As posted in the summer (too lazy to find the link), my 50mm f/1.8 lens which at the time got a lot of use due mostly to my lack of having a mid-range zoom fell into Buffalo Bayou and was for ever lost. I decided to try out a consumer grade full frame mid-range zoom – 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5. It’s a pretty good lens by all accounts but the beauty of the 50mm was that even on a DX sensor, I could slap it on the camera and have a super light weight lens that was unassuming and it could take wonderful pictures in the lowest of lights.
Since that was my second 50mm f/1.8 lens, I thought this time, I should just go for broke and get my last 50mm lens for a while and got the bigger brother, 50mm f/1.4d instead. It’s more expensive but given that it’s 2/3 stops wider (gives out 70% more light give or take), it’s worth it and on the D90 where I can get ISO 1600 very cleanly, a formidable enemy against low light. I never considered the 50mm f/1.4G version since my D90 has a built in Autofocus motor and for my purpose, I don’t care about having two more aperture blades or better looking bokeh. Here is a stock picture from Nikon’s website until I get the actual lens in the mail:
Looks small doesn’t it? Don’t let that fool you because that tiny lens is an assassin. It can give you the same sharpness as lenses that cost 5 times as much when stopped down and wide open it can do things that those lenses never can. If you’re not familiar with photography let me explain the difference in the amount of light that this f/1.4 lens can give vs. a $1700 f/2.8 zoom lens.
f/1.4 lets in twice as light as f/2.0 which gives out twice as much light as f/2.8.
In other words, this tiny lens allows FOUR more times as much light as lenses that cost 5 times as much. 4 times! The tradeoff is that it’s a fixed length so no zoom.
How does this compare to a f/5.6 consumer lens? well, it’s 4 stops better or 2^4. So yes, this little bitty lens gives 16 times as much light as the lenses that come with most cameras in a kit. Do you think you might need that much more light some time? At night? In a church? At a school gym?