Ultra-fast Lenses

They’re heavy and they have no zoom, but because of their image quality, some professionals use only these lenses. Why are ultra-fast lenses so highly valued?

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AuthorVit Kovalcik

I’ve been a freelancer since early 2012; photography is my living. I acquired my photography experience, both inside and outside the studio, during the previous years—when I was working all day and taking pictures every evening and weekend. I don’t have just one clearly defined topic; I like photographing people, but also cityscapes and landscapes.

Comments (9)

  1. Vit, a very interesting read but may I correct an error of fact. As regards depth of field sensor size is NOT a determinant in calculating depth of field. DoF is an optical characteristic and is the product solely of focal length, aperture and the focused distance to which the lens is set. If one wishes to be really accurate one may introduce circle of confusion as the fourth factor, but no where will you see any mention of sensor size as being a determinant. As such, DoF is completely independent of the sensor size and thus the same focal length lens set to the same aperture and focus point will exhibit identical DoF irrespective of whether it is attached to an m4/3, APS-C or FF camera.

    You are not alone in propagating this myth. The number of times I’ve seen this printed in photography magazines beggars belief. It seems to be a child if the digital age.

    The sensor size DoF argument is poorly stated as it misses out a very important point and which is that for the SAME FIELD OF VIEW the smaller the sensor the shorter will be the focal length of the lens needed and it is this that leads to greater depth of field.

    1. All right, I know what you mean, but in my opinion it is not a myth vs reality, but simply different points of view used when doing the comparison.

      From your point of view, yes, we can fix focal length and aperture (i.e. same lens) and attach different sensors to it – and you are right, we will have the same depth of field, however the field of view will be different, so in fact we will get different photo.

      From my point of view, I want to get identical photo with different sensors, which means different focal lengths have to be used and to get visually same depth of field, different apertures needs to be used too.

      These are of course things you have stated in your post, but I wanted to emphasize not the issues with DOF/sensor size, but the different points of view.

  2. All very informative and helpful.

  3. Very helpful post! I have been using the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 for about 6 months (with a Canon 70D) and LOVE it! It’s large and heavy, but the image quality is outstanding. And nothing beats having such a wide aperture on a crop camera. This is the lens that stays on my camera 90% of the time.
    Now, if I could just talk my wife into letting me consider a full-frame camera… :-)

  4. Canon 5D Mark III (Full frame), Canon 85/1.8, 1/200 s, F1.4, ISO 100, focus 85 mm …. F1.4 on F1.8 lens?

    1. Oops, thanks. This was corrected in the Czech version of the article long time ago, but somehow find its way again to this version. It should be fixed now.

      1. Ahoj, trošku off-topic, ale chtěl bych se zeptat, jaká je adresa na český Magazin Zonerama. Děkuji, Bohdan

      2. Protějšek je http://www.milujemefotografii.cz/ , i když mám za to, že se prolínají jen některé články. Jiné jsou jen tady nebo jen tam. Tenhle je zrovna na obou, česká verze je pod tímhle odkazem:

  5. Its great to be able to pickup all this information from years of practise by others, a great learning curve
    indeed, thanks ……………………..

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