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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

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400 1235626 Dec 30, 2022
Recommended By Average Price
92% of reviewers $321.63
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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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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
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:
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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Registered: Dec 11, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 656
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
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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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
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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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,
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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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
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:

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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Registered: Feb 11, 2010
Location: Sweden
Posts: 4222
Review Date: Feb 11, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: fast, sharp when stopped down, neutral bokeh
awkward focal length for crop sensor, neutral bokeh

This is not a bad lens, but it is my least favorite prime lens. The problem is that the focal length isn't very useful on a 7D with a 1.6x crop. On the wide end I have a more useful 30 mm/1.4 and on the tele end the I have the much better 85mm/1.8.

It's not very sharp wide open, but I don't personally mind that too much. It gets sharp at f2. There is no denying that it's fast wide open.

The bokeh is neutral which is both a good and a bad thing. It allows you more controlled backgrounds but at the same time it's rather boring.

Build quality is what you expect from a mid-range Canon lens - not all that brilliant.

I don't regret buying it and I do use it on occasion, but as I said, not my favorite lens.

Feb 11, 2010
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Registered: Nov 17, 2008
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 1
Review Date: Feb 4, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $349.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, Color, contrast, price, light weight, bokeh
doesn't come with a lens hood. somewhat plasticky

For those of you who are considering upgrading from the 50mm f/1.8, DO IT! For the price, this lens is amazing, and at identical settings, it compares with the 24-70mm L series lens. I use this lens with a 50D. I had the 50mm 1.8 and compared the two, and the quality is definitely noticable. Color and contrast are much better. Image sharpness is much better as well. The bokeh (or the part of the picture that is out of focus) is beautiful and you will notice teh difference from the 1.8 counterpart. It makes your backgrounds a bit more creamy and appealing to the eye. The 1.8 creates these weird octagonal shapes if you zoom in to pixel peep. It looks a bit more choppy. But the 1.4 is smooth. However, I rarely ever open it up all the way to 1.4. It produces soft edges when I do. I'd say anywhere from 2.8 and up is pretty good. Anything lower than that is too soft for me. But long story short, if you're wondering wether or not the upgrade from the 1.8 is worth it, IT IS. That's if you're at least somewhat serious about photography and want to boost your image details. Otherwise, just stick with the 1.8.

Feb 4, 2010
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Igor N
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Registered: May 30, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 4
Review Date: Jan 24, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: price, weight, f1.4
plastic, performance below f2.8, flaring

I recently posted a short video review of this lens. See

Jan 24, 2010
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Lance Couture
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Registered: Aug 7, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 2159
Review Date: Jan 12, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: IQ is excellent, good price, accurate AF
IQ can be poor at very wide apertures (halation/CA's - read below), bokeh is nervous with busy backgrounds.

I have owned this lens for nearly three years, but I didnt start using it regularly until I bought my 1D2 and 5D some time ago.

I have used it on a 30D, 1D Mark II, and 5D, so I have a very good feel as to how this lens performs.

On the 30D, it is it an odd-ball focal length, and I was never really comfortable using it. The focus was reasonably accurate wide-open, and it is a solid performer. Bokeh with the crop can be a little unsettling.

On my 1D II, this lens took on a new life, and I really fell in love with this lens about two years ago when I started using it to take pictures of my (then) new-born son. Again, not an entirely "natural" FL, but the AF on this lens with my 1D2 was dead-on under all conditions. The AF of the 1D2 really made this lens sing under any condition.

On my 5D, well, this is my lens of choice, 90% of the time. The AF accuracy suffers a little, but the IQ is outstanding for such an inexpensive lens.

The achilles heel of this lens is the wicked halation and horrid CA's at 1.4, but this is only *under very harsh light* where there are very high contrast borders.

Under most other lighting conditions, the CA's (mostly purple and green fringing) and halation are non-existent at 1.4 and are all but gone by 1.8.

Bokeh on this lens is quite good, but I have found the bokeh to be quite nervous with a busy background, so one must take care to really watch your background while shooting with this lens. This condition is made worse with a crop, in my experience.

My copy of this lens is very sharp at 1.4 and eye-bleedingly sharp by f/1.8 to f/2.2.

All-in-all, I love this lens, but I do wish it had USM. If it did, it would be damn-near perfect, imo. However, as it stands, I would recommend this to anyone looking for an AF 50mm for their Canon body. It's a winner.

Jan 12, 2010
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Registered: Jan 15, 2008
Location: Norway
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 12, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: image quality from f/2 upwards (extremely sharp stopped down), very fast with f/1.4, build quality
the bokeh can be a little distracting at times, not totally convincing below f/2 (still very usable though), some CAs wide open (but nothing to really worry about)

This is a nice lens, especially on a full frame body. I love the option of using f/1.4 (especially with conjunction of the video mode of the 5D Mark II), gives you the possibility of shooting in really low light! The build quality is good and the AF is accurate. I did encounter weird problems on the 40D though were the lens often wouldn't focus accurately on infinity even in bright sunlight. No problems like that now on the 5D Mark II, though.

The lens is extremely sharp stopped down (from around f/4 onwards) and it is still quite usable below f/2 but it gets a little soft at those apertures. The only real downside can be the bokeh which at times is a little distracting, but it really depends on the situation and mostly it is okay!

Dec 12, 2009
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Registered: May 14, 2008
Location: Belgium
Posts: 236
Review Date: Dec 5, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: f/1.4, satisfying sharpness if well focused,
has to been stopped down for optimal quality (so the f/1.4 lens is - let us say - a f/2.8 lens)

I sometimes experience some focusing problems with this lens, especially at short distance subjects; this is probably the effect of the small DOF. When well focused and stopped, sharpness is good.

Otherwise built quality is OK, though with a plastic feeling.

Dec 5, 2009
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Registered: May 3, 2009
Location: China
Posts: 19
Review Date: Nov 8, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Weight, Price, Bokeh

I'm not terribly well versed on the finer points in terms of the IQ, etc. I've only been at this for about 6-9 months.

But I am very pleased with this lens. It's given me very sharp pictures, with nice contrast, and great bokeh. It's great to take to a party, where there's low-light and I want to avoid using a flash. Friends and family love the shots..

I was also exceptionally pleased with the price, compared to some other lenses. I previously owned the 1.8, but as many have said, it does feel like a toy.. And the 1.4 clearly trumps it in every department. (But I guess for $100 for the 1.8, you can't complain too much)

Anyway, I love having a very fast prime like this.. and it has me thinking a lot about the 85, 1.8 or 100, 2.0.

Nov 8, 2009
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Registered: Jun 12, 2009
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 333
Review Date: Sep 3, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $325.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Weight, precise focus, fast focus, bokeh, value for money, sharpness
build quality isn't great (much better than 1.8 II), focus makes a slight whirring noise.

For the price, this is awesome. I previously had the 50mm 1.8 and although that is alright, the 1.4 is better in every department.

I've read the stories about the softness at 1.4 but honestly, I don't really see it on mine. It suffers from a slight lack of microcontrast at 1.4 and 1.6 but it's nothing to worry about and thus far it's actually been quite appealing.

The bokeh of this lens is awesome. Not totally circular but very close and I love it. The 50mm 1.8 would make strange pentagonal blocks out of bokeh but this is smooth all the way.

In summary: for the money this thing is fantastic. The DOF is very thin so if you're doing the lock centre focus then recompose please bare this in mind.

Oh, and buy a filter for it.

Sep 3, 2009
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Registered: Aug 10, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 5
Review Date: Aug 31, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $350.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Lightweight, full time focusing, wide aperture, sharpness after f/2.8
Wide open performance disappointing

This is a lens that I wanted to be really happy with, but ultimately the bonus of having f/1.4 and f/2.0 in a lightweight package didn't overcome the lack of detail and sharpness wide open. While I can stop down and get incredible sharpness out of this lens, I don't see any advantage over my L zooms in that regard. In the end I replaced this with a 60mm EF-S macro that does double duty as a macro lens, but one that is sharp wide open at f/2.8 and has USM focussing for a similar price.

Nice lens with a solid feel, I liked everything else about it other than the performance at f/1.4. If I'm going to the trouble of carrying an extra lens for use wide open, it needs to be sharp...

Aug 31, 2009
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Registered: Aug 24, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 222
Review Date: Aug 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Relatively cheap and sharp. Good contrast, AF fairly fast and accurate.
Fragile AF motor.

I try to rate lenses independent of one another at least on the 1-10 scale. But comparisons will always be drawn and I try to keep things into perspective, especially that of price, which is an important consideration to consumers.

I got this lens used for $250 which at the time was a fair price as it included a lens hood and generic HOYA UV filter. This is quite a step up from the 50mm 1.8 mkII. Build quality is much better and so are the resultant images.

Contrast is better and colors are much warmer. That alone justifies purchase over the 1.8 mkII, IMO. The AF is also faster and quieter. It does occassionally hunt in really low light. AF accuracy is also better but I still find it misses the mark, especially in low light. But, I get twice as many keepers than the 1.8 mkII. However the AF is fragile and if you happen to bump the front of the lens you can damage the AF motor. I had a lens hood on and someone walked past brushing their arm into the hood and it damaged the AF motor. It was a $150 repair. The manual focus in located mid body and is actually useable unlike the 1.8 mkII. But I grew tired of it and finally sent it in for repair.

This lens has a good half stop of sharpness over the 1.8 mkII and even on occassion a full stop especially in the corners on a FF body. But in comparison to the Canon 85mm 1.8 or the Sigma 50mm 1.4 and its sharpness is not that impressive. I've say it's roughly a stop behind either of those. Not to mention AF speed and accuracy aren't quite on par either.

The 85mm kind of spoiled me as I expected the same qualities in the Canon 50mm 1.4 and it just couldn't meet those expectations. The 85mm 1.8 is really a hidden gem.

However, I heard that the Sigma 50mm 1.4 has a sharp lens wide open. Well, it cost me $400 but it did deliver. AF while a bit noisy is damn accurate and conparable in speed. It is sharp wide open, with little CA or fringing that can plague the Canon 85mm 1.8 lens. People do complain about the Sigma's AF accruacy and mine did back focus slightly on a crop body. Sent it in only to have the same issue. Finally sent the crop body and lens in and it was calibrated properly. I would readily recommend the Sigma 50mm 1.4 over the Canon but the price difference is fairly steep too. But I have a tendncy to pixel peep and crop quite a bit so I'm a bit fussy over IQ.

The Canon 1.4 is vastly better than the 1.8 mkII and I would recommend it any day over the latter even given the price. But if you can get the Sigma, then that would be my recommendation. The Sigma does everything better though it is more costly. I just prefer the Sigma as it is easier to use and requires less post processing, but the Canon 1.4 is a perfectly adequate lens.

Aug 24, 2009
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Registered: May 19, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 997
Review Date: Aug 15, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $349.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Lightweight, small, fast & sharp.

This is probably my favorite lens, or one of them, at least. It's the one I turn to for portraits or candid shots of people. I prefer zooms for walk-around fun, but I absolutely LOVE this lens. It's much faster than the 50mm 1.8 and, IMHO, worth the extra cost. I had the 1.8 as well, but the slow focus and noise bothered me, so I gave it to my young niece.

The build seems very solid & it feels substantial in your hands (compared to the 1.8). I have not rated the build because I hate to compare it to an L lens (the tanks).

I'm new to dSLRs, so I am certain other reviewers have better comparisons to make, but I do love this lens.

FYI - have used it mostly on my beloved XSi; recently bought a 5D Mk ii but not much experience on it yet.

Aug 15, 2009
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
400 1235626 Dec 30, 2022
Recommended By Average Price
92% of reviewers $321.63
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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