Canon 50mm f1.4 – For Low Lighting and Very Selective Focus

by Ed Lau on July 24, 2007

Can you tell what DVDs these are from right to left? If you manage to get all the way to that red one on the very left, I’ll be astonished. I’m not throwing any curveballs…these are all commercially available, off-the-rack DVDs.

A few months ago, I broke my beloved Nifty Fifty, which is a nickname many of us Canon shooters have given the 50mm f1.8, the best “bang for your buck” lens in the entire Canon EF lineup…or heck, probably in any SLR system. For as little as $70, you don’t get any fancy pants stuff like quiet or fast focusing motors or a focus distance window. Heck, the whole thing, including the mount, is made of plastic! However, what you get is a fantastically sharp piece of glass. For any of you out there who shoot with a Canon SLR, the 50mm f1.8 should be the first lens you buy. The wide aperture is very useful for throwing backgrounds out of focus (like above) or shooting where lighting sucks.

Because it’s plastic, the cheap lens eventually wears with use. I didn’t expect the whole thing to break in half but something would happen eventually. Rather than buy another f1.8, I decided to try the f1.4, which is an even wider aperture although the difference is difficult to spot. The quality differences, however, are easily noticeable. It’s quite a bit heftier with the metal construction and it’s a USM (ultrasonic motor), meaning focusing is fast and whisper quiet.

in Photography

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen July 24, 2007 at 1:18 pm

Wide aperture is cool. You can find detail in absolute pitch black sometimes and being able to throw the background out of focus makes you look like Mr. Photographer. The 50mm too long for me, so I went with a Nikon 35mm f/2.0 (Japan) which is close to a regular film 50mm. A great all around walking lens.


kenny July 24, 2007 at 1:27 pm

I love fast lenses and the creamy bokeh it produces. Based on some of your posts, we have an identical set of lenses (or had):

70-200/f2.8L IS

my backup camera is the older version of yours too, SD700IS :)

I love the 50 f1.8 and thought about upgrading to the 1.4 as well, but I’ve decided to go with a wider lens like Stephen did.

Looking forward to some work with your new lens!!


Shawn Knight July 24, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Very nice lens. I can totally see where such a low aperture would be useful :)

I only have one lens for my camera now, 18-200mm VR. The wide focal length is great, just wish it had a bit more on the zoom end. I miss the 70-300mm lens I had before this one.


Leo July 25, 2007 at 12:00 am

Well, from what I can see, your choice in DVD’s suck ;)


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