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  1. #1
    braxus's Avatar
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    What is todays best normal (50-55-58mm) lens?

    Just doing some research on what people think is the best 50mm lens made either today or yesteryear- but as long as it can still be found. WHat sparked me to think this thread was Canon's announcement for the new 50L lens. I guess in the past Canon's best normal lens would have been the FD 55mm f1.2 AL lens followed then by the FD 50mm 1.2L lens. It will be interesting to see how the new EF 50L fairs in tests and in use. Canon's old EF 50 1.0 wasn't as sharp as other offerings, but it was said to have great bokeh like a Leica. Speaking of Leica I'm not sure what their best 50 would be, but I've heard they were all good lenses. Contax's (Zeiss) 50 f1.4 lens would be a good runner up and years back was rated the best 50mm lens in a photo magazine test. Then we have Nikon's 58mm f1.2 lens. For Pentax I think the 50mm f1.7 was their sharpest. Anyone have any opinions or comments on what they think is the best normal lens out their today, maybe even some from the above list?

    Oh and if anyone remembers which magazine and date that 50mm lens test was- let me know. I think it may have been Pop Photo, but unsure of that or the date.
    Last edited by braxus; 09-03-2006 at 08:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2

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    50mm 3.5 Heliar.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  3. #3

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    Leica Summicron

  4. #4

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    How are you defining 'best'?

    There are quite a lot of lenses that will resolve finer detail than film can capture. Anything over 100 lp/mm will be aleatory, depending on the location and flatness of the film.

    Once you go outside resolution figures, you can define 'best' in a dozen different ways. One Zeiss lens designer of my acquaintace reckoned that he had five different Zeiss 50mm lenses, each of which was 'best' for a particular application. Hell, I like my 58/2 Biotar for romantic colour; I loved the 58/1.4 Nikkor for 'roundness' and a three-dimensional look in black and white; the 50/2 Jupiter-8 has a lovely 'glow' to it; and I sold my 50/2 Summicron, sharper than any of that lot, because I almost never used it. If I could afford it, I'd buy a 50/1 Noctilux (a kind friend lent me one for a year) and I still use my 50/1.2 Canon for some shots: it's superb at f/4 to f/11, and, well, romantic at f/1.2.

    My current favourite is probably the 50/2.5 Color-Skopar because it's so compact.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

  5. #5

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    Popular Photography ranked the Contax 50/1.4 as the sharpest, followed closely by the Canon EF 50/1.4. That was for SLR lenses and that was some years ago. That was also Popular Photography so take it for what it was worth. I don't remember the date but I had the issue until a couple of years ago when I cleaned house.

    My opinion: the best normal lens is the normal lens that fits the camera you like to use at the time.

  6. #6

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    why not 40mm?

  7. #7
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    I loved my Nikkor AI 50mm f/1.4. But I'm biased...it was my first (and only) good SLR lens.
    No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.

  8. #8
    tony lockerbie's Avatar
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    If you are not interested in MTF graphs then the Leitz 50mm Summicron in both R and M series will have to figure high as a real world user.
    The 50 is probably the most developed of the lenses and eveyman and his dog has a really good 50 in their inventory.

  9. #9

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    50mm Nikkor AFD f/1.4.
    Why ? Its the one I've got and it fits my camera
    Cheers
    Søren
    Send from my Electronic Data Management Device using TWOFingerTexting

    Technology distinquishable from magic is insufficiently developed

    Søren Nielsen
    Denmark

  10. #10
    Seele's Avatar
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    I always like my Carl Zeiss Jena Pancolar 50/1.8 lenses, especially the late model for Praktica B-series. But in terms of more "mainstream" ones, I always find manual-focus Minolta very dependable. Bokeh afficionados consider the old MC Rokkor 58/1.2 as the benchmark, but I rely totally on my "lesser" late-model "plain MD"s: 50/1.7 and 50/2 for all sorts of jobs and in the full knowledge that I can count on them to deliver the goods, both for me and my clients.

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