Here’s a question from a reader. Kevyn asks:
I really want the 50 1.2 and read on your blog that you prefer it over the 1.4 (which is what I currently have)- I use it all the time. I am trying to do my research first though and have stumbled across forums with people saying that the 1.2 has a learning curve and that it is hard to get it in focus. I feel like I have this issue with my 1.4 at times. I will focus dead on the subject and it still is not as sharp as I would like it. Okay- I know you don’t have to help me. BUT- any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.
Thanks for the question, Kevyn. I’ve covered this a little bit, but I will go into it a little more because this seems to be a problem for a lot of you. When I got my first prime lens – the 50 1.8 – I shot everything at 1.8. A whole engagement session. And when I got home almost every single shot was out of focus. I threw that lens in my closet, said a few curse words, and vowed to never, ever use a prime lens again. Well, now I know why my shots were out of focus. So, you don’t make the same mistake as me read this carefully and slowly – Just because you have a lens that will stop down to 1.2, 1.4, or 1.8 does not mean you have to shoot that wide open! When shooting at those apertures you are going to get a ton of out of focus pictures. Why? Because it’s extremely hard to get everything in focus at that shallow depth of field. You may get the nose instead of the eyes or one eye instead of two. Also, if you’re shooting more than one subject you are bound to only get one in focus. Frustrating, right?
I love my 50 1.2 because it’s a great piece of glass. It’s buttery and yummy and oh so gorgeous, but I rarely shoot at 1.2. Very, very rarely. And if I do shoot at 1.2 I will shoot the same picture at 2.0 just to make sure I got it. I very rarely shoot wider than 1.8. Usually somewhere between 2.0 and 2.8. And guess what? I don’t get very many pictures that are out of focus and even though I’m not shooting wide open I think my pictures still look pretty good and sharp.
There are a lot of very good and talented photographers who shoot wide open all the time and their are pictures are amazing. But, I’m not one of them. When eyes are out of focus it’s a deal breaker for me so I choose to shoot not as wide open.
Here are two shots I took very quickly today under not the most ideal lighting situations (and B was mesmerized by GaCa aka Madagascar). Just a little lightning done in photoshop. Honestly, under ideal lighting situations the 1.2 probably would have turned out a little better, but I worked with what I had You be the judge and see which one you like better. I have my favorite.
f 1.2, ISO 250, 1/320
f 2.0, ISO 400, 1/250
And, yes. My son is wearing a Run DMC shirt because he is hardcore like that.