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Old April 10th, 2011, 12:07 AM   #1
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Which 50mm for video?

Having a tough time picking a 50mm for video on the 5dII

Narrowed it down to...
1) Canon 50mm f/1.4
2) Sigma 50mm f/1.4
3) Zeiss 50mm ZE f/1.4
4) Contax Ziess 50mm f/1.7

Unless you guys can think of something I'm missing or have different suggestions (budget is ~$800)
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Old April 10th, 2011, 01:17 AM   #2
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Re: Which 50mm for video?

For video, I'd cross off numbers 1 and 2 and only consider numbers 3 and 4. Also consider the ZE 50/2 Makro.

I own the Canon 50/1.4 for photos and video. At work we have various Zeiss lenses. I've played with the ZE 50/1.4, but don't have regular access to one.

AF lenses just don't have great focus rings. End of story. The Canon has a decent focus ring throw, but the ring feels crummy and doesn't have hard end stops. My biggest complaint is that it has a fair amount of barrel distortion - I want my normal lenses to be straight. I haven't used the Sigma, but it's an AF.

The ZE 50/1.4 has a nice, long focus travel. It's the best value of any ZE lens. At work, we have the 35/2, which has half the focus travel, but the ring is excellent. The 85/1.4 has a long, excellent travel like the 50/1.4.

All 50/1.4 designs have some barrel distortion. And they have limited magnification/close_focus. The 50/2 Makro is much straighter. (And the 100 Makro straighter still.)

The ZE 50/1.4 has 2% distortion.
diglloyd - Zeiss ZF.2 and Zeiss ZE Lenses For Canon and Nikon - Mini Review: Zeiss ZF/ZE 50mm f/1.4 Planar

The Makro has 1% distortion.
diglloyd - Zeiss ZF.2 and Zeiss ZE Lenses For Canon and Nikon - Mini Review: Zeiss ZF/ZE 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar

If you shoot in low or natural light, get the 50/1.4 as the falloff is much less. (Put your mouse on the image to see the Makro falloff. Both are at f/2.)
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T* ZE Lens - Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T* ZE Lens Comparison - Vignetting Test Results

But if you use lights or are content with some falloff, check out the difference in sharpness...
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar T* ZE Lens - Zeiss 50mm f/2.0 Makro-Planar T* ZE Lens Comparison - ISO 12233 Resolution Chart Results

I'm not sure about the Contax. It might be straighter than the 50/1.4, but won't have the latest coatings, so it will likely be more prone to flare and coma. It would be interesting to check the minimum focus distance. I find MFD to be important in the real world. You might want to move the camera close to something or rack focus to a close object, but you can't always do it with non-macro lenses.

The cool thing about the ZE 50/2 (and ZE 100/2) is that they are faster than typical macros (which are usually f/2.8 or f/3.5) and they provide 1:2 magnification, which is about all you'd ever need in a normal video shot. They're sharp and straight, though they have some falloff when wide open. If you shoot with lights, you're probably at f/2.8, f/4, or slower, so falloff is less of an issue. Of course, if you want f/1.4 speed, the point is moot.

This may come down to budget. Contax is the way to go if you're tight on funds. (But does the ring also travel 200+ degrees like the ZEs?) The ZE 50/1.4 is the way to go with a bit more cash as well as the need for speed. If you run lights, the 50/2 is sharp, straight, and can shoot close. With unlimited funds (or rental money), the CP.2 line is the way to go.

Decisions, decisions!
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Old April 10th, 2011, 03:09 AM   #3
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Re: Which 50mm for video?

I use an old nikkor 50mm f1.4 and its great in low light.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 05:25 AM   #4
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Re: Which 50mm for video?

If you want to save some dollars and not compromise on quality also consider a Super Takumar SMC. I got mine for around $130 and I have to say it is pretty nice. It's focus throw is over 180 degrees and it looks surprisingly good wide open, (with some fall-off, to be expected). Many people think it has superior IQ to the canon 1.4. Colour wise it's on the warm side so it matches fairly well with canon lenses, (its a little warmer than my 24-70 2.8 L but nothing drastic). The bokeh is pleasing although a little more textured than the creaminess of the 24-70mm zoom.

The other upside is that if you go down this path you'll still have enough in your budget for a 100mm macro (my next purchase) or a mid-range wide (the canon 28mm 1.8 perhaps).

Edit- I'm talking about the f1.4 here I can't really vouch for the other taks

Last edited by Ben Denham; April 11th, 2011 at 04:22 AM.
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Old April 10th, 2011, 04:47 PM   #5
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Re: Which 50mm for video?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Solomon View Post
Having a tough time picking a 50mm for video on the 5dII

Narrowed it down to...
1) Canon 50mm f/1.4
2) Sigma 50mm f/1.4
3) Zeiss 50mm ZE f/1.4
4) Contax Ziess 50mm f/1.7

Michael, I'll second Jon here -- for video I'd try to stay away from auto focus lenses because their focus pull isn't often very good. I have two of the lenses you mentioned above -- the Sigma and the Zeiss. The Sigma I like(d) quite a bit for stills, but is now long gone. The Carl Zeiss' I still have two of; a vintage 55/1.4 and a 85/1.4 -- both very very nice, (the 85mm is in fact my all-time favorite lens). Hence, I'd look into that ZE/1.4 if I was you. Also, keep in mind that the Zeiss' focus ring turns the "correct" way, (i.e., Canon's direction instead of Nikkor's).

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Old April 10th, 2011, 11:53 PM   #6
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Re: Which 50mm for video?

For narrative, the "wrong way" thing isn't such a big deal. You set your marks on a follow focus and hit them without thinking too much about the direction. And if you get it wrong, you can do another take.

If you shoot live stuff while pulling your own focus, it's another story. You want all your lenses to go the same way.

That's why I bought ZE, rather than ZF, lenses. ZF has the advantage of a separate aperture ring which is really nice for timelapses. (I untwist my Canon and ZE lenses after hitting the DOF button. This sets a fixed aperture. Otherwise, the aperture opens and closes between snaps, which can cause flicker. The aperture is never perfectly identical from snap to snap.)

I chose the ZE because I focus all the time. I only do timelapse occasionally.
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Old April 11th, 2011, 12:07 AM   #7
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Re: Which 50mm for video?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
For narrative, the "wrong way" thing isn't such a big deal. [...]
If you shoot live stuff while pulling your own focus, it's another story.
Except for certain gigs, I pull my own focus, and therefore want all my lenses to be consistent (i.e., the Canon standard). I even got a Redrock reverse follow focus gear to use on my Nikkor lenses. As I mentioned in an old thread, to me the backwards Nikon way feels like driving a left stick-shifter in England (or Japan, et. al.).

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Old April 12th, 2011, 10:26 AM   #8
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Re: Which 50mm for video?

I have the Zeiss ZE f1.4 50mm. It's a great lens. A significantly longer focus throw than the Canon equivalent, and with the follow focus gears it's just over 2 turns from CU to infinity. Some people say the Zeiss lenses are sharper than the Canons, but I don't see the difference. I like 'em both, I prefer the Zeiss for video.

I've got agree with you, John, on focus direction. I use my ancient pre-AI Nikkors as well, particularly the 35 and 24, and I always screw up when I first switch from a Canon or ZE lens to a Nikkor. I use the 35 quite a bit, so I'm thinking about a ZE 35. Then I'll send the Nikkors to Duclos for de-clicking and use them only when I need to ride aperture. I only need to do that occasionally, so like you, I'm better off with the ZE leses for my standard setup.
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Old April 13th, 2011, 01:15 AM   #9
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Re: Which 50mm for video?

Bill, I just handled the ZE 35/1.4 today at NAB and was disappointed to learn that it has the same throw as the ZE35/2. Since the body looks and feels like the 85/1.4 and you have to deal with another stop of thinner DOF, I expected more focus resolution. Oh well.

Aside from the extra stop, it seems that the performance and specs (including minimum focus distance) of the two lenses are very similar.

I used to regret getting the 35/2 before the 35/1.4 was announced. Now I'm thinking that the 35/2 is the better value for all but those who shoot in dark alleys and with candles.
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