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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
386 1172235 Sep 3, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
92% of reviewers $321.41
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
7.91
8.70
8.9
ef50mmf_14usm_1_

Specifications:
Standard lens featuring superb quality and portability. Two high-refraction lens elements and new Gaussian optics eliminate astigmatism and suppress astigmatic difference. Crisp images with little flare are obtained even at the maximum aperture.

Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 50mm 1:1.4
Lens Construction: 7 elements in 6 groups
Diagonal Angle of View: 46°
Focus Adjustment: Overall linear extension system with USM
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.45m / 1.5 ft.
Filter Size: 58mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: 2.9" x 2.0", 10.2 oz. / 73.8 x 50.5mm, 290g


 


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Dave Indech
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Registered: Apr 13, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 53
Review Date: Nov 2, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp at f/1.4, extraordinary at f/5.6, excellent bokeh, relatively quick AF
Cons:
Strong halation f/1.4-1.6, tentative build quality, AF is inconsistent in low light, some barrel distortion

This is my favorite Canon lens.

I use it primarily for portraits on a crop body, alongside a 100/2 and a 200/2.8.

It's not a head and shoulders lens. If you try that, the close perspective combined with barrel distortion will give everyone a bulbous head. Waist-up shots, though, are extraordinary.


Opitcs:

When I first bought it used, it was soft at f/1.4, decent at f/2.8, and sharp at f/5.6. It was also front focusing on my 300D. At one point, I dropped my camera about two inches to hardwood floors. The lens never hit the ground, but the rear element popped out.

I sent it to Canon with the body.

When I got it back, it was sharp at f/1.4, and extremely sharp from f/2.8 and up. But it was still front focusing. I sent it back again, for the third time, and they finally got it right. Now it's both sharp and accurate. And with DOF at close distance of less than inch, that's critical. It was my least favorite lens until it stopped front-focusing.

People say this lens is soft wide open, but that hasn't been my experience. It's very sharp indeed (in the center). What it doesn't have is contrast; f/1.4 and f/1.6 have a dreamy look caused by halation. It improves dramatically stopped down; by f/1.8, contrast is fine. Frankly, for portraits, the dreamy look is precisely what I want.

No problems with flare.



Build:

Heft is fine, but it feels like a metal wrapper around a pile of very delicate parts. My 100/2 is much better built, and the 200/2.8 is a tank.


Compared to the other two primes:

AF is similar across the range. The 100 and 200 are very fast. The 50 trails, but it's still not slow. Accuracy is stellar with the 200, followed by the 100, with the 50 in last by quite a lot.

Standing in my kitchen at night under moderate fluorescents, I can nail eyelashes from across the room with the 200 with no hunting. The 50 won't hunt either, but more often than not, it'll get it wrong. Calibration helps. An ST-E2 would help a lot more.

Optically, the advantage of the L is that I don't have to think to use it. Every aperture is about the same; f/2.8 looks like f/8.

The 50 isn't as consistent until it gets to f/2, but it is better than the 100 at every aperture. It's sharper at f/1.4 than the 100 is at f/2, though the latter improves dramatically at f/2.8.

As to contrast, they're all similar. Slight nod to the L, followed by the 50 and 100.

In sum, the 50/1.4 is an optically superlative, though slightly delicate and with AF not quite befitting a lens of this speed. Still, totally worthwhile.


Nov 2, 2006
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Peter Wirtoft
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Registered: Sep 7, 2006
Location: Sweden
Posts: 2
Review Date: Oct 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Extreme quality for a good price. A unique lens with a lot of possibilities for experimental photography. AF is fast enough.
Cons:
Some CA at 1.4 -> 1.8 (almost none).

I don't care about the new 50 L f1.2 lens from Canon. I don't know what it can do that this lens don't.
But I haven't tried it yet.

This is possibly the best non L lens in the Canon collection.
I love using it at f2.0 ->f2.5. The images are sharp and with nice colors that you just get more and more in love with it.

I normally sell lenses that I'm not satisfied with. This one stays.

Otherwise I have "Sigma 150 EX", "TS-E 90", "300 L f4" and "70-300 IS" as my favourite lenses.

I like lenses not to heavy with sharp quality and that is what the "50 f1.4 usm" gives me.

See some normal full scale taken photos at.

http://www.wirtoft.com/foto/CanonEF50mmF14USM/index.html




Oct 25, 2006
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Simon Elwell
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Registered: Oct 10, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 8
Review Date: Oct 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: very sharp at f5.6 and up quick, quiet can work in low light
Cons:
depth of field scale missing (except f22) soft below f2.8

I read the reviews here, bought the lens, and found that pretty much everyone is right.

It's soft below f2.8 but great above that and from f5.6 it's razor sharp.

Good colours; no vignetting I can discern and haven't found any colour cast yet although at f22 I experienced some flare which was resolved by a lens hood.

As I don't have the 1.8 I can't compare the two but this feels like money well spent


Oct 16, 2006
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curiousgeorge
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Registered: May 16, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp above f1.8, compact size, good colour & contrast, nice bokeh
Cons:
Unusable at f1.4 due to CA and softness, AF not great

Shooting outdoors has revealled terrible IQ at f1.4. Bad CA (purple fringing) and an image that looks completely out of focus.

For many people this seems to be an inherent trait. But then it's not really meant to be used wide open outdoors.

When used indoors you still get the softness wide open, though not as bad as when outdoors. It might be me not being used to such shallow DOF and I might just need some practice, but I wouldn't use anything wider than f1.8 unless the light demanded it.

At f2.0 and above, sharpness, colours and contrast are very good. It makes an ideal portrait lens for me on my 350D and it fills the gap nicely between my 17-40 and 70-200.

Focus is a bit noisy and seems clumsy, but this is no L lens. Build quality seems fine and it's the perfect size for the 350D.


Oct 16, 2006
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Ian Sayers
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Registered: Oct 15, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 15, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: F1.4, Sharp, Light
Cons:
Bit plasticky

This has been my first prime lens and I have been shown what I have been missing up to now. I dont like the effects of flash photography (even with stofen softeners and bouncing off the cealing), and had been trying to use available light with f2.8 zooms for indor photography. Generally speaking the results had not been impresive.

The 50mm 1.4 allows me to take indoor shots, without flash, at shuter speeds fast enough to catch my rapidly moving family, and still be sharp. Stopped down the sharpness is frankly breathtaking. Also the small size allows me to take the lens and camera (20D) to resturants etc with out the attention you would get with a wide apperture zoom (eg sigma 2.8 24-70).

The down side, of course, is that it is a prime and I do find my self using the "Foot Zoom" quite a lot to frame subjects correctly. But that is just something I will have to get used to, and it is worth it for the results.

Build quality is what you expect from canon consumer lenses (ie a damm sight less impressive than sigma or tamron), and there is the usuall rip off over a lens hood.

None-the-less this is an excellent lens and comes highly recomended.


Oct 15, 2006
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mbohunsky
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Registered: Dec 30, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 3668
Review Date: Oct 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $370.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, fast aperture, relatively cheap, super sharp from f/2, usable wide open, good bokeh
Cons:
Build quality could be better, ring USM would be nice too.

I love using this lens because it's relatively inconspicuous mounted on a 20D sans grip. It's the ultimate candid lens for a mike night at a café. ISO 1600 and the fast aperture allows you to grab shots without a flash that would be out of the question with any zoom.

The image quality on my copy is very good wide open. Stopped down to f/2, I could not ask this lens to be any sharper. The bokeh this lens produces at close distances is beautiful to behold especially if this is your first fast prime.

The build quality isn't the greatest but it's not something I dwell on. The only wish i have for this lens is the inclusion of a ring-USM. This is a great lens in my opinion especially if you can get a good copy used.


Oct 11, 2006
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Nick De Marco
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Registered: Jun 13, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 1
Review Date: Oct 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Very fast, good image quality. Shar as an L lens. Great value for money
Cons:
AF problems

I do like this lens. I bought it instead of the much cheaper 1.8 because of the superior build quality. I used it a few times on my 350D and found it to be probably my sharpest lens. However, I found it a bit too telephoto for a cropped sensor.

On my 5D it is ideal and sometimes makes a good walkabout lens. I only use L lenses on my 5D or this one, and this one is easily as sharp.

However, on problem: I tried it out on a second hand Canon eos 50e 35mm camera and it is good on that but the AF did not work. Then recently the AF stopped working on my 5D with this lens as well. Anyone else have this problem or know the soloution?

Here is a gallery of some photos I took with the 50mm 1.4

http://www.pbase.com/nickdemarco/50


Oct 9, 2006
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cactusclay
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Registered: May 16, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 839
Review Date: Oct 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $309.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Well, it's light, sharp and 1.4.
Cons:

Well, this is my second time around with the 1.4. The first one I got was picked out of three the store had and seemed to be the sharpest wide open. That was with a crop body. I sold it last year. Since I got a full frame body, I've been wanting to try another 50, so I ordered this online the other day and found it to be even sharper than the last one. It could be that FF makes a difference, but never the less I'm impressed. Here's a 1.4 shot. I did do a hint of sharpening, but out of habit, not necessity. It was sharp out of the camera. http://www.pbase.com/claystewart/image/67777975

Oct 1, 2006
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achromatic
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Registered: Sep 15, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Sep 28, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $395.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Beautiful crispness at the right depths of field, very fast focus.
Cons:
A little soft at 1.8 and below

I like this lens a lot. I want to get an 85mm, but for now this is my primary portrait lens. It's nice and crisp, very little aberration. A good midrange prime.

Sep 28, 2006
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ilind
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Registered: Aug 11, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Sep 24, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, good color, nice build.
Cons:

I do love this lens and feel like I should use it more.

Today, with a bit of time available, I put it on my Digital Rebel XT and tracked several of our cats. Here's an assortment of shots that resulted. I'm pleased, as usual, with the results.

http://ilind.net/gallery_2006/cats092406/


Sep 24, 2006
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Maliketh
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Registered: Nov 6, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 67
Review Date: Sep 21, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $540.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Awesome background blur, nice build quality. good colour and contrast. Feels nice and solid compared to the f1.8
Cons:
Far too soft to use seriously on a 5d

I was quite excited when I opened the box, and was impressed with how solid and heavy this lens felt.

My joy was short lived though, as every photo I took at f1.4 up to about f8 had serious softness issues. I imagine this would not be a problem on a smaller sensor camera, but it seems to me that the resolving power of this lens is not suited to anything from the 5d up.

That said, I am still impressed with the background blur of this lens, along with excellent colour and contrast.

I cannot though, tolerate the softness when shooting wide open and even at apertures up to f8.

I also notice a touch of CA.

I am currently trying to exchange this lens, as I believe I have a bad copy, given all the rave reviews of this lens here.


Sep 21, 2006
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Lasse Eriksson
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Registered: Sep 13, 2006
Location: Sweden
Posts: 2773
Review Date: Sep 17, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Image quality, Fast lens
Cons:
Soft wide open, build quality, AF

A nice lens but soft wide open. The build isn't the best either

Sep 17, 2006
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versiani
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Registered: Jul 6, 2006
Location: Brazil
Posts: 1
Review Date: Sep 12, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, brightness, focusing, build, price for quality.
Cons:
Has it lost its kingdom for the new 50mm f/1.2 L ?

On my camera, it becomes a 85mm. I use it a lot, because of its great sharpness after f/3.2, and still quite acceptable sharpness for many objectives (e.g. publishing at the web) even at f/1.4. Combining f/1.4 with iso 800 and some post-processing we can make some dreams come true.

It is the first "85mm" I've had, and before that I often used a "135mm" for portraits. The "135mm" has never seen a face again.


Sep 12, 2006
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irabkin
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Registered: Jul 10, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: Sep 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $295.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp, usm, fast
Cons:
none

Pretty everyhting to be said about this lens has been said already. I'll just add that if you're on a relative budget, you owe it to yourself to have this baby in your bag. It's on my camera most of the time, and on a crop body, this is an amazing portrait lens.

Sep 1, 2006
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eneref
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Registered: Feb 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 178
Review Date: Aug 31, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Incredible bokeh, fantastic colour, excellent contrast.
Cons:
Purple fringing like you wouldn't believe, not very sharp until about 2.0

I got this lens to replace my 50mm F/1.8 mkII as I really didn't like the bokeh of the 1.8 very much. Its pentagonal highlight shape and strong edges created a somewhat displeasing background blur. The colour from this lens is superb, with rich, lifelike colours and a nice, sharp contrast.

I LOVE the extra bit of light I get from 1.8 to 1.4, and the lens seems reasonably as sharp as my 1.8 (although the 1.8 was perhaps sharper at 1.8 than the 1.4 is at 1.8).

The big problem I have with this lens that I did NOT have with the 1.8, however, is the purple fringing. Against a light background, the fringing is so bad as to make a shot unusable unless stopped down to about F/4 to minimise it. In comparison, the 1.8 had almost NO purple fringing at all (perhaps because it had fewer elements to break up the light).

If the 1.2L fares better, it will be worth the price to upgrade. For now, I have to ensure that my backgrounds aren't too bright when I use this lens, or I have to resolve to make the photo monochromatic.


Aug 31, 2006
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riversen
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Registered: Apr 7, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 6
Review Date: Aug 30, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $341.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very nice and clean images. The glass and focus are supurb. This is as close to L quality as possible in my book.
Cons:
A bit costly, but worth it.

This is simply a joy to use. I bought it because I am expecting twin boys very soon and wanted a good lens in low light. I think this will work quite nicely. Get it and enjoy!

Aug 30, 2006
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
386 1172235 Sep 3, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
92% of reviewers $321.41
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
7.91
8.70
8.9
ef50mmf_14usm_1_


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