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View Full Version : Canon 50mm F1.8 vs F1.4??


evidens83
08-17-2010, 9:08 PM
Planning on my next lens purchase. As a newbie recreational shooter will the F1.8 suffice or should I really save up the extra couple hundred dollars for the F1.4? Comparing photos online I wouldnt mind going with the F1.8 but I dont want to regret it down the road especially if the F1.4 is that much better. Keep in mind I'm just a DSLR noob so I have a lot to learn. What say you?

Ricky-Ray
08-17-2010, 11:00 PM
All depends on what you want to use the lens for. If it's going to be general photography then the 1.8 should be fine. If you plan on shooting in alot of low light situation's or want the narrowest depth of field then save the money up and get the 1.4.

domokun
08-18-2010, 12:41 AM
Just remember the following:

1. The f/1.8 uses a slower and older DC drive micro-motor instead of the faster micro-USM motor for running the autofocus. As a result the f/1.8 lens doesn't have full time manual focus and you'll have to rely on flipping the AF/M tab to switch in order to be able to manually focus the lens whereas the f/1.4 lens will let you turn the focus ring on the lens (full-time manual focus) without having to flip the AF/M switch.

2. The f/1.8 uses a 5-blade aperture whereas the f/1.4 an 8-blade aperture. What this means is the bokeh aka background blur in a photo is more pleasing to the eye taken when with an 8-blade aperture when compared to one that has been taken with a 5-blade aperture.

You can see the differences below:

http://photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/coke-cans-14.jpg
50mm f/1.4 Lens @f/2.0 aperture
"Check the out of focus background behind the cans. The bokeh produced by f1.4 has a very nice blend of grey and pink colors."

http://photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/coke-cans-18.jpg
50mm f/1.8 Lens @f/2.0 aperture
"The blending of the colors in the out of focus background produced by the f1.8 is more harsh."

Here's a couple more samples:

http://photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/highlight-28-14.jpg
50mm f/1.4 Lens @f/2.8 aperture
Out of focus highlights

http://photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/highlight-28-18.jpg
50mm f/1.8 Lens @f/2.8 aperture
Out of focus highlights

If you're just looking for something that "just works okay", then the f/1.8 is worth considering. However, if you want photos captured with better optical quality then seriously consider the f/1.4 over the f/1.8 lens. Lastly as mentioned above already, the f/1.4 gives you a bit more capability when shooting low light situations without having to use flash.

I personally own the 50mm f/1.4 lens myself and love it.

masameet
08-18-2010, 2:17 AM
The Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens is a decent lens. Had mine for about 3 or 4 years and never was happy with the resulting images. So I sold it recently for about the price I paid for it. On a non-full frame DSLR, like a Rebel or 20/30/40D, where you have to factor in the 1.6 whatchamacallit, at 80mm the lens effectively becomes a portrait or telephoto lens. So if you're shooting a group of people or a landscape, you'll need to move back a lot to focus correctly and get everything that you want to fit into the frame. Plus if you want to shoot something up close, the 50mm lens is not the right choice. Because, in spite of its short focal length, it isn't a macro lens. As you can see with domokun's two images, sharpness is not the Canon 50mm lens' forte.

If you want a lens that is closer to a true 50mm lens, then get the 35mm. Better yet, get the 16-35mm f/2.8 lens (just don't use flash between 16-24mm).

Vacaville
08-18-2010, 6:32 AM
If you're shooting digital, I'd save my money and stick with the F1.8. People used to get F1.4 and even F1.2 lenses because they needed all available light in the dark ages of film. Digital cameras and software are so much more adjustable for light, and that large aperture lens costs a premium. Unless you're a pro or have found a specific application that can't be done with an F1.8, I'd go cheap.

maxmonster
08-18-2010, 6:40 AM
If you're shooting digital, I'd save my money and stick with the F1.8. People used to get F1.4 and even F1.2 lenses because they needed all available light in the dark ages of film. Digital cameras and software are so much more adjustable for light, and that large aperture lens costs a premium. Unless you're a pro or have found a specific application that can't be done with an F1.8, I'd go cheap.

Well I wouldn't say that film is obsolete... there's ways of helping to shoot in low light besides the lens you have. You can buy higher iso film which also helps. It will be more grainy just like a digital counterpart too. In my honest opinion I stuck with a 1.8 because I really don't think that 1.4 will do much more in super low light. If it's going to be somewhat of a long exposure I would rather just use a tripod.

Corbin Dallas
08-18-2010, 7:20 AM
Just remember the following:

1. The f/1.8 uses a slower and older DC drive micro-motor instead of the faster micro-USM motor for running the autofocus. As a result the f/1.8 lens doesn't have full time manual focus and you'll have to rely on flipping the AF/M tab to switch in order to be able to manually focus the lens whereas the f/1.4 lens will let you turn the focus ring on the lens (full-time manual focus) without having to flip the AF/M switch.

2. The f/1.8 uses a 5-blade aperture whereas the f/1.4 an 8-blade aperture. What this means is the bokeh aka background blur in a photo is more pleasing to the eye taken when with an 8-blade aperture when compared to one that has been taken with a 5-blade aperture.

You can see the differences below:

http://photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/coke-cans-14.jpg
50mm f/1.4 Lens @f/2.0 aperture
"Check the out of focus background behind the cans. The bokeh produced by f1.4 has a very nice blend of grey and pink colors."

http://photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/coke-cans-18.jpg
50mm f/1.8 Lens @f/2.0 aperture
"The blending of the colors in the out of focus background produced by the f1.8 is more harsh."

Here's a couple more samples:

http://photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/highlight-28-14.jpg
50mm f/1.4 Lens @f/2.8 aperture
Out of focus highlights

http://photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/highlight-28-18.jpg
50mm f/1.8 Lens @f/2.8 aperture
Out of focus highlights

If you're just looking for something that "just works okay", then the f/1.8 is worth considering. However, if you want photos captured with better optical quality then seriously consider the f/1.4 over the f/1.8 lens. Lastly as mentioned above already, the f/1.4 gives you a bit more capability when shooting low light situations without having to use flash.

I personally own the 50mm f/1.4 lens myself and love it.

Domokun has it spot on.

If you're serious about DP and your DSLR has a very high resolution including a 1.0 focal length multiplier, the octagon aperture has a huge benefit over the pentagon version. the more blades the smoother the out of focus items appear to the eye.

ocabj
08-18-2010, 9:20 AM
I owned both the f/1.8 and f/1.4 versions (no longer have a 50mm).

As you know, the f/1.8 is ~$100 whereas the f/1.4 is ~$360.

The technical differences have been explained already in previous posts. So are they enough to justify $260? If you're going to use the lens frequently, I say go for it.

But if you have any reservations what so ever, you can get the f/1.8 and if it's not doing much for you, you can easily resell it used for $75. Low risk. Of course, you can probably resell a 50 f/1.4 for about $325, but the investment is slightly higher.

Rhythm of Life
08-18-2010, 9:53 AM
For $100 the 1.8 is a good lens. I like mine, here's a shot at f1.8

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4099/4902499595_9002213da5_b.jpg

esskay
08-19-2010, 10:41 PM
Neither, keep saving your pennies and get a 24-70mm L 2.8! :D

Rhythm of Life
08-20-2010, 9:45 AM
Neither, keep saving your pennies and get a 24-70mm L 2.8! :D

A faster prime lens will give you better photos than that.

ocabj
08-20-2010, 4:15 PM
A faster prime lens will give you better photos than that.

Better in what sense? In low light? Well, then yes. If you're going to shoot low light without a strobe or flash, then getting cheap 50mm prime is a good option.

But what happens if you're shooting a wedding or other fast moving event? I think the zoom will get you the best composition faster than a prime, which is critical since you can miss the shot if you're the wrong place at the right time. So in that sense, the photo with the zoom will be better because you were able to get the properly composed/framed shot.

Different tools for different means.

Also, unless you're getting an L prime, odds are that the prime lens isn't going to be very sharp wide open (and have CA wide open) until maybe a full stop down. I'd hazard a guess than the 50mm f/1.8 at f/2.8 will be equal in sharpness to the 24-70 f/2.8L at f/2.8. So in the situation where you're shooting at f/2.8 you don't gain anything from the 50 over the 24-70.

I use my 70-200 f/2.8L IS II ($2500) on the 5D Mark II for portraits. Will I get better shots with a prime for less (e.g. 85mm f/1.2L for $1900 or 85mm f/1.8 for $400 or 135 f/2L for $1000)? Maybe, maybe not. But I know for a fact that my 70-200 is incredibly sharp at f/2.8 and samurai blade sharp at f/5.6-f/8, all the while having versatility for all situations.

The 24-70 f/2.8L is a great all around lens. That's why it's $1300.

But while I wanted to get the 24-70 for a long time, after renting it and using it at a couple of studio shoots, I decided to save my money. For indoor studio, it's a solid option for APS-C, but outside of that, it's not a fun walk around lens for me. I keep my 35 f/1.4L on my 5D Mark II for a carry around camera+lens right now until I save up for the 24-105 f/4L IS. While only f/4, the 24-105 is a more interesting focal range for walk around, and isn't as heavy as the 24-70 f/2.8L. Also, the IS makes up for the one-stop lost on the 24-105.

I do believe in fast glass, but I think a lot of people are too caught up in shooting as wide open as possible. Just because you can shoot f/1.2, doesn't mean you should. There are plenty of times when I want to shoot stopped down, even though I can go f/2.8 or larger. Lots of times I'll take a portrait, and even at f/2.8, one eye will be out of the in-focus plane depending on how the model or subject facing the camera. If the background is clean and ambient light allows, I'd prefer to shoot f/4 or even f/5.6 to try and get both eyes in focus as well as most of the face.

But I digress.

The 24-70 is a great lens if you like the focal range. But the cost of a 50 is so low (excluding the 50mm f/1.2L) it's worth getting one anyway, especially when the OP is just starting out.

evidens83
08-21-2010, 6:46 AM
I just ended up ordering the F1.8 Since I'm just getting into this I didn't want to drop $400+ on lens if I cant even take shots with the 1.4's potential. And like somebody said earlier, when I feel my abilities have gotten better I'll just sell it and put it towards the 1.4

Rhythm of Life
08-21-2010, 9:21 AM
Better in what sense? In low light? Well, then yes. If you're going to shoot low light without a strobe or flash, then getting cheap 50mm prime is a good option.


Better as in a prime lens is what the OP is looking for.

:)

But I was talking about the bokeh you can achieve, low light shots, etc. Your style of shooting may not dictate it but a fast prime is a great lens to have. I think there is a reason all the pros I know have a fast prime.



And $99 is cheaper than $1300 by a little bit.