignments at Zouk before and Centro recently, and the 10D was hopeless without the ST-E2 wireless transmitter or the 420EX flash attached (both have excellent IR focusing). So if you forsee yourself shooting a lot in dismal light, i would advise you to add in the cost of the ST-E2 into your purchasing budget. it helps a lot and isn't too overly distracting like a flash is.
 

Amfibius

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#17
The 24/1.4L? Interesting suggestion, though I wonder how you can get enough DOF at that aperture and at that focal length. My point is: a huge part of the shot will be out of focus, so the lens would be pretty useless for taking group shots in the dark unless I want to pull out the flash!

Red Dawn, if I had the money to buy a Leica MP and a Noctilux - believe me I would! If buying into the Canon SLR system was a sure way to financial ruin, the Leica system would be even worse!

I don't have to shoot in light conditions as poor as a nightclub, thankfully. I already have a 550EX which I can use to help low-light AF (as mpenza suggested). I'm not keen on getting an ST-E2 for the time being. The 550EX is a better "master" than the ST-E2. The only advantage of the ST-E2 IMO is that it's smaller.
 

Red Dawn

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#18
huh? i would think if the 24mm has little DOF @ f1.4, then surely 35mm @ f1.4 would b worse, no? :p

mpenza, Amfibius: i could use e 550EX for focusing, but it's huge! besides i dun own one :p
 

Amfibius

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#19
Red Dawn said:
huh? i would think if the 24mm has little DOF @ f1.4, then surely 35mm @ f1.4 would b worse, no? :p
D'OH! You're right ... sorry I wasn't using my brain :)
 

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