Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Lens Review

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM on Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi SLR

Introduction

We all hear about how sharp and how fast prime lenses focus. I had bought a Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D on this very premise, and had absolutely loved the picture clarity and quality. So I figured that with the Canon EOS Rebel 400D/XTi, I should get a 50mm once again.

I rented the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM from Calumet after doing a bit of reading and finding that many people do like this prime lens. The rental fee was reasonable, so I got it for a week and used it primarily on my Rebel 400D/XTi. It did fine. All-in-all, its a great prime lens to have. Lets hit the in-depth review.

Lens Construction

The lens is well built. It is mainly high impact plastic, black with a gold band. Doesn’t weigh very much (10.2 oz/1090g) either. Very well built lens; the focus ring moves smoothly and it connects solidly to the lens mount on my EOS Rebel 400D/XTi.2007-01-08 - Canon EOS Rebel XTi with 50mm - 002

Auto Focus Performance

While this lens is labeled as a USM (ultrasonic motor), I believe it is only a micromotor ultrasonic, the slower type of USM versus the super fast and quiet ring USM on the L lenses. It is never the less fast because of USM. The lens locks on to its intended target quickly and precisely.

It works quite well in low light conditions because of an aperture of 1.4. I was able to hand hold in many cases in-door because I was able to get fast enough shutter speeds.

Overall Thoughts

It’s a good size lens and easy to carry around. It’s a bit soft at f/1.8 and doesn’t start getting very sharp until it’s stepped down to f/2.8 or more. Achieving nice bokeh isn’t difficult with the available aperture range. It’s fast on the auto focus, very well built, and also being small and light enough to 2007-01-08 - Canon EOS Rebel XTi with 50mm - 010carry around.

Having a 50mm is somewhat limiting because in order to frame a shot, you’re going to have to physically move yourself rather than turn a focal ring. It’s a great lens to take pictures of people with (thought I was gonna say shoot people with didn’t you?). The colors are superb and very pleasing.

I would definitely get this lens, but it wouldn’t be my first or even first few lenses. But because of how light the lens is and how small it is also, I would definitely carry it around with me in my bag.

My rating: 4.0 stars
****

Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D

Specifications

Focal Length: 50mm
Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
Lens Construction: 6 Elements in 5 groups
Minimum Focus Distance: Approximately 1.5 feet
Number of Diaphragm Blades: 7 blades
Aperture: f/1.8-22
Filter Attachment Size: 52mm
Hood: HR-2 Rubber Hood
Dimensions: 2.5 x 1.5 in.
Weight: 5.5 ounces

Lens Review

Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D

product

Nikon’s sharpest lens in a small and affordable package!

This lens is absolutely sharp! The images I get from using this lens are nothing short of phenomenal. The brokeh result is also amazing!

I had a bit of reservations getting the 50mm originally because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with a prime lens, 50mm no less. I had been accustomed to using my zoom lens (Nikkor AF 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6D) and was spoiled by variable focal adjustment. It took a bit getting used to the fact that I actually had to physically move versus just moving nikkor_50mm_lens_construction.jpgthe lens to get what I wanted framed in the shot. But the quality and the shots I can get with this lens, I hardly even use my 28-105mm anymore, only when I can’t get closer or further away to an object or person.

About all the reviews I read online about the construction of this lens is true, the quality isn’t entirely there. It’s primary make up is plastic, which has an advantage of making it extremely light, but unfortunately cheap feeling also. The major thing I don’t like is that this isn’t an internal focus (IF) lens, which means the front element moves in or out for focus. I’m also afraid of people trying to adjust the focal length of the lens using the focus ring and not realizing: (1) it is a prime lens and (2) the focus is set on auto and if someone turns the focus ring hard enough, they can break the focus ring.

The auto focus of the 50mm is reasonably fast, not as quick, nimble, and quiet as the Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/4D, but definitely faster than my Nikkor 28-105mm. It’s not quiet when focusing either because of no on board focusing motors; it depends on the camera’s focus screw. This also makes the lens not usable in AF mode on any Nikon cameras that don’t have the focus screw such as the new D40.

Having a maximum aperture of 1.8 is amazing. I’m able to hand hold in low light conditions and actually get decent shots without having to use the flash. Recently I was playing with my Dad’s Canon 5D with his Canon EF IS 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens versus my D100 with the 50mm f/1.8D. My dad’s 5D wasn’t able to take any pictures without the SpeedLight. Granted that his 28-135mm lens is probably not quite the best lens or even comparable due to the discrepancy in maximum apertures, but I was expecting to at least get some decent shots. It was a living room with the windows open on a slightly overcast day. I have never been a fan of flash photography, I know it is necessary in some cases, but I wish to avoid it as much as possible and this lens lets me accomplish that.

I purchased this lens from BeachCamera.com and would highly recommend them for many reasons, the main ones being: fast shipping, lowest price, and best warranty. The lens cost me $126.90 (I chose 3-5 day shipping was why it was so expensive) and arrived in 3 days. And because BeachCamera.com is an authorized Nikon dealer, you get an automatic 5 year warranty extension to the normal 1 year buying from non-authorized dealers.

I think everyone should have this lens in their collection, Nikon doesn’t make many other f/1.8 lens. I almost regret not getting the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4D lens, but the price difference and the performance difference didn’t justify one another. If you have ~$300 to spare, get the f/1.4D, but if you’re on a budget, get the f/1.8D, you won’t regret it.

Also see: http://www.bui4ever.com/2006/11/16/nikkor_50mm_f18d_part_1.php

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These are merely a few samples. For more pictures, please visit the gallery.

My rating: 4.5 stars
****1/2