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  Reviews by: Peter Eavis  

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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Review Date: Feb 17, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $310.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp and pleasing above 2.8. Unimposing (don't underestimate that). Better than most L-zooms at 50mm. Cheap, comparatively. Warm colors. Good bokeh.
AF hunts a little too much in low lights. Somewhat soft below 2.8. Purple fringing occurs just a bit too often.

I don't get the sharpness with this non-L 50mm that I do at wide (f/3.2+) apertures on my 135mm and my 35mm L-lenses. That might seem obvious to some, but I mention it in case you are thinking you're picking up something very close to prime for a much lower price. That said, the results on this lens can be stunning above f/3.2. It doesn't render images overly harsh, like the non-L 35mm.

All in all, this is definitely worth having if you're going to party and don't want an imposing lens.

The question really is: What sort of light does it stop excelling in? In a window lit room with a fair amount of light, this lens can be opened to 2.8 -3.2 and give great results, results that are comparable with primes.

But if we get into bulb-lit scenarios, it starts to underperform markedly, compared with the primes. So, think about what you need it for.

Some shots:

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM

Review Date: Feb 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image sharpness. Colors fabulous. Records the right amount of light. Very fast focusing. Not that big (compared to zooms). Versatile in low light.
None I can see so far.

The decision for me as I move into primes was whether the much cheaper 35mm f/2 would be my 35mm lens or not. I got one and tried it out. The problems with that lens is not sharpness. Instead, it records colors overly harshly and struggles with overexposure. It also is slowish to focus and that is a real draw back with wide apertures when doing people work.

I then tried the 35mm f/1.4 and -- yes, this is a cliche, but it applies -- it was like night and day on the 80% of the shots I took. The f1/4 never fails to take the pic you want it to take. With the f/2, it was often a struggle -- it was too much work getting that (very good) lens to take shots I thought would work out great. The f1/4 makes photography a joy, not only because of the quality of the results, but also because the ease of using it makes it a joy to get those results. I feel I have more time now to concentrate on getting the next shot and positioning etc. This is key for anyone doing people shots on the streets, like I do in NYC.

I used to like the smallness of the f/2 a lot -- stuff my 5D in my jacket and go shoot. But the f1.4 is nothing like a zoom, so I am fine with it.

So, when all is said and done, it is worth the extra money.