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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: May 8, 2013 Recommend? no | Price paid: $310.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Um, I guess inexpensive but not really. Good center sharpness at f/5.6 to f/8
EXTREMELY soft in centerfrom f/1.4 to f/2. Very soft until f/4. Inconsistent focus lock.

This was a lens I've wanted for some time. The very first EF lens I purchased was a 1987 EF 50mm f/1.8; the original one with the metal mount. Been a decent lens but nothing to write home about. Got the 40mm f/2.8 STM this past year and have loved it for its size and great sharpness from 2.8 to the diffraction limit. Got the 50mm f/1.4 USM brand new thinking this should at least improve on the 50 1.8 that is 26 years old and purchased 2nd hand. NOPE! The old lens wide open at 1.8 was a bit sharper than the new 1.4 lens at 1.8! The lens only gets good at f/4 and is very good f/5.6 to f/8 but what lens isn't? My 24-105 f/4L zoom can do just fine at f/4 and is far more versatile. For size reasons, the 1.8 is even smaller and getting equivalent sharpness. So the only minor advantages this lens showed was manual focus override and a somewhat quieter autofocus. The lens will be going back and I have to really think if it is worth attempting another copy. Really wanted a normal lens with a wide aperture; may have to keep waiting to see if Canon ever updates this like the 35, 28, and 24 have.
For those interested, here is the Reikan FoCal Aperture Sharpness test results for the lens.