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55/2.8 AIS micro vs. 50/1.8

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Pa, Aug 6, 2007.

  1. There have been a couple of the 55s for sale here recently, and it is highly recommended by Ron Reznick. It is MF and my 50/1.8 is AF, so what would I gain by adding the 55 to my stable? Anything significant?

    I know it will focus closer and is advertised as a micro lens, but my understanding is that it will only go to 1:2.

    I look forward to your suggestions.

    I might add that wildflowers are one of my favorite photographic subjects, but I don't really go for extreme closeup shots of these.
  2. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    The 55/2.8 is an excellent lens, at least as sharp as the 50/1.8 at equivalent aperture settings. If you never shoot wider than f2.8 and don't mind focusing manually it can make an excellent substitute for other 50mm lenses.

    Unlike other 50mm lenses it has close range correction (CRC) so is well corrected from infinity to close range, distortion is close to zero and the deeply recessed front element acts like a built-in hood, making it very resistant to flare and ghosting. Maximum magnification is only 1:2, compared to 1:1 for most modern macro lenses, but this is perfectly good for general closeups and shots of flowers - especially on the DX format where the 1.5x crop factor gives you tighter framing than film cameras.

    The focal length is relatively short for a macro lens, which has pros and cons. Shorter lenses are easier to keep steady for hand-held photography, if you don't use a tripod the 55micro is easier to use than 105mm or 200mm macro lenses. It's also considerably smaller than the larger macros, so is easier to carry, and cheaper as well.

    On the other hand, the working distance is rather short, and when working outdoors with subjects like wildflowers, I much prefer using a longer lens from a tripod. The ability to stand back from your subject means you are less likely to put a shadow across it, or stand on it, and gives you much greater freedom for placing a tripod.

    Given that you already have a 50/1.8 lens I would either:
    • Replace it with a 55 micro if it suits your style of shooting.
    • Add an AF 105/2.8 micro. This focal length will compliment your kit better than a 55 micro. The filter size matches your 35/2 and 50/1.8 and having a relatively fast telephoto might be useful for low light/shallow DOF since your tele-zooms are all rather slow.
    • Get a closeup filter for your 70-300VR. This lens already focuses quite close, adding a filter will make it into a decent macro zoom with VR.
    Hope that helps.
  3. Wow Rvink, what a good answer to the question!
  4. Thanks for your thoughtful response. I had already put the 105VR on my long-term shopping list. I had the opportunity to try Ron R's 105 during the New Mexico workshop, and was quite impressed.

    Just last week I taped my Canon 500D to my 70-300VR and tried it a bit, but not extensively. My 500D is 72mm, and fits my 18-200VR.

    You may have convinced me to wait for the 105. Thanks again.
  5. The 50/1.8 already does a very nice job on flowers:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    and with the Canon 250D close-up adapter, it makes a pretty decent macro lens:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    ...so I guess I'll wait for a 105VR.
  6. The 50/1.8 AF does a nice job on flowers but doesn't do a nice job on macro. By adding a Nikon TC 2x to the 55/2.8, the combo reduces stunning pictures as good as the 105VR does. Here are some samples:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    View attachment 109879
    View attachment 109880
  7. Those are certainly spectacular close-ups, Vinh. In fact, these are more close-up than I have any interest in doing.

    Will this combo also do portraits as well as the 105VR?
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