The 50 or the 50? F/1.4 vs F/1.8

Matt S. gives us an awesome breakdown of the Canon 50mm F/1.8 vs. the Canon 50mm F/1.4.

For anyone that's ever purchased their very first Digital SLR and has asked me what lens they should buy, i've always sworn by the Canon 50mm. Depending on how cheap that person is determined whether or not they started out with the 1.8 or the 1.4 version. (I started with the 1.8 version - i'm cheap).

The Canon 50mm F/1.8 lens Found Here for less than $99.00 dollars, is the cheapest prime you can get into that gets you shooting some very professional looking images. It also feels like the cheapest.

The Canon 50mm F/1.4 is about 3 times the price at $349.00 Found Here, and adds some worthy features like a bigger smoother focus ring, more quality build, and an aperture of 1.4. Check out the video above to get more information, and If you're not an owner of either Canon 50mm's, well you're just hurting yourself....Get one!

There is also a F/1.2 L version, but we'll save that review for another day. Check out the Price on the F/1.2 version

8 thoughts on “The 50 or the 50? F/1.4 vs F/1.8

  1. Keith K.

    The images I get from my f1.4 are awesome. When paired with the LCW ND Fader mkII you can get some awesome shots. I'd like to rent the F/1.2L lens sometime just for comparison.

  2. admin

    Post author

    Great find Matt! Yeah I remember reading something years ago about Distance + Aperture changes the way an image looks which is why I mentioned a 200mm at F/2.8 could look as good as a F/1.4 lens. For portrait photography, I often use my 100mm F/2.8 or 70-200mm F/2.8 lenses because it gives a different look to an image over a 24-70mm F/2.8.

    I have an 85m F/1.2, but that has trouble with close range focusing. One of the tricks I'll use in photography is to use my 100mm Macro lens, get close to the subject and move the subject away from background. It looks like i'm shooting at F1.0!

  3. Matt S

    BTW -- this is a nice little article on this subject:
    The really interesting part is the example of the subject in front of a background and how "apparent dof" can be shallower when backed up and zoomed in (due to a change of perspective) even though the actual dof remains the same as long as you frame the shot so that the subject is the same size in both cases. Wow! So, when the appearance of shallow DoF is desired, this is a strong argument for the 50mm lens as long as you are able to back it up far enough to frame your shot.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Matt (really helpful video, by the way). I've been reading up on lenses and it seems that since 50mm is supposed to most accurately emulate the human eye's field of vision, getting a 30mm for an camera with a 1.6x crop will result in a focal length that will be wide enough not to feel cramped up when shooting with it.

    From the looks of it, the Sigma is about $80 more expensive, but I think perhaps having a wider angle to play with will be worth the extra investment. Thanks for your feedback, guys — I think I know which one I'm going to get now 🙂

  5. If you frame up the exact same shot on both lenses using the same aperture setting, you will get the same depth of field. For example, the 30mm at 5 feet or the 50mm at 8 feet on a 1.6x crop sensor will both give you roughly 5 total inches of acceptable focus at f/1.4. You can verify this with a DoF calculator. The quality of the bokeh is subjective and related to the specific lens design, so it would have to be tested. For shooting indoors in a small space it is often to your advantage to have a wider angle lens. With the 50mm, I've run into situations where I couldn't back up far enough to frame the shot I wanted.

  6. admin

    Post author

    Focal length on a cropped camera does make a difference if you're trying to achieve the correct distance. The only thing I would have to say is 'Focal Distance + Aperture' makes a difference in how the image looks. A 200mm 2.8 image can look just as good as a 1.4 image. Not sure how much Bokeh or quality of Bokeh you could get with a 30mm F/1.4 would look like compared to a 50mm F/1.4. Anyone else want to Chime in?

  7. Asides from these two, I've also been looking at the Sigma 30mm 1.4, since that's supposed to more accurately emulate a 50mm focal length on an APS-C sensor (I'm planning to get the T2i). Any thoughts on that lens vs. the Canon 50mm 1.4?

    Link: Sigma 30mm F/1.4

  8. admin

    Post author

    For Photography AutoFocusing worked fine. For videography where you need manual focus rings, the 1.8 is not that great.

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