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Customer Discussions > Photography forum

50mm f1.8 vs. 40mm f2.8 pancake and other lens questions

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 2, 2012 8:36:07 PM PST
ilyaMD says:
Hello all, newbie question here:

I own a T2i and after ~2.5 years of shooting with the stock lens, I'm ready to buy some starter lenses and a flash. In the process of researching lenses, I've come across the highly acclaimed "nifty fifty" and the "pancake." I'm looking to maybe getting 2 lenses right now: one for portrait pictures and another for outdoors/ landscape.

I'm looking to get a portrait lens that I can use for "photo booth" type pictures for full-body and close up pictures. I've heard great things about the 50mm and it's price = instabuy. But I just recently came across the 40mm and read very good things about it. My question, for my purpose, which would be better?

The "outdoor" lens I'm looking to buy is the 55-250mm lens. I don't have a huge budget and that lens seems to provide good zoom for my price range. Thoughts on this lens? Worth it?

Thank you in advance!

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 10:46:21 PM PST
S. Owens says:
I assume the "nifty-fifty" you're looking at is the f/1.8. When it comes to a portrait lens I here they are nearly a toss-up. The 50mm fills more of the frame which may actually make full-body shots a bit harder; at 1.8 instead of 2.8 it can also work in less light and provide a shallower DoF. The 50's drawback that I've read include being a little softer wide open while the 40 still works well wide open which reduces the light advantage a little. When it comes to build I believe the 40mm walks all over the 1.8 as it focuses better, is a lot quieter in operation, and generally feels better put together. As far a weight is concerned the two lens should be even but the pancake is a lot shorter giving you a more compact camera. To me the 50mm will give you a bit more low light ability and can produce less DoF but everything else I'd give to the pancake lens.

As long as the light is good and instant focusing isn't needed I've enjoyed using the 55-250mm. I purchased my copy for the same price as the pancake lens (about $150) and consider it to be worth it. I like that I can leave it on my Rebel and it doesn't make for a lot of weight to carry around unlike my other telephoto zoom.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2012 11:09:31 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 2, 2012 11:15:08 PM PST
Neo Lee says:
You should have known by now about focal length. 55-250mm is rarely useful for landscapes. I don't mean you can't use it for landscape but only if you're shooting at a distance mountain or something. This is a lens that you should have got with your T2i due to the Canon combo rebate. After rebate, it costs 50 dollars or so. I got this lens with T1i for 10 to 20 bucks after instant rebate. If I hadn't got this lens with T1i, I think I would not bother getting it. I would rather get 18-135mm or 18-200mm so that I wouldn't have to change lenses.

You should have known aperture by now too. f/1.8 collects a lot more light and has a much shallower depth of field, blurring out the background even more. This is definitely a good starter prime lens. Refurbished price is 80 dollars.

40mm f/2.8 STM is more practical for video recording since its AF mechanism is more quiet.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 4:43:11 AM PST
Brian says:
The 55-250 will be a good choice for your longer lens outdoors. Between the 40mm and the 50mm it is a more difficult choice. The 40mm is a better focal length for your camera, the autofocus is way better, and the build quality is better, but f2.8 is 1 1/2 stops slower than 1.8. The 50mm is a little more telephoto which will make full length portraits more difficult, the autofocus is slower, but at 1.8 it will give you a more shallow depth of field. Either one would serve your purpose. With the 40mm being sold at 149, I would probably go that way since it is better lens quality wise and a nicer focal length for what you're trying to do.

I would also recommend that you look into a book by Bryan Peterson called "Understanding Exposure". It is an easy read and will really teach you how to use all the setting on your camera.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 6:43:17 AM PST
ilyaMD says:
Thank you for all the advice, everyone. So from what I'm getting, although the 50mm is a great value and good in dim light, it's a little too "telephoto" and will make full length portraits harder to do than the 40mm?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 7:18:37 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2012 7:19:36 AM PST
Yes, the 50mm will make full length portraits more difficult, but that's mostly an issue indoors. I have both the 40mm 2.8 and the 50mm 1.4 and I find that I reach for the 50mm 1.4 more often because of the dreamy looking backgrounds it produces. I've used the 50mm at weddings and it's not great for bull body shots unless you have a good distance to back up.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 7:24:48 AM PST
to get an idea what the 40mm and 50mm focal lengths are like, use your kit lens (18-55) and zoom to 40mm, and see how it looks to you. do the same for 50mm. that way you'll know exactly what your frame will look like before you decide. i dont shoot canon so i cannot comment on the optical qualities of the lenses in question, but in general i'd want a 50mm 1.8 lens for portrait work, over a 40mm 2.8. for portrait work depth of field is really important, you want to seperate your subject from the background, and to do that you want a longer focal length and larger aperture. i have a 50mm 1.8 lens (nikon, sorry), and the depth of field difference from 1.8 to 2.8 is quite noticable. at 1.8 the bokeh (quality of out of focus areas) is far superior to 2.8. and the extra light gathering at f1.8 is very valuable if you dont shoot flash alot. that's just my preference though, so take it with a grain of salt. if you really love doing bokeh shots (google image search the term if you're not familiar with it), the 50mm 1.8 would be the better choice. hope that helps

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 5:05:40 PM PST
Brian says:
Before I upgraded to the 5D, I found myself using the 35mm F/2 more than my 50mm F1.4. The focal length of 35mm on a Rebel is like the 50mm on a 5D and seems to work a lot better. The downside to the 40mm is its only an F/2.8. This isn't terrible, but you will see a difference between it and F/1.8 on the 50mm. If you want the smooth, out of focus backgrounds, you may want to go for the 50mm as it do a better job at this. The 40mm will still create this effect, but not quite as well. If this isn't as much of a concern, the 40mm is a far better lens in quality. I just bought my 40mm in November so I haven't had much time using it, but it seems to hold up well. Another idea would be to buy the 40mm now and save up for the 85mm F/1.8. Use the 85mm for head shots and mid-length portraits and the 40mm for full-length.

One big problem I have with the 50mm F/1.8 is it has a plastic lens mount. I've heard stories of this breaking on the camera.
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  6
Total posts:  8
Initial post:  Dec 2, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 3, 2012

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