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Author Topic: your experience with Canon EF 50mm f/1.4?  (Read 5036 times)
Ellis Vener
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« on: February 02, 2010, 08:34:23 AM »
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Just finished testing lenses and cameras prior to a commercial shoot later this week. Using the LensAlign Pro to recheck my autofocus adjustment settings  with 1Ds Mark 3 and 1D Mk 4. Ultimately I concluded that my EF 50mm f/1.4  at f/1.4 just doesn't have great resolution anywhere in the frame, most frustratingly in the central area.

Is this finding consistent with your experience with this lens?

Ellis Vener http://www.ellisvener.com
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Ellis Vener
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pcunite
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2010, 09:00:42 AM »
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Quote from: Ellis Vener
Ultimately I concluded that my EF 50mm f/1.4  at f/1.4 just doesn't have great resolution anywhere in the frame, most frustratingly in the central area. Is this finding consistent with your experience with this lens?

Yes... the non L Canon primes are only typically useful from f2.8 and up with the exception being the 85 f1.8 which is quite good wide open as I recall.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 09:01:44 AM by pcunite » Logged
Ellis Vener
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2010, 09:03:14 AM »
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Quote from: pcunite
Yes... the non L Canon primes are only typically useful from f2.8 and up with the exception being the 85 f1.8 which is quite good wide open as I recall.

Coincidently one of the lenses I tested was an 85mm f/1.8 and the results were excellent. A little back focusing but that was easily adjusted for.
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Ellis Vener
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2010, 09:51:05 AM »
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Quote from: Ellis Vener
Just finished testing lenses and cameras prior to a commercial shoot later this week. Using the LensAlign Pro to recheck my autofocus adjustment settings  with 1Ds Mark 3 and 1D Mk 4. Ultimately I concluded that my EF 50mm f/1.4  at f/1.4 just doesn't have great resolution anywhere in the frame, most frustratingly in the central area.

Is this finding consistent with your experience with this lens?

Ellis Vener http://www.ellisvener.com

It is soft at f1.4.  Every review I've seen shows the same thing.  Seems fine from f1.8 on.
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Sheldon N
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2010, 10:24:48 AM »
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Going from memory and general impressions, I've found mine to be low contrast at f/1.4 and somewhat soft, but not quite as soft as your results.

Sharpens up nicely by f/2 or so.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2010, 10:25:09 AM by Sheldon N » Logged

sojournerphoto
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2010, 10:30:17 AM »
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Quote from: Sheldon N
Going from memory and general impressions, I've found mine to be low contrast at f/1.4 and somewhat soft, but not quite as soft as your results.

Sharpens up nicely by f/2 or so.


I tested mine because I'd read so often about how soft it was and, in real world use, mine's actually not that bad at f1.4. Yes, it's sharper at f2 up, but for what I use it for f1.4 is actually quite nice. Also, getting consistently accurate focus at close distances and f1.4 is likely to prove challenging unless your focusing using live view?

Mike
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2010, 11:31:41 AM »
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Quote from: sojournerphoto
... getting consistently accurate focus at close distances and f1.4 is likely to prove challenging unless your focusing using live view?

Mike
Hi Mike,

 I agree. for my tests  the camera and lensAlign pro were mounted on heavy duty tripods and Live view was used to manually focus a control image. it was still soft. The camera to target distance was 25x the focal lenght or just beyond 4 feet i nthe case of the 50mm.

One thing I learned from doign some further testing with the Lens Align Pro,  The makers of the LAP recommend you set your camera fror monochrome JPEGs and turn the contast up a couple of notches. I concur but also recommend that you set the camera sharpening setting to 0 or at most 1. Every camera sharpening setting above that causes progressively more obvious haloing and those halos interfere with seeing the necessary fine detail.

My normal workflow is to shoot "raw" of course and to set capture sharpening in ACR or Lightroom based on the combination of lens, ISO and subject combination.
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Ellis Vener
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Ed Blagden
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2010, 12:02:06 PM »
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Hi

According to the test done at photozone.de the centre resolution is pretty good even at f/1.4; not quite as good as the 50mm f/1.2L but certainly in the same ballpark when wide open.

My own copy of the 1.4 certainly produces acceptable centre sharpness wide open although I don't often use it on this aperture due to major vignetting and edge softness.  From f/2 onwards it is just amazing.

So maybe you have a bad copy.

My major beef with this lens it the unspeakably awful faux-USM AF system.  It just doesn't work as well as proper ring USM, and my copy often sticks and I have to focus manually to a first approximation before the AF system will lock on to the target.  This is a classic lens and probably offers one of the best optical quality to price ratios out there, but why Canon can't update it with a proper AF mechanism is a mystery to me.  Right up there with why they can't put a MLU button on their pro bodies.

Ed
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dseelig
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2010, 02:00:17 PM »
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I had a copy for years a few steps above the 50 f1.8 But the 50 1.2 is sharper. The tonality is also better with the 1.2 but again the 1.4 in tonality is again better then the 1.8.
David
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k bennett
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2010, 04:53:40 PM »
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Quote from: Ed Blagden
My own copy of the 1.4 certainly produces acceptable centre sharpness wide open although I don't often use it on this aperture due to major vignetting and edge softness.  From f/2 onwards it is just amazing.


I agree with everything Ed wrote. However, I find I use my 50 wide open at f/1.4 because I *like* the vignetting and edge softness. Same with the 1.2, actually. Sharpness is overrated.
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2010, 12:26:50 AM »
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It's a good lens when stopped down. Very sharp at f5.6 - f8. I think it's good value for the $$

However I have just order a Zeiss 50mm f2 Makro Planar for my 1Ds MrkIII. I've been bitten by the Zeiss bug after purchasing the 21mm ZE.

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James Godman
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2010, 01:30:15 PM »
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I've used several copies of this lens and owned one but sold it.  It just wasn't sharp wider than f4.  One good thing about it was that it focused accurately, unlike the 50 1.2's I tried which back focused within about 3.5 feet.  I ended up getting the 50mm Sigma HSM and its better than both of the Canons.
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TMARK
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2010, 02:40:43 PM »
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Quote from: k bennett
I agree with everything Ed wrote. However, I find I use my 50 wide open at f/1.4 because I *like* the vignetting and edge softness. Same with the 1.2, actually. Sharpness is overrated.


Exactly.  I think it is really beautiful at 1.4 for people.
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smthopr
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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2010, 08:51:18 PM »
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Quote from: Ellis Vener
Just finished testing lenses and cameras prior to a commercial shoot later this week. Using the LensAlign Pro to recheck my autofocus adjustment settings  with 1Ds Mark 3 and 1D Mk 4. Ultimately I concluded that my EF 50mm f/1.4  at f/1.4 just doesn't have great resolution anywhere in the frame, most frustratingly in the central area.

Is this finding consistent with your experience with this lens?

Ellis Vener http://www.ellisvener.com

I've got one of these and have been very pleasantly surprised by the performance at f1.4.  It gets kind of low contrast at this aperture, but that can be 'good' for some subjects and can be adjusted in photoshop to hide the effect.  Mine is quite sharp in the center, provided one hits the focus well, but I'm using it on a 5D mk 1...

When stopped down to 2.8 or higher, the lens easily out resolves my camera in the center of the image.  In my experience, one doesn't shoot any lens at f1.4 when acute sharpness is required for the image.  The chances of nailing focus on any subject that moves at these apertures is going to be hit or miss on even the best and most expensive lenses at this DOF.

I will put up with whatever flaws are present to shoot in the dark with this lens

I did have to have mine repaired to fix a sticky focus (the barrels rubbed together, freezing the focus).

Hope this is helpful Ellis!
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Bruce Alan Greene
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2010, 10:03:32 PM »
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Quote from: smthopr
Hope this is helpful Ellis!

Very helpful! Thank you! Nice reel!
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Ellis Vener
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2010, 12:23:47 AM »
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Have a look at http://www.slrgear.com/articles/variation_.../canon50f14.htm
They tested 5 examples and none are much good wide open.
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philber
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2010, 12:27:19 AM »
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My experience of EF 50 f:1.4 is that it is a very good lens for the money, but not more than that. In particular, it is soft wide open, and its performance at infinity is not the best. When I looked for something better, I hesitated before buying the EF 50 L f:1.2, a heavy and expensive lens that has a mixed reputation, so I tried the Zeiss 50mm ZE Planar f1.4 It did everything better than the Canon, except AF of course  
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Ed Blagden
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« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2010, 01:51:13 AM »
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Quote from: James Godman
I've used several copies of this lens and owned one but sold it.  It just wasn't sharp wider than f4.  One good thing about it was that it focused accurately, unlike the 50 1.2's I tried which back focused within about 3.5 feet.  I ended up getting the 50mm Sigma HSM and its better than both of the Canons.

James

I read somewhere (DPReview I think) about the Sigma having fab optics and build quality but squirrely AF... sometimes it would back focus, and sometimes it would front focus depending on subject distance.  I'd be interested to hear about your real-world experience with the Sigma 50 as I'm thinking about buying one.  The sticky AF on my Canon drives me bananas and I therefore don't use the lens as often as I'd like to.

Ed
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James Godman
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« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2010, 11:53:09 PM »
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Quote from: Ed Blagden
James

I read somewhere (DPReview I think) about the Sigma having fab optics and build quality but squirrely AF... sometimes it would back focus, and sometimes it would front focus depending on subject distance.  I'd be interested to hear about your real-world experience with the Sigma 50 as I'm thinking about buying one.  The sticky AF on my Canon drives me bananas and I therefore don't use the lens as often as I'd like to.

Ed
Hi Ed-  I've never had a problem with the Sigma 50 that I bought, but a friend of mine had to buy three copies before he got one that worked properly, but he loves it too.  I tend to shoot wide open and mostly use primes.  For the record, I also use my 85 1.2 a lot and its great and works properly.

I'd recommend buying from a dealer that will let you test a lens before you buy (I mean take it home with you), so you can make sure its a good copy.  

Let us know what you decide and don't be afraid to send a lens back if it doesn't work right!
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pschefz
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2010, 12:48:50 AM »
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i have the sigma 50 1.4....it is amazingly sharp at 1.4....great lens...but i had to check out 3 copies until i found one i was happy with...one had pretty bad CA? a good copy is by far the best solution for a normal lens....i tested the zeiss as well, nothing to write home about, expensive and no AF....i am looking for a leica R 50 right now (non asph) for a slightly softer drawing....

one thing i love about the sigma is that it is also a touch wider.....maybe more of a 45 then a 50....i really like the coverage....
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