The Canon 50mm f/1.4 is an awesome pice of Dad Gear. If you are looking for a great lens for cheap to compliment your Canon DSLR this is a lens to check out. This lens is fast to focus, and has a fast aperture which will allow you to get fast shutter speeds. This lens has excellent bokeh for the money, however compared to the higher end 50mm lenses it is rather harsh. This lens is extremely sharp. The value for the money for this lens is outstanding.
I purchased my copy of the Canon 50mm f1.4 back in October of 2007. This was my first ever Canon lens. Thus I found it a great place to start on my lens reviews. I purchased my Canon 50mm f1.4 with my Canon 1DMKIII. This is an excellent affordable lens.
I can actually still remember the day that I got this lens from fed-ex. I was excited beyond words to be receiving this lens and the 1DMKIII. I compared this lens to the Nikon 50mm f1.8 AFD that I was using at the time with my Nikon D70s body. When compared to the Nikon 50mm f1.8 AFD I initially flet that the Nikon was the superior lens. The Nikon felt a little nicer in hand. After using the Canon 50mm f1.4 for the last five years my opion has changed and I now prefer the Canon despite some of its flaws which we will get into later.
The Canon 50mm f1.4 is a well built lens for the cost. It has a metal mount, and plastic body. The lens feels good in the hand. It is much lighter than the Canon 50mm f1.2 L. Compared to the 50mm f1.8 the 1.4 is significantly heavier but not that much bigger in size. The lens is similar in construction to the 85mm f1.8.
I have shot a lot with both the 50mmL and with the 50mm f1.4. I personally prefer the 50mm f1.4. The 50mm f1.4 focuses faster than the 1.2. The 1.4 has a lot less glass to move. Also I prefer the way the f1.4 does manual focus with the f1.2 it feels like the focus ring is not attached to anything it uses a fly by wire system to electronically move the elements. The f1.4 is much more dampened. I also find that achieving accurate focus no matter the f stop is much easer with the 1.4. The biggest benefit of the cheaper f1.4 lens is the weight. The 1.4 is a much lighter lens to carry around. Optically the f1.2 does produce a more pleasing bokeh. Otherwise I have found that both lenses are capable of excellent sharpness. When compared to the 50mm f1.8 I think the f1.4 is the all around nicer lens. I have found the bokeh on the f1.8 to be more harsh and found the 1.8 to be more prone to flare. The 50mm f1.5 does have its own set of challenge though.
I have had my copy of the 50f1.4 for close to five years. It has been used in all sorts of conditions. The 50mm f1.4 is not a weather sealed lens. I have never really needed weather sealing. I have taken tens of thousands of images with this lens. Over the years it has started to show some signs of wear. The focus motor makes some noise as it focuses and compared to a new 50f1.4 mine focuses a little slower. Also during manual focus it feels like something is kind of grinding inside the lens. However the optical performance and keeper rate of the lens has not changed. Optically this lens is pretty good I won’t go into depth here though as it has been covered elsewhere.
I plan on posting a video of the focus noise later.
In short the 50mm f1.4 is a great lens for the money. When you buy this lens don’t expect it to have the build quality of a Zeiss or even the build quality of the L. The build quality is excellent for the money though. For the price of the more expensive lenses you can buy this one several times and not worry about it. Honestly I just prefer this lens over the L.
I have been on the search for another 50mm lens. I have re-examined the 50 mm L, the 1.8, the Sigma f1.4, the Zeiss f1.4 and also the Zeiss f2. Out of all the 50mm lenses avalable for the Canon mount the 50mm f1.4 is my second favorite. The Zeiss 50mm f2 is my favorite. Unfortunately the Zeiss 50mm f2. is crazy expensive and way more expensive than I am willing to pay for a 50mm lens.
So if you are on the fence about a 50mm lens for Canon go check out the f1.4 you will not regret it. It is a very good quality lens with great optics. The lens does have its tradeoffs but when you weight them out it is a great lens.