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Author Topic: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?  (Read 10713 times)

scottsdaleriots

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Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« on: March 19, 2012, 04:41:58 AM »
I'm just about ready to pull the trigger on this and buy this lens to do some music/concert photography with, but have read quite a few bad customer reviews about the AF dying. It seems a fair margin of people are experiencing this problem. How bad/likely is it of happening?

A lot of people say their AF "quits working" after a few months and do multiple times they send it back to canon to get it fixed. AF tends to quit working after the 1yr warrantry expires. They suggest to get the 50mm 1.4 or even the sigma 50mm (which doesnt have AF which is what i want).

Anyone know more info on this issue?

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Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« on: March 19, 2012, 04:41:58 AM »

marcosv

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2012, 05:37:42 AM »
Between my friends and I we have four copies of the 50/1.4.  We bought new and Canon USA refurb.  Zero AF issues over the many years of ownership.  If you look carefully, you'll see a number of threads about issues with the front element being banged into because the front element extends during focusing.  This is a full time manual focus lens; get into the habit of retracting the front element before putting it away --- or store it with the lens hood on (great for exchanging lens quickly like at an event).

Like any other fast prime, take extra time to make sure your copy nails focus.  MAF helps.

As for the Sigma 50/1.4:  I *REALLY* wanted to buy one, but, am afraid I would get burned by the Sigma lottery --- either up front or years later when I buy another DSLR body.  Two friends of mine "lost the lottery" a total of five times (bought new from Adorama and B&H).  My local camera store that carries Sigma doesn't recommend the 50/1.4 for Canon EF mount.  It's still tempting to buy the Sigma for use as a manual lens.

StanFoxworthy

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2012, 06:12:53 AM »
As you most likely have read, if you do get the EF 50 1.4, make sure to install a lens hood and "pinch" type lens cap from the get go. By keeping the lens hood on at all times you will prevent any contact with the front of the lens, and therefore keep it fully functional for many years. My copy is almost indistinguishable from the 50L (both @ f1.4), and is the lightest and smallest footprint of the three 50's I own.

The Sigma 50 1.4 has also been a top performer for me on both the 1Ds MkIII & 5D MkII (and seems to be my favorite walk-about lens, due to its FOV of closer to a 45mm!). Just remember, when shooting wide open, there is a very shallow depth of field which can rear its ugly head when using a center point and recomposing!

I will say that each of the 50's have their own special personality and "look". I don't think you would be disappointed with either of them.

Good luck with your search!

wickidwombat

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2012, 06:49:18 AM »
I dunno mine is a couple of years now and been used alot and never had a problem with it
AF is snappy and accurate overall for the money its pretty good. I would think it was better if I hadn't previously used the equivalent priced Nikon G 50 f1.4 which unfortunately leaves it for dead. I really hope canon updates this lens
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rj79in

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2012, 06:54:55 AM »
I got a bad copy of the 1.4 and had to send it back to Canon over soft images using the AF. Canon agreed it was a bad copy and I got a replacement. It is working fine since.

AF needs care at wide open to get satisfactory images but considering the price as compared to 1.2, it is a steal.

iso79

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2012, 07:50:07 AM »
The 50 f/1.4 is a pretty crappy lens. The USM motor and focusing ring aren't made very well. Invest in some L lenses and don't look back.
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Tijn

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 08:48:32 AM »
The 50 f/1.4 is a pretty crappy lens. The USM motor and focusing ring aren't made very well. Invest in some L lenses and don't look back.
The 50mm f/1.4 focus is actually faster (but noisier) than that of its 50mm f/1.2L brother, despite the fact that it's micro USM instead of ring-type USM. The lens isn't L quality build, so you're right about the focus ring. However, its image quality from f/2 onwards is sharp, and at smaller apertures it's even sharper than the 50mm f/1.2L lens.

The 50mm f/1.4 is good value, really. Decent image quality, good sharpness at f/2 and beyond (but 'dreamy' haloes at the widest apertures lower than f/2). The 50mm f/1.2L is better at sub-f/2 sharpness, bokeh, build quality and flare. The f/1.4 is better at AF speed, price, weight and small aperture sharpness. If you're going to punish the 50mm f/1.4 in comparison to L lenses, pick a different aspect than its focusing motor. Considering that it costs 4x less, the 50mm f/1.4 will be plenty good for anyone but the most bokeh-fanatic prime lovers.

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 08:48:32 AM »

FunPhotons

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2012, 08:54:10 AM »
Wow, that's interesting to hear. I have a 50 1.4 where the AF got flaky. It started when I took it to the beach and it got a few grains of sand in the lens from a blowing wind.

Strike #1, no weather sealing, very easy to get dust/dirt inside

Eventually I cleared the sand, but holding it face down and shaking and what not. Didn't see the sand exit the body, must have been a few grains. Until then the lens was locked up, the USM wouldn't work. Anyhow with the sand cleared out, the AF started to work again, intermittently.

Strike #2, AF fails after about five minutes of use, every time.

The lens kicks around, I've thought of sending it in, but it wasn't expensive in the first place and didn't seem worth it. Now I have the 24-105L and get much better pictures, colors in particular are better on this lens, plus the weather sealing.

The only thing the 50 has going for it is that it is small. It's fast, but you don't want to use it wide open as DOF is too narrow.

7enderbender

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2012, 10:13:48 AM »
I'm just about ready to pull the trigger on this and buy this lens to do some music/concert photography with, but have read quite a few bad customer reviews about the AF dying. It seems a fair margin of people are experiencing this problem. How bad/likely is it of happening?

A lot of people say their AF "quits working" after a few months and do multiple times they send it back to canon to get it fixed. AF tends to quit working after the 1yr warrantry expires. They suggest to get the 50mm 1.4 or even the sigma 50mm (which doesnt have AF which is what i want).

Anyone know more info on this issue?


Well here is my biased and unscientific take: To me the 50 1.4 is still one of the best optics ever. The current EF version has exactly the same lenses as my old FD versions of it. There is a reason why this has been considered the reference lens for years and decades. And if it was good enough for film it is good enough on my 5DII. It's one of my favorites and it performs.

That being said, the EF 50 1.4 is built like junk and in that respect has nothing in common with its predecessors. Mine is working fine but I also baby it. I bought the original hood for it and NEVER take it off. My suspicion is that the flimsy little clutch of the little AF motor gets banged up via the protruding lens element. So the hood protects it from physical impact that way. Are there other reasons why many people report problems with it? I don't know. Maybe.

The other problem is what the alternatives are. As far as I know there are issues with literally all 50mm lenses available for the EOS system. Different issues but non is perfect. Given the price and my past experience with the optical design I took the risk. I'm waiting for Ed Mika to come out with his general FD/EF conversion kit. Alternatively, I'm still tempted to go find a good FL 55 1.2 and get the conversion kit for that one.

« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 10:27:58 AM by 7enderbender »
5DII - 50L - 135L - 200 2.8L - 24-105 - 580EXII - 430EXII - FD 500/8 - AE1-p - bag full of FD lenses

7enderbender

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2012, 10:21:29 AM »
Wow, that's interesting to hear. I have a 50 1.4 where the AF got flaky. It started when I took it to the beach and it got a few grains of sand in the lens from a blowing wind.

Strike #1, no weather sealing, very easy to get dust/dirt inside

Eventually I cleared the sand, but holding it face down and shaking and what not. Didn't see the sand exit the body, must have been a few grains. Until then the lens was locked up, the USM wouldn't work. Anyhow with the sand cleared out, the AF started to work again, intermittently.

Strike #2, AF fails after about five minutes of use, every time.

The lens kicks around, I've thought of sending it in, but it wasn't expensive in the first place and didn't seem worth it. Now I have the 24-105L and get much better pictures, colors in particular are better on this lens, plus the weather sealing.

The only thing the 50 has going for it is that it is small. It's fast, but you don't want to use it wide open as DOF is too narrow.

I'm not really following here. I have both those lenses and they simply don't compare. Taking any camera to a beach or into the desert to me is user error - unless it's a paid gig. Not that I haven't done it since I live at the ocean but you have to be extremely careful and maybe lucky. Sand is just nasty independent from weather sealing or no weather sealing.

The 24-105 is a completely different lens for a different application. The 50 is really meant to be used wide open in my book and it is exactly that narrow DOF that some people are after. I suspect that the 50 is also better when stopped down as far as sharpness and contrast is concerned but if so then it's likely so marginal that it doesn't matter for any practical purposes.
5DII - 50L - 135L - 200 2.8L - 24-105 - 580EXII - 430EXII - FD 500/8 - AE1-p - bag full of FD lenses

7enderbender

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 10:25:13 AM »
The 50 f/1.4 is a pretty crappy lens. The USM motor and focusing ring aren't made very well. Invest in some L lenses and don't look back.

Which "some L lenses" do you recommend as an alternative? The 50 1.2 comes to mind but that has it's own issues especially when considering the price.

I'm still hoping for an upgrade of either of the two lenses (and hopefully not another non-L "IS" version like they did with the 24 and the 35...).
5DII - 50L - 135L - 200 2.8L - 24-105 - 580EXII - 430EXII - FD 500/8 - AE1-p - bag full of FD lenses

DJL329

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 11:49:51 AM »
I had the EF 50mm f/1.4 for less than a year before the AF died, but that was because it fell out of my bag while hiking!   :P  Yes, the micro USM does suck, but it is a nice, fast, light lens.  The Sigma 50mm does have AF, but it's larger (takes 77mm filters, as opposed to 58mm), and can have AF issues.  If you are really concerned, check out the 85mm f/1.8 as a possible alternative, if that isn't too long for your purposes.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | EF 14mm f/2.8L | EF 28mm f/1.8 | EF 50mm f/1.4 | EF 85mm f/1.8 | EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro | EF 300mm f/4L IS

scottsdaleriots

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2012, 09:01:23 AM »
^ the sigma 50mm has AF? Really? I thought it was excusively MF.

Between my friends and I we have four copies of the 50/1.4.  We bought new and Canon USA refurb.  Zero AF issues over the many years of ownership.  If you look carefully, you'll see a number of threads about issues with the front element being banged into because the front element extends during focusing.  This is a full time manual focus lens; get into the habit of retracting the front element before putting it away --- or store it with the lens hood on (great for exchanging lens quickly like at an event).

Like any other fast prime, take extra time to make sure your copy nails focus.  MAF helps.

As for the Sigma 50/1.4:  I *REALLY* wanted to buy one, but, am afraid I would get burned by the Sigma lottery --- either up front or years later when I buy another DSLR body.  Two friends of mine "lost the lottery" a total of five times (bought new from Adorama and B&H).  My local camera store that carries Sigma doesn't recommend the 50/1.4 for Canon EF mount.  It's still tempting to buy the Sigma for use as a manual lens.
So the reason the AF 'quits working' is about 80% fault of the owner/photographer? Of course there are going to be bad copies I know, but it is a bit of a relief hearing that as long as you take care of your lens it'll be alright.

Can you please elaborate a little more on why you didnt buy the sigma 50mm. That you didnt want to get burnt by the "sigma lottery." What's that mean exactly? The current sigma 50mm lens wont work on future canon dflr's?

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2012, 09:01:23 AM »

AnselA

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2012, 09:26:33 AM »
I have nothing but superlatives about this lens. I have had it for several years and keep it on the camera as the discreet walk around lens. It is great indoors and provides a beautiful bokeh. It renders skin tones well and, of course is great to use without needing flash. Get it!

AnselA

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2012, 09:45:39 AM »

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Re: Canon 50mm 1.4 AF problem?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2012, 09:45:39 AM »