Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Dreams: Cheap and Cheerfuls [Canon 50mm f/1.8 & Rokinon 8mm f/3.5]

I would love to get an upgrade for my Canon 600D. After using it for a while I've found some faults that I find annoying but I still could dance around them. I thought about upgrading to a Sony Alpha A77 since I still have only one lens, its easier to jump ship to other mounts. But after seeing that Sony only makes SLT that has half stop loss of light. To compensate for it, we need to crank up the ISO. But the A77 24 megapixel sensor produces very noisy images, even at ISO 800. Although the body is superb and the lens is magnificent, the ISO performance and permanent mirror practically killed the A77.

Then when it comes to low end Nikon cameras they make cameras without in-body AF motor. This makes AF with cheap motorless lenses such as the retro looking Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D lens impossible. You gotta use lenses with built-in wave motor such as the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. Mind you, the 1.8D version costs only around US$140 but the 1.8G costs a lot more at US$220. This is a headache. People buy low end cameras because they want to save money. Then they have to pay more for lenses with motor just for AF? This makes me wanna throw Nikon cameras like the table flip meme did.
my Canon 600D that just hit its 1000 photo counter today
These makes me stay with Canon. The good boy. The 600D still works quite well, offering nice usable images, even at ISO 12,800 after some post cleaning. Upgrading it now may be fine but that upgraded body will be outdated soon too. So lets just chill for now. Let's make do with what we have for now. Lets get some high quality glass!

Canon 50mm f/1.8
In the hunt for great lenses, someone told me about the cheapest prime lens available in the market. I knew its existence before this but somehow forgotten it. Then I started to dig in about the info of this lens. So here is the stuff, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.


So it is small and light, at about 6cm wide and 4cm long, weighs 130 grams only. Let's talk about the features. It has no optical stabilizer to soften handshake in videos, it has no zoom at all, it is powered by a micro-motor instead of a ultrasonic silent drive so it focuses noisily. But when we put all the no's aside, we have a very small and light lens. We have an aperture of f/1.8 which is massive! It's capable of getting much more light in the dark. With the large aperture, we can get shallower depth of field. The result is more background blur. Lovely. It will cost around US$ 100, cheapest lens Canon ever made if I am not mistaken.

The thing that might haunt me is the specs of the lens itself. It has 5 aperture blades. In wide open, the bokeh is fine but when it is stopped down to f/2.8 we get a pentagon shaped bokeh instead of a nice round like the background photo of my blog. This is why more expensive lenses uses 7 to 8 aperture blades. My Sigma has 7 blades. Wide open it is fine. One more thing is, the 50mm is equivalent to 80mm on a cropped body which is slightly telephoto. It is a good low light lens but it is not so suitable for use indoors as I would have to physically walk backwards to include more people in the frame.

photo taken at f/1.8 1/40s ISO 800 with the Canon 50mm f/1.8
For that price the sharpness and the fast aperture is heaven. It is even faster and sharper compared to the 24-70mm f/2.8L. An L! Salutes~ Ah this lens is compatible with full frame cameras so it wont be a problem in case a 5D Mark II dropped from the sky to my lap (ouch! that gonna hurt in the morning). Should I get this piece of wonderful glass?

Rokinon/Samyang/Vivitar/Walimex/Bower/Pro-Optic 8mm f/3.5 fisheye
Please... The same thing sold as so many brands? Just say Samyang, the original name of this Korean made glass. This thing makes Stonehenge makes sense and the Giza pyramids look modern. It is plastic, it has an aperture ring, and a focusing ring on it. It is plain glass and plastic. No electronics nothing. Salutes!
Photo taken with the lens, with 180 degrees field of view... priceless...
I wonder how it will have a lot of arguments with the metering system on board my Canon. But it works on others quite well. It is also a pretty sharp lens if you stop down a little from f/3.5 to f/5.6 or more. No AF is forgivable because it makes the price go down much lower than competitors and on 8mm we have a lot of DOF to play around with. At only US$299 this is a real bargain. Although fish eye lenses are not the one you'd find on your camera most of the time, why spend much on expensive lenses? Like the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens which costs an arm and a leg kinda expensive.


Video taken using the lens:

As a hobbyist, I think I would not go into the world of professional photography (job, get paid stuff). Because my equipment is just for my own hobby and my personal satisfaction I hope to opt for lenses cheaper than the 600D body. This way my hobby in photography wont blow a hole in my pocket. Soon, someday maybe I will own these cheap and cheerful lenses for interesting shots of travel photography. Either in my hoometown Kuala Lumpur or my current resident Korea, I will be on the hunt for the ultimate picture.

1 comment:

The Geeks said...

Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
as a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed.
thank you :)

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