for photographers

Review of Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM

Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens Is one of the most popular in Canon's lineup for a wide range of amateur photographers. Perhaps even the most popular, given its low cost and advertised everywhere portrait qualities.

Historical information

The Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM is one of Canon's 7 EF XNUMXs:

The model was released in 1993, long before the era of digital photography, and nevertheless, remains relevant for modern photographers. Although it differs in some drawbacks of outdated models: weak autofocus and mediocre sharpness at open apertures (which, in principle, is not such a big drawback).

The other day I bought this lens and I want to share my impressions. I must say right away that I don’t regret the purchase, the lens is wonderful. Comparing with a competitor Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM, which he used for some time and later sold.


It is a very compact and lightweight lens. I love it. This is one of the significant advantages of fixes, along with aperture ratio and distinctive image quality and color reproduction. It is convenient to carry such a lens with you, its weight (290g) is practically not felt and its presence in a bag as an additional lens is not at all burdensome (unlike the Sigma 50mm).

Auto focus

The weak point of this lens is the focusing mechanism. Autofocus is very slow and a little noisy. The reason for this is the focusing mechanism. micro-USM... The lens was released in 1993, so it is obvious that it is inferior to newer models with a ring USM motor. At aperture 1.4, it is generally difficult to hit small objects against a complex background (I tested it on the 5d mark III). Also a drawback is the front element that extends when focusing.

On the Internet, you can find many reviews where the Canon 50 1.4 USM is compared to the Canon 50 1.8 and write about excellent focusing speed. As it is, Canon 50 1.4 focuses slowly and loudly. I compare with its newer and more expensive cousins ​​from the mid-range fix line: Canon EF 35mm f2 IS USM и Canon EF 85mm f1.8 USM... These models focus with lightning speed, precision and soundlessness. I'm not talking about Canon 24-70mm f2.8L.


The blur of the background with this lens is very pleasing. If you choose the optimal shooting distance, you can shoot great portraits with it. Although 50mm is not portrait focal length and telephoto lenses are much better for these purposes, but the Canon 50 1.4 open up is quite good for photographing people.

bokeh on canon 50 1.4
bokeh on canon 85 1.8

Everywhere they write that Sigma 50 1.4 better bokeh than Canon's fifty. If you compare 2 shots with both lenses in identical conditions with an approximation of 200%, maybe Sigma will seem better to someone. But personally, I really liked the Canon bokeh. And it's not just bokeh. More on that later.

Color rendition

What I love about Canon lenses is their color reproduction. I do not like the much-praised Sigma lenses for their cold color reproduction and specific elaboration of midtones. As I am becoming more and more convinced, almost no one notices these nuances. But for me personally, color rendition is very important. That's why Canon rules :)

Sharpness open f1.4

Another myth: Sigma 50 1.4 (not art) is sharper than Canon. They are both out of focus in the open. Canon is sharper in the center, in my opinion, and Sigma - around the edges. Only it doesn't matter. The question is, is this sharpness necessary? Aperture 1.4 is needed for portraits or close-up photography with isolation from the background. Excessive sharpness on the face of the subject is not an advantage, but a disadvantage. For photographing people f1.4 on this lens - working diaphragm.

Covering up to f5.6, you get a razor sharp image. For comparison, Here is a photo for kenon 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. I cannot name a winner. They are all gorgeous. At f2 or f2.8, the lens shows good image clarity.

Lyrical digression - about harshness.

Now, in the era of digital photography and aggressive marketing from photographic equipment manufacturers, there is a race for technical parameters. In the case of cameras, these are: the number of megapixels, the speed of continuous shooting, the ability to shoot 4K video and other parameters that no one needs in practice. Speaking of lenses, of course sharpness... Buying new models of the Art series from Sigma, you can be sure of perfect 1.4 sharpness across the entire field. This is some kind of fetish. Only here the aperture 1.4 is very specific and is needed for a rather narrow range of tasks for which sharpness is not the main indicator. At 1.4 they do not shoot landscapes or architecture, at 1.4 they do not carry out subject or macro photography, at 1.4 they do not shoot group portraits, after all. What else can you say ...


Minimum Focus Distance 45sm did not please. It is impossible to photograph anything close. 45cm is enough to take a face portrait with this lens (which is not recommended at all), but not enough to shoot up close wedding rings... Wide-angle Canon EF 35mm f2 IS USM with MDF 23cm allows you to photograph much more close-up than this fifty dollar.

Sample Photos

Here are the portrait photos in the studio:

Reportage photos from a Latin American party. All frames were taken with this lens, f2. Autofocus, although slow, kept up with people. Frames without flash.


Summing up, I will say that the lens definitely pleased me. Despite its disadvantages in the form of weak autofocus and large MDF, its advantages are still noticeable. It is compact, lightweight, inexpensive (which is why it is so popular), and most importantly, it delivers the excellent image quality of Canon prime lenses. I do not consider the focal 50mm universal, but it has a wide range of applications. Moreover, on crop he becomes a full-fledged portrait painter. I recommend to buy (if you know what you need it for). And the scope of application of fifty dollars is a topic for a separate article.

My Canon half-shots video reviews:

Related articles: