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Author Topic: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4  (Read 18800 times)

TWI by Dustin Abbott

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2013, 02:52:40 PM »
Thanks for another nice review, Justin.  I have own multiple copies of the lens and it isn't in my kit now...for two reasons.  One of those was highlighted ironically in my favorite picture in the review:  the lovely lady with the cool temperature blossoms in the background.  The photo is great on all technical merits save one thing beyond your control; the very nervous lining on the bokeh of the blossoms.  In this the lens behaves more like a wider angle fast lens, nothing like the much softer bokeh rendering of even, say the 85mm f/1.8 and certainly nothing like the 100L or the 135L.  Secondly, I find that the image quality can't beat my old lenses in the focal length, like, say, a Helios 44-2 (LOVE!) or SMC Takumar 55mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.4.  The 40mm pancake also fills the void, too.

I will continue to use other options at this focal length until someone releases a 50mm prime with fewer compromises.  I know it can be done; there are great 50mm primes that are 50 years old.  I have faith that we will see one from someone in the next year or so.

P.S.  I will confess that I am also one of those oddballs that likes a 35mm focal length better than a 50mm.  I didn't hate the 50mm f/1.4; it just didn't get out of my bag all that often. 
6D x 2 | EOS-M w/22mm f/2 + 18-55 STM + EF Adapter| Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 | Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC | 35mm f/2 IS | 40mm f/2.8 | 100L | 135L | 70-300L -----OLD SCHOOL----- SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5, Super Takumar 35mm f/3.5, SMC Takumar 55mm f/1.8, Helios 44-2 and 44-4, Super Takumar 150mm f/4

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2013, 02:52:40 PM »

MichaelHodges

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #31 on: September 12, 2013, 03:32:13 PM »
The 50 1.8 II is the superior and more reliable lens. 

digitalride

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #32 on: September 12, 2013, 03:44:31 PM »
I have read too many internet forums and now it seems there are no good 50mm lenses for canon.  I appreciate some of the positive comments and examples, but its consistency that I'm looking for.

I had a 50mm f/1.8 and it was ok but it always seemed to miss focus on the 1 or 2 shots I got with a good smile from my kids.  I also was bothered a little bit by the pentagonal bokeh.  I gave it to my cousin who just had a baby, and I was planning on getting the canon 50mm f/1.4 the next time I saw a deal, but there are so many complaints about the autofocus on the f/1.4 too.  The f/1.2 is out of my price range, and anytime a third party brand is mentioned autofocus problems are mentioned immediately. 

I used the 50mm for portraits (indoor and outdoor, usually at f/2.0) and macro at f/16 with a set of kenko tubes. I'm using a 60D, so not having af micro adjust makes things more problematic.  Now I'm wondering if I should just go back to the nifty fifty until there is a significantly better option.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 03:47:57 PM by digitalride »

EOBeav

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #33 on: September 12, 2013, 03:49:35 PM »
Agree with most of the points, but there is one that is missing: The serious design flaw of the internal focus barrel.  It's very fragile. If you are extended out to infinity, and the lens gets banged at all, you're almost sure to have some problems. You'll find that the lens stops focusing (manual or AF) and the ring will only turn a very short amount. What has happened is that the end of the focus barrel has been bent slightly, and the pin that travels through the guide can't make its way back and forth. It's happened to me. You can try to fix it yourself or pay somebody to do it, but either way you've got problems. 

All that said, this lens has been a workhorse for me. I recommend that everybody have one. Just store it with the focus in the middle, and you should be fine.
In landscape photography, when you shoot is more important than where.

Gear: Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f/4 L, 50mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/4.

ahsanford

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #34 on: September 12, 2013, 03:49:39 PM »
a few extras:
... [long section pulled] ...
I don't get why Canon didn't just replace the AF motor with ring USM ages ago, or at least just give it a higher-quality regular old micromotor AF system.

Great summary, appreciated!

Agree that the AF (and many other reasons) make this a no-brainer lens to upgrade.  It is a super popular focal length that has clear deficiencies even for the low price point.  I cannot wait for Canon to finally do the right thing here (or possibly have Sigma go Art-y here with something like the 35 F/1.4).

- A

ahsanford

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #35 on: September 12, 2013, 03:50:18 PM »
Good, balanced review from Justin as usual!!
For my money...I bought the Sigma f/1.4 for my 5DIII.....(mine focuses just fine...I know some don't)..I think its a better lens than the Canon, but I know that topic is a hornet's nest. Just MY opinion, put my money where my mouth is and enjoy the results, every time.
Now...If Sigma would just make an new ART Series 50mm f/1.4..we may all be happy! (well, almost. LOL!).

+1, no, +5

ahsanford

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #36 on: September 12, 2013, 03:57:21 PM »
The 50 1.8 II is the superior and more reliable lens.

I would hazard a guess that you are in a minority with that position.  The 50 F/1.8 is sharp and a stellar value, but it lacks virtually everything else.

As much maligned as the 50 F/1.4 is, the 50 F/1.8 has greater issues.  Pentagonal bokeh, cheap build and a comically slow (and noisy!) focusing plague this lens.

It's a great starter lens in getting use to primes, using larger apertures, etc. but unless you are shooting non-moving objects at stopped down apertures, I'd choose the F/1.4 ten times out of ten over the F/1.8.

- A


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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #36 on: September 12, 2013, 03:57:21 PM »

MichaelHodges

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #37 on: September 12, 2013, 04:17:22 PM »
The 50 1.8 II is the superior and more reliable lens.

I would hazard a guess that you are in a minority with that position.  The 50 F/1.8 is sharp and a stellar value, but it lacks virtually everything else.

As much maligned as the 50 F/1.4 is, the 50 F/1.8 has greater issues.  Pentagonal bokeh, cheap build and a comically slow (and noisy!) focusing plague this lens.

It's a great starter lens in getting use to primes, using larger apertures, etc. but unless you are shooting non-moving objects at stopped down apertures, I'd choose the F/1.4 ten times out of ten over the F/1.8.

- A

I've owned both lenses. The 50 1.4, is, quite frankly, a piece of garbage. The 50 1.8 II has a deceivingly better build in real world use, IMHO. the 50 1.8 II is actually sharper to boot, and I found the focus to be more reliable.

ajfotofilmagem

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #38 on: September 12, 2013, 04:47:00 PM »
Canon 50mm F1.4 was my first prime lens, and I still have today. It's embarrassing when friends ask me what I think about it ... ??? I reply that I never use the F1.4 aperture, but only from F1.8. :-\ Then they wonder why I have not bought the model F1.8, and I say that only has good image from F2.5 or more closed diaphragm. And I say with regret that there is no reliable 50mm, sharp and durable for canon. :( But, the model "L" is not good? ??? I answer that it is good, but only from F1.4, and not worth the price at all. :-[ After hearing my explanation, they look at me with dismay, and I say to try to 40mm, or wait for a decent refresh 50mm. ;)
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 06:55:01 PM by ajfotofilmagem »

EOBeav

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #39 on: September 12, 2013, 04:47:21 PM »
the 50 1.8 II is actually sharper to boot,

Care to back that up with some data and/or real-world examples? That's a pretty big claim.
In landscape photography, when you shoot is more important than where.

Gear: Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f/4 L, 50mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/4.

ahsanford

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2013, 05:05:02 PM »
the 50 1.8 II is actually sharper to boot,

Care to back that up with some data and/or real-world examples? That's a pretty big claim.

I'm not the one who claimed that, but after F/4 or so, I believe the F/1.8 is as good as the F/1.4 for sharpness.   But there are so many other limitations with that lens, as I have previously enumerated.

- A

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2013, 05:38:42 PM »
The first one I bought wasn't good at all - unacceptably soft wide open, sometimes back-focused, sometimes front-focused, sometimes didn't focus on anything at all, sometimes got it just right; completely unpredictable and thus useless (unless you like to maximize the element of surprise in your daily life).  I then tried the Sigma equivalent, but it was far worse - I don't think I took one photo with it that was in focus (even though the camera thought it was).  At that point I gave up on a 50mm 1.4 for my Canons and bought a Panasonic/Leica 25mm 1.4 for my Olympus OM-D - first rate in every way, like all the M43 primes I own (though not, of course, exactly a 1.4 equivalent).  Encouraged by that, I tried another Canon 50mm 1.4 and, perhaps by chance, alighted on a copy that has never given me a problem.  It may not be very sharp wide open (miles better than my first copy, though), but the bokeh is marvelous, especially if you get close to the subject (I've not yet seen anything like the rather harsh background in the photo Dustin's complaining about; I wouldn't want that either).  So unless/until it breaks I'm happy enough with it.  If Sigma or Canon were kind enough to provide improved updates, however....

(I've also owned the 50mm 1.8 and 50mm 2.5 macro but kept neither - don't like the bokeh on the former, and while the latter was very sharp and no slower or noisier to focus than a lot of Pentax lenses I was familiar with, I replaced it with the 100L macro as overall more useful.)

JVLphoto

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2013, 06:07:20 PM »
Want canon to come out with an update.. I think it's a great middle class lens that really performs well but they can do better with build quality in general. Maybe add IS? Sigma 50 is really nice.. Going there if canon doesn't come out with an update soon.

Bet you they will, but at what price? $800 maybe?

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #42 on: September 12, 2013, 06:07:20 PM »

JVLphoto

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #43 on: September 12, 2013, 06:09:01 PM »
"While the outer shell of the 50mm 1.4 is clearly stronger than the 50mm 1.8"  Pure B.S!  The internet is full of cases of people and videos repairing their Canon 50mm 1.4.  A moderately sharp bump to the front usually breaks the auto-focusing.  It is a notoriously fragile lens.  Boken is better than the 1.8 bit after 5.6 the 1.8 is noticeably sharper than the 1.4.  So, the 1.4 is more fragile than the 1.8, less sharp than the 1.8 and smaller apertures and costs 3x as much.  It's the least desirable of the Canon 50mm lenses.   I have a 25 year old metal mount 1.8 that could beat the pants off of the 1.4 and you can pick one up for 100 bucks.  The difference between 1.4 and 1.8 with a camera with a modern sensor is meaningless, both are really, really fast.  both are really really sharp.  Certainly not worth a triple price premium .  This review sounds like someone trying to justify a recent purchase that they have clearly over paid for

I bought it 7 years ago, it's done okay by me.

JVLphoto

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2013, 06:12:36 PM »
I always found f/2 to be the sweet spot with this lens and loved it on my crop, but not as much on my full frame.  It always seemed too short for portraits, and too long for much else.  Just not my favorite focal length, to the point of selling my 50 f/1.2 recently.

I can't remember if I asked this after the 50 f/1.2 review, but why would you show bokeh at f/7.1?  It seems like maximum aperture or  the common aperture of f/1.8 would have made more sense.  Most people looking for great bokeh aren't shooting at f/5.6 or higher, but maybe there's some logic behind this such as showing the shape of the bokeh when stopped down.

Yeah, just to illustrate the shape.

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Re: Review - Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2013, 06:12:36 PM »