Shooting with a 35mm Prime on APS-C

4 New York Sunset

So, my poor little 35mm lens was looking a little despondent after I had finished extolling the virtues of my 50mm. The 35mm just sat on the shelf looking at me, forlorn and with a glint of sorrow in its glass. Had I forgotten how much I liked using it? Did I not have dozens of favourite images from around the world taken with it? Indeed I did, and thus I took it upon myself to ensure due credit was given to this gem. Well, that plus another request from a reader to talk about using it.

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The Versatility of a 50mm Prime

16 New Year Fireworks

I know, I know, the 50mm again. There isn’t much more for me to add really. The attributes of this focal length have been lauded many times in many articles, including on this site. A (usually) cheap and light prime, very sharp with a fast aperture and beautiful bokeh. A useful portrait length on APS-C sensors (75mm – 80mm equivalent field of view), and on full frame it’s supposedly close to how the human eye sees (don’t know about you, but my human eyes see the almost 180 degrees stereoscopic vision they were designed for). Still, the 50mm is often claimed as a classic and an essential addition to our kit.

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Sharpness and Bokeh Comparison

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

While initially testing the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens for our in-depth review, we only had access to the Canon version of the lens (since it came out first), so we could not provide comparison results to other similar focal length Nikon prime lenses. Thanks to our friends at B&H Photo Video, we recently received two copies of the lens for the Nikon F mount to finally complete the review. We also obtained the older version of the lens, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, along with the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and Nikon 58mm f/1.4G lenses for comparisons. Unfortunately, the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 we tested was not available at the time and we could not include it in the below bokeh comparisons, although our usual sharpness tests were carried out and those are included in this article.

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Let’s Share Some Photography

Classic 50mm (10)

I am a big supporter of the “get to know your gear” opinion. I strongly believe that the more you use something, the better you learn to take full advantage of the strengths of that particular piece of equipment, and the better you learn to manage its shortcomings without even thinking about it. To a point where they just disappear, in fact, and make the statement that gear does not matter as truthful as it is. Gear does not matter (to an extent), but knowing it and liking it does. This, I think, it the crucial link between equipment and photography itself.

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Review

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

This is an in-depth review of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art prime lens that was announced on January 6, 2014 for Sigma SA, Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony A mounts. Ever since Sigma announced its new “Art” lens line, it has been releasing superb new lenses and updates. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art received the highest praise from us at Photography Life, especially after we compared it to the Nikon 35mm f/1.4G and other 35mm lenses in our extensive review. So when I first found out that Sigma had plans to update its existing Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM, I got really excited, since I knew that the new Art-series lens would not disappoint. It has been too long since both Nikon and Canon updated their 50mm f/1.4 primes. In the case with Nikon, its newer 50mm f/1.8G yields better sharpness than the bigger and heavier 50mm f/1.4G. In short, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G is just not good enough for modern high resolution sensors and its performance at maximum aperture is rather disappointing (and the Canon 50mm f/1.4 is quite similar in that regard). The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art announcement was very timely, because it hits a sweet spot between the sub-par 50mm f/1.4 Nikon and Canon lenses, and the exotic manual focus Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4.

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Lens Announcement

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

We sort of missed the new Sigma 50mm lens in the sea of recent announcements. And we should not have. Because, despite that, like its predecessor, it is very heavy by 50mm f/1.4 class standards and very big, this is not an old lens in a new frock. The Sigma 50m f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a completely new and very complex design. Worth your attention? Perhaps, if you are into the classic fifty. And, if recent Sigma lenses are of any indication (Nasim adored the 35mm f/1.4 Art), it should be extremely good.

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Nikon 58mm f/1.4G Review

Nikon 58mm f/1.4G

This is an in-depth review of the new, much anticipated Nikon 58mm f/1.4G professional prime lens that was announced on October 17, 2013 along with the Nikon D5300 DSLR. Similar to the legendary classic, the NOCT Nikkor 58mm f/1.2, the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G is a specialized lens for such needs as portraiture, street, event / wedding photography and astrophotography. Thanks to its fast aperture of f/1.4 and a complex optical formula using aspherical elements, nano crystal coat and super integrated coating, along with a fast silent wave autofocus motor, the lens is also ideal for low-light photography needs. Unlike many of the Nikkor lenses that are optimized for maximum sharpness, the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G is the first modern lens of its kind that focuses on producing aesthetically pleasing images, rather than purely focusing on sharpness. I had a pleasure of shooting with this lens for the last 3 months and I wanted to get a full understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, especially when compared to the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and f/1.8G lenses that I have been relying on for my photography needs. In this review, I will not only provide an in-depth analysis of the lens, but will also compare it head to head against Nikon’s 50mm prime lenses and the Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 lens that I have been testing in parallel.

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A Fifty for Creativity

A Fifty for Creativity

Even just a few hours ago, I was once again asked by a reader what lenses do I use most for my wedding photography. The answer is and always has been the same for my wedding, family or general photography needs – a classic fifty. I am sure hardly anyone will find this at all surprising, because fast 50mm fixed focal length lenses have become a legend of sorts. Ask any photographer and he will tell you – that is one of the two most versatile fixed focal length lenses you can buy (the other being a 35mm lens). It is time we back up that claim with actual photographs, and plenty of them. Is there a single reason for it being so versatile? No. Rather, it is a combination of various characteristics and generally pleasing manner of “drawing” the photograph that, even today with all the amazing zoom lenses, makes it such a sought-after lens.

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Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition Lens Overview

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.8G Special Edition lens

Along with the highly anticipated Nikon Df camera, Nikon has also introduced the restyled Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens. Such a move might be slightly confusing at first, because Nikon already has a new AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens in its line-up. So, are there any improvements with this new lens? In short – no. At least not from the optical performance stand-point.

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Nikon 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S Review

Nikon 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S

This is an review of the classic Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S by one of our readers, Christian Duguay from Montreal, Canada. A quick note from Nasim: while I was going through testing some of the older manual focus lenses (including the 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S), Christian contacted me via email and sent some of his thoughts on the lens. After a couple of emails back and forth, I requested him to write a review of the lens, so that we could share it with our readers. Christian accepted the challenge and we both agreed that it could be a good idea if we both worked on it – I would provide all optical test results, while he would write the text and provide sample images. So in a way, this is a collaborative effort between the two of us. Enjoy!

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