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35mm f/2 and 50mm 1.4 vs 17-55

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by nht800, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. nht800


    Aug 26, 2008
    Missouri, USA

    Is Nikon 35mm f/2 or 50mm f1.4 sharper than 17-55 at the same aperture open, example at 2.8?

  2. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    of course they are ....;-)
  3. Yes big time at f2.8 there is no comparison, both are way sharper and ligher, I used to own the 17-55, now 35 and the 50, they are such great lenses,
  4. Heck, I think my 50mm 1.8 is sharper at 1.8 than my 17-55 is at 2.8. Not knocking my 17-55, but you make compromises with a zoom. But heck, I think the 50mm 1.8 is one of Nikkor's sharpest lenses they make. It probably isn't, but I know it's the sharpest lens I own.
  5. nht800


    Aug 26, 2008
    Missouri, USA
    Thank you everyone for your advices. I will go with the primes, no more hesitate! Thanks.
  6. I'd go for the zoom. The 17-55 is an excellent lens. You get the 18, 20, 24, 28, 35, 45, 50 primes all in one lens at f/2.8. You'd give up 7 lenses for two primes you need to switch back and fourth? :wink:
  7. That was my thought as well, though I don't believe I made that point clear in my post. Yeah, I think the 50mm is super sharp, but it almost spends no time on my camera now that I got the 17-55. Just too limited of a focal length, especially on DX cameras IMHO.
  8. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    Bit of FUD on this thread I'm afraid guys. The old assumption of primes being sharper than zooms is not true anymore. From what I've found the 50mm primes (both f/1.8 and f/1.4) aren't noticeably sharper than a good f/2.8 zoom, and I've not had the Nikon 35mm, but the Sigma 30mm wasn't as sharp as the Tamron either.

    I found the primes are slightly sharper in the centre, but not as good as in the corner compared to my Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, which is where it excels.

    If resolution (sharpness) is what you want, then modern zooms are now just as good as the primes are. Take a look at the Nikon 14-24 and 24-70, which out performs every Nikon prime lens in their range!
  9. With all due respect, my post was made on my personal observations in regard to two lenses that I own. Whether or not you want to believe my $120 50mm prime is not sharper than my $1200 17-55 zoom is completely your choice, but I can assure you my post was not FUD. I never add any sharpening to my 50mm shots unless I've somehow missed focus. In fact, I often find it to be sharper than I want it to be when shooting head and shoulder portraits of anybody will less than perfect skin. I still maintain that my 50/1.8 is sharper at 1.8 than my 17-55 is at 2.8.
  10. Not knocking the primes, I think stopped down the fast primes are pretty darn sharp. In fact my 35 f/2 is my favorite, more so than the 50. I think that primes fully shine on FX though, on DX I'd stick to zooms.
  11. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    It's not whether I want to believe it (I have the lens, I check to see what I believe), but from my own tests it isn't any sharper than my Tamron 17-50 (which is very similar to the Nikon 17-55 in terms of resolution).

    I'm not involving price into my opinion of the lenses for now, but purely on their optical quality, and with my lenses they are, in terms of sharpness, the same.

    Interesting also that you think your 50mm is sharper at f/1.8 than the zoom at f/2.8, as my 50mm f/1.8 is definitely softer at f/1.8 than my Tamron at f/2.8. Perhaps you have a slightly soft zoom? I'll pop some crops of the two up here to demonstrate what I mean.
  12. when I started out I used to love zooms, I spent lots of money with so and so results, I could never get that magic that you get from primes, I sold all my zooms and decided to go primes all the way, it makes me think more about composition, framing, exposure and depth of field control, in short it makes me a better photographer. there is more art, mystique in using primes, I can't imagine an event photographer going out with a 50mm f1.2 to shoot a big event, but most great photographers did just that for the sake of art...
  13. neimac


    May 26, 2008
    Im becoming a really big fan of primes, but you really should have a zoom lens in the bag, there are just times where you don't want to lug a bag of primes around with you.
  14. Well...

    I wouldn't say they are sharper at 2.8 ... The 17-55/2.8 is really sharp for a zoom lens at any aperture up to f/11 or there about.

    The 35/2 is sharp at pretty much any aperture up to f/11

    The 50/1.4 is truly sharp starting at f/4 up to f/11 or there abouts, yes ... granted you can get sharp shots at 1.4 but not 100% of your shots and if you shoot a person you may get one eye sharp and the other ... slightly OOF, likewise if you shoot two people at f/1.4

    The sharpest lens I ever used wide open was the 50/1.8 @ 1.8 it can't be beat in terms of sharpness on every shot captured, the 50/1.4 is a little hit and miss in terms of sharpness at 1.4

    While we are into primes the 35/1.4 is as sharp at f/2 as the 50/1.8 at 1.8 - essentially super sharp.

    Now a days zoom lenses, Nikon pro-zooms are as good and sharp as any 2.8 primes, no questions about it but you don't get the milky/creamy bokeh with them you'll get with a faster lens but then again the closer your subject is to your lens and the farther the background is the creamier the bokeh will be.

    The 24-70 and 70-200/2.8 are quite superb for bokeh in this regards, for zoom lenses they have great bokeh and are plenty sharp at pretty much all apertures (up to f/11 of course... ) I would even say super sharp.

    But using zooms makes one ... forget about composition, yes primes made me a better photographer but only because it finally sunk in that it was all about the composition.

    Zooms have their place, so do primes. On my camera I have it split about 50/50 between primes and zooms, the wider the prime the happier I am :biggrin:

    Sharpness matters not when you have poor composition, but some images I wouldn't be able to get a certain feeling to them at f/2.8 that's where fast primes come in. :biggrin:
  15. Well, you are spoiled! You own the Tamron :biggrin:

    Seriously, I just bought this lens a few weeks ago after comparing it to the 35/2 and 50/1.4. I'll use the latter for low-light work, especially indoor sports....BUT....the Tamron is so damn sharp that I feel I give up virtually nothing using it much of the time. And as you say, it is edge-to-edge and even at f/2.8. In addition, its color rendition and exposure accuracy are second to none IMO.
  16. waltny


    Mar 27, 2008
    Reno, NV

    This is a STRONG statement IMHO Harry and have the gears turning in my head about the Tamron.... Whats another third party lens to the bag when your on the cheap, especially if it excells...:biggrin:

    Id like to see a thread started for this lens...:wink:
  17. If you are serious, a fellow cafe member has one for sale:

    Given repeat stories of quality variability, buying new might be a different option. At least if buying used you shoud negotiate a guarantee from the seller for return priveleges after allowing time for testing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  18. waltny


    Mar 27, 2008
    Reno, NV
    Yep, I was being serious. Ill check it out for sure.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  19. personally, if I want to shoot family and people 50-85mm is more than fine, if I want to shoot places I'd go wide 20-35mm, so I can live with a prime on my camera for the sake of better image quality, better composition and results, I do realize that most people feel more comfortable dialing a zoom ring most of the time and zooms are a great tool but I am not a zoomer! remind me of the mazda 3 commercial, zoom zoom zoom....
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