Nigel Atkinson Photography

Equipment review: Canon 50mm f1.4


Before reading this review please read my general introduction to reviews here


Iím a great fan of 50mm lenses. All my early 35mm SLR cameras came with a standard lens of around 50mm (Zenit E, Pentax K1000, Olympus OM1n and OM2n). In those days it was assumed you would buy one and the issue was whether it would be f2, f1.8, f1.4 or even f1.2. As zooms improved to the point where the optical penalty was small enough to be outweighed by the convenience most people bought a Ďstandardí zoom that either started at f3.5 or above weighed a ton to get f2.8.

The 50mm f1.4 has excellent optics and is a bargain at the price. I use this lens as a walkabout lens when my main subjects will be people in available light. The large aperture allows selective focus and good shutter speeds indoors with available light from windows. It is not one of Canonís best pieces of engineering: the focus motor is a little noisy and tends to jump around a bit; the manual focus ring needs a gentle touch; and the Canon hood is pathetic for the price charged.

I bought a friend a Canon 50mm f1.8 for her 40th birthday, and its engineering is even more suspect but it is also a fantastic bargain! Iím please to report that not only is she using the 50mm lens, but she also bought a Ricoh GR1V.

For the record, every Canon lens hood is pathetic for the price charged and should just be included with the purchase. The hood for this lens is probably the worst example of this as it is tiny. Despite this on-going Canon con Iíve bought hoods for all my lenses and wouldnít dream of using a lens without it.

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