Cool Dad Stuff: Canon 50mm f/1.4

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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.

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Cool Dad Stuff: White’s Boots

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Dads have to be cool too. So I am introducing you guys to some of the coolest boots on the market. White’s Semi Dress boots to be specific. There are some seriously questionable dad style options going on. So here is my contribution to making dads a little cooler.

In December of 2009 I came across White’s boots at my favorite clothing store. From the second I first saw them I was in love. Above is a picture of my White’s Semi Dress boots that I purchased in 2009. They have seen daily wear since that time.

These boots are rugged, and they are cool. They are hand made in Washington state by some amazing craftsmen. They use only the highest grades of materials for their boots. They are fully rebuildable boots. These boots will last you a lifetime.

These boots are as comfortable to wear on the job site, in the office, or to kick around on the weekends as they are cool. They come in both the leather sole option pictured above or with a Vibram rubber sole. They do take awhile to break in. After the break in period they are amazing.

They work well with jeans, and also they go great with other casual attire. They have the classic work wear look and feel.

Anyway dads these are some awesome boots that can kick up your personal style.

Depth of Field

Alright dads it is time to talk photography. Depth of field is a photographic term that describes how much of an image is in focus. Here is a visual representation of DOF. I decided to use some beer bottles to help illustrate my point. So kick back grab a beer and enjoy! You might just learn something about photography.

f32 aka a ton of DOF. The thing to remember though is that on 35mm format this photo is "diffraction limited"

f32 aka a ton of DOF. The thing to remember though is that on 35mm format this photo is “diffraction limited”

 

f22 Welcome to the land of deep depth of field. Diffraction starts to take a real toll on image quality here.

f22 Welcome to the land of deep depth of field. Diffraction starts to take a real toll on image quality here.

f16 This image has a lot of DOF. However you can start to see a little fuzzyness on the last bottle.

f16 This image has a lot of DOF. However you can start to see a little fuzzyness on the last bottle.

f11 this is a pretty common apperture to use for shooting product. You are starting to reach the point where diffraction can limit image resolution.  The last bottle is a little fuzzy and the second to last bottle starts to go out of focus too.

f11 this is a pretty common apperture to use for shooting product. You are starting to reach the point where diffraction can limit image resolution. The last bottle is a little fuzzy and the second to last bottle starts to go out of focus too.

f8. The old saying in photography is f8 and be there. The first two bottles are clearly focused. The last to are out of focus.

f8. The old saying in photography is f8 and be there. The first two bottles are clearly focused. The last to are out of focus.

f5.6 this is a really common portrait apperture. The first bottle is super sharp. About as sharp as it can be with this lens.

f5.6 this is a really common portrait apperture. The first bottle is super sharp. About as sharp as it can be with this lens.

f4 The bottles in back are starting to really read as out of focus.

f4 The bottles in back are starting to really read as out of focus.

f3.5 DOF is starting to get noticeably deeper.

f3.5 DOF is starting to get noticeably deeper.

f3.2 This is a narrow DOF and lenses are at sub optomial levels any narrower than this, but they are used for effect, and for speed.

f3.2 This is a narrow DOF and lenses are at sub optomial levels any narrower than this, but they are used for effect, and for speed.

f2.8 this is as fast as most zooms get. You can nail sharpness still, but it is not as sharp as f5.6 anywhere in the image.

f2.8 this is as fast as most zooms get. You can nail sharpness still, but it is not as sharp as f5.6 anywhere in the image.

f2.0 things in back are really out of focus now.

f2.0 things in back are really out of focus now.

f1.8 This is about as narrow as DOF gets on most lenses.

f1.8 This is about as narrow as DOF gets on most lenses.

 

So how do you translate this to taking pictures of your kids? The big take away is what aperture does. The aperture on the camera affects how much of the image is in focus.

Go take some pictures and report back…

Flashes of Hope

Last week I had the privledge of working for Flashes of Hope. If you don’t know about Flashes of Hope here is the description from their website:

“Flashes of Hope is a nonprofit organization that changes the way children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses see themselves through the gift of photography and raises money for pediatric cancer research.

The portraits, taken by award-winning photographers, help children feel better about their changing appearance by celebrating it. For families of terminally ill children, it’s especially important to have a portrait that preserves forever the beauty, grace and dignity of their child.

Founded by a 10-year old cancer patient, our Kick-It program raises money for children’s cancer research. Cancer remains the leading disease killer of children in the United States and our goal to kick cancer out of EVERY childhood! For more information, please visit www.kick-it.org. Our goal is to photograph every child until every child is cured.”

In short Flashes of Hope is an amazing organization that puts children and families in touch with amazing photographers. We get the privilege of photographing these children and their families. The value of a photograph really can not be put into words. Photographing for this organization was one of the highlights in my career.

This is one of the very few organizations that I have ever volunteered to work for as a photographer. I found what they do so moving that I was compelled to help.

I photographed 10 children and their families in a tiny nook in a hospital. We also had two surprise guest for the children (some professional hockey players). It was probably also one of the most emotionally draining experiences of my life. Being a father I had a really hard time keeping it together a few times when I was photographing children that were not much older than my daughter.

Anyway it was amazing. You have to check out this organization and if you can give to them. http://www.flashesofhope.org/