Need advice on Camera lenses :)

RQKevin Posts: 18
edited September 2014 in General

Hello guys!

I'm looking for advice for a new camera lens I want to invest in which is the Canon 50mm 1.8. It's really plasticy but the end results look stunning. I am a photographer and I want to move on to video, I own a couple of zoom lenses/wide (I don't own any primes yet) but none can stop down far enough. I was thinking maybe the 1.8, or the Canon 1.4. Now the 1.4 I did some research on and apparently it has a very weak focus mecanism, meaning it can break very easily, if I just bump it slightly. I don't know if that is true or not, so here I am.

I shoot with my Canon 600D (EFS cropI)

So my real question is, do any of you own any of those 2 lenses? And if you do, please tell me the good and the bad. 

Thank you!

EDIT: Here is a screenshot of a video I put together using a 3.5 zoom lens (shot in the evening, I color graded it to look alot darker), now it may look okay, but there is so much grain on there. I understand that a wide open lense will make it alot more shallow, but it will suit my video style alot better.


  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Posts: 5,252 Staff
    edited September 2014

    I have the 50mm f/1.8, and it gives a decent image, but it is pretty cheaply built.  It feels more like a toy than an actual lens.  The only advantage it has over the f/1.4 is price.  The f/1.8 is dirt cheap, but that's because it is made cheaply.  And the focus ring is really awkward, being the very front lip of the lens.  Don't get me wrong, its worth the price, but if you set pricing aside, there is no question that the 1.4 is a better lens.  The only issues I've heard with the f/1.4 are with the autofocus motor, but a very small percentage of users report that, and since you will be manually focusing for video anyway, that becomes largely a non-issue.

    I can't see any grain in the image you attached, but then I can't really see anything at all in that image.

  • RQKevin
    RQKevin Posts: 18
    edited September 2014

    Thank you for replying Axel!

    Okay so I honestly think the 1.8 will do, focus can't be more annoying than the kit lens I hope, nothing can...

    Sorry it's very dark but it looks fine on my screen, thing is though it does look nice but when I play the video it's just waya too much, and after I upload it to youtube, I'm not an expert when it comes to rendering as I just got started. I don't know what to say, you have to see it from my point of view.

    Again, thank you for your view on the 1.8. I'm going to wait for a bit and see if anyone else reply before I make up my mind!


  • AxelWilkinson
    AxelWilkinson Posts: 5,252 Staff
    edited September 2014

    The focus ring on the 1.8 is waaaay more annoying than in the kit lens.  If you take a look at this image:

    -see the ridged ring around the very front of the lens ? That's the focus ring.  Its like 1/8" wide, and isn't on the barrel of the lens, where you would expect it to be on any other lens on the planet.  There is almost no chance of pulling focus with that lens mid-shot, as your fingers need to be right there at the edge of the front lens element.  Not ideal for video.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador
    edited September 2014
    Canon's three different 50mm lenses are about $100, $400 and $1000, respectively. For PHOTO work, the $100 lens is great--it's the same glass as the $400 lens. However, the tiny, tiny focus ring on the $100 lens makes it unsuitable for video--you won't be able to attach a follow-focus, and if you do a manual focus, your fingertip will usually end up in frame.
    I own the $100 lens--it's my favorite lens for portrait work. For video, I borrow the $400 lens from a friend.
    Besides, the $100 lens is f/1.8 and the $400 lens is f/1.4. You'll get about 1/3 stop more low-light response on the $400 lens. Also, oddly enough, on most sites that have tested all three of Canon's 50mm lenses, the $400 lens is actually a little sharper than the $1000 lens! Although the $1000 lens has nicer bokeh.
    There's a new Canon-mount Samyang/Rokinon (same lens, two different names on it) 50mm cinema lens with a street price of about $500 worth a look. That lens has nice gearing for follow-focus. It's T-stop, not f-stop, but, for most practical purposes that makes no difference in setting up a shot.
    T-stop vs. F-stop: f-stop is a ratio measure of lens size/aperture size, and more-or-less equals how much light enters the lens. With f/1.8, in theory, 1/1.8=0.55555, so about 55.5% of the light entering the lens hits the sensor. However, since f-stop is simply a ratio of lens to aperture, f-stop doesn't account for any light loss from multiple lens elements or scattering in the barrel. Not all f/1.8 lenses pass the same amount of lihht to the sensor: some will be darker than others.
    T-stop is the ratio of light that passes through the lens to the sensor. You can kind of think of it as "f-stop, adjusted for other factors." Basically a T/1.8 lens really, truly is passing 55.5% of incoming light to a senso, where an f/1.8 lens might only be passing 50% of the light through after scattering.
    What this mean in the real world: let's say I light an indoor scene that is being shot with two lenses; an f/1.8 24mm lens for wides and an f/1.8 85mm lens for close - ups. Both lenses have the same f/stop, so I assume lighting is good all day. It may turn out that the 85mm lens loses more light to it's longer body, and it's footage is just a bit darker. Now I correct in post (and next time know to add more light when using the 85mm).
    With T/1.8 lenses, I would be certain both lenses were getting the same amount of light.
    That said, it's not THAT big a different, but, if you're lens shopping and see f/stop and T/stop lenses, now you'll know the difference.
    Hope this is useful.
  • Triem23 said right. If you can buy a Rokinon prime cine lens that has a 1.5 tstop (almost same thing as 1.8).
    I use the 50mm 1.8 for video and I really love the DOF and the light image that I got with it.
    About follow focus, yes you can attach one to this lens, but need some extra steps (theres a lot of tutorials about that on Youtube).
    Forget the auto focus, its useless in video and our T3i cant do this very well even with Magic Lantern installed.
    But mine focus now is on a set pf Rokinon Cine Lens, but for me it will coust almost triple due to tax and dollar value here in Brazil, but theres a lot of set with 85, 50 and 24 mm 1.5 for about U$ 1500 in USA, they are done for follow focus (large ring) declicked iris and everything manual for Canon like ours...
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador
    One nice thing about the new Rokinon/Samyang cine-lenses: the whole line is built so that the focus/zoom rings of each lens line up, so if you are using a cage/rail setup with follow-focus or zoom controls, you shouldn't need to adjust the focus/zoom controller position when changing lenses.

    One odd thing about Samyang, Rokinon and Bower lenses is all of them are made by Samyang (Rokinon and Bower just re-label), but sometimes you can find the same lens cheaper, by "brand." I own the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 lens, which was $20 cheaper than the Samyang, and $50 cheaper than the Bower! Exact same lens!
  • Ben
    Ben Posts: 51
    edited September 2014
    A note on the Rokinon glass:
    They rate it at a 'T-stop' to compensate for glass differences (so transmission of light is the gold standard) but the glass just isn't as sharp or quality as Canon glass. The gears are nice, which are a reason I might buy Rokinon, but the optics are just average. Nothing special, and certainly not anything I'd shoot on over my Canon 50mm f/1.2.
    There may also be some misconceptions about the Rokinon stuff. The lenses aren't special-made for cinema use -- they're factory-adapted. The focus and zoom throw would be a lot larger, and the elements would be wider (look at a Zeiss CP.2) if they were truly intended for cinema. This is Rokinon shifting to a 'T-stop' scale, adding gears and declicking to capitalize on the 'cinema' market, but the short focus throw means you're still getting a 'true' cinema lens -- it's just very clever marketing.
  • RQKevin
    RQKevin Posts: 18
    edited September 2014
    Thanks guys, and Triem you were very helpful!
    Now when it comes to the finger being seen on the lens, wouldn't the ES-62 lens hood prevent that? I understand that the focus ring is very small, but since it's the same glass and not as heavy as the 1.4, I'm almost positive the 1.8 will do.  Here is why I'm saying that:
    Correct me if I¨m wrong, but is the 1.8 a good starting lens, or should I get one that has a larger focus ring? Judging by the price difference, I can't make up my mind...
  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador
    If you really want to stay with the Canon, spend the extra money.
    Yeah, you can use the lens hood to augment the focus ring, but the lens hood is also designed to be removed. Also, even with the hood, you'd not be able to use follow-focus or a zoom control, should you decide to add such gear later. The 1.8 will get you started, yes, but the 1.4, with it's better build, distance scale, and proper focus ring will stay with you better as you grow, improve and add gear.
    My personal opinion is it's usually worth the extra money for a lens, because if/when you change camera bodies the lenses can come with you.
  • MichaelJames
    MichaelJames Posts: 2,034 Enthusiast
    I have owned several Rokinon Lenses.  I wanted to stay with Canon made lenses but the cost benefit does not match up.  If you can skip IS enabled lenses then go Rokinon.  Paying more for a picture quality that won't be distinguishable to the average viewer does not make sense.  You could improve your camera by either adding magic lantern or by buying a better camera. 
    What makes a great photo?  The best camera and lenses? or the content and ability of a user?  If you can make money with your films or video then you'll be able to go buy those lenses.
  • Here, take a look at this Tom Antos post about the lens Fstop:
    Here a beginners lens tutorial with video footage:
    And here a printeble (yes, you can print it in 3D) adapter to the 50/1.8 Canon lens:
  • I love this lens and I'm surprised there's so much daunting advice around it! I only have this and the 18-55 kit lens but I probably use the 50mm around 80% of the time on my cam.  I'm 6ft 4 in height with hands in proportion to my size and I've never struggled with the focus ring. I can't recall a time I've slipped my finger in the way, but at the same time for minor adjustments I find it quite easy to control with 1 finger rather than having to grab it both sides. Maybe I'm just not as fussy!
    The only down side to this lens where video is concerned is that it doesn't have image stabilisation, and although it looks great for hand held shots you still need to be careful not to cross the line in to crazy-shake-ville. Of course a tripod or stabilising gear will fix this.
    For the price I couldn't tell you to go elsewhere.  Granted there is the 1.4 but it seemed a heavy jumped considering the image quality I can pull out of the 1.8. I use a hood on mine too (literally a few quid off amazon) and I guess that does help with the ring issue, but I haven't had any problems with it in the first place.
  • RQKevin
    RQKevin Posts: 18
    edited September 2014

    Thank you! This here is very helpful, I have never done these "follow focus" shots if that's what you name them, where you pull focus while still recording to something else in the frame. But right after someone said "same glass" I don't know what to think, was all they changed the focus ring and a slighly better construction? I have been photofgraphing under very rough conditions including out in the cold where I had to have so many batteries with me, and never did I bump anything. But seeing the 1.8 is super easy to break apparently, I don't know what to think.

     Again, thank you for opening my eyes.

  • The answer is very easy: take the 1.8 its veru cheap and works like charm! I also use it a lot here , the problem is that in a closed set I need a lot of room to get a good big image (almost all close ups) because the croped sensor in the T3i, but its a very really good lens for its price.

    The whole discussion is about future: if you plan to upgrad elater do right now (since you have the money for this!).

    Here is a shot in a Theater I did with mine and a spider rig:

    Here some done with my kid playing Destiny (just for fun) inside a small room:

    All with Canon T3i (or 600D) and the 50mm 1.8 lens, second shot was done with the camera in hand.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador
    edited September 2014

    @Faen--To explain on "Follow Focus"

    Right, so we've set up a shot and we want to do this sweet pan across distant mountains until the camera picks up this flower close to the camera. So we focus on the mountains for the start of the pan and we change focus to the flower. As you noted "Following Focus" is simply having to change the point of focus during a shot. Reaching around the lens to twiddle the focus ring can be done, but it's not the easiest reach--and, with the tiny-tiny focus ring on the Canon 50mm f/1.8 it's very very difficult to keep your fingertip out of frame.

    When I'm referring to a "follow focus rig" I am talking about an additional bit of hardware you would attach to your camera--basically it's a belt that you attach to the focus ring of the lens which attaches to a gear which, in turn etxends to a knob you can place behind the camera. This is more in line with how a classic movie camera would work (where the focus and zoom would be connected to knobs which can be moved around the camera. Feature Films often have two, or even three operators on a single camera. If you see a film credit for a "focus puller," then that's the guy standing right next to the camera op.The op is pointing the camera the right way, and the focus puller is doing nothing but running that focus ring.). Some follow focus systems are basically a rod sticking out of your lens so you have greater control over the lens. It may not be something you're thinking of at the moment, but, again, as you gain experience and inevitablely start looking at more complex shots and ways to improve your skills you might, down the line, start looking at this type of gear.

    Anyway, the design of the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens doesn't allow for the addition of this type of additional gear. You might not care about that now, but you might in a year. Or you might not. I have no way of knowing.

    Follow focus rigs are useful in many situations--I don't know what you're shooting, but a good focus puller on a film is a valued crew member, indeed. That Canon f/1.8 lens when wide open can have a depth of field measured in mere inches, so being able to get a smooth, repeatable focus move can be the difference between nailing a shot in 1-2 takes or nailing a shot in 10-20 takes.

    I'm also the one who noted that the glass elements on the Canon 50mm f/1.8 are the same glass elements used in the Canon 50mm f/1.4. The differences between the two lenses are slim--basically the f/1.4 has a metal body instead of a plastic one, so it's more durable. But if you're good to your lenses, this isn't that big a deal. The focus and zoom rings on the f/1.4 are wide enough to allow future upgrades for follow-focus or zoom hardware if you ever decide to go this route. Otherwise, the f/1.8 has a 6 blade aperture and the f/1.4 has an 8 blade aperture. This is part of what gives the f/1.4 it's slightly wider max opening, and it changes the characteristics of the bohek blur (the f/1.4 has a slightly smoother/rounder background blur). Otherwise, in terms of sharpness, focus and chromatic abberation, both lenses are nearly identical.

    It's always a tough call--as I and others have noted, there's also a wide range of lenses from other manufaturers that can be pretty darn good as well. Of the two Canon lenses, if you were a stills guy I'd say get the f/1.8--you can break four of them for the cost of a single f/1.4. However, for video work, I think the additional build quality and better ring placement (and the f/1.4 has a distance scale printed on the lens for focus) makes the f/1.4 a better lens. However, if you're not planning on ever ever ever adding outboard zoom/focus controls, the f/1.8 might work for you. My prime worry with the f/1.8 for video work is that the focus ring is so thin and it's mounted at the very front rim of the lens, so, that if you ever do shots where focus changes suring the shot you'll find it near impossible. I've never tried the lens hood on the f/1.8, so I don't know if/how much easier it makes focus adjustments though. It could work.

    I do point out that most retailers do have a 30-day return policy on a lens, so you can always buy the f/1.8 and it's lens hood and test it by shooting shots where you change your focus point while panning and tilting. If the f/1.8 gives you the look you want and you can make your focusing happen smoothly, then GREAT! you're happy! (I will say that f/1.8 shoots lovely pics, indeed It's pictures don't look like a $100 lens). If you find in operation that the f/1.8 is hard to focus with or work, then you can return it and upgrade to the f/1.4.

    Hey, do you have any camera stores near you that rent lenses? YOu might be able to rent a lens for a day to do test shots with, although that f/1.8 is so inexpensive that it's likely not worth a rental fee.

  • RodyPolis
    RodyPolis Posts: 612 Just Starting Out*

    Speaking of Rokinon lenses, I just released a video comparing the new Rokinon 50mm against the Canon 50mm 1.2 L lens. The results might surprise you! This is a really good lens:

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,080 Ambassador

    Timely review, @Rody! Interesting--I am surprised that the Rokinon held p as well as it did myself? One thing you didn't talk about was Chromatic Aberration--but for the Rokinon, this was really only an issue when wide open. Yes, the purple fringing on the Rokinon was much more pronounced than the Canon when wide open, but they were at comparable levels by the time you stepped down to 5/6, so I wouldn't count that too heavily against the Rokinon. It held up well! (oh, I'm glad you put the two f/16 shots in--I was thinking I wanted to see both at f/16, not one at f/16 and one at f/22. That was a very useful comparison. )Does the Rokinon have the electronics in it to talk to the camera, or is it all manual?

    @Faen--certainly watch this review. The Rokinon is a strong contender! As I also noted, all the current Rokinon "Cine" lenses are built to be the same size and have their rings in the same place, so focus and zoom pulls could be easier in the long run with a series of these lenses--with a follow focus or zoom attachment you wouldn't have to recalibrate for each lens, and if you're doing with with your hands your fingers always go to the same place, no matter which lens you're using!

    If the other lenses in this line perform as well those may be my next purchases.

  • RodyPolis
    RodyPolis Posts: 612 Just Starting Out*

    The Rokinon is all manual. No information is shared with the camera.

  • Well after taken into consideration all of what has been written above. I know I'm good with just the 1.8, while the 1.4 is 'better' I doubt I will ever need something like it.

    Thank you everyone, you've been awesome help!