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Gear Talk => Lenses => Topic started by: HarryMichaels on May 06, 2012, 10:52:12 PM

Title: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: HarryMichaels on May 06, 2012, 10:52:12 PM
Hello people

I will be getting a EOS 60D soon but at the moment I am looking at prime lenses. I am interested in the 50mm f1.8 or the 50mm f1.4. After looking at various forums, sites etc here is what Ive gathered, please add or correct if I'm wrong.

The first point is being the price. The f1.8 is plasticy in construction and is like a toy not that this would bother me much if at all) whereas the f1.4 'feels' like a lens with its metal mount and of better build in general. The f1.4 is faster (wider aperture/sees better in the dark) therefore results in a  brighter viewfinder to aid composition and to aid the auto focus of the lens in low light situations.

Question/s

In terms of picture quality which is better or are they both the same, and that all it boils down to is the fact that one can 'see better in the dark' than the other?...

Is the available light gathering abilitiy between the f1.8 and the f1.4 that much notable?


Thanks in advance

Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: EOBeav on May 07, 2012, 01:05:59 AM
Generally speaking, the f/1.4 is the better lens in all aspects, price:performance included. Yes, it has another half stop available, but I don't shoot mine wide open. There are some sharpness issues when it's wide open (and from what I understand, on the f/1.8 as well).  The 50mm f/1.4 really shines after about f/2.0 in terms of sharpness and clarity. I would spend the extra $250 and get it.
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: solargravity on May 09, 2012, 12:14:02 AM
Great question HM! I agree with EOBeav that the F1.4 is a great lens. I have had in the past a chance to shoot with it (even though only for 1 day) but let me tell you it's really quite nice. However, if money is a factor, you can rest assured that you will not be devastated if you can only get the F1.8

So many of my colleagues have said that every camera bag should have a 50mm in it. I know that from my experience I would never be without one again on any shoot professionally or even for day to day shooting.

If you are interested I have a few photos I took recently with my 50mm F/1.8 while spending the weekend with my nephew at the link below.

I welcome any comments.

http://www.solargravity.com/canon-ef-50mm-f1-8-ii-review/ (http://www.solargravity.com/canon-ef-50mm-f1-8-ii-review/)

Solar Gravity
www.solargravity.com (http://www.solargravity.com)
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: Cosk on May 09, 2012, 10:17:45 PM
I started with a 1.4, broke it after years of use, then replaced it with the 1.8, returned that lens and bought another 1.4. 

The 1.4 is simply a joy to use.  It's fast, quiet, and delivers stunning photos.  I returned the 1.8 because the autofocus was so loud - it sounded like an electric razor.  I wasn't as much fun to use. 

If you want to begin experimenting with prime lenses, and want a good experience, get the 1.4. 

If you are an impoverished student and have to choose food or camera gear, then get the 1.8.

Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: nitsujwalker on May 09, 2012, 10:57:14 PM
I started with a 1.4, broke it after years of use, then replaced it with the 1.8, returned that lens and bought another 1.4. 

The 1.4 is simply a joy to use.  It's fast, quiet, and delivers stunning photos.  I returned the 1.8 because the autofocus was so loud - it sounded like an electric razor.  I wasn't as much fun to use. 

If you want to begin experimenting with prime lenses, and want a good experience, get the 1.4. 

If you are an impoverished student and have to choose food or camera gear, then get the 1.8.


Whoa.... Totally disagree... If you're an impoverished student, buy the camera gear and skip meals/sell a kidney if necessary :)
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: nitsujwalker on May 09, 2012, 10:59:29 PM
I currently own both lenses and I much prefer the 1.4.  It is as sharp at 1.8 as the 1.8 is at 2.2 (at least my 1.8 copy).  I would spend the extra money and get the 1.4.  Some people report autofocus problems with the 1.4 but I have not personally experienced them.
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: samuel613 on May 10, 2012, 12:06:25 AM
My 1.4 is great, and it's my only Non-IS lens. Buy the hood; I use it to stabilize the camera in my hand and be assured that I'm not interfering with the front element, which moves during focusing.

The focus is great, and it's quite usable at 1.4. The isolation and bokeh it delivers at 1.4 must be seen to be believed.

As for pricing, NewEgg had a 15% off Canon lenses, so I couldn't refuse that offer, and for the mid $300s, it's incredible.

I hesitated for a while before buying, because I usually use my EF-S 15-85, which is an incredible lens (other than the slow variable aperture 3.5 - 5.6, but heads to 4.0 almost immediately and 5.0 still rather quickly), with a 430 EX flash.

But this 1.4 can get shots where that combination can't, like in a dimly-lit restaurant where a flash (especially a real flash rather than a p&s) would be incredibly rude. The slower lens, even with excellent IS at 4.5 or 5.0, couldn't match (and was useless, actually, as opposed to) what I could do at 1/20 second at 1.4 with this lens. Not to mention the background very quickly fading to oblivion.
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: Hillsilly on May 10, 2012, 01:46:59 AM
If you like pentagon shapes, you've got to get the 1.8!  The 1.4 tends to turn out of focus highlights into dull circular shapes that merge neatly into the background. Only the 1.8 will give you the clearly defined pentagons that serious photographers seek.

Ok - jokes aside, I've got a 1.8 and like it a lot.  But it does have flaws, most of which are mentioned above - lack of sharpness wide open, noisy autofocus, ordinary bokeh.  For all intensive purposes, the 1.4 is "better".  But...the 1.8 weighs next to nothing and is reasonably small.  If you're heading out, its very easy to slip into a pocket and I rarely go anywhere without it.  And from f4 onwards it is sharp, and I doubt you'd be able to easily tell the difference between photos from either lens.   The clear giveaway is the pentagon shaped highlights, which tend to be prominent with the 1.8.  Doesn't necessarily make the photos bad, but you sometimes wish they weren't there.
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: takoman46 on May 10, 2012, 01:55:37 AM
Between the 50mm f/1.8 and f/1.8 primes, I would strongly recommend the f/1.4. But... if you can afford it, the EF 50mm f/1.2L is the way to go.  The key difference, besides the overall image quality jump between the f/1.8 and f/1.4 is the bokeh. Although all 3 versions will blow out the background, the bokeh becomes increasingly and dramatically smoother and dreamier the higher up the line you go.  This has to do with the amount of aperture blades present within each lens (the more blades, the better the bokeh effect).  the f/1.8 is a joke when it comes to beautiful bokeh, the f/1.4 is ok but you'll still see geometric shapes if there are points of light in the background, and the f/1.2 will give you the smoothest, creamiest, most gorgeous bokeh out of the 3.

Also, the f/1.8 is slow and noisy since it doesn't have USM. The f/1.4 is probably the fastest in terms of pulling focus because the f/1.2 has the biggest and heaviest glass, but is not much slower if at all than the f/1.4 in terms of user experience.
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: marekjoz on May 10, 2012, 03:55:50 AM
Rating those two at a scale of 100 points max, I'd give:
1. Image quality -           1.8-> 60,        1.4 ->70
2. Build quality -             1.8 ->10,        1.4 ->50
3. Convenience of use    1.8 ->10,       1.4 -> 60

Except image quality differences already described above, 1.8 has an useless manual focus ring, which you simply are not able to operate in any way (you might in some time wish to shoot some video which requires manual focus as far).
1.4 has USM but is also loud in comparison to L lenses (sometimes you don't here it at all!) but 1.8 is a razor as someone mentioned.
1.8 is a great lens for start or when you completely don't care for loudness of AF and never intend to shoot video with this.
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: NormanBates on May 10, 2012, 04:02:40 AM
to me, the biggest difference is bokeh

the 1.8 is an incredibly sharp lens, one of the best I've tested: http://www.similaar.com/foto/lenstests/lenstestsa.html (http://www.similaar.com/foto/lenstests/lenstestsa.html)

but bokeh is just horrible, very very distracting: http://www.similaar.com/foto/lenstests/bokehtests.html (http://www.similaar.com/foto/lenstests/bokehtests.html)
(and I find it even worse on real life than it does in those controlled tests)

more comments about both of them here:
http://www.similaar.com/foto/equipment/us_lensc.html#prime (http://www.similaar.com/foto/equipment/us_lensc.html#prime)
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: recon photography on May 10, 2012, 05:17:18 AM
1.8 also dont bother with a filter with this lens if you buy one that is worth while it will cost as much as the lens :(
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: funkboy on May 10, 2012, 05:54:30 AM
Personally my preferred "primes on a budget" setup is:

If you've got the extra cash, spring for the 50mm f/1.4 USM, but IMHO it's better to have the two lenses as they're both really useful.  Optically they're all great, but the 85mm f/1.8 USM handles better than either 50 (build, AF, etc).
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: michi on May 10, 2012, 12:56:23 PM
I have an old Canon 50mm 1.8 Mark I which came with a EOS5 back in the days.  It's a really nice lens, I use it often.  I have always wanted a 50mm 1.4 but general opinion seemed to suggest that the 1.8 M1 is excellent so I decided to save my money.  Last week, Newegg had a sale and I got the Canon 50mm 1.4 new for $314, so I figured I would try it, and if I didn't like it I could sell it for basically what I spent.  Long story short, I love the 1.4.  It is sharper wide open than the 1.8 M1.  Both at 1.8, the 1.4 is a lot better.  Starting at about f4.0, they become more equal in sharpness.  Vignetting is MUCH better controlled on the 1.4 compared to the M1.  Focusing with the 1.4 is faster and quieter than the M1.  The bokeh is very similar, the 1.4 may be a tad more dreamy, but I wouldn't buy the 1.4 for that reason.  Everyone says the 1.8 Mark I is better than the current 1.8, so I guess the differences between the current 1.8 and the 1.4 would be even bigger. 

Below a picture from when I took a series of test shots with a 5DII on AV and no post processing except cropping.  On the left side the 1.4 wide open, on the right the 1.8 wide open.  It's hard to see the difference in sharpness as the forum here seems to shrink and compress the photos.  Still interesting I think:

(http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/834/50mm14wideopen.jpg)
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: marekjoz on May 10, 2012, 01:09:56 PM
I have an old Canon 50mm 1.8 Mark I which came with a EOS5 back in the days.  It's a really nice lens, I use it often.  I have always wanted a 50mm 1.4 but general opinion seemed to suggest that the 1.8 M1 is excellent so I decided to save my money.  Last week, Newegg had a sale and I got the Canon 50mm 1.4 new for $314, so I figured I would try it, and if I didn't like it I could sell it for basically what I spent.  Long story short, I love the 1.4.  It is sharper wide open than the 1.8 M1.  Both at 1.8, the 1.4 is a lot better.  Starting at about f4.0, they become more equal in sharpness.  Vignetting is MUCH better controlled on the 1.4 compared to the M1.  Focusing with the 1.4 is faster and quieter than the M1.  The bokeh is very similar, the 1.4 may be a tad more dreamy, but I wouldn't buy the 1.4 for that reason.  Everyone says the 1.8 Mark I is better than the current 1.8, so I guess the differences between the current 1.8 and the 1.4 would be even bigger. 

Below a picture from when I took a series of test shots with a 5DII on AV and no post processing except cropping.  On the left side the 1.4 wide open, on the right the 1.8 wide open.  It's hard to see the difference in sharpness as the forum here seems to shrink and compress the photos.  Still interesting I think:

(http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/834/50mm14wideopen.jpg)

That's interesting what you write, but I'd rather focus on something else. The picture you show is quite good. Give it a good name like Gray Black Gray, go to Chrisie's and get another 77,5M$ for it :)

(Just relaxing :) )
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: michi on May 10, 2012, 01:17:34 PM
Quote

That's interesting what you write, but I'd rather focus on something else. The picture you show is quite good. Give it a good name like Gray Black Gray, go to Chrisie's and get another 77,5M$ for it :)

(Just relaxing :) )

I have no idea what you are trying to say...
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: marekjoz on May 10, 2012, 01:27:46 PM
Quote

That's interesting what you write, but I'd rather focus on something else. The picture you show is quite good. Give it a good name like Gray Black Gray, go to Chrisie's and get another 77,5M$ for it :)

(Just relaxing :) )

I have no idea what you are trying to say...

Just referring to this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18001432 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18001432)
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: aznable on May 10, 2012, 04:35:39 PM
are we talking abot 50mm?

sigma 50mm 1.4 for the sharpness, canon 50 1.4 is you want a lightweight lens
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: myone on May 10, 2012, 05:26:00 PM
I started with 50/1.8, a fantastic lens at the price. Then about 2 years later, I upgraded to 50/1.4. The 50/1.4 is a better lens in term of IQ and constructions, but it is still prone to front element damage if you are not careful. That is why I have my lens hood on all the time to protect it from banging into things.

For some reason, the 50/1.4 could never satisfy me. After much trials and error, I finally figured out that 50 on cropped body (since you are getting a 60D) is just too tight. I mainly shoot landscape and street photography, and some portraits. That is when I moved to 35/1.4L. The 35 is just perfect. It is being sharpest at 1.4, and the colors and contrasts are just great. The min focusing distance also make it a very ideal lens for food photography if that is what you are into. The superior built also make it worth its price.

If I were you, I would rent the 50mm and see if that is the focal length you need. It is just too narrow for my taste. If you find that 50 is too narrow, then you might actually need a 35. It took me a while to figure out.

Good luck!
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: michi on May 10, 2012, 05:57:35 PM
I agree with myone, if you have a crop camera and want a walk around lens, the 50mm is too much, a 35mm lens would probably be better.
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: pwp on May 10, 2012, 06:12:04 PM
I've worked with two 50 f/1.8 lenses. If you can live with the $90 build quality, they are quite acceptable from around 5.6. The 50 f/1.4, despite it's age is a great performer from around f/2, acceptable depending on the copy at f/1.8 and most of them are for emergency use only at f/1.4.

So if you have to have a Canon 50, I'm with every other poster on this thread with a vote for the f/1.4.

I had the Canon 50 f/1.4 and switched to the bigger, heavier Sigma 50 f/1.4. Though the Sigma is a decent lens, in hindsight it was a waste of time. There's no discernible IQ boost, and it's heavier & bulkier in the bag. I should have kept the Canon.

Paul Wright
Title: Re: BATTLE OF THE PRIMES: F1.8 Vs F1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on May 10, 2012, 06:47:07 PM
as others have said bokeh is the biggest downfall with the 1.8 but the 1.4 is not so great either as it doesnt have circular aperture blades so you can make out thee 8 sides on bokeh lights
(i really wish canon would re-do the 1.4 to match compete with the nikor G lens, or sigma redo their fifty to the same quality that the new 85 1.4)

another interesting problem with the 1.4 that the 1.8 doesnt have is if you want to shoot infrared the 1.4 is subject to getting hot spots (both mk1 and mk2 versions of the 16-35L also have this problem)

overall I like the 1.4 and use it more often than the 1.8 however for shooting landscapes or maybe street photography where you will use narrow apertures there will be almost no noticable difference between the 2