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?

optics – tele lens for IP camera

I need to keep an eye for wild animals on a relatively small spot at 60ft distance. My plan is to gut an IP camera and construct an adapter for a tele lens, and a “birdhouse” housing. I am experienced with 3d design and printing, and in fact I have already made some prototypes (final designs will be made freely available on GrabCAD)
However, I need advice on which camera to use. My parameters are as follows:

  • Since I am going to gut the camera and keep only the sensor and
    circuitry, it should be inexpensive
  • Connection must be via Wifi
  • Video stream should be compatible with good, stable software
    (motion-triggering, scheduled recording, etc.).
  • I also need some advice on suitable software!

many thanks for any feedback you might have!

cam housing

cam adapter

lens – Scratch on front element causes flare; how to minimize?

I bought a used Canon 28-135mm USM lens for cheap as a YOLO moment. The lens is lovely in all respects except for a few slight scuffs on the front elementphoto of lens with small scuff on the front element

I have indeed seen the lens rentals blog post with the smashed lens; mine isn’t nearly as bad, but I’d like to use it for hiking in sunlight.

The lens has a soft/flared spot outside in direct sunlight. I got a lens hood for it to minimize this; what else can I do that doesn’t involve replacing the front element?

See the soft/bright spot in the brown foliage of the palm tree:

picture of a palm tree with a soft/lower contrast/brighter area slightly off center

It’s still a decent lens; I’m going to keep it in my bag as a backup.

lens – How can I get sharp bird photos when the bird is further away?

Several possibilities:

  1. In the examples shown, it could be a problem with the subject. The center of the picture is a rather fuzzy plumage for the dove and sharp lines for the white-eye.
  2. Your 55-250mm is not so sharp at the long end. Decent lens, but not built/checked to stringent specs like a L series. Only way to tell is to try another lens.
  3. Your camera’s AF is struggling. The AF works better when the lens has a wide max aperture. At the long end your lens max aperture is f/5.6, pretty close to the AF working limit (officially f/5.6, in practice f/6.3 with good light). Your 9-point AF is a fairly old tech, I had the same in a 450D (ten years ago). I improved all my lenses by moving to a more recent body with a much better AF.
  4. The lens IS isn’t doing miracles. At the long end very small residual moves can induce some blur.

To remove as many variables as possible from the equation, you can do a rough test of your gear:

  • Tape a newspaper on a wall, under good lighting
  • Put your camera+lens on a tripod if you have one, or on a table, sufficiently far from the wall (at bird shooting distance…) and aim the camera at the newspaper
  • Use a remote trigger or use the 2-seconds timer on the shutter, so that you aren’t touching the camera when it takes the picture.
  • Do one image (or a series of shots) with AF.
  • In the same test conditions do another image using manual AF. For this use LiveView and zoom in. This can be a bit fiddly because the focus ring on the 55-250 is a bit coarse.

If the image with manual focus is sharp, your lens is OK

If the above and your AF image is also sharp then your AF is OK. Otherwise by giving some forward slant to the newspaper you can evaluate the amount of front-focus/back-focus (see which part of the page is really in focus) and take this in account when shooting the birds (pre-focus on some foliage before/beyond the bird).

Canon M50 lens recommendation for landscape photography

Better lens and as cheaply as possible don’t go together. The cheapest possible lens is always the one you already have.

What you should not do is buy another lens because it is very marginally better on paper than your current lens. That’s how you waste money on GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).

First, don’t buy another lens just because it is supposed to be a little bit better than the one you’ve got if it covers mostly the same focal length range as your 15-45mm lens. And nothing even remotely “cheap” is going to be much more than just a little bit better than the 15-45mm lens you already have. Not that there are any real choices within the Canon EF-M line since the EF-M 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM was discontinued not long after the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM replaced it as the most affordable “kit lens” for EOS M bodies.

There may be a few edge cases where a little extra aperture or extra rated IS may help, if such a lens were ever available in the EF-M mount or you decided to adapt an EF or EF-S lens to your EOS M50 body using the Canon EF to EF-M adapter. But those will be fairly limited to shots that will look barely better with a slightly better lens than the one you already have in very specific scenarios (say, handheld photos of static scenes in low light). Good technique can go a lot further than a minor difference in aperture or even one stop of IS does. If you’re using a tripod, as you should for static scenes in low light, or if your subject or other parts of the scene are in motion, then there’s no real difference between lenses with marginal differences in maximum aperture or IS.

The copy-to-copy variation from one copy of the EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 to another copy of the EF-M 15-45mm, and from one copy of an EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM to another copy of an 18-55mm STM can be larger than the measured differences between the EF-M 15-45mm and EF-M 18-55mm STM shown at sites like DxO Mark. So you might wind up with an EF-M 18-55mm STM lens that looks better at DxO, but the copy of the EF-M 18-55mm you actually get isn’t as good as the copy of the EF-M 15-45mm lens you already have!

This can be particularly the case when buying lower priced lenses used. Lots of folks will buy/return/sell lower cost lenses until they find a “good” one, which often actually means it matches up to their particular camera body and its variations within manufacturing tolerances better than another copy of the same lens does. But sometimes it means cheaper lenses that are slightly out of alignment show up more often on the used market than more pristine copies. Even with very expensive lenses, finding someone who can do an expert job of lining up a lens is difficult. With cheap lenses, it often would cost more in labor to properly adjust the alignment than the lens is worth, and that’s assuming the lens even has provisions for optical adjustments. Some lower cost designs do not. So folks will buy/sell multiple copies until they get one they want to keep.

Second, don’t buy a lens that covers the same focal lengths you already own plus more on one end. In other words, don’t replace your EF-M 15-45mm lens with an EF-M 18-150mm lens. The quality you get from the latter will likely be worse in the 18-45mm range they share in common than the lens you already have. Instead, add the EF-M 55-200mm. You’ll almost always have better optical performance from two zoom lenses that cover about 3X focal length range each than a single lens that covers a 10X focal length range.

If you really want to replace or supplement the 15-45mm lens with another lens that opens up possibilities the 15-45mm lens doesn’t allow, you should think more in terms of true qualitative improvements such as:

  • Faster aperture zooms, like an adapted 17-50/55mm constant aperture f/2.8 lens. But keep in mind that typically landscape photography is done at narrower apertures, even when using lenses with wide maximum apertures. The differences in “sharpness” between cheap and expensive lenses usually disappear by the time they are all stopped down to f/8 or so.
  • Wider focal lengths, like an EF-M 11-22mm or an adapted EF-S 10-18mm.
  • Longer focal lengths, like an EF-M 55-200mm or an adapted EF/EF-S telephoto zoom.
  • Prime lenses – that is, lenses that don’t zoom but only have one focal length – which often give better performance at a much lower price than high end zoom lenses do.

But don’t go buying such lenses just because someone else, like me, tells you to. Buy whichever one you need when you realize which one will let you do something you want to do with your camera that your current lens does not allow.

As we said a while back in our answer to this question about marginal upgrades in gear for a beginner:

Lens decisions are an intensely personal thing. What one photographer may consider essential can be totally superfluous for another photographer. The more you know about how you want to shoot, the better informed you’ll be to decide which lenses are best for you when the time comes to start spending more on gear. What one must be careful to avoid with this strategy is the constant desire to frequently upgrade to a slightly better lens (or camera) than what one is currently using.

and (slightly paraphrased):

At this point you don’t even know how much you’ll enjoy (or not enjoy) photography as a hobby. Assuming you do decide to stay in it for a while, you might surprise yourself with what kinds of things you find you enjoy shooting the most and what type of things you quickly grow tired of shooting. It would be a shame to find any lenses you wasted money on near the beginning of your photographic journey aren’t well suited to what you eventually find you most want to shoot.

In all likelihood, if you decide to stick with photography as a serious hobby, you’re going to outgrow either one of these lenses relatively early in your photographic development. Don’t waste money buying a redundant lens that is, for all practical purposes, no better and less useful than the one you already have!

So:

In other words, start out at the ground floor and wait there until you know enough to know where in the building you want to end up, then use the elevator to go directly there instead of climbing the stairs one floor at a time using all of your energy (money) wandering around looking for where you want to go.

lens – Bird photography – Photography Stack Exchange

I have Canon 1200D. I use the 55-250mm kit lens for bird photography.

Laughing Dove

Laughing Dove

Indian White-eye

Indian White-eye

The Laughing Dove was far as compared to Indian White-eye. My point is whenever I click photos of birds near to the lens , it gives a very sharp image. But if it has to focus far it produces not-so-sharp images.
Any suggestion on how to improve focus for longer focal lengths? I use both manual as well as autofocus and shoot in RAW.

old lenses – Am I or am I not able to use a non-AI lens on a Nikon d5000?

I recently purchased a Nikon D5000 body for use in a very specific application. I am trying to find an inexpensive 35mm or 50mm lens for it. I do NOT require any functionality beyond that provided by a pre-CPU lens. I just need to focus on a stationary point and take pictures repeatedly.
It seems that a non-AI lens would more than suffice for my needs, however I cannot find a definitive answer as to whether I can use one on my D5000. There are many that say that there is no problem using a non-AI lens on the D5000 and even that it is one of the few Nikons that is meant to allow you to do so, yet it says in no uncertain terms in Nikon’s paper explaining which lenses you can use that non-AI lenses are unable to be used with a D5000.
Here is a link to that https://www.nikonimgsupport.com/ni/NI_article?articleNo=000003299&lang=en_CA#:~:text=Non%2DAI%20lenses,2.1cm%20f%2F4

Down at the bottom it states “The following non-CPU lenses are incompatible:” and underneath that it says “Non-AI lenses”

After typing that just now I noticed that it says non-CPU lenses; does this meanthat there are CPU non-AI lenses and that I should be able to use those? Non-CPU lenses are something like pre-1980’s, correct?

From what I have been able to determine from my research, it all has something to do with aperture rings and the lens physically hitting the shutter in the body? I apologize if this has been answered before; I didn’t find anything when I searched but I find it hard to believe this question has not been asked previously. Thank you in advance for your help!

Edit: Well, for me this question has been rendered moot, as I’ve realized that I can get a Nikon DX VR AF-P NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5~5.6 G lens for $50 and that should work just dandy. However, I have a number of pre-AI Nikon lenses so when the D5000 arrives, I will probably post an answer here if there is not already one posted by someone else. I understand that it is probably not possible to say “all non-AI lenses work” or “don’t work” because apparently some will attach to your body yet end up damaging it but it would be nice to have a rundown of what makes a lens one that you may safely use. If I suss it all out before there’s an answer posted, I’ll make certain to post it here.

repair – Canon 18-55mm lens giving err01 after it fell down

Sometime back I accidentally dropped my canon EFS 18-55mm lens (open caps); I cleaned the contact areas and any kind of dirt I could see on it. After that it was a bit jittery whenever I zoomed, but soon it became normal as before. After taking a number of shots through it, it has started to show Err01 at following times :

  • On taking flash-on shots at 18 mm
  • On taking shot at auto-focus using remote live view function of canon app.
    ( I have already tried cleaning lens and camera contacts. Lens is auto-focusing fine and clicking shots at other positions under flash-on)

Also, I started to feel little tight while focusing down to 18mm focal length. Upon closer inspection, I found something loosely hanging inside the lens. Upon rotating the lens upside-down, it is moving inside and out:
Seeing inside from lens front

Seeing inside from lens back

Image taken with black obstruction visible at top

  1. Seeing inside from lens front
  1. Seeing inside from lens back
  1. Image taken with black obstruction visible at top

Please share how terribly bad this problem is and whether lens could be repaired without loosing big amount of money?

lens – Can Canon T70 be converted to digital?

Theoretically Possible? Yes.

Back in 2001 there was a company that introduced an idea too far ahead of its time: to create digital modules that would fit inside conventional 35mm film cameras. But the technology to do it in such a small package was not available and it never got into production.

e-film EFS-1

Doable from a practical standpoint? Not unless you have resources similar to what was available to Kodak Laboratories in the 1980s and 1990s.

Some of the earliest digital cameras not tied down to a stationary lab, personal computer, or installed in a NASA space probe were built around the bodies of then-current film cameras. In 1991, Kodak released the first professional digital camera system (DCS) aimed at photojournalists. It was a Nikon F-3 film camera equipped by Kodak with a 1.3 megapixel sensor. It required a constant wired connection to a hard disk system used to store the image data.

Nikon DCS

1995 saw the debut of Canon’s first Digital EOS cameras the EOS DCS 3 and EOS DCS 5. With a 1.3 Megapixel CCD sensor and a price tag of 12,000 euro the EOS DCS 3, based on a modified EOS 1N film camera attached to a Kodak NC2000e digital camera back, gave photographic agencies the ability to produce transmission-ready images straight out of the camera. A digital module small enough to be attached directly to the base of the camera allowed it to be free of any umbilical cords connecting it to a separate unit.

EOS DCS 3

Fully compatible with the entire range of EF lenses, the EOS DCS 3 was developed in collaboration with Kodak who produced the major electronic components.

Your Canon T70 is a pre-EOS era film camera that uses the FD lens mount system and no commercially available digital cameras have ever been produced by Canon or Kodak for that mount. Likewise, no digital backs and accompanying modules, such as were made for the Nikon F-3 and Canon EOS 1N film cameras, have ever been developed for an FD mount camera. So if you convert your T70 to digital you would need to build the digital parts yourself, just as Canon and Kodak did for the EOS 1N back in the 1990s.

equipment recommendation – Telephoto lens for a cropped sensor

Having a “hole in the middle” is more trouble than you could possibly anticipate as a newbie. Believe me, I did it & my hole in the middle was only between 55mm & 70mm.
For some bizarre “Murphy’s Law” reason, everything you ever want to do seems to fall into that hole.

There is, of course, the inevitable GAS [Gear Acquisition Syndrome] that means we always really, really need just one more lens… but at least start with a one-size-fits-all lens that doesn’t leave such a sizeable hole.

I eventually [after first buying 2 others that weren’t as good] went for what I now call my guilty pleasure lens, the super-zoom Nikon 18-300mm.
It’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it does mean if I’m on walkabout I only need the one lens with me, rather than my whole bag. Focus speed, low light usability & VR are all better than you’d expect. Image sharpness is really OK & only softens right out at 300mm.

Of course, it’s not as fast as the 2.8 zooms, but you end up needing all three of those, at about 7 grand if you get the Nikons.