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Discussion Starter #1
im new to photography and was wondering if i were to pick up a prime lens, say a 35mm f1.4, would the aperture be fixed or variable? i understand that the fixed focal lenses are usually superior to those zoom lenses.

thanks!
 

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if what you mean is the aperture always stuck at f. 1.4.
no, no it is not, that is just the widest aperture you have available.
and the reason primes are usually 'superior' is because they can often be made with a larger aperture then a zoom of the same size/cost and because there is often less lens distortion and other lens flaws such as CA.
 

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A 35mm f/1.4 is going to be very expensive. If you don't need a lens quite that fast, f/1.8 primes are much cheaper, and only about 2/3 of a stop slower.

The f/stop value listed is the fastest it goes, they then go up from there in this pattern: f/1.4
f/2
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
f/8
f/11
f/16
f/22

Some will have f/32 or higher.

My 50mm f/2 prime stops down to f/16, while my 24mm f/2.8 will go to f/22. Electronically controlled lenses and high focal length lenses often have higher f/stops. For example, the Canon 70-200mm F/4 goes to at least f/45. Older full frame lenses would often go to f/64.

Your first prime should be a fast 50mm or 35mm. 50mm is considered a "normal" lens as it is equal to one human eye. However, on crop sensor DSLRs, such as the D40 through D300 including the D1/D2 and the all Canons before the 1Ds and 5D/5DMKII are crops. This means the effective focal length is multiplied by the crop factor. For all non-full frame Nikons it's 1.5x, and on Canons it is 1.6x except for a few which have a 1.3x crop.

So, that 50mm becomes 75mm (80mm with Canon) on what a full frame (think film) would see. That's why the 35mm becomes a very useful lens on a crop DSLR, because it is effectively a 52mm lens on a Nikon crop sensor.

50mm lenses are also the easiest to make with the least glass, so they tend to be the cheapest and fastest (record is f/0.7 from Zeiss for a camcorder and f/0.95 on a Canon rangefinder, Leica also has similar <f/1 lenses). A f/1.8 50mm AF for Nikon is about $100 used. Faster lenses increase in cost exponentially. The f/1.2 Noct for example, is about $5000 used.

Another perk of primes is the sharpness. In a zoom, all ranges have to be looked at and adjusted for sharpness. A prime is a single value focal length that can be "tuned" in a sense. They also tend to be very sharp wide open (low f/stop) and closed down (high f/stop). Zooms are often soft at the ends, and usually much slower than primes. The sharpest stops of any lens is usually f/5.6, f/8 and f/11.

I hope I answered all your questions and didn't bore you to death. If you have any more, please ask.
 

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Good points from Schubie and Moots. There are a lot of bad and good zoom lenses out there - some of which can almost match a prime - but almost any prime lens is a decent lens, because, as it has been said, they are cheaper to manufacture and can be optimized at a particular focal length by using fewer elements.

And when primes have ultra sonic focus rings (USM for Canon, AF-S for Nikkon, HSM for Sigma), they're phenomenal.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
how much do decent 35mm f1.8 go for? and are those considered wideangle? i want to be able to go into the city and capture shots of building from top to bottom, standing about 40feet away from the structure.
 

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Quote:


Originally Posted by 916
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how much do decent 35mm f1.8 go for? and are those considered wideangle? i want to be able to go into the city and capture shots of building from top to bottom, standing about 40feet away from the structure.

You'd need about a 12-30mm for that, depending on the height.

You can figure out exactly what you need using some trig and the specs from lenses (like the angle of view).

Also, your shots will be distorted badly if the builds are more than about 20ft tall. You need a PC-E (or TS-E for Canon) lens to control the distortion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perspective_control_lens
 

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Discussion Starter #10
no i want to take pictures of like a figure standing in front of the building and doing an angle shot, perhaps with the camera really close to the ground and capture maybe a 500 feet building.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by 916 View Post
how much do decent 35mm f1.8 go for? and are those considered wideangle? i want to be able to go into the city and capture shots of building from top to bottom, standing about 40feet away from the structure.
If that is what you're looking at doing, I'd suggest going one of two ways:
as one user said (Moot?) a wide zoom and correct for distortion in PP (post processing)

The other way to do it would be to look for a perspective control lens. If you have Canon / Nikon you can rent them. Otherwise, look for a used / manual focus version. Warning, persepctive control lenses can be very expensive.

You can find nice, MF 1.4 & 1.7s by third parties for only a little scratch. I've seen sigma 30mm f1.4 for about $300-350. Canon / Nikon / Sony / Pentax etc. expect to pay about 1.5x that (in my experience)

Primes are great to use, btw. I love my Pentax Lim pancakes (very small). the 40mm is one of my favs and is constantly on my camera.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by 916 View Post
how much do decent 35mm f1.8 go for?
Depends on your body. Nikon has a low priced 35mm f/1.8. Canon's 35mm f/1.4 is an L lens and most likely will be out of your budget (yet again, depends on your body).

There's also the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 which comes in different mounts. Check out B&H or Adorama for prices.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 916 View Post
and are those considered wideangle?
On a crop sensor, no.

Quote:

Originally Posted by 916 View Post
i want to be able to go into the city and capture shots of building from top to bottom, standing about 40feet away from the structure.
Definitely not going to happen with that type of lens.
 

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916 - what mount (camera) are you using? That will help with what lenses are available. (sorry if I missed it somewhere)

Also consider used lenses to save cash / get better glass - as long as you deal with a good business you'll be safe. I've had great luck with KEH out of Georgia, but also good with Cambridge's used department. Basically, just check if you can return it if you don't like it.

Adorama & B&H have a good selection - but I've found them a little rude at times in the used department (your mileage may vary).
 

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Discussion Starter #15
i dont have a dslr yet but its either gonna be a Sony A300 or Canon T1i. i know that the T1i is better but if i can get a better deal on either one, im gonna go for one or the other.

So basically if i am understanding correctly, to capture images of 500+ feet buildings, i have to have a full 35mm sensor?
 

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Quote:


Originally Posted by 916
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i dont have a dslr yet but its either gonna be a Sony A300 or Canon T1i. i know that the T1i is better but if i can get a better deal on either one, im gonna go for one or the other.

So basically if i am understanding correctly, to capture images of 500+ feet buildings, i have to have a full 35mm sensor?

You can get a UWA such as the Canon 10-22mm, Sigma 10-20mm, Tokina 11-16mm, etc...

The thing is there will be perspective distortion, if you're fine with that then the lens will work. If you want absolutely no distortion you'll have to get a Tilt-Shift lens (Nikon's are called Perspective-Control).
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by 916 View Post
i dont have a dslr yet but its either gonna be a Sony A300 or Canon T1i. i know that the T1i is better but if i can get a better deal on either one, im gonna go for one or the other.

So basically if i am understanding correctly, to capture images of 500+ feet buildings, i have to have a full 35mm sensor?
No. Just that a crop sensor basically "zooms" whatever lens is on there. If you have never shot with film, you won't know the difference because you'll have nothing to base it off of.

Just get an Ultra wide and go at it. I suggested you do the math behind it, but you didn't seem like doing that.
 

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Quote:


Originally Posted by Mootsfox
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The f/stop value listed is the fastest it goes, they then go up from there in this pattern: f/1.4
f/2
f/2.8
f/4
f/5.6
f/8
f/11
f/16
f/22

Some will have f/32 or higher.

My 50mm f/2 prime stops down to f/16, while my 24mm f/2.8 will go to f/22. Electronically controlled lenses and high focal length lenses often have higher f/stops. For example, the Canon 70-200mm F/4 goes to at least f/45. Older full frame lenses would often go to f/64.


fox what about the lenses that have a fastest f-stop rating of 1.0, 1.2, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 3.3, 3.5, 3.8, 3.9, 4.5, and such


I haven't seen many older full frame lenses going up to f/64. sure they are there but I wouldn't can't say I've seen many of them. but by older I'm refering to manual focus lenses.
 

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Quote:


Originally Posted by rx7speed
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fox what about the lenses that have a fastest f-stop rating of 1.0, 1.2, 1.5, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 3.3, 3.5, 3.8, 3.9, 4.5, and such


I haven't seen many older full frame lenses going up to f/64. sure they are there but I wouldn't can't say I've seen many of them. but by older I'm refering to manual focus lenses.

1.0 is a stop, but the rest of those are half and 1/3 stops.

Medium and full format is the only place I've seen a f/64 lens.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...specifications
 

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ok my misunderstanding on what you where saying. though some of them are odd stops aren't they that don't fit the 1/2 or 1/3 stop marking?
 
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