Canon 50 1.4 vs Others

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by 25asa, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. Does the Canon 50 1.4 still hold up well compared to other 50 offerings from Sigma, Zeiss, and so on? I'd love to get the Zeiss, but the manual focus and harsh bokeh make me think twice. The Sigma seems to have focus issues too. Yet the 50 1.4 is getting long in the tooth with its old USM and Im wondering if the other lenses have better the quality of pictures or not. What say you? Other option is the 50 1.2L, but thats a whole other league then these.
  2. Does the Canon 50 1.4 still hold up well compared to other 50 offerings from Sigma, Zeiss, and so on?​
    Well, WO, the Sigma outperforms all, and is the standout (esp. at the price point!). Edge disortion is off the charts (of course) on FF, as is the Canon (though maybe slightly less off the charts). But the Canon is so abyssmal WO throughout the frame, it's not even a valid comparison. (the zeiss I can't specifically say, because I haven't used it -- When they decide to come out of the 80s --w/ an AF motor, maybe it'll be worth considering -esp. at the price).
    On the crop, the Sig remains sharp (WO) throughout the frame (aka no edge problems) ... OTOH the Canon is... well undescribable, with a small 'sweet spot' of sharpness in the center of the APS-C frame WO.
    A much more even comparison would be the 50/1.2L and the Sig 50/1.4 , w/ the 50/1.2 beating the performance of the Sig 50/1.4 (due to it's poor edge performance -- on FF units), but only marginally so, and with qualifications. (for example, overall sharpnes of the 50/1.2 on the crop @ f1.4 -> f2 is WORSE than the Sig 50/1.4 @f1.4->f2)
    I've shot w/ all three (50/1.2L, EF 50/1.4, and Sigma 50/1.4 HSM) on both FF and Crop units, and the undisputed winner (in my book, and my experience) is the Sigma, --- vs. the EF50/1.4 because of the optical performance, and crappy (EF) AF system, and vs. the 50/1.2L because of the similar optical performance (though f1.2 is fun to play w/), cost(!), and slow AF (slower than an HSM --really!). VS. the zeiss because the AF wouldn't work! WTH!? ;-)
  3. Had the Canon 50/1.4 and Sigma 50/1.4. Now have the Zeiss 50/1.4 and 50/1.2. I know it sounds like sacrilege but the Zeiss' IQ is the worst. I sold the Sigma because of focus issues and the Canon because I thought its IQ advantage over the 50/1.8 minimal (only bokeh).
    My opinion is that the Canon 50/1.4 is the "least worse" 50mm AF lens. If you're fine with MF then the Zeiss 50/2 is superb but it's nearly 50/1.2 money.
    Sorry, I can't seem to like any 50mm out there. Thus I can't wholeheartedly recommend any. Put a gun to my head and I'll choose the 50/1.4 USM. As no gun is pointed at me :) the ones I have will soon be gone as well.
    Happy shooting,
  4. I have come to a small realisation with this, umpteenth 50 mm lens thread this week, peoples impression of the various choices is more a reflection on how they use the lens in question.
    For instance Peters Flickr feed has some beautiful images, but none that would show up the "focusing issues" that are regularly reported by both Sigma and Canon f1.2 owners. Those problems are normally linked to much shorter focus distances.
    Personally I have the Canon 50 mm f1.4 and am pretty hard on gear, I have never had an issue with it, in fact I really really like the lens, it focuses spot on at all ranges and f stops. Most users seem to hate this lens.
    My best advice, spend an hour or two looking through Flickr feeds of the various choices, look specifically for the style of images you like and will be taking, it seems what works for one person is hated by another!
  5. Yakim has it exactly right in my opinion. I use the 50mm f1.4 and it is an excellent lens optically taken overall, but with uninspiring feel and build quality - but this latter point is not important really is it? It's the pictures that count. I use mine at f1.4 frequently and of course it is not so good wide open - people act as though this is "bad" and surprising - it is completely to be expected for a fast 50. The Zeiss macro 50mm is the best (superb) performer of the lot but it is $$$ and MF. If there was an AF 50mm with inspiring build and better performance overall I would buy one, but until then I use the Canon 50/1.4.
  6. Of course ones perception does depend quite a bit on what camera you are using. I use the 5DmkII.
  7. I've used the two EF Zeiss 50s and I found them to be excellent and if I could afford one or both I would replace my 50 f/1.4.
    Having said that the 50 f/1.4 has it's warts but on the whole the lens works adequtely, actually very well, considering it's cost.
  8. I'm amazed that the myth that the Sigma 50/1.4 is optically superior to the Canon 50/1.4 continues to be circulated. For just one myth-busting example, compare photozone's reviews of the Canon, Sigma, and Zeiss. (Just for fun, I've also included a link to the review of the EF 50/1.2 L.)
    Canon 50/1.4 review
    Canon 50/1.2 L review
    Sigma 50/1.4 review
    Zeiss 50/1.4 review
  9. The EF 50mm f/1.4 is a fine performer. Some, but not all, of the people continually searching for third-party miracle lenses may be letting themselves become more focused on gear than on photography, with all due respect. (Again, not everyone is in that category, but it is a danger.)
    The EF 50mm f/1.4 is not an L lens, so it has build quality that is less studly that those lenses. But it is built decently. Image quality is excellent in most ways, especially at apertures of f/2 and smaller, where it competes with pretty much any other 50mm prime. Frankly, its optical performance is in the same league as that from L primes. At f/1.4 it is known to have reduced contrast, though sharpness is better there than many believe - they can mistake the lower contrast for less contrast.
    To the extent that other lenses might be "better," it is good to keep a few things in mind:
    • All of the lenses in this class can produce excellent image quality, including the Canon.
    • The supposed differences are often both subjective and very small - so small that a careful observer would be hard pressed to distinguish among prints made with the various lenses.
    • The compatibility of the Canon lenses is worth something.
  10. stp


    I photograph landscapes, and I couldn't be happier with my Zeiss f/2 Makro. I'm more interested in IQ than speed, and that's what I got.
  11. I've owned all the Canon 50s plus the Sigma 50 2.8 EX. In terms of sharpness or distortion control, the EF 50 2.5 CM and Sigma 50 2.8 EX had the edge at F2.8. My EF 50 1.8 (2 copies) and 50 1.4 USM were pretty terrible wide open but decent at F2.8. Both had massive barreling when focused at 2 meters or less, especially the 50 1.4. Oddly the barreling was considerably less at greater distances.
    My fav 50 is the EF 50 1.2L. It's not as sharp as the 50 2.5 CM, but is very good wide open and my copy is sharper than my old 50 1.8 and 50 1.4 below F5.6. And the AF and build quality is the best of the bunch. Of course you pay dearly for that edge in quality. I mainly use the 50 1.2 from wide open to F2.8.
  12. I had Canon 50mm F1.4 for a few years. And is average performer on my mind. F1.4 to F2 is barely usable (yes you can get shots, but they are nowhere near perfect). I decided to change it. But I found out that most of these 50mm F1.4 are pretty much similar in their design and performance (including Canon 50mm F1.2L and Zeiss Planar 50mm F1.4, which I was also using)...
    So after long research and testing... I gave up a bit of speed, but now have 50mm lens which performs perfect from wide open... and is perfect and for portraits, and for low light (with 5D MKII is no problem to raise ISO a bit to compensate for speed loss or to step one closer to subject if you want a bit shallower DOF). And the lens I bought and I am very happy with is Zeiss Macro Planar 50mm F2 ZE...
  13. Why not RENT the Canon & sigma this way you can try them out for yourself and make your own decision from your test....asking everyone here and it will almost be a split decision :)
  14. I've used my Canon 50 for many years and it is one of my favorite lenses. I've NEVER had a bad shot with that lens and thought that it was the lens that let me down, and I have MANY shots which still make me stop and say "wow"--the image quality is just great. I typically shoot at f/2-f/5.6. I use a hood, and perhaps because this protects the lens' focusing mechanism I have never had a problem with reliability.
    I have also tried a friend's Sigma and it was terrific, too. But it didn't make me want to trade.
  15. I love my inexpensive Canon 50MM 1.8. I tried a relative's Canon 50MM 1.4 for a few days and the auto-focus on his copy was not working properly. I read somewhere that this model has had frequent AF problems.
    If you don't already have a Canon 50MM 1.8, look into it or rent one.
  16. I loved my Sigma 1.4. Center of frame was beautiful, and once I was at say, f2, it was very sharp.

    Unfortunately, In the 6 months I've had the Sigma, both auto and manual focus have stopped working. Having trouble getting Sigma to honor their warranty, although I see no reason why they shouldn't.

    Pros: Amazing lens, feels great on a 1 series body. OOF is creamy smooth. Razor sharp.
    Cons: Build quality lacks a bit. Broken after 6 months of careful use? Customer Service.
  17. "... F2 is barely usable..."
    Two points: If f/2 was "barely usable" on your EF 50mm f/1.4, you should have returned it or sent it in for adjustment. A normal copy of this lens performs very well at f/2. Second, given that the Canon really does perform well at f/2, it seems odd to instead get a lens that only goes to... f/2.
    Just sayin'...
  18. If you like to have a look to the Zeiss performance check out Richard Schleunings images on
    Regards Axel
  19. each 50mm has its own unique signature, however I don't think that there is much difference between them. if image quality is the be all and end all for you, then your next step is to move to standard lenses (non retrofocus designs), but that's going to mean moving away from SLR's.
  20. What camera do you have? Does it have AF microadjustment? Fast lenses without aspherical elements frequently suffer from variation in focus at wide open apertures and close focus distance. My Canon EF 50mm f1.4 needs the -20 setting to be sharp close up at f1.4, which is where I almost always use it at for available light portraits (center sharp with nice out-of-focus periphery). If you only need smaller apertures, get the 50mm f1.8 and spend your money on other stuff.
  21. I'm amazed that the myth that the Sigma 50/1.4 is optically superior to the Canon 50/1.4 continues to be circulated.​
    I must admit I'm one of these circulation makes. When sharpness is about the same and bokeh is much better I call it's IQ "better". Have a look at a comparison I did some time ago. If AF accuracy had any consistency I'd never sell it. Of course, the AF mechanism in the 50/1.4 USM has it's own share of problems....
    Happy shooting,
  22. I tried two Sigma 50s and own one, owned and sold a Canon 50 f/1.4, and long ago got rid of a Canon f/1.8 II. I will be selling the Sigma and buying a 50L in the future because I want the 50mm focal length in a lens whose AF system I can trust and without having the soft hazy effect wide open (the Sigma has this at close focus distances).
  23. Thanks for all the responses guys. I just check the pricing on the Zeiss 50mm f2 macro and its not too far off from what I'd pay. Its cheaper then the L lens. Is the Zeiss macro really a good one to go with (even if you manual focus it)? Is it any sharper then the Sigma especially in the sweet spot range of f5.6-8? How is the bokeh on the Zeiss? How is micro/ macro dynamics and contrast on this Zeiss? Does it give a 3D look and that classic Zeiss look?
  24. The Canon 1.4 is incredibly sharp at f5.6 and f8, really phenomenally sharp, it even tests out better than Canon's 100 L IS macro. On straight performance levels the Zeiss is not worth three times the Canon. If you want long throw manual focus then the Zeiss is the only game in town, if you don't need that, losing AF functionality and paying so much more for a fractional IQ difference (if any) at those apertures wouldn't be worth it for most people.
    Can you tell the difference?
  25. If you're going to shoot mostly at 5.6-8 then the lens you use becomes almost irrelevant. It's wide open when the major differences can be spotted.
    Happy shooting,

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