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Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.


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Old June 29th, 2010, 12:27 AM   #1
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EF 50mm f/1.8 : usable for handheld film?

I just got the 550d with a kit lens (18-55) and intend to buy a cheap lens for indoor low light use.
So the 50mm/1.8 comes around. Read it's great for portrait photography with nice DOF.

But will it also work for handheld video because it does not have IS? What are your opinions about this?
Workable or only with a tripod/steadycam?
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Old June 29th, 2010, 01:57 AM   #2
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On the T2i with its crop sensor, 50mm = 80mm so this is not a lens you would use on steadicam, at least not conventionally. (Even a 24mm would be too tight for most steadi ops.) The lens lacks IS but so do all of Canon's 50mm and you won't find many primes at this focal length with IS.

You should never ever shoot literally handheld with DSLR's due to rolling shutter. You can't possibly not shake and shaking makes the footage unusable. Even a nice lens with IS such as the 24-105 doesn't look right handheld. Stick to tripod or very careful shoulder-mounted shooting.

Specifically about the 50 1.8, it's a great starter lens due to its cheapness, its low light performance and its sharpness wide open. Huge drawbacks are the horrible focus ring, harsh flaring and ugly bokeh. But for $150 or less it's an easily acquired lens to have in your bag.
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Old June 29th, 2010, 03:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Erik Andersen View Post
On the T2i with its crop sensor, 50mm = 80mm so this is not a lens you would use on steadicam, at least not conventionally. (Even a 24mm would be too tight for most steadi ops.)
Since we are talking video (aka "motion picture"), I think it's more appropriate to compare focal lengths to their 35mm cine equivalent than to the full-frame equivalent. So, on the T2i, like the 7D, the focal lengths/field of view ratios are roughly the same as the cine equivalent (give or take a few mils, depending on which flavor of 35mm cine you are comparing to).

50mm is an extremely common Steadicam focal length; 24mm even more so. I've flown up to 150mm on the odd occasion myself. Anything 85mm and under would be considered "conventional". In fact, I just returned home from shooting a music video; at times I had my operator flying an 85mm and even a 100mm on the 1DMKIV (Zeiss ZE's), which would be the equivalent of 53 and 76mm respectively on the smaller crop sensor cameras. No sweat.

Of course I'm referring to a "pro" Steadicam environment with a good assistant using remote focus and that is probably a very small population of readers of this board;, but seeing as everyone is playing in the large sensor sandbox these days, I do feel it is important to qualify here that Steadicam operators should be able to handle longer focal lengths than those listed. Obviously if one doesn't have access to remote lens controls, one has to stick with the wider focal lengths to be able to get away with a "set and forget" focus.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 12:29 AM   #4
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The 50 1.8 is fine for photography where you want autofocus, but it's not a good lens for video due to the terrible focus ring - it's tiny, right on the front of the lens (easy to get your fingers in the shot) and it has a lot of play and a rough feel to the drag. You'd be much better off with an old nikon or pentax 50 with an adapter. I really like the pentax smc 1.4 - a bonus is it's really easy to de-click the aperture ring to get a continuously adjustable exposure.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 03:35 AM   #5
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yes.. also i really dont agree with the idea that everyone should own The Canon 50 1.8 because its so cheap.. Better to spend 150 on a lens you will get great use out of for a long time to come like a Nikon 50mm AI or AIS series for example.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 11:23 AM   #6
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I almost bought the 1.8 and after holding it, quickly decided otherwise. The focus ring is a deal breaker. I went for the 1.4 instead and love it. Much better built quality and slightly faster...
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Old June 30th, 2010, 11:41 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cliff Gilmour View Post
I just got the 550d with a kit lens (18-55) and intend to buy a cheap lens for indoor low light use.
So the 50mm/1.8 comes around. Read it's great for portrait photography with nice DOF.
I bought a Pentax Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 for $80 on craigslist. I love it. The old manual lenses like this have smooth, metal aperture and focus rings which are great for video. On the Taks, f1.4 produces a soft-focus effect which is very flattering for portraits. Stopped down to f2.0 it is sharp and contrasty. If you buy a Tak, beware of ones with yellowing of lenses (which can be eliminated with UV treatment). Other inexpensive lenses are the old Russian Helios line.

Quote:
But will it also work for handheld video because it does not have IS? What are your opinions about this?
Workable or only with a tripod/steadycam?
Not workable. You will need some sort of shoulder rig or steady system. Holding a camera without any support is not advisable.
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Old June 30th, 2010, 02:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Ian Holb View Post
I bought a Pentax Asahi Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 for $80 on craigslist. I love it. The old manual lenses like this have smooth, metal aperture and focus rings which are great for video. On the Taks, f1.4 produces a soft-focus effect which is very flattering for portraits. Stopped down to f2.0 it is sharp and contrasty. If you buy a Tak, beware of ones with yellowing of lenses (which can be eliminated with UV treatment). Other inexpensive lenses are the old Russian Helios line.

.
Just to confirm, you have the "Super Takumar"?

Maybe worth mentioning that 50mm f/1.4 M42 Takumars fall in to 3 categories.

Super Takumar
Super Multi Coated
SMC

The Super Takumar is the oldest, and optically different to the next two. Also, it has 6 aperture blades vs 8, so the bokeh has a different character.

The last two are also in a different category performance wise with the SMC being the best by a small margin. Both are sharper at all apertures than the Super Takumar. They are very usable wide open. They have more contrast and saturation, and resistance to flare.

The yellowing is present in all 3, and while some people say "it's fine, images still look great", it's really not fine. You lose between 1 and 2 stops of light with a yellowed Takumar, so it's really worth sorting out.

You can buy a UV party lamp on eBay for 10 or so, and lookup how to de-yellow for yourself. I have done this to two Takumars, and it takes about 2 solid days.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 03:15 PM   #9
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Using the 50mm 1.8 II for some hand held shots for my new short, I can't see any rolling shutter at all.
The only absence is the IS one, so someone should be very careful shooting like that.
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Old July 6th, 2010, 04:59 PM   #10
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I have the Super-Multi-Coated Tak and it's sharp as a tack wide open. Another option is the Sears/Mamiya/Rikenon 55mm 1.4. All three brands are made by the same lens manufacturer Tomioka and it's a wonderful alt-50. If you can live with a max aperture of f/2, then definitely seek out the Helios 44M or any of its variations. It is by far my favorite 50 something even surpassing the Takumar. This is a little video I made with the lens when I bought it......


The good news is you can usually snag this gem for under $50 quite easily on Ebay. Best of luck!
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Old July 6th, 2010, 11:05 PM   #11
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people will debate endlessly on what they think is "reality" so you have to figure out for yourself- how steady of a shooter you are, how thin/fat your fingers are, how much dexterity you have... i have no problem focusing with that lens. Obviously, it's not as easy to use as my Tokina wide, but after a few tries I "recalibrate" myself and can rack focus decently. I think the real issue here is not the focus ring or the fact that it's 80mm, but that it has such a shallow depth of field (on the open end) that it's tough, hand held, to keep focus. For me, steady isn't a problem, nor is using the ring. If canon allowed you to use that magnification feature, focus probably wouldn't be a problem during shooting, either, but for the moment, that's the biggest issue I have, wheras with wide lenses, a slightly soft focus isn't nearly as noticeable.
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