Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens

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Gold Award
It delivers a significantly better optical performance than all but the most extensive zooms, in a small, light and relatively inexpensive package.”

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Key Features

  • 50mm focal length
  • 80mm equivalent focal length on Canon APS-C cameras
  • F1.4 maximum aperture; F22 minimum
  • Ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing
  • 58mm filters
  • 0.45m/17.72" minimum focus
  • Canon EF mount for full frame, APS-H and APS-C DSLRs

Product Description

The EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is Canon’s mid-priced 50mm fast prime, sitting between the inexpensive F1.8 and high-end F1.2 lenses. It offers excellent optical quality, especially when stopped down a bit, and offers a generally more-refined experience than the cheaper lens. It performs very well as both a ‘normal’ lens on full frame cameras, and a short portrait telephoto on APS-C.

Specs

Principal specifications
Lens type Prime lens
Max Format size 35mm FF
Focal length 50 mm
Image stabilisation No
Lens mount Canon EF
Aperture
Maximum aperture F1.4
Minimum aperture F22.0
Aperture ring No
Number of diaphragm blades 8
Optics
Elements 8
Groups 6
Special elements / coatings Two high-refraction lens elements and new Gaussian optics eliminate astigmatism and suppress astigmatic difference
Focus
Minimum focus 0.45 m (17.72)
Maximum magnification 0.15×
Autofocus Yes
Motor type Ultrasonic
Full time manual Yes
Focus method Unit
Physical
Weight 290 g (0.64 lb)
Diameter 74 mm (2.91)
Length 51 mm (1.99)
Materials Plastic barrel, metal mount
Sealing No
Colour Black
Filter thread 58 mm
Hood product code ES-71II
Tripod collar No
Optional accessories Hard Case LHP-C10 Soft Case ES-C9/LP1014

Reviews

DPReview Conclusion

Scoring is relative only to the other lenses in the same category at the time of review.

Score Breakdown
Poor Excellent
Build Quality
Ergonomics and Handling
Features
Image Quality
Value
Gold Award
Gold Award

This is a lens which has its own distinct strengths; it's ideal for users looking to buy a relatively small, lightweight prime, in order to gain image quality simply unavailable on a zoom for the same price. It's an excellent companion to full-frame DSLRs, and also doubles pretty well as a portrait lens on APS-C cameras.

Good For

Lightweight, sharp and versatile, this inexpensive prime lens is a great travelling companion for full-frame and APS-C DSLRs.

Not So Good For

Shooting 'wide open' the dreamy softness at F1.4 won't appeal to everyone, and corner sharpness isn't great at the widest apertures (not that it matters much).

User Reviews

3.79167 out of 5 stars
  • 8632Morrison, Oct 18, 2012 GMT:
    Great fast standard 50

    Excellent lens but now showing it's age. Canon really needs to give us a new one of these. Yet, I use it regularly for it's fast maximum aperture and nice out of focus backgrounds. I find I'm putting it into my bag more and more. It is very difficult to focus handheld at f1.4, you'll want to be very careful as there is little room for error. It's not super sharp in the corners at this aperture either. Often I find I'm shooting at f1.8 and if you're on a very tight budget I'd seriously ...

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  • BozillaNZ, Oct 14, 2012 GMT:
    Mixed bag but I will keep it.

    + Cheap. Optically fantastic, rivals L lenses. Bad build quality. - Bit inconsistent focus. Slight squeeze would deform the focusing cam making it inoperable.

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  • RossPeplow, Sep 1, 2012 GMT:
    Great lens

    Its cheap (as far as lenes go) sharp, fast. and ok build quality.

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  • nekrosoft13, May 28, 2012 GMT:
    Perfect yet flawed

    I tried to replace this lens 3 times with Sigma 50 1.4, but thats just not possible. All 3 sigmas ended up having horrible focusing issues. Just gave up trying. This lens is perfectly sharp, somewhat quiet, other USM lenses tent to me more quiet. Some people report that focus motor can break in this little lens, as long as you take good care of it it won't happen. Very good in low light and quick to ACCURATE focus, not like the Sigma.

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Questions & Answers

QUESTION

Zoom: Field of view changes more rapidly at the short end as you zoom in?

Just bought a 6D with 24-105mm f4 L zoom, very happy with it. However, I am thinking of switching to all prime lenses as my work shifts away from fine art to more portraits. As I struggle with the cost and the desire to get the initial grouping of focal lengths (3, maybe 4 lenses to start) somewhat right for my style, I was puzzled by the effect of the change in focal length zooming in from 24-50mm being much more pronounced than going out from 105-70mm (I was trying to get an idea of which additional lenses to buy using my zoom). I've been shooting for MANY years and although maybe I've noticed it, I never really thought about it. So, the question is: Am I correct in that the increase or decrease of field of view is not linear along the procession of focal lengths? Is it illusory? This matters to me because I already have the 100mm f2 and the 50mm f1.4 and was trying to decide if the 100mm (which I bought as an in between lens for indoor/outdoor portraits) was a mistake and will be ...

wetsignal asked
22 days ago

ANSWERS

A 100 mm lens is twice as long as a 50 mm lens (difference of 50 mm).  A 200 mm lens is twice as long as a 100 mm lens (difference of 100 mm).  A 24 mm lens is twice as long as a 12 mm lens (difference of only 12 mm).  You have to think in percentages.  Most people use a factor of about 1.4 (24, 35, 50, 70, 100...) in building their collections of primes, although a factor of 2 ( 24, 50, 100, 200) isn't really that big of steps, especially with today's high megapixel cameras allowing you to crop in between. Continue Reading

AKRover answered
22 days ago

Yes, the relationship between angle of view and focal length is not linear. There's your answer. Continue Reading

Abu Mahendra answered
22 days ago

Continue Reading

Timbukto answered
22 days ago

QUESTION

50mm f1.4 vs 50mm f1.2 @ 1.4

Hi all, new to Canon forum, am thinking about upgrading to FF and going for broke on 5D MkIII and a couple of lenses. I'm pretty sure I want the 135mm f2 L and a standard, and am tempted by the idea of the 'L' standard because I'm a big fan of shallow depth of field, but I'm disappointed by its performance at f1.2 (from what reviews I've seen). The f1.4 on the other hand seems remarkably good wide open. My question is: if you have both the 50mm f1.4 and the 50mm f1.2, and shoot both at f1.4, how would you describe the differences between both images? Worth an extra thousand pounds? Thanks a lot, Al

Al Downie asked
2 months ago

ANSWERS

At 1.4, I'd say they have similar resolution, but the 50mm 1.4 has a low-contrast veiling haze that reduces acutance. It has somewhat diminished microcontrast compared to the 1.2, and less saturation, too. So I'd say, overall, that the 50mm 1.2 gives a more striking image at wide apertures. Once you get to f/2.8 or so, I'd say the 50mm f/1.4 is actually sharper and has similar contrast, although a bit less saturation. In addition, the 1.2 seems to have better focus at infinity. Both great lenses. Whether the 1.2 is worth the extra money is very difficult to say. I have both lenses and like both. As the previous poster mentioned, Sigma is set to release a new 50mm Art lens. I have a feeling this will be a new class leader (other than the Otus, but that one comes with a huge price tag). Continue Reading

cpkuntz answered
2 months ago

Agree, but that is because the front element of the 1.4 is quite recessed behind a poor quality blacked front.  Get a decent matte black paint and spray it over that front (yes, mask off the glass and the rest of the lens!) and you can improve the 1.4 wide open veiling glare significantly. It doesn't need to be expensive paint (though I used 3M Nextel) just more matte than Canon's semi-silk finish. The end result can be as good as the f/1.2 for a few cents. Continue Reading

Its RKM answered
2 months ago

Lens war comparing the f1.2, f1.4, and f1.8. BTW, my pick was the Sigma 50 f1.4, and they have a new art version just announced. I suspect the new art version will beat them all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKsgrgaGuu0 Continue Reading

Keith Z Leonard answered
2 months ago

QUESTION

100mm f/2.8 macro - repair or just replace?

I have a Canon Rebel T2i and for many years I have been content shooting with my EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and my EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro. I do have the EF-S 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 IS lens that came with the body but I have stopped using it. In the past year or so I have started using Adobe Lightroom for editing and I have become more critical of my work. I stopped using the 18-55 as I understand it is a poorer quality lens and image quality is important to me. I shoot mostly macro nature shots, portraits (usually outdoors), and architectural type shots. Although I like the ease of a zoom lens I am more concerned with image quality and I have been quite content using just the two primes. So, yesterday I became aware of the fairly noticeable chromatic aberration with one of my photos taken with the 100mm. I also noticed that Lightroom has been using the wrong default lens profile. It has been using the 100mm f/2.8 not the 100mm f/2.8 Macro. Even when I manually adjusted the lens profile it did not ...

Will CH asked
10 days ago

ANSWERS

? All three of the EF 100 f/2.8, EF 100 f/2.8 USM, and EF 100 f/2.8L IS USM lenses are Macro. Is it worse than demonstrated in this review? http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/489-canon_100_28_5d?start=1 Is it noticeable in your pics when viewed/printed normally and not looking for it by viewing at 1:1? Continue Reading

Lemming51 answered
10 days ago

Continue Reading

Lemming51 answered
10 days ago

Sorry, my mistake. Lightroom has been automatically using the Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM lens profile instead of the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM profile. I suppose it isn't much worse than demonstrated in that review. What I see on my photos is the green and purple fringing. I didn't realize that so much aberration was considered normal. Now that I know it is there I do think I can see it when I view my photos at a normal size. However, thank you for directing me to that page. It seems to suggest that at f/4 the problem is nearly corrected. I've been analyzing my photos more and it seems that I do tend to shoot with this lens mostly in the f/2.8-f/4 zone. I will experiment more this week and see how it performs above f/4. Thank you so much for your response. This is very helpful information for me to work with. Perhaps now I can keep the lens and maybe use the money for a different lens. Continue Reading

Will CH answered
10 days ago

Warranty Information

"A Product, when delivered to you in new condition in its original container, is warranted against defects in materials or workmanship as follows: for a period of one (1) year from the date of original purchase, defective parts or a defective Product returned to Canon, or its authorized service providers, and proven to be defective upon inspection, will be repaired with new or comparable rebuilt parts or exchanged for a refurbished Product, as determined by Canon or the authorized service provider n their sole discretion. Replaced parts and exchanged Products will become the property of Canon."

Go to Canon USA's warranty page for more information. DPReview GearShop is an authorized Canon dealer in the United States.

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