artifacts – is it normal to get significant lens flare with a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens?

What you are seeing in the photo is a specific type of lens flare known as ghosting. It is an inverted and reversed reflection of the brightest highlights of the scene. If you were to draw an x and y axis intersecting in the center of the photo, then the bright light on top of the building just left of the vertical axis is reflected the same distance below the horizontal center line and the same distance to the right (in the ball court). The greenish tint in the reflection is caused by the color of the bright light. The light itself looks white because all three color channels are fully saturated at the exposure level used to take the picture. The color of lens coatings designed to minimize reflections is also influencing the color of the reflection. The other bright lights in the scene are also being reflected the same way. Lights in the upper right will show up in the lower left and so on. The five-sided shape of the bokeh around the reflections are due to the number of aperture blades in your lens.

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The brightest parts of the scene are most likely bouncing off the IR filter on the front of your sensor and then reflecting back off the back of elements in the lens. If you can also see the reflections through the viewfinder, then the first reflection is occurring in the lens. The EF 50mm f/1.8 II was designed in the film era. Film is less reflective than modern sensor assemblies and so reflections from the camera were less of a concern. Newer lenses have mult-coated optics on both the front and rear surfaces of most or all elements to help combat this.

My Rebel XTi with the EF 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II kit lens tended to do this in similar conditions as well.

Parade pic

Some things you can do to reduce such ghosting include:

  • Remove any filters screwed onto the front of your lens. The flat rear surface of the filter is perfect for creating reflections of light bouncing off elements in the lens, or even from the sensor stack itself.
  • Use a lens with better anti-reflective coatings or a camera with a less reflective sensor/filter stack.
  • Try to compose shots so that the brightest points in your scene have bright visual elements at the corresponding point in the cross quadrant to make the reflection less obvious.
  • Make a mask for the front of your lens that blocks half the field of view. Then combine two exposures, one with the mask on the left, the other with the mask on the right (or you might do the same thing with a strong graduated Neutral Density filter). The reflections would still show on the “dark side”, but you would mask them out in post processing when combining the two images.

lens – Misfunction of Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 on manual focus?

In order to fire the shutter when any of the pre-STM variants of the EF 50mm f/1.8 is out of focus, the switch on the lens must be set to M (manual) rather than AF (auto focus). Attempting to manually focus those lenses with AF engaged can damage the focusing motor and mechanism. If the motor is still trying to engage when the lens is set to M it needs to be serviced.

There are two variants of the Canon 18-135 lens. The older EF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS behaves the same as the 50mm f/1.8 series with regard to focus. You should not attempt to manually focus the lens when the switch is set to AF. For the newer EF 18-135mm f/2.5-5.6 IS STM, Full Time Manual focusing (manual focusing when the switch is set to AF) is available, but only after AF completes in One Shot mode with the shutter release remaining half-pressed. I was under the impression this only worked with the newer T4i and newer bodies, but based on your experience described in your question the T3i is compatible with this feature as well.

This is a very late edit, but a recent experience I had might suggest a possibility for anyone else with this problem:

If the lens has been opened up (to be internally cleaned, for instance) it’s extremely easy to misalign the external AF/MF switch with the actual switch underneath it on the lens’ PC board when putting it back together. If this occurs, the outer switch can break the plastic tab off the actual switch and then moving the external AF/MF switch does nothing. Whichever position the actual switch is in (it can be moved with a narrow probe when the lens is disassembled) is what the lens is set to regardless of the position of the external switch.

I’ve experienced this with the EF 85mm f/1.8, but a number of Canon’s other lower priced non-L primes are also made in the same way. My solution is to leave the internal switch set to ‘AF’. Since I usually have back-button AF set up and half-pressing the shutter button only activates metering without activating AF, I need to only release the ‘AF-ON’ button to be able to manually focus the EF 85mm f/1.8 with ring-type USM.

Unfortunately, the EF 50mm f/1.8 does not have ring-type USM and the manual focus ring should not be moved when the switch is set to ‘AF’. I don’t know if the external/internal switches are connected the same way with the EF 50mm f/1.8, but the EF 50mm f/1.4 is constructed the same way the EF 85mm f/1.8 is (as well as the EF 100mm f/2, among others).

Is a 50mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.4 a good lens for portraits in low light?

I personally have the 1.8 and my friend the 1.4. Obviously the 1.4 is much better build quality and fairly better optically, but the 1.8 is a bargain and still a good lens as long as you don’t plan on throwing it around. Also more easily replaced if it breaks. Both give pleasing pictures and both will be better in low light than your current lens…
but..

..in your example you give these lenses would not improve the picture in the way you want. The christmas tree would still be the source of light and the people would still be underexposed in front of it. The lenses would both make the ability for faster shutter speeds or lower ISO’s, but the lighting ratio in your picture would still be the same.

To get the picture you are after you would still need some illumination on your subjects to expose them better with the tree. As it is dark a reflector wouldn’t be much use, so it’s more likely you will need to use some flash, but don’t put it on auto. Use your camera (I’d prefer in manual) to expose for the tree, and then use the flash as fill light, probably dialling in some flash exposure compensation of -1 or -2 stops so that the light is mostly only lighting their faces and not affecting the already lit background so much.

It’ll likely take some tinkering to get the right ratio of lighting that you want, but using a faster lens is only going to mean more bokeh (which will be nice for the tree potentially) and the ability to shoot faster, it won’t magically bring your subjects out of the low light whilst leaving the background as it was.

lens – Would the 40mm pancake or 50mm prime be better for street photography with a Canon APS-C camera?

I used to shoot a lot of street, and it’s still my favourite type of photography to do for fun. I started with a 35mm lens on an APS-C body. That was already a bit too long, so I got an X100 which was perfect at 23mm (35mm Full Frame equivalent). I recently got another APS-C body with a 35mm lens, but ended up having to get the 23mm as well since I prefer the length.

50mm would be much too long for me, although I could see 40mm being good. As others have mentioned, it being a pancake would be very convenient to carry around.

A good way to find out what length would be good for you would be to use your 18-55 zoom lens for some street, then go home and look at the EXIF data to determine what the focal length was for your favourite shots. In Lightroom, hit the “I” button on your keyboard while having an image open to show different information. I only have experience with Lightroom, but I’m sure other programs can show it, too.

You also might find out that you prefer shooting with a zoom lens. I have a friend who shoots excellent street photos with an 18-200 or something on his Nikon. I only shoot with primes, but that’s a personal preference.

I wouldn’t worry too much about focus speed. A common technique with street photography is to zone focus to about 2 meters, then set the camera to f/8. Everything between 1 to 4 meters or so will be in focus.

Of course, all of this depends entirely on what your personal style is, which you may still be developing. Again, go out and experiment with your zoom lens!

Will a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1: 1.8 G lens work on my Nikon D3100 series camera?

Will an AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8G work well with my with Nikon D3100?

lens – 35mm or 50mm for full body portraits for Nikon DX camera?

Things to consider…

35mm in a DX body will let you take full body shots from reasonably close.
This will, however, give you ‘short legs syndrome’ if you’re not careful. Shooting from any lower than chest height to try balance the leg length starts to get a bit ‘up the nose’.
Your bokeh will be harder to achieve on a relatively wide lens, even with the aperture wide open.

50mm will let you step back a bit, but you are now probably in ‘must do this outdoors’ territory in order to get sufficient distance between you, your subject & your background.

You can test both these ideas out first using your kit lens, just to see how the framing & leg length works, if not the bokeh.
Late edit I just realised you said ‘two kit lenses’, my bad – so you should be able to test this at all lengths & then know what you need for framing.
Add to that that your bokeh will get ‘bigger’ on a longer lens, so long as you can achieve the necessary distances.

Stepping up to an 85mm [or even longer] will improve your bokeh still further, and completely fix ‘short legs’, but you now need even more space to work in.
I’d be inclined to rent or borrow an 85mm, or 105mm or even a fast 70-200mm zoom before finally choosing which you need, or have space to use.
Personally, I tend to go for the longest lens I have room to step back for, for anything I need to separate subject from high blur background.

I guess one additional constraint might be budget. You can get a 35mm 1.8 for just over $£€ 100 if you shop carefully [it’s nice enough but it’s not a bokeh king, by a long shot], but the 1.4s go up in price pretty sharply – $£€ 400 for the 50mm up to $£€ 1,400 for the 85mm & nearly 2 grand for the 105mm.

lens – What’s the difference between these two 1.4f 50mm prime lenses?

You’ve already identified some of the most striking and significant differences:

Not so obvious is that the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G is a 2008 design with nine optical elements in six groups based on far older previous lenses while the Sigma 50/1.4 ART is a 2014 design with thirteen optical elements in eight groups.

  • Number of optical elements/groups
  • Age of design
  • Design decisions about what is most important to the lens’ performance characteristics

Not only has the state of the art (no pun intended) moved forward during this time period, but what potential buyers want and expect in a lens has also seemed to shift during that relatively short time interval.

What is the difference and for what purpose would anyone buy the more expensive heavier lens?

For most of those who are willing to pay much more for a heavier lens like the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART, it’s so they can have the lens that is one of the best at taking sharp photos of the corners of flat test charts at close distances.

There are times and places, such as flat document archiving or art reproduction, where this is a legitimate reason but for the most part those who buy such lenses do so because they think “sharpest (on the edges and in the corners)” always means “best” for whatever purpose to which they may be intending to put the lens to use. Such is not always the case.

Portraitists, for example, have typically been more concerned with the characteristics of the out of focus areas in the background behind their subjects than with the lens’ ability with regard to absolute “sharpness” at the edges of the frame when those edges are generally well outside the depth of field anyway. The same design considerations that give the best flat field performance making those edges and corners of flat test charts sharper also can make out of focus areas look “busy” or “harsh” compared to lenses with less corrected or even uncorrected field curvature that can make the out of focus areas in the background “smooth” and “creamy”.

Then there are use cases where compact size and light weight may be more important than ultimate optical performance, such as street photography or landscape photography done at locations difficult to access without hiking for miles or only after climbing a mountain.

For more, please see:
What is the advantage of a lens with a curved focal plane?
Why do prime lenses have multiple lens elements?
Why is the Tamron 90mm 2.8 marketed as Macro and not as a “portrait” lens?
In photo taken with a prime lens, what is the cause of the “zoomed” bokeh appearance?
Is Canon 50mm f/1.2 with Canon EOS 80D suitable for portraits, landscapes, travel/nightlife photography?

Can I use a combination of extension tubes + 50mm prime + raynox dcr 250, for a high magnification macro setup?

Been there, done that(*).

My experiments in a distant past showed me that the close-up lenses would work up to some focal length, beyond which the picture was starting to get really soft. So on a 50mm you should be fine.

Will the result be practical in the field? If “the field” is a place where you intend to shoot moving subjects such as insects (or even flowers lightly blown by the wind), then the answer is “not really”. Your problem is that both the DCR-250 and the tubes make you camera near-sighted. With the DCR-250 (8 diopters) your camera (and you, looking in the viewfinder) cannot see anything farther than 12.5cm (5″), so just getting your subject in the frame can prove difficult, because you cannot step back to widen the frame. Adding tubes will only makes this worse.

The other problem is that not only the depth of field is very thin but your AF system is going to show its (speed) limits. With the lens and tubes, a slight longitudinal move is akin to a subject moving several meters with the naked lens. And you’ll need the AF, unless you get a lot of training doing manual focus without changing the subject-to-lens distance by more than half a millimeter.

So unless you have a perfectly still subject and a perfectly still camera the whole set up is going to be hard to use, expect a lucky shot for a couple hundred photos.

And if you have a perfectly still subject and a perfectly still camera this isn’t “the field” but “the lab” (or “the studio”).

So, my advice: start small, with a thin tube.

(*) Had a DCR-250 on a bridge camera, and then used the Canon 500D (2 diopters) and 250D (4 diopters) close-up lenses on a 55-250mm zoom. I got a few miracle shots with the 250D but the 500D was a lot easier to use.

lens – Nikkor f/1.8G 35mm or 50mm?

These two lense are mostly equivalent in a lot of things–build quality, price range, focus motor features, image quality, age of design…

So the one big difference between them is 35mm vs. 50mm.

50mm is special in one way. The magnification of the lens most closely matches that of the human eye and there’s little distortion. In other words, if you compose a scene with both eyes open, what you see through the viewfinder will match what you’re seeing through the unaided eye. Composition, then, simplifies down to the simple act of framing. But because of the APS-C sensor size, the field of view of a 50mm lens on a crop body may be narrower than you’d like for walkaround use, or for composition in small spaces.

35mm is special in a different way. If a lens has a focal length equal to the diagonal dimension of your image format (i.e., the sensor), the field of view that’s yielded is considered “normal”. It’s what 50mm yields on full frame, so if you were shooting FX, the 50mm would be normal both in magnification and in field of view. But on APS-C, you can’t have both in one lens. So the field of view a 35mm lens gives you on a DX camera is more natural for general purpose walkaround and portrait use, but if you shoot with both eyes open, what you see through the viewfinder will look farther away than what you see with the unaided eye. And there is a slight distortion to achieve this, so for portraits, you can inadvertently get a bit of a funhouse mirror effect if you aren’t careful with your composition.

Which one you would prefer is up to you, and will depend greatly on what you shoot the most and what working distances from your subject you prefer.

The only other (slight) difference I can think of is the 35/1.8 has a close focus distance of 30 cm, while the close focusing distance of the 50/1.8 is 45 cm.

micro four thirds – What advantages does the Leica 50mm f/0.95 have over the Voigtlander 42.5mm Noctilux on an MFT body, if any?

The Leica 50mm f/0.95 is well-known for its low light performance and its M-mount and small image circle is easily adapted to MFT systems.

However, there is a native 0.95 choice for MFT, the Voigtlander 42.5mm 0.95 Noctilux, and this lens is a fraction of the price of the Leica.

What advantages, if any, does the Leica lens have over the Voigtlander lens? I could not find either on DXOMark, so I could not find any measurements. Would I lose an light transmission by using an M-mount to MFT adapter?

Since the sensor is smaller, do a get a true 2-to-1 crop if I use the Leica lens? In other words, will I just get the center of the Leica image? If so, does that mean I will eliminate the vignetting that the Leica is known for (because only the center of the image is being captured)?