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50mm Prime For Spotting?  
User currently offlinebenrotem From Canada, joined Nov 2010, 68 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 12 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 5511 times:

Hi Everyone.
I ordered myself a nice old Pentax 50mm for indoor shooting, and some portraits.
Then the thought of using the prime for plane spotting came across my mind.
Has anyone had any luck with using a "Nifty-Fifty" for plane spotting? If yes, are the photos any more sharp than an 18-55 kit lens @ the same aperture?

*For YYZ Spotters* I have yet to try shooting at any runway other than 23. Would the 50mm work at any other runways? Or is it too short?

Thanks,
Ben


Pentax K-x: DA-L 18-55mm, SMC-A 50mm f/2.0, DA 55-300mm. Nikon D80: Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 (Sigma 70-200mm soon)
23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (2 years 12 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 5500 times:

I can't speak for Pentax but Canon's 50mm primes are awesome - even the budget ones.

I can almost guarantee it'll be sharper than an 18-55 at any aperture. It just depends on whether you consider 50mm a useful enough focal length.

Karl


User currently offlineSilver1SWA From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 4771 posts, RR: 26
Reply 2, posted (2 years 12 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 5499 times:
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I use Canon's "Nifty-Fifty" sometimes. But I have ramp access so that makes it easier. That Canon 50mm 1.8 II is a fantastic piece of plastic.


ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 730 posts, RR: 16
Reply 3, posted (2 years 12 months 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 5473 times:

It doesn't have the flexibility of a zoom, but it does have a number of strengths beyond basic image quality -

- avoids the distorted perspective of wide or tele lenses. Some collectors are only interested in pics taken with a focal length around 50mm

- often the fastest lens in a makers range - take advantage of this and go for low light shots.

- fast lenses have a very shallow depth of field wide open. You need to be aware of this, but it can also be exploited to blur cluttered foregrounds/backgrounds and for creative shots.

In my opinion, a much over-looked focal length these days.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlinebenrotem From Canada, joined Nov 2010, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 12 months 3 days ago) and read 5466 times:

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 2):
But I have ramp access so that makes it easier

How close to the aircraft would you say you are to get an aircraft to fill the frame?

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 1):
I can almost guarantee it'll be sharper than an 18-55 at any aperture

That is great to hear!

Quoting ckw (Reply 3):
take advantage of this and go for low light shots.

I'm a complete newbie with low light aircraft shots. How slow of a shutter speed is too slow? The aperture is f/2.0 if it matters, but i would probably need it stopped down to like, f/3.5 to get decent sharpness. Or does airliners.net take noisy shots into consideration if its night?

Quoting ckw (Reply 3):
fast lenses have a very shallow depth of field wide open. You need to be aware of this, but it can also be exploited to blur cluttered foregrounds/backgrounds and for creative shots.

Wouldn't f/2.0 only give me a few inches of space in focus? Or am I just exaggerating everything?



Pentax K-x: DA-L 18-55mm, SMC-A 50mm f/2.0, DA 55-300mm. Nikon D80: Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 (Sigma 70-200mm soon)
User currently offlinevikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9787 posts, RR: 26
Reply 5, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 5447 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting benrotem (Reply 4):

I'm a complete newbie with low light aircraft shots. How slow of a shutter speed is too slow?

As slow as you can go and still get a sharp aircraft. Slowest panning shot I've gotten on A.net is 1/8.

Quoting benrotem (Reply 4):
The aperture is f/2.0 if it matters, but i would probably need it stopped down to like, f/3.5 to get decent sharpness. Or does airliners.net take noisy shots into consideration if its night?

I believe there is slightly more room for play with noise if it's a night shot, but I'm sure the standard is still pretty high.

Quoting benrotem (Reply 4):
The aperture is f/2.0 if it matters, but i would probably need it stopped down to like, f/3.5 to get decent sharpness.

If you can fill the frame with the aircraft, you may be able to get away with a wider aperture, and there are lenses out there that are sharp wide open (so I hear...too expensive for me right now!). However, as you stated, you sacrifice depth-of-field.

Quoting benrotem (Reply 4):

Wouldn't f/2.0 only give me a few inches of space in focus? Or am I just exaggerating everything?

If the subject is close to you, then yes it will be small. If it's a few hundred feet away, you should have some DOF to play with. On my camera, with a 50mm lens at F2, and a subject that's 50 meters away, looks like my DOF would be around 150 meters (500 feet). That's assuming I did the calculation correctly.  



"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
User currently offlineNIKV69 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 5445 times:

I have a 50mm 1.4 and it's insanely sharp obv. You have to be in certain situations but it's sure a sweet piece of glass.

User currently offlinedendrobatid From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 1664 posts, RR: 62
Reply 7, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 5417 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD SCREENER

I have a 50mm F1.4 too and at short distances the depth of field with the lens wide open is very small indeed. A 50mm fixed lens is the simplest in construction and the simplest to design well and so, these days at least, they are all good, some are just better than others. Whilst a 50mm was the commonest lens on an SLR in film days, they are not common now and I would wager that any recently made 50mm will be sharper than even the best of zooms.
An understanding of hyperfocal distance will give you an idea of the usability of the lens and bear in mind that even an f1.4 lens (any lens) will work better stopped down a bit. Put very simply, any lens will only focus PERFECTLY at one point but there is an area in front of that point and behind that point that is acceptably sharp and that is the depth of field. It varies with the focussing distance, the aperture and focal length of the lens.

This table will give you an idea of the depth of field at any given focussing distance for a lot of different lenses
http://www.dofmaster.com/doftable.html

From an aviation photographers perspective, the 50mm has another advantage. They tend to be small and will often fit through wire fences.

Mick Bajcar


User currently offlinerotate From Switzerland, joined Feb 2003, 1491 posts, RR: 16
Reply 8, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 5415 times:

Quoting benrotem (Thread starter):
*For YYZ Spotters* I have yet to try shooting at any runway other than 23. Would the 50mm work at any other runways? Or is it too short?

I dont know of any place where you could use a 50mm at YYZ, except the Wendy lot ... and this would mean you take more a shot of the belly of the plane. 50mm is only useful when havin rampaccess (like stated above). Otherwise zoom is the only way to go if u spot moving objects (like planes or cars) .... except you have a 500mm or something like this.
A "fixed" 14mm or something like this could be used for pictures of planecabins or similar.



ABC
User currently offlineviv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 29
Reply 9, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 5398 times:

If you can get close enough, a 50 mm prime will give great results and will be sharper than any zoom lens on the market.

As Mick says, stop down a bit whenever you can - such a lens will be at at its best at f/8 or thereabouts.



Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
User currently offlineRonS From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 762 posts, RR: 22
Reply 10, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5354 times:

Quoting viv (Reply 9):
As Mick says, stop down a bit whenever you can - such a lens will be at at its best at f/8 or thereabouts.

Yes. Don't waste an evening in the dark like me, almost pitch black at f1.8 ISO 1250 trying to get a photo doesn't work to well. Ahh, but it was a nice experience, nothing to show for it though.  



All opinions expressed by me are my own opinions & do not represent the opinions in any way of my employers.
User currently offlinebenrotem From Canada, joined Nov 2010, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 5351 times:

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 5):
As slow as you can go and still get a sharp aircraft.

So that would be a good 1/60 for me. I definitely do not have the most steady of hands..   

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 5):
If you can fill the frame with the aircraft, you may be able to get away with a wider aperture, and there are lenses out there that are sharp wide open (so I hear...too expensive for me right now!).

I've heard about those as well. Only heard though, I don't think I can buy one of those any time soon!

Quoting dendrobatid (Reply 7):
A 50mm fixed lens is the simplest in construction and the simplest to design well and so, these days at least, they are all good, some are just better than others. Whilst a 50mm was the commonest lens on an SLR in film days, they are not common now and I would wager that any recently made 50mm will be sharper than even the best of zooms.

The lens I ordered was built back in the 80s. I got it for a steal at only $40. I've heard that the quality of optics back then was the same, if not better, than lenses today. Is that true?

Quoting rotate (Reply 8):
I dont know of any place where you could use a 50mm at YYZ, except the Wendy lot ... and this would mean you take more a shot of the belly of the plane.

Yeah, that is what I thought. Thanks!

Quoting dendrobatid (Reply 7):

Reading everyones comments gave me an idea for an A.net shot, but I don't know if the motive would work. I was thinking about getting a shot of the A380's engines in the air, with the blades frozen (I am guessing that the lens stopped down to f/2.8 would still give me a good 1/2500 on a bright day). What sort of a shot should I go for? 2 of the engines, or just one engine filling the frame?




Thanks for your time and help everyone!



Pentax K-x: DA-L 18-55mm, SMC-A 50mm f/2.0, DA 55-300mm. Nikon D80: Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 (Sigma 70-200mm soon)
User currently offlineviv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 29
Reply 12, posted (2 years 12 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 5308 times:

Quoting benrotem (Reply 11):
What sort of a shot should I go for? 2 of the engines, or just one engine filling the frame?

A couple of years ago a shot of mine, showing two engines of the Antonov An-22 filling the frame, was rejected for Motive.

Screening criteria may be different nowadays, perhaps?



Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
User currently offlinespencer From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 1635 posts, RR: 17
Reply 13, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5224 times:

Something along these lines, perhaps? Personally I prefer blade blur.

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Spencer Wilmot


Spence



EOS1D4, 7D, 30D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM, 70-200/2.8 L IS2 USM, 17-40 f4 L USM, 24-105 f4 L IS USM, 85 f1.8 USM
User currently offlinebenrotem From Canada, joined Nov 2010, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5219 times:

Quoting viv (Reply 12):
A couple of years ago a shot of mine, showing two engines of the Antonov An-22 filling the frame, was rejected for Motive.

Ok, so I guess the 2 engine shot is a no go. Thanks!

Quoting spencer (Reply 13):

That is the exact framing i'm trying for! Do you remember how slow your shutter speed was for this shot ?



Pentax K-x: DA-L 18-55mm, SMC-A 50mm f/2.0, DA 55-300mm. Nikon D80: Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 (Sigma 70-200mm soon)
User currently offlinespencer From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 1635 posts, RR: 17
Reply 15, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 5213 times:

Quoting benrotem (Reply 14):
Do you remember how slow your shutter speed was for this shot ?

I don't, no. But I will look it up for you and PM you.
Spence.



EOS1D4, 7D, 30D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM, 70-200/2.8 L IS2 USM, 17-40 f4 L USM, 24-105 f4 L IS USM, 85 f1.8 USM
User currently offlinebenrotem From Canada, joined Nov 2010, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5201 times:

OK guys, I got the lens yesterday night and I have been doing a ton of test shots at varying apertures. I started off at f/5.6, and it was sharp as a knife. When I made my way to f/2.0, I was expecting them to be really soft, and I would need a good 3 passes of sharpening for it to be even reasonable. Wow, was I wrong. No sharpening needed at all. Everything was still very sharp. I think I got very lucky with lens, as some reviews were saying that it was unbearably soft at any aperture. I'm thinking that if I stop it down to f/2.8, I will get the fast shutter speed i need for the engine shot, but still maintain the crisp sharpness needed for airliners.net. The lens is Manual Focus, but i don't think that will be a problem, as infinite focus is right after 35 feet, and the aircraft approaching 23 at YYZ are at a good 75 feet when flying over the Petro Canada station. Please correct me if I am giving wacky information.
I think my only choices for aviation photography as of right now is either at 23 in YYZ, or wing shots from the cabin of an A/C.

Thanks everyone for your help,
Ben Rotem



Pentax K-x: DA-L 18-55mm, SMC-A 50mm f/2.0, DA 55-300mm. Nikon D80: Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 (Sigma 70-200mm soon)
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 730 posts, RR: 16
Reply 17, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5193 times:

2 things which bear on the reported sharpness of the lens ...

- Compared to what? Even a relatively low rating prime will be better than your average kit zoom!

- The worst problems of any lens tend to be most evident at the edges. One of the nice things about 'cropped' cameras is that you never get to see the lens's edges - what you record on your sensor is the central 60% or so of the lens's full image circle.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineJakTrax From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 4936 posts, RR: 7
Reply 18, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5188 times:

Quoting ckw (Reply 17):
The worst problems of any lens tend to be most evident at the edges. One of the nice things about 'cropped' cameras is that you never get to see the lens's edges - what you record on your sensor is the central 60% or so of the lens's full image circle

With this in mind, I bet you would have to look oh-so-hard for any edge softness with a 50mm prime set to f/8-11 used with a FOVCF body.

Karl


User currently offlinebenrotem From Canada, joined Nov 2010, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (2 years 12 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5183 times:

Quoting ckw (Reply 17):
Compared to what? Even a relatively low rating prime will be better than your average kit zoom!

Yes, that is true. So I guess I am exaggerating everything, as I have never had a very high end piece of glass. All I have in comparison is my Pentax 18-55 kit lens and a relatives Nikon 18-55 kit lens. I have never got the chance to use something like a Canon 50mm f/1.2 L. In comparison to my 18-55, it feels like its top of the line.

Quoting ckw (Reply 17):
The worst problems of any lens tend to be most evident at the edges. One of the nice things about 'cropped' cameras is that you never get to see the lens's edges - what you record on your sensor is the central 60% or so of the lens's full image circle.

So all of this combined means I am "cropping out" the bad edges of the lens, and with the Pentax crop factor, I "have a 75mm lens."   

Also, what are the bad things about a 50mm fixed ? (Other than the fact that i can not zoom in/out)



Pentax K-x: DA-L 18-55mm, SMC-A 50mm f/2.0, DA 55-300mm. Nikon D80: Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 (Sigma 70-200mm soon)
User currently offlineviv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 29
Reply 20, posted (2 years 12 months 15 hours ago) and read 5124 times:

Quoting benrotem (Reply 19):
what are the bad things about a 50mm fixed

Absolutely nothing, if you can get close enough. A fast 50 is wonderful.



Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
User currently offlineviv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 29
Reply 21, posted (2 years 12 months 15 hours ago) and read 5123 times:

Quoting benrotem (Reply 11):
So that would be a good 1/60 for me. I definitely do not have the most steady of hands..

I regularly handhold a 50mm lens at 1/15th of a second with pin-sharp results. Admittedly, this is with a rangefinder camera, which has no mirror and thus no mirror slap.

With A DSLR, 1/30th should be feasible.



Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
User currently offlinebenrotem From Canada, joined Nov 2010, 68 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (2 years 12 months 14 hours ago) and read 5116 times:

Quoting viv (Reply 20):
Absolutely nothing, if you can get close enough. A fast 50 is wonderful.

   That's great to hear!

Quoting viv (Reply 21):
With A DSLR, 1/30th should be feasible.

I have managed to do a 1/8 exposure handheld, but that is without the panning for catching a 200km/h+ aircraft. Then again, it was at 18mm, so i don't think that shutter speed would really transition into a 50mm and still retain a steady shot.


Also, I saw this lens on B&H's website, and I was wondering what you guys would think about using this for plane spotting? Would the pictures be sharp enough for A.net ?
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...08109_70_300mm_f_4_5_6_APO_DG.html

If this isn't a good lens at all, what telephoto would you recommend for a K Mount camera, under $300? If there is nothing good in that price range, I may be able to dish out an extra $100 or so.

Thanks for your time everyone!
-Ben Rotem



Pentax K-x: DA-L 18-55mm, SMC-A 50mm f/2.0, DA 55-300mm. Nikon D80: Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 (Sigma 70-200mm soon)
User currently offlineckw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 730 posts, RR: 16
Reply 23, posted (2 years 12 months 12 hours ago) and read 5099 times:

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 18):
With this in mind, I bet you would have to look oh-so-hard for any edge softness with a 50mm prime set to f/8-11 used with a FOVCF body

Absolutely - as I say its all relative, and given the compartive simplicity of the 50mm design, its one manufacturers tend to get right. In fact the more difficult task is to see the reason for buying an expensive top of the range version over the basic offerings.

Quoting benrotem (Reply 22):
If this isn't a good lens at all, what telephoto would you recommend for a K Mount camera, under $300? If there is nothing good in that price range, I may be able to dish out an extra $100 or so.

Well I can't comment on this particular lens, but, you're lucky to have a Pentax who have a very long pedigree and have produced superb lenses for many years. And any K mount lens should fit your DSLR - though you may sacrifice some automation. Have a look at this site -

http://www.pentaxforums.com/lensrevi...ategory-Pentax-K-Mount-Lenses.html

Anything with the SMC label is a safe bet, and you can find these in 2nd hand camera stores (or on eBay) for very little money with a bit of luck. Because Pentax was very slow to produce a DSLR, many Pentax film shooters sold their gear and switched to Canon or Nikon - so there should still be a lot of used gear around.

If you're prepared to do without AF, you could end up with a set of lenses optically equal to pretty much anything used on A.net.

Cheers,

Colin



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
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