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Is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens Better than the f/1.8 Lens?

The natural thing to do here is for people to compare the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM with the f/1.8. After all the f/1.8 is cheaper and easier to find and does about the same, right? Well, maybe. The f/1.8 is a good beginners leans for 50mm photos. The 50mm lens is a good way to start as it has the same focal length as the human eye does. So the f/1.8 is a nice step up from the consumer lens that came with your camera. It is a great place to get one feet wet with getting better quality photos than your standard snap shots. So why might you want to spend more to get the f/1.4 when the f/1.8 is so good? Simply put because the f/1.4 is better. While the f/1.8 does well under certain conditions the f/1.4 will capture good images in a much wider range of conditions.

The f/1.4 is made well even though it is affordable. It should last you longer than the plastic construction of the f/1.8. This will also mean it will be worth more should you choose to sell it and upgrade again later. You can think of buying the f/1.4 as an investment. The solid construction will also feel much better in your hand. While some users have reported the front lens falling out of the f/1.8, my f/1.4 has needed no calibration or work done even at seventy thousand photos taken and counting. The only issue with the f/1.4 is the macro focus motor is not built as well as other USM lenses.

The f/1.4 is a very versatile lens. You can use your auto-focus and then make manual adjustments without switching anything. They consider this a full time manual focus. With the f/1.8 you need to flip a switch back and forth between the two types of focusing. The f/1.4 also has a better and more reliable focus than the f/1.8. The f/1.4 is much better in dim lighting conditions and is less noisy. The f/1.4 is resistant to barrel distortion and chromatic aberration. The f/1.4 is much less subject to problems such as lens flare than the f/1.8.

The f/1.4 will also get your truer color than the f/1.8 does. When images are taken at the widest apertures the f/1.4 out performs the f/1.8 and the images require post work much less frequently. You should easily be able to adjust setting for the sharpness or clarity by stopping down or not.

My 50mm f/1.4 has given me great images right from the start. They are decently sharper at f/1.4 and get sharper as you go past f/1.8. It does have some fuzzy edges around 1.4-1.6. If you do not get the sharpness you expect I would suggest either trading the lens or having it calibrated. The f/1.4 should perform well when calibrated correctly.

The f/1.4 is a serious lens for serious photography. It will get you sharper clearer images with better color and less distortion. The tight focal panel is great for getting a nice clear subject with a more fuzzy background for shots common to things like wedding photography or newspaper photos or people. Overall both lenses are good but the f/1.4 is much better and if you are ready to take a step up you will notice a much bigger difference in quality if you spend just a bit more and get the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens.

Mon, 23 Feb 2009 22:49:53 +0000

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