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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

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395 1198365 Apr 18, 2017
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92% of reviewers $321.57
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
7.93
8.71
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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jasonpatrick
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Registered: Jul 8, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 1821
Review Date: Aug 23, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $275.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Fast, great bokeh, light
Cons:
inconsistent focus

I picked up a copy of this lens a couple months ago. I was looking to upgrade my 50mm 1.8. I loved the added weight and how it balanced my Canon XS Rebel. I shot a bit with it and took the pictures home and threw them on the computer...none of them were in focus. I'm not new to this and know how to focus. I put my camera in "live view" mode, zoomed in and manually focused. Picture turned out great. I used my center point and tried the auto focus. It missed. I returned the lens thinking I got a bad copy or that it needed some sort of adjustment my camera didn't have and picked up a different one. At first I thought it did better (tested it pretty rigorously before I bought this time) but this one too missed focus more often then it locked on. I kept it for 2 months, trying to see if it was just me and my technique. No luck. The pictures that did focus were pretty amazing. 1.4 lets in an unbelievable amount of light and has a fantastically thin depth of field. I loved some of the pictures I took with it, but missed too many shots for it to be a keeper. I sold it to someone who could micro adjust it (7D) and bought an 85mm 1.8. This lens locks perfectly every time. I picked up another 50mm 1.8 which also locks focus perfectly (although a bit slower).

Aug 23, 2010
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abam
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Registered: Apr 25, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 4201
Review Date: Aug 11, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: relatively inexpensive. smaller and less assuming than, say, a larger zoom. great light-gathering capabilities.
Cons:
very soft and low in contrast at f1.4. grindy sort of feel to manual focusing ring. no better image quality than an L zoom.

To cut to the chase: I was disappointed by how this lens performed on my 5D2. This lens might technically allow you to shoot in lower light than with a zoom, but the IQ was for me unacceptable until f2.8 or higher, which partially negates the purpose of buying a fast prime in the first place. Micro AF adjust did very little to clean up the IQ, and I have no reason to believe that I purchased a bum copy.

As it is, the only advantage that I can see to owning this lens for FF body users is its size. It can't keep up with modern high-MP FF sensors. Yes, the price is fairly attractive, but I had just hoped for more in the IQ department.

Build quality was decent, but the focus ring felt a bit like I was grinding little plastic gears (which is probably what you are in effect doing) when I tried to focus manually. This was not reassuring, but not a deal breaker either. For $345, I don't expect 35L/85L/135L fit and finish.

Considering it's poor performance wide open, which is the main purpose for owning an f1.4 lens, and the fact that modern canon zooms are producing comparable or better IQ at f2.8 and above, I am returning this lens after a few days of controlled-environment and real world use.


Aug 11, 2010
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LPrimeFreak
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Registered: Jul 29, 2010
Location: Belgium
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 29, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Ideal portrait lens for starters, lowlight, great bokeh, cheap, compact.
Cons:
sharp from f2

This was my first prime on my ex-40D together with the Tamron 17-50 2.8.

I chose body only cause kitlenses are mostly not so interesting, I'd rather have a lowlight f1.4 or sharp f2.8 than the 17-85 for example..

I bought a dslr especially for the birth of my daughter and with this 50 1.4 I took her amazing first pictures. Thanks to the f1.4 DOF very dream baby-pictures!

Not flat like with bridge or compactcams but more 3D effect, you get more "wow" reactions from your family Smile

But watch out, at f1.4 the DOF is very narrow, you easily have only 1 eye sharp with headpictures from the side.

Best is to take all pictures at f2 or f2.2.
It's great for the money and definitely a must for starters with a low budget.

Had to sell it for the 85 1.2L for fullframe, which is sharp at f1.2. The AF is not so great on the 50 1.4, but on my expensive 85 1.2L it isn't either, very slow with so much moving glass Smile

But definitely a recommende portrait prime, keep on priming Smile






Jul 29, 2010
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coxy84
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Registered: Jul 23, 2010
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 23, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Relatively cheap, lightweight, pretty well built
Cons:
Very mushy until f2, slow and not overly accurate AF



Jul 23, 2010
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dustnet
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Registered: Jul 30, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 20
Review Date: Jul 7, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: lightweight, sharp from f/2.5, Price is right for the quality
Cons:
A bit soft at full aperture

Hi all,

I'm mostly doing travel and wildlife photography. For me, the quality/weight ratio is truly important. Portrait is not my speciality but occasionally, to complete a coverage by some people living in the environment I'm documenting, I like to take candid portraits with just the ambient light.

Here are the cons and pros of the lens.

Pros:
+ Light as a feather, but still, not ridiculous as the 50mm f/1.8.
+ Build quality is decent. I've been several times testing a 50 f/1.8 and not only I found it super soft, but I was also really disappointed with the awful build quality (but still decent for 80$...), it is almost impossible to manual focus with the f/1.8 version.
+ Image quality is good, even though it could be better for a 350$ lens.
+ Autofocus is fine, I do have been able to focus in difficult lighting conditions. At least it's better than say, a EF-S 17-85mm.

Cons:
- I would like it to be sharper. That's actually why I finally switched to the 85mm f/1.2 II which is a LOT sharper but also a LOT heavier.
- No weather sealing.

So I'm personally waiting for a version II of this lens since I recently sold my 85mm f/1.2. If I really needed a lens for portraiture I wouldn't hesitate and buy a used version of this lens, it just can't a bad choice.

If you need sample of pictures took with the 50mm (and with many other lenses), just check my blog and gallery:
http://blog.emmanuelrondeau.com
http://photography.emmanuelrondeau.com

Photo shoot in Paris, only with the 50mm f/1.4:
http://blog.emmanuelrondeau.com/?p=308

All the best !
Emmanuel.


Jul 7, 2010
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ZoneV
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Registered: Nov 20, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 1187
Review Date: Jun 29, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Good enough optical quality Better than EF 50/1.8 II plastics fantastics
Cons:
Mechanics to fragile Much plastics

Many users have a defective focussing unit, should be no problem as long one use a bajonett mount hood all the time.
Some have damaged the focussing unit when they transport the lens with extended tube (not infinity focus). Use of filters could probably damage the AF too.

Since I have cnverted a Minolta Rokkor my copy of the EF 50/1.4 is only a backup, or is few cases I nees AF.


Jun 29, 2010
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rk-d
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Registered: Feb 25, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 109
Review Date: Jun 16, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $370.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very good sharpness at 1.4, excellent sharpness stopped down. Good weight, size. USM - quick and silent AF. Accurate AF. Price is right.
Cons:
Hood is not included and aftermarket ES-71II is ridiculously expensive for what it is. Focus ring is undamped. Element extends beyond barrel with focus. Bokeh can sometimes be a little nervous.

I thought long and hard about this one. I've heard the hype about the Sigma and strongly considered it. I used the Nikon mount on my previous camera and loved it's bokeh but hated the unreliability. This is what finally tipped me towards trying the Canon for my 5dMkII.

I have read many reviews regarding softness at f/1.4 - 2.0. I might have lucked out with an exceptional copy, because this lens has great sharpness at f/1.4 - essentially equivalent to my 85mm at 1.8. Perhaps that means my 85mm is suboptimal, but at any rate, the 50mm 1.4 is as sharp at f/1.4 as I could want it. At f/1.4 I don't even care about corner sharpness, because it doesn't really matter to me at that aperture, so I have no comment there. Bottom line - center sharpness is excellent.

Bokeh on this lens is perfectly fine - 1.4 on a full frame is always a beautiful thing. There are times when the OOF elements could be a little creamier - this is where the Sigma particularly excels. That said, I would rate the bokeh as good to very good - probably equivalent to the Nikon 50mm 1.4G. I have no complaints in this department, but in terms of optical qualities, bokeh is probably the least impressive characteristic of this lens.

Color is good. It's very natural, perhaps not as saturated as some Ls I've used.

Build quality is merely ok. It has USM which is nice and the AF is fast, accurate and reliable. I don't like how the front element extends proud of the main barrel, so I bought the ES-71II bayonet hood. This is a nice little hood, but costs a ridiculous $36.00. The focus ring is not damped, so it's a little gritty feeling and not as pleasant as it could be.

Overall, I'm very happy with this lens. The IQ, on the whole, is great. Sharpness is excellent and I'm loving the images I'm getting with this lens and the 5d2.

Highly recommended.


Jun 16, 2010
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Caet49
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Registered: Jun 6, 2003
Location: Denmark
Posts: 13
Review Date: Jun 14, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Superb sharp at 2.0 Makes a really nice soft image at Fstop 1.4 On my ASP-H sensor (1.3) its a good small portrait lens Newer leaves my camerabody Because its a prime it will make you think alot more about how you shoot pictures (composition and so on) Nice colours, and bokem
Cons:
The manuel fokus ring has a bad felling to it, compared to other no L Canon like the 100mm macro 2.8 and 85mm

If one is in the market after a 50mm 1.2, please do not buy before you try this on out first - its almost as sharp, weights much less, cheap - and works fine for most projects.

Im so happy with the performance this gives me. A new version with a better USM fokus funktion and fokus ring is the only thing about the build quality that so be improved, picturevise it should be emproved so it outperformes the newer Sigma 50mm 1.4.


Try it and buy it you wont regret it.


Jun 14, 2010
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samoksner
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Registered: Jun 13, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Jun 14, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Large aperture, Light
Cons:
Weak AF quality, build quality.

It's a 50mm f1.4... it's sharp enough at f1.4. Gets better at f2 and keeps getting better as one stops down. It's sharper then any zoom for sure.

It's nice and light, but that's because it's mostly plastic. The build quality leaves something to be desired, it feels like a nice consumer zoom, better then the kit 18-55, but not even close to L glass.

Paired with my 5D MKII, this lens works wonders in the dark, IF you can get it to focus. The AF on anything but the center point is hit or miss in the dark. The lens often misses focus and then freezes, I have to put the lens in MF, move the focus ring around, put it back in AF and then it'll work. Absolutely unacceptable. The AF tracking is slow and can't be trusted.

Apart from expecting better build quality for a $350 50mm, I would expect top notch AF as it needs to be accurate at f1.4... it isn't accurate and freezes when it can't lock focus.

Maybe it's just my copy, but it was disapointing. It's the only lens that will alow me to shoot in such low light, but I'm constantly frustrated at it's shortcomings.

For accurate AF in hard situations (dance, concerts, show, indoor events) I ditched the 5D MkII and the 50mm altogether, and use my Nikon gear when I need to shoot under hard conditions. The 5D MkII and 50mm are great for slow paced studio, portraits and photojournalism, but I'll take something else for dance performances and concerts...


Jun 14, 2010
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swolfcg
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Registered: Apr 6, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 140
Review Date: May 23, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, Great IQ, Affordable, AF A+, works in low lighting
Cons:
None

Even though I don't have much use for 50mm I still love using this little lens. I've almost gotten rid of all my canon lens and I'm still resistant on selling this little jewel. This lens is perfecting for shooting indoors and low lighted areas. This is the sharpest AF I have come across, and even made my 17-40L look rather soft.

I may add to my 50mm arsenal when I finally upgrade bodies, but I don't think I will ever get rid of this useful lens. One of the only lens that actually exceeded my expectations and one of the best value for the quality of image it produces.



May 23, 2010
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Mike Mahoney
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Registered: Mar 8, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 5456
Review Date: May 15, 2010 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Light weight, small size, relatively low cost.
Cons:
Poor IQ until F2.8 which kind of makes such a fast lens pointless.

My 24-70 2.8 has better IQ at 50mm and 2.8.

Wide open the 50 1.4 is soft with purple fringing as bad as I've seen in any lens, and really does not clean up or get sharp until 2.0. So what's the point of having a 1.4 aperture lens if the IQ is so poor that you need to stop down to 2.0 or smaller until it looks acceptable?

AF is not bad, but is not on par with Canon's other older design lenses such as the 85 1.8. Time for Canon to do a tune-up on this lens.

I was looking for a fast standard focal length lens that offered IQ at least as good as my 24-70 2.8. And I'm still looking.


May 15, 2010
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haringo
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Registered: Oct 7, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 12
Review Date: Apr 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharp, fast, cheap compared to other HQ lenses
Cons:
you have to learn how to use it... :)

This is a very good lens for the money!
You can buy the 50mm 1.2 for $1500 but you will be disappointed with the 50mm 1.2 after using this one. I don't think the 1.2 is worth $1200 extra.

I use it primarily as a portrait lens, and it excels at that. The 50mm 1.4 is very sharp from 2.0!

How about the 50mm 1.8? Is it worth the upgrade from the nifty fifty 1.8? To tell you the truth it is worth is to upgrade. There is not much price difference but the quality of the 1.4 is much better.

You can see tons of sample images on my website: http://www.haringphotography.com/
Some of them are so good I even put them on the main page.

Of course, prime lenses are not quite as flexible as zooms. If you don't like running and moving around, well, than this lens is not for you...

I hope it helps!


Apr 24, 2010
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anscochrome
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Registered: Dec 11, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 620
Review Date: Apr 12, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: reasonable price, ok autofocus (but not modern usm quick), usable 1.4-2.0, tack sharp good past 2.8
Cons:
Supposed fragile build quality (mines been ok almost two years)

Many people complain about the poor build quality and less than modern autofocus system. Mine works great on my 5D11, and it did not need dialing in with micro-adjust. People also complain about poor optical quality @ F 1.4 and F 2.0. I have compared it to alt lenses 50mm F 1.4 Takumar, 50mm F 1.4 Zeiss C/Y, 50mm F 1.7 Zeiss C/Y, and 50mm F 2.0 44-2 Helios. Of these, only the 50mm F 1.7 Zeiss C/Y noticeably outdid it in all areas using F 1.7, F 2.0 and F 2.8. Past F 2.8 it is a good as any of them, better than the Helios by far.

The Takumar appeared to be a bit sharper wide open than the Canon (edges a bit crisper), but has a warmer color rendering, and the Canon actually has more contrast than the Takumar wide open (which is a bit of a contradiction because normally the lens with more contrast will appear to be sharper) My copy of the Zeiss 1.4 to MY eyes was no better at wide apertures, my Helios is far worse @F 2.0.

Based on my experience, it has behaved ok with none of the internet ballyhooed focusing problems of the Sigmalux, or the 50mm F 1.2L lens. Considering I acquired it for free as part of a deal when I sold all my film equipment to fund my digital system, I cannot complain about it at all. When the day comes the micro usm motor fails, I will probably start using my Takumar all the time, rather than replacing it:)


Apr 12, 2010
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Ric444
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Registered: Apr 10, 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 10, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 4 

Pros: Not much. Sharp images at f3.5 and smaller
Cons:
Very bad IQ with lots of CA between f1.4 and f2.8

A very dissapointing lens if you buy it for the fast apertures. At f1.4 it is not very sharp and what makes the images really bad, in my opinion, is the very visible purple cast in the out-of-focus areas. The IQ is very bad until about f4.0.

I bought this lens thinking that it would produce images similar or better to those of the 24-70L and with the advantage of the extra stops. I was wrong.

What is the point of buying a fast prime if the pictures are very bad at the fast apertures?

My 50mm f1.8 does about the same or better.
Do yourself a favour and don't buy this lens or buy the f1.8 which is about the same but a lot cheaper.


Apr 10, 2010
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petiot
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Registered: Apr 10, 2003
Location: France
Posts: 22
Review Date: Mar 14, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: small/lightweigth, 1.4, fast AF, sharp , 50mm is a magic focal,
Cons:
build quality (rattles), no internal focusing, focus ring is loose, very soft until f2.8, color/contrast definitely not as good as L lenses.

You cannot go wrong with this lens, but it will always be a mixed feeling: Optically it is good, but only when stopped down a bit, and mechanically it works fine (fast AF for such an old design) but the lens itself feels like c...p in your hand: shake it and you can almost think it is a maracas.

what i really don't like about the lens is the fact that it extends when focusing, and because it feels so fragile, I am always afraid to break the focus mechanism. The bokeh could be better, but that's what makes it different from an L lens ... along with the price ... Compared to the sigma, it is small and weight nothing.

Overall, not a love-lens, but it will always do the job. And 50 mm is such a nice focal to work at!





Mar 14, 2010
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EdwinCanon
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Registered: Mar 3, 2010
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 5, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: f/1.4, great bokeh, light, price
Cons:
soft wide open, plastic feeling

I have this lens for a year now and really love it. Some say it's now a really useful focal length on a crop censor, but that's not my feeling, great for portraits and as an low light lens.

A little bit soft when full open, but great depth of field and bokeh. And when stopped down, above f/2.8 is really sharp and great image quality.

The built quality is good but it feels a little bit plastic, but after a year of use no problem of wearing out or scratching.

Here are a few samples of the 50mm, first on my EOS 50D, later on my EOS 7D:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vannuil/tags/ef50mmf14usm/

The price is very good, it was my first quality glass I could afford and after that I only buy quality lenses because now I know what I'm missing.


Mar 5, 2010
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
395 1198365 Apr 18, 2017
Recommended By Average Price
92% of reviewers $321.57
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
7.93
8.71
8.9
ef50mmf_14usm_1_


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