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-Canon EF lens F/1.4 50 mm
-Minimum Focus Range: 0.45m
-Automatic and Manual Focus Adjustment
-52 mm Filter Size
-Lens Mount: Canon EF only.
-Maximum aperture: F1.4
-Minimum aperture: F22
I bought this lens back in April as I was getting quite frustrated with the 1.8 50mm lens I already had. It's not a 'bad' lens but it wasn't performing well in low light without me having to use my flash bounce 9 times out of 10. This suited my needs at first but as I increased my knowledge in photography and in my camera I outgrew the 1.8 lens. I really liked the 1.8 lens but I'd heard so much good about the 1.4 lens that I felt it was time to move on.
The 1.4 lens is the mid-range 50mm lens from Canon with the 1.8 at the 'cheap' end and the 1.2 lens at the 'so expensive you'll need to take out a loan to pay for this' end. I'd heard there wasn't much difference in terms of image quality between the 1.4 lens and the 1.2 lens so despite really, really wanting the 'best lens' of the range I opted for the 1.4 lens - why pay more for the same thing? Or you know close to the same thing. The glass on this lens is far superior than the 1.8 lens (sorry, there will be a lot of comparison going on here!) and with the 'better build' the 1.4 lens comes up heavier (but only marginally) than the 1.8 lens. While this lens is still small, it is built bigger, too. This gives it a more reassuring feel if I'm honest and doesn't give off such a flimsy vibe.
This lens will set you back £275 (Amazon) which is actually very good value for what you get out of it. The 1.8 lens is around £70-80 whereas the 1.2 lens is into the £1, 200-350 mark. A very considerable price difference, obviously, and makes this lens look like a good value for money kind of lens. For your money you will get excellent image quality, far more creative control with being able to stop it down further, better quality glass, a lens you're able to use in poorly lit situations - for example I was able to get a decent shot of my son asleep in bed without putting on his lights or having the photo ruined by grain. Outside you'll need to experiment with the F-stop a bit more than you'd have to do using the 1.8. As a basic rule I usually set the F-stop to F11 on sunny days and then adjust it accordingly (along with shutter speed, white balance and ISO) and if I'm shooting in incredibly sunny conditions I might need to set it to F16 or even higher to let less light into the lens.
This is a sturdy lens with a decent enough focus ring on it - it doesn't stick and stays where you want it to. The good thing about the lens is that it's a good all-purpose lens; it can be used to shoot a family day out at the safari park with the kids or shooting professionally at a wedding. You'll need to play around with it a lot if you haven't bought a prime lens before as it does require a lot more work to understand than it's cheaper counter-part. A prime lens is a lens with a fixed focal length, in other words if you want to capture more of or less of a scene then you stand closer or further to the subject. This is handy for me as I hate faffing around to get a perfect focal length. With a prime lens you can get some really beautiful results and this is why I own so many prime lenses! I think this lens is one of my 'better' prime lenses (my 35mm comes close) and I'm quite happy to have it in my collection but I will confess I use it a lot less than I thought I would. Not for any reason, really, I suppose I have so many lenses to experiment with that it doesn't get as much use out of it as I'd thought.
Auto focus versus manual focus: Well as I said previously the focus ring on this lens is decent and by that I mean it's not too small to operate (unlike the 1.8 lens) and if you can master using the manual focus then you're probably going to get better shots than you would on auto focus, where the lens (well camera, really) decides where the focus should be. This can be annoying as it can 'blur out' important scenes you might want to capture. Mostly I manually focus this lens but I also confess that having a toddler and auto focus is a God send...sometimes he moves so quickly that I don't have time to focus on what I want so I use auto focus and because he moves so quickly I've also found this lens an absolute delight at capturing those Speedy Gonzales moments - toddler running around pretending to be a racing car? No problem. Toddler with their hands outstretched either side of their body pretending to be Buzz Lightyear? No problem! This lens can capture all the action. If I want to control the focus (and I am a bit of a control freak) in my photo then I simply switch to manual focus (MF on the lens) and if I want to be lazy or have my husband take a photo I'll flip it to auto focus (AF.)
This camera has an EF mount which means it will only fit cameras with an EF mount (all Canon EF cameras or those with converters to take EF lenses.)
Overall I would give this lens a 5/5 because I believe it is excellent value for money, great quality, has a reassuring build and I never feel let down with the images it produces.
I just love this lens, what's not to like about a small, light, cheap lens with fantastic IQ!
The images can be a little soft at f1.4, but with care it does product a sharp result- getting your shot in focus is the real challenge here but if you nail it then you're rewarded by a sharp point of focus with smooth bokeh.
IQ at f2 is a lot better and then at f2.8 onwards it's about as good as it's going to get- incredibly sharp edge to edge, puts the pricey zoom lenses to shame.
The lens is really lightweight, and without the hood (you have to buy the hood separately as canon don't include one) it is practically pocket sized, it is no effort to carry this lens with you.
The lens has dual purpose, because on full frame (where it's arguable more versatile) it can be the only lens you ever need, useable for everything from street photography to loosely cropped portraits- but on APS-C it has the field of view of an 80mm lens, which can be a little long for many applications, but it excels for portraits.
it's not all rosy though, the front lens barrel does wobble a bit when manual focusing and after many years of use I think the wobble has gotten worse- that being said I do use this lens a lot, and I give it a bit of a hammering, but it's still enough to make me consider the 50mm L is this lens should ever break on me. But for most users this 50mm should be all you'd ever need, the L remains in the realm of the professionals and the super rich, the 50mm 1.8 should probably be avoided as it is too fragile and although it is much cheaper it's better to buy the 1.4 as it will last longer, has better IQ and a much much better AF system.
I have had no problem with the AF on this lens, it works well in low light (a lot better than the 1.8) and can track moving objects too- it's perhaps not quite as zipply as the 70-200 2.8, but that lens is about 4 times the price.
I would recommend the lens hood as the lens can exhibit flare when shooting close to the sun, the lens hood makes the lens less portable but makes the lens look really cool (if you care about looks).
The canon 50mm 1.4 is a fantastic lens, and I recommend that every canon shooter gets one. They are quite cheap to buy new, but if you get one used then you can pick up a real bargain, but if you do get one used make sure the lens barrel is solid and doesn't wobble like mine does.
I use this lens with the 7d and 550d for both Video and Stills and it performs superbly.
For stills I use this primarily as a portrait lens as the bokeh from this lens is so flattering to any subject. For video it is excellent for interview subjects and shooting cutaways.
At f1.4 this is the fastest lens in my arsenal, so gets used whenever I am in particularly low light. It is also excellent when I want extensive control of the depth of field. The lens can go very shallow and produce some very stylized shots, but probably performs best when the aperture is set a little lower. This lens is pin sharp.
Build quality feels good although my focus wheel has a slight crunch to it when I turn it.
The only thing that would make this lens better for me would be Image stabilization for video mode.