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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 July 16th, 2011, 06:13 PM   #1
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new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open

I finally got my EOS - Nikkor adapter in the mail today, so I did a fairly-informal test on the 5 lenses I now have that can achieve a 50mm focal length... three primes and two zooms.

The original "normal" lens for the 35mm film format, becomes a 1.6x crop on my 7D, so this is a far cry from "normal" on a crop cam... more like a short tele, but since this is the easiest and cheapest lens for the manufacturers to make, we often see very fast and very sharp examples of 50mm focal lengths out there. Sooo... I wanted to see how each would perform wide-open.

Although stills shooters will seldom use a lens wide-open (since most lenses fare very poorly in terms of contrast and sharpness), for indoor video work (my primary use for my lenses), I rarely stop them down much past wide-open in order to prevent putting much ISO noise into the file. So this is actually a meaningful test for me to see how each performs wide-open.

Naturally, one might ask: "If you're using them to shoot video, why not shoot video for a wide-open test, Brian??" The truth is, it's very difficult to make a repeatable video test and also show the videos side-by-side.

So.... I shot the same bookshelf from a tripod, with a fixed white balance and shutter speed. In hindight, my methodology SHOULD have altered the shutter speed rather than the ISO (to accommodate the speed variances) in order to keep the grain the same... but, "oh well".

Likewise, I also noticed that I shot the Canon EF 50/1.8 "magic plastic" at f=2 instead of f=1.8, so it's not exactly wide-open.

Here's the following lenses used and what I paid for them:
Tamron 17-50/2.8 IS (~$600)
Canon EF 50/1.8 MkII ($125)
Canon EF 28-135/3.5 - 5.6 IS (kit lens with my 7D)
Pentax SMC 50/2 (free- my buddy Greg gave it to me from his old K1000)
Nikkor AI 50/2 ($5 at thrift store)

As a blind test, here's a full-length crop of all five lenses and also a tight crop of a single square of books on the bookshelf that enables some comparison of the "3D" quality of the lens (old stickers and tape). I'm looking out for good sharpness and contrast. There's not really corner-sharpness lens issues on a crop cam like there are on full-frame DSLRs and film.

Once you've examined the results, and given me your fave(s), I'll reveal which lens is which. This test was quite eye-opening to me, that's for sure.

Next up... a bokeh test.

Enjoy my "measure-bating",
Brian
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new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open-50mm_test.jpg   new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open-50mm_test_crops.jpg  

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Old July 16th, 2011, 08:07 PM   #2
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Re: new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open

Nice test. I like A and C -
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Old July 16th, 2011, 09:52 PM   #3
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Re: new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open

Likewise, A and C.

I am curious to see what your results were. I have an old Nikkor 50mm 1.8 AIS lens that I love shooting with on my Canon 5D. It has such great character.

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Old July 16th, 2011, 10:02 PM   #4
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Re: new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open

Thanks, guys. I'm giving you another set of images, shot with more constrasty subjects and a little bit of bokeh elements. I also maintained tighter control of the exposures on these.

It should be readily apparent which lenses are the zooms now. And even which zoom is which, based on the DOF. In fact, one zoom is "cheating" me at "50mm", since it's angle of view is modestly shorter than all of the others.

The detail image should show which prime is really walking away with this contest (IMHO), at least in terms of contrast and sharpness. Maybe not bokeh...
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Old July 17th, 2011, 01:10 PM   #5
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Re: new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open

I really like C,

I won't be surprised if it's the Tamron zoom
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Old July 17th, 2011, 08:16 PM   #6
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Re: new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open

OK, here's the lenses in my comparisons:

A - Nikkor AI 50/2
B - Pentax SMC 50/2
C - Tamron 17-50/2.8 IS
D - Canon EF 28-135/3.5 - 5.6 IS
E - Canon EF 50/1.8 MkII

I am blown away by the little Nikkor AI for which I paid $5. The Tamron did better than I expected, wide open. I think it did better on the books shot than the dramatic still life/bokeh, but stopped-down a little the sharpness improves. And I'm told that the non-IS Tamron is sharper still than the IS like I have. So it's a nice "walkabout lens", and earns its $ every day, since I use it as a b-roll "getter". I'm pleased that it did so well vs. prime glass.

I'm most disappointed in my little "magic plastic" EF lens. Stills shooters have always said how much the build-quality sucks... but how tack sharp it is. Certainly not compared to a 40 year-old Nikkor! And shooting video with the little Canon is miserable... the focus wheel is at the end of the lens, and is about the width of a US quarter. By comparison, shooting video with vintage glass is a dream with their huge focus throws and sturdy metal construction.

The Canon zoom proved fairly sharp... but minimum aperture at 50mm is a sllloooww f=4.5, so it's not even in the same ballpark as these others. Stopping the Tamron down to 4.5 would likely best the Canon.

Soooo.... Round one goes to non-Canon glass.

But next up I have some a vintage Super-Tak going up against an EF 85/1.8 and even my new 200/2.8L prime. Stay tuned...
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Old July 17th, 2011, 10:50 PM   #7
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Re: new and vintage 50mm lens tests wide-open

Great test. Would love to see how the second test pans out!
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