New to NEX, can't decide... SEL50F18 or a manual lens? Convince me either way.

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by mmattie, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. mmattie

    mmattie New to TalkEmount

    Mar 17, 2013
    (First post here; been lurking a while. Thanks for having such an awesome, informative forum.)

    Last week I came into possession of a NEX-5R (sold to me, indeed, by a member of this forum). After several years of point-and-shoots (and before that shooting film on an old EOS), I decided I wanted something small, but with more control and better quality than what I could achieve with a compact.

    I picked up the 16mm pancake, and the Sigma 30mm (which I've been using primarily), and I was initially planning to get the Sony 50mm, to use for candid/casual portraits. However, through reading this forum I've become very intrigued by the idea of purchasing one of the many legacy 50mm lenses instead. It seems there are some good ones available below £100, and I was thinking I could use the extra money I would have spent on the E-Mount 50mm, to purchase the EVF attachment (which I gather is something of a necessity for manual focusing?).

    I feel embarassed to say, that I've rarely actually focused manually before. How hard is it on NEX? I'm not interested wildlife or sports photography, but I'll be taking pictures of children, and worry I wouldn't be able to find focus fast enough. I've tried focus peaking on the Sigma 30mm, and found it fairly easy to get sharp pictures, but I imagine a longer focal length and wider aperture makes it a lot harder.

    If I do go for a manual lens, what are the best ones in the 50 - 60mm range for those on a budget?
  2. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Real Name:
    Welcome to the forum. And the NEX. :)

    One of the beautiful things with using legacy oenses on the NEX is that they are very easy to focus. The other great thing is that because they have a focus scale on them you can zone focus. Pick a shooting distance, pick an aperture, focus using the focus scale on the lens and just take pics.

    Even I can do it. ;)
  3. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Real Name:
    1- I was in the same position as you. Previous point and shoot owner, graduated to NEX for more control.

    2- Manual focus is great, but takes some getting used to. Don't expect to be good at it for a couple weeks. Once you do, you will enjoy it.

    That said, if it is an important event like Christmas, Easter, Birthday party, I still pop on my auto focusing lens. Don't want to miss a family memory cause I was messing around. Any other time, all manual.

    3- The great attraction, with the legacy lenses is getting a lens that originally cost $6-700, for under $100.00. Unlike others, I am not quick to go out and spend $800.00 on a lens.

    As to which one, that is a very personal choice. There are hundreds that would do you well. I personally have a 45mm Rokkor 2.0 that I love and takes some great shots.

    Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2.0 at Teeeeejirrrrr

    This is a good resource for researching various lenses.

    Lenses hub: Digital Photography Review
  4. andy

    andy TalkEmount Rookie

    Jan 20, 2013
    Get legacy glass! you'll never look back.

    The canon FD's are spot on and you can pick up a 50mm f1.4 for pretty cheap.
  5. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Real Name:
    And if you don't you can always resale it.
  6. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Feb 4, 2013
    I have bought a bunch of manual lenses, none of them are as good as my Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1.4

    That is a good place to start

    (I would also suggest, don't go too much longer than 50mm with manual lenses, its becomes very tricky to nail the focus)
  7. olli

    olli TalkEmount Veteran

    Aug 16, 2011
    Washington DC
    Real Name:
    Swimming against the tide here but I can't be bothered with manual focus (and if you really want to you still can with the E-mount lenses or you can get the best of both worlds and use DMF). I have the 50 E-mount. It's pricey as 50mm lenses go but you do get the benefit of OSS and the quality is good.
  8. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    The Sony 50mm f/1.8 is: Sharp (it even lives up to my NEX-7), reasonably fast, reasonably priced, has OSS, has auto-focus (but can also be manually focused).

    On the other hand, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 isn't: Tiny or black.

    This lens was one that I didn't have to give any thought to buying -- it just made good sense to me. If, however, you are able to get an outstanding deal on some legacy glass....
  9. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Real Name:
    I'd say go manual because legacy 50s are so cheap and plentiful and fun to try out...

    ... but then I saw you're photographing kids and that changes things. With practice, you can get some good shots with MF, but AF definitely helps my keeper rate when I try to document the little ones. (Maybe if I had more practice, but I'm an uncle and aim to stay that way...)
  10. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Real Name:
    Manual focus is not for everyone. However for those who are open to it, a manual lens opens up a whole wide world of options.
  11. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Real Name:
    And there's not a thing wrong with auto focus either. Manual focus for me is a very deliberate process since I do it mostly off a tripod. If I plan to shoot hand-held I go AF, as that's one less thing for me to worry about when composing a shot.
  12. teefin1

    teefin1 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 7, 2012
    Welcome mattie. I have a couple for sale in the buy and sell board (Konica hexanon's) I love legacy but it's nice to have an AF prime. I also have the Sigmas, which Are great and the 35mm 1.8, which is greater.....and should be for the money. :)
  13. mmattie

    mmattie New to TalkEmount

    Mar 17, 2013
    Wow, thanks everyone for the responses. I must admit, I'm still torn, but I'm thinking I'll at least have a go with legacy. If I find, after a month or so, I'm unable to get the hang of it, or it just doesn't suit my style, I can always sell on, I figure.

    Thanks for letting my know teefin. I'd actually been looking at these just before making this thread. :)
  14. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Aug 22, 2012
    I started with a SEL50/1.8 ... it was terrific. I never warmed up to the FD 50/1.8 I inherited from my Dad and sold it. But then I got a FL55/1.2 and fell in love. Then I tried the FDn 50/1.4 and got even more crazy in love. Unfortunately I bought it for my brother and so only played with it a short while before letting him have it. I'm thinking of getting another one but the one I got was so mint (like unbelievably mint, and I've been through quite a few legacy lenses that were EX+) I fear the next one I get won't live up to it, certainly not for the price I paid for the last one. That said I just can't bring myself to get rid of my SEL50. It just gives something I can't put a finger on but refuses to take bad photos for me so I can finally sell it.

    Still, if I were you I'd start with a legacy 50/1.4. Highly recommend the FD (new or old) for its excellent optics. It's risk free - they're so cheap if you don't like them you just sell them on at cost and then go out and try the SEL later (but which is guaranteed to depreciate on you).
  15. teefin1

    teefin1 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Sep 7, 2012
    The SEL 50mm is very sharp, but not black, which bothers me (strangely). There are plenty of 50 1.4's available on the Bay in any mount you favour, I had Minoltas and have Konicas but I'm sticking with m42 now as they are also useable on my A57. If they bring out the 50mm SEL in black I will probably get one. :)
  16. Michael Johansson

    Michael Johansson TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 15, 2012
    Ystad, Sweden
    Real Name:
    Michael Johansson
    One thing that is not mentioned here about legacy lenses is the lack of EXIF info. You will not know anything about exposure data exept exosure time and date/time of course. Nothing about which lens (no broblem if you only have one) or aperture used.

    What you also will lack as already mentioned is OSS. That is something to consider when comparing aperture. 50mm F1.8 with OSS is hard to beat with any legacy lens as long as you don´t use a tripod at which point speed of lens is more or less unimportant.
  17. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo TalkEmount Veteran

    Mar 25, 2013
    Hello, Mattie

    I don't think it's necessary to choose. You should have at least one appropriate af-lens to use at family functions, parties, holidays and the like. But then you should also have an appropriate manual focus for the more deliberate, artistic photography. While af will choose which parts of a picture to focus, mf will let you set focus and dof much more accurately. Mf does take some practice but if you use aperture and prefocus you can get really fast too. With level peaking, mf are super easy to use.

    A good legacy mf lens will only set you back a fraction of the cost of a corresponding modern af lens. So get both and use them well :)

    Chances are you will get hooked on the IQ of legacy lenses.
  18. mmattie

    mmattie New to TalkEmount

    Mar 17, 2013
    Don't get me wrong—I'm sure each has it's place. It's just that I don't have a lot of funds right now. :p

    I already have the Sigma 30mm if I need AF, and it's a nice standard focal length too; the 50mm will be used more for my more "artistic" endeavours, so AF perhaps isn't essential.
  19. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    Hi, I am a newbie both to Nex (picked a used F3 just over a week ago) and this forum. I did spend last 6 years shooting Canon DSLRs.

    I had the same questions and ended up with SEL50F18, for these reasons:

    1) This lens has great IQ and bokeh, and a focal length that is useful for most situations. I plan on having it on camera as my main lens, unless I need to go wider. So, it only makes sense to have AF on it. With FTM and focus peaking, it's going to be the best of both worlds. (This definitely seems like the nicest lens Sony has to offer, without breaking the bank).

    2) It is a stabilized lens. I used to think this was just an icing on the cake at relatively short FL, but after comparing it side by side with my favorite prime, Canon EF 85/1.8, I changed my mind. I simply wasn't able to take the same photos in low light with non-stabilized Canon lens (handheld, of course).

    3) The good 50mm MF primes are plentiful - this is by no means a "one or another" choice. If I ever find a 50mm MF prime that I feel is superior in every respect, I should be able to sell this one at a reasonable loss.

    About the only issue I have with it is the somewhat slow AF. But it's better than none.
  20. Nubster

    Nubster TalkEmount Veteran

    Jan 5, 2013
    West Virginia, USA
    Real Name:
    If I want AF I'll use my DSLR. If I want manual I'll use my NEX. When I hit the shot the NEX with legacy glass, it blows anything I've ever done with a DSLR right out of the water.