Canon 50mm f/1.8 vs. Canon 50mm f/1.4

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by CopenKagan, Nov 12, 2006.

  1. CopenKagan

    CopenKagan TPF Noob!

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    I'm going to buy one of these 2 lenses in the very short future. My question is this. Is the 1.4 superior enough in speed and image quality to warrant the extra money? I have no problem spending that much on it, but not if it's only marginally better than the 1.8.

    I don't have a really sharp lens and would like to add a nice sharp lens for portraits to my collection. And it seems like the 1.4 is going to be the best bang for my buck.
     
  2. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    If only I could say this!
    The 1.4 is four times as much as the 1.8 (here) - so in case I can suggest to some "Santa Claus" to give me a 50mm prime lens it will (for sure) never be the 1.4 (though that would be so cool!) but definitely only the 1.8.

    But let's see what others say about the difference in quality and if it warrants a price four times as much as for the 1.8 - I'm afraid I don't know, either.
     
  3. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm not a Canon user but I am a little familiar with lens design. Most likely, the f1.8 will be a little sharper at the corners of the frame. If you are using digital, you aren't using the corners of the frame anyway. Otherwise I would expect the two lenses to perform about the same optically. There may be differences in field flatness or contrast and other things but those would still likely favor the f1.8 slightly. What you pay for is 2/3 stop more ability to gather light, not provide better images. The f1.4 lens will be 2/3 stop faster. Whether that is important to you or not is something only you can determine.

    I'll make a guess too that the difference in price is probably more likely due to the country of manufacture than the design. But that is a guess.

    If these were Nikon lenses I would simply remove the terms "guess" and "most likely" from my post since I've tested tham. I'd be amazed if the reality with Canon were any different.
     
  4. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This question comes up once in a while and I like that Canon now has three choices of the venerable 50mm focal length. I've owned both the 50mm f1.8 Mark I and the 50mm f1.4. Both are excellent lenses and will produce images that will rival other zooms many times the cost. The biggest difference I found between the two lenses are build quality (USM vs "zippy" motor) and cost. Image wise, I found the f1.4 version produces more pleasant bokeh (more aperture blades). Back when I was a struggling college student, I couldn't have been more happy with the f1.8.... now that I'm a bit more cash in pocket, I'm even more happy with the f1.4.

    Best Bang for buck?... I still say its still the 50mm f1.8. For under $100 there isn't anything out there in the canon line that will get you as much.

    Got more cash... go ahead and get the 50mm f1.4.

    got cash to burn... feel free to get the new 50mm f1.2 L. You should know very well the adv/dis of such a lens prior to such an expensive sale.
     
  5. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Oh yeh... since you did mention sharp and portraits in the same sentence let me introduce you to one of my favorite primes; 85mm f1.8 USM. Well regarded as another lens in the Canon line with the best for buck.

    If I were just starting to add primes to my bag for not too much $$$, I'd go with 50mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8.
     
  6. CopenKagan

    CopenKagan TPF Noob!

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    I would LOVE to get the f/1.2L, but I just can't justify that much money for it. So it looks I will be purchasing the f/1.4. And I considered the 85mm f/1.8, but I think that is going to be too long for what I plan on using it for.
     
  7. Innocence

    Innocence TPF Noob!

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    I'm new to dslrs and have only experienced the 1.8 (no other lenses!)

    Hence when people complain about the build quality, I can't really relate to it because I havent felt anything better. (It's made of plastic.) :) But it feels good haha.

    Oh I am a poor college student btw.

    But the images are great!
     
  8. Shakka Brah

    Shakka Brah TPF Noob!

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    I am having basically the same problem I will end up getting the 1.8 because the only bad thing I have heard and can think of is the plastic body. Personally for an $80 lense it is worth getting the less sturdy one. I have seen enough pics from the 1.8 to know that it is good enough for me.

    I know this probably wasnt too helpful but I just thought I would share. It is also wierd that this thread came up just as I had made my decision.
     
  9. bitteraspects

    bitteraspects TPF Noob!

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    the bild quality is much better on the 1.4, but image quality is very similar. i own them both, and i havnt noticed much of a difference to be completely honest. at 1.8 your dof is already pretty small, so imagine 1.4 or 1.2. it will give you the light in low light situations, but you still have to deal with the pof only being the very center of the image.
    i will however, be picking up the 1.2 shortly, only because the image quality is supposed to be great. hopefully i can get rid of my other two so i can get back some of the money for the ne 50.
     
  10. I am fortunate enough that I can pretty much afford whatever I choose. I looked at the 1.2L, and couldn't justify it. So I went with the 1.4. I've had it for a while now, but now wonder if even the 1.8 would have been good enough. I like the build quality and the USM, and wouldn't be surprised if the 1.8 would ultimately strike me as slightly flimsy. However, I think you ought to get the 1.8 and save money for better lenses in the long run. I also own a 24-70mm L and find that to be my default lens. I only use the 50mm when I'm shooting kids in the evening with fill-flash, and don't want the camera to get too heavy. Ultimately the lens gets less action than I thought, and I could have probably satisfied my needs with the 1.8.

    Edit: If you're not careful or using the DOF consciously, the 1.4's DOF can be too shallow! Make sure you know what you're going for.
     
  11. JamesD

    JamesD Between darkrooms

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    I faced this same question earlier this year. I wound up opting for the f/1.4, and I have not regretted it once.

    The lens probably isn't three or more times better than the f/1.8... law of diminishing returns. However, it is a better lens, and if you want good glass, you'll be happier with it.

    The f/1.4's DOF (wide open) is incredibly shallow. I love it. It focuses quickly, and the images are good quality.

    For an example of exactly how shallow the DOF is wide open on the 1.4, check out this thread: http://thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=63928. I focused on her eyes (that fast USM autofocus is invaluable when shooting toddlers). Her shirt, her hair... everything else is soft. In the print, you can see that the tip of her nose is out of focus lol. So yeah, it's shallow.
     
  12. CopenKagan

    CopenKagan TPF Noob!

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    Well, I wound up with the 1.8. So far I'm more than happy with it. I can't believe how sharp it is for as cheap as it was.
     

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