After threatening Santa the other day, I decided to take matters into my own hands after all and went out to buy a 50mm lens. The guys at Peoria Camera Shop took good care of me when I purchased my Digital Rebel XSi, so I decided to go talk to them again.
Good thing, because they saved me about $250.
I had my eye on 50mm f/1.4 lens, but the PCS guys showed me a f/1.8 lens for $100. They assured me I wouldn’t see a difference in the low light performance, and the plastic body and change in aperture were the only reason for the lower price. Sounded good to me.
The picture of the Squirt above, taken up close and personal, was taken in a church in low light conditions. With the aperture maxed out at 1.8 and the ISO pegged at 800, the camera snapped the shot at a respectable 1/100th of a second (with my standard lens at f/4.0, I could probably top out at 1/25th if I was lucky). I took a few other test shots here, here, and here.
I’m happy with them all, but a close inspection shows there’s still a softness of focus in the finer details. I’m not sure yet whether this is an artifact of the low light, noise from the high ISO setting, or if the lens simply doesn’t have that kind of precision (and if this latter, would the $300+ lens have this problem). Or do I just need a tripod? Heck, maybe if I learn to master the sharpening functions of Photoshop, it won’t be an issue anyway.
I’ll keep experimenting, and in the next day or two I’ll print some 4x6s and 8x10s to see if the softness even shows up. I’m still a little skeptical about its ability to get quality shots in the middle of a karate tournament, but if nothing else it will be a nice, cheap portrait lens.