Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8

Started Apr 13, 2013 | Discussions
Bryan Cady
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Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
Apr 13, 2013

I'm thinking of getting a 50mm with 6d kit I plan to get over the next few days.  Except for the 1.8 being much lighter and probably more fragile, do you get much more quality for the price with the 1.4?  I know the 1.4 uses more blades.  I'm looking at it for use mostly for narrow depth of fields.

Bryan

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sean lancaster
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Bryan Cady, Apr 13, 2013

If you're wanting to use the 50 wide open (and you seem to indicate that is the case), then I'd explore the Sigma 50/1.4. Here's a thread elsewhere that compared the Sigma, and the two Canon 50s (1.4 and 1.8).

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JLim22
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to sean lancaster, Apr 13, 2013

Bryan Cady wrote:

I'm thinking of getting a 50mm with 6d kit I plan to get over the next few days.  Except for the 1.8 being much lighter and probably more fragile, do you get much more quality for the price with the 1.4?  I know the 1.4 uses more blades.  I'm looking at it for use mostly for narrow depth of fields.

Bryan

sean lancaster wrote:

If you're wanting to use the 50 wide open (and you seem to indicate that is the case), then I'd explore the Sigma 50/1.4. Here's a thread elsewhere that compared the Sigma, and the two Canon 50s (1.4 and 1.8).

FYI, that thread is on a crop sensor, not a full frame. I guess it doesn't make a whole lot of difference, but sharpness and bokeh will be little different.

I've been looking for a 50mm as well, and if you're concerned about the size of the Canon 50mm, the Sigma 50mm is going to feel enormous and heavy.

I've been trying to get a good copy of the Sigma 50, but its not easy as many has focusing problems. I ordered a new one online last week and it really bad front to back focus shifts. I contacted Sigma, but I decided to return it. I've been trying craigslist in hopes of getting a good copy, but it seems like people selling used are selling because they're having problems.

In terms of image quality, I would say Sigma is the best of the three. You just need to find the one that focuses properly. I also have the Sigma 35mm, so I'm not in a hurry to get a 50mm. But it would be nice if I can find a good Sigma 50mm soon...   50L is out of my price range, so no need to talk about that one. Haha.

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sean lancaster
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to JLim22, Apr 13, 2013

JLim22 wrote:

In terms of image quality, I would say Sigma is the best of the three. You just need to find the one that focuses properly. I also have the Sigma 35mm, so I'm not in a hurry to get a 50mm. But it would be nice if I can find a good Sigma 50mm soon...   50L is out of my price range, so no need to talk about that one. Haha.

Starting tomorrow, the 50/1.2 L should go on sale for nearly $200 off. I think I'll buy it. I went cheap on the 35 (f/2) just for when I need a little wider, but I'll have the 50/1.2 on my camera 90% of the time. But if I had gone with the Sigm 35 then I was going to go with the Sigma 50 to pair with it just based on wide open IQ (and the increased cost of the Sigma 35 ruled out also getting the 50/1.2).

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Denton Taylor
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Bryan Cady, Apr 13, 2013

I had a 1.4, sold it to help finance a 1.2L. Recently I decided to get a 1.8 cuz I was looking to do a specific type of street shooting that would be fine with a 50mm and I wanted a light lens. I have been very pleasantly surprised at its performance, and I almost always shoot AP at 2.8 or 3.5.

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to JLim22, Apr 13, 2013

JLim22 wrote:

FYI, that thread is on a crop sensor, not a full frame. I guess it doesn't make a whole lot of difference, but sharpness and bokeh will be little different.

I have a Sigma 50 that I've used on my 7D and 5Dmk3 quite a bit.  Sharpness is good on the 7D and excellent (even at f1.4) on the 5Dmk3, bokeh is good on both, smoother on the 5Dmk3.

I've been looking for a 50mm as well, and if you're concerned about the size of the Canon 50mm, the Sigma 50mm is going to feel enormous and heavy.

Yep, I have the Canon f1.8 as well and will carry it when I want something really light, but then it's often on a rebel body as the 7D and 5Dmk3 themselves are rather large.

I've been trying to get a good copy of the Sigma 50, but its not easy as many has focusing problems. I ordered a new one online last week and it really bad front to back focus shifts. I contacted Sigma, but I decided to return it. I've been trying craigslist in hopes of getting a good copy, but it seems like people selling used are selling because they're having problems.

Yes, people unwilling to send their lenses in for service often are gracious enough to sell off their problems to unsuspecting people who then don't have the warranty required to simply have it fixed for free.  I guess can understand people being afraid that it won't be fixed if they send it in and would rather just return it, but it seems silly to buy 4 or 5 that all behave the same way due to needing a firmware update (for 7D and 5D3, that's what Sigma did for mine).  I sent mine in because it was somewhat erratic, now it's quite good.  You still miss more at f1.4 than you will with a zoom, but that's pretty typical.  I did a shoot with the Sigma 50 and the Canon 85 f1.2 L and found them to have similar hit rates.

In terms of image quality, I would say Sigma is the best of the three. You just need to find the one that focuses properly. I also have the Sigma 35mm, so I'm not in a hurry to get a 50mm. But it would be nice if I can find a good Sigma 50mm soon...   50L is out of my price range, so no need to talk about that one. Haha.

Yeah, Sigma's 35, 50 and 85 make a pretty affordable killer prime trio.  Certainly the 50 has the biggest reputation for focus issues, it's also the oldest of the 3.  I've had several Sigma lenses and the 50 f1.4 has been the only one that I've needed to send in.  Sigma fixed it up though they didn't give me a TON of info on what they did when it was returned.  I called them to discuss it and they were great on the phone, just terse in their on paper "report".

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Bryan Cady
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Keith Z Leonard, Apr 14, 2013

What is the issue that you guys are talking about?  Would the focus issue be obvious once I get the lens or is it something sporatic.  If I got the lens, I would want to know asap obviously if I had the issue.

Bryan

Keith Z Leonard wrote:

JLim22 wrote:

FYI, that thread is on a crop sensor, not a full frame. I guess it doesn't make a whole lot of difference, but sharpness and bokeh will be little different.

I have a Sigma 50 that I've used on my 7D and 5Dmk3 quite a bit.  Sharpness is good on the 7D and excellent (even at f1.4) on the 5Dmk3, bokeh is good on both, smoother on the 5Dmk3.

I've been looking for a 50mm as well, and if you're concerned about the size of the Canon 50mm, the Sigma 50mm is going to feel enormous and heavy.

Yep, I have the Canon f1.8 as well and will carry it when I want something really light, but then it's often on a rebel body as the 7D and 5Dmk3 themselves are rather large.

I've been trying to get a good copy of the Sigma 50, but its not easy as many has focusing problems. I ordered a new one online last week and it really bad front to back focus shifts. I contacted Sigma, but I decided to return it. I've been trying craigslist in hopes of getting a good copy, but it seems like people selling used are selling because they're having problems.

Yes, people unwilling to send their lenses in for service often are gracious enough to sell off their problems to unsuspecting people who then don't have the warranty required to simply have it fixed for free.  I guess can understand people being afraid that it won't be fixed if they send it in and would rather just return it, but it seems silly to buy 4 or 5 that all behave the same way due to needing a firmware update (for 7D and 5D3, that's what Sigma did for mine).  I sent mine in because it was somewhat erratic, now it's quite good.  You still miss more at f1.4 than you will with a zoom, but that's pretty typical.  I did a shoot with the Sigma 50 and the Canon 85 f1.2 L and found them to have similar hit rates.

In terms of image quality, I would say Sigma is the best of the three. You just need to find the one that focuses properly. I also have the Sigma 35mm, so I'm not in a hurry to get a 50mm. But it would be nice if I can find a good Sigma 50mm soon...   50L is out of my price range, so no need to talk about that one. Haha.

Yeah, Sigma's 35, 50 and 85 make a pretty affordable killer prime trio.  Certainly the 50 has the biggest reputation for focus issues, it's also the oldest of the 3.  I've had several Sigma lenses and the 50 f1.4 has been the only one that I've needed to send in.  Sigma fixed it up though they didn't give me a TON of info on what they did when it was returned.  I called them to discuss it and they were great on the phone, just terse in their on paper "report".

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Bryan Cady, Apr 14, 2013

Just setup some targets and use a tripod to test the focus accuracy.  Sometimes people will use some batteries to do this kind of testing, setting them up in a row at different distances to the camera, as in this article.

http://cameralightlens.com/newsblog/?p=264

You then focus (single AF point) on one of the batteries using phase detection (not live view contrast AF, which should always get it right) and see if the battery you focused upon is in focus.  If it is not see if one closer or farther away is, that would indicate the lens is front or back focusing.

Now that's ok, a lens can do that and still be usable with micro focus adjustment, what you want to look for is if it consistently does it or not.  If the lens is always slightly back focused, you can correct it with MFA (micro focus adjustment), but if the lens front focuses for targets at 10 feet and back focuses for targets at 30 feet, then you have a problem.  You cannot correct for this type of bad lens behavior and would need to send it to Sigma to have them correct the lens for you at their optical bench setup.

The crux of the issue stems from the fact that Sigma has reverse engineered the behavior of the EF mount, this information is not public as Canon wants to keep it secret and thus be the only company able to make lenses for their cameras.  Sigma has done will here overall, but some lens/body combinations can have issues that need to be corrected by Sigma.  There have been some bad events in the past (not recent) where Sigma has dropped support for old lenses and they won't update them to for newer Canon cameras.  The 4 year EX warranty means that they will do this for you free of charge (though you do pay shipping 1 way, the pay for the return shipping).

I will say that my 5Dmk3 does AF my Sigma 50 much better than my 7D does, though I had it corrected for the 7D.  I suspect that the 5Dmk3 AF system is just more accurate so I have less misses in the f1.4-f2.0 range.  When doing testing you should test wide open as that will be most likely to exhibit any problems.  If you are shooting at f4-f5.6 it's a lot more forgiving, but also at this point most zooms are good in that range, so why bother with a prime??

Also keep in mind that focus shift happens to 50mm prime lenses quite often, that is when a lens focuses wide open and then stops down for the exposure and it moves the focus a bit in the process.  So it's best to test at the larger apertures that you intend to use.

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Clyzm
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Keith Z Leonard, Apr 14, 2013

I've been nothing but happy with my 50/1.4. It's on my camera about 80% of the time, and it's got some godlike sharpness/contrast at f/2.8. Some of my best work was done on this lens.

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Bryan Cady
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Clyzm, Apr 14, 2013

You talking Sigma or Canon?

Clyzm wrote:

I've been nothing but happy with my 50/1.4. It's on my camera about 80% of the time, and it's got some godlike sharpness/contrast at f/2.8. Some of my best work was done on this lens.

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Clyzm
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Bryan Cady, Apr 14, 2013

Canon, sorry.

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JLim22
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Bryan Cady, Apr 14, 2013

The problem thats I had Sigma called it "front to back focus shift." Basically, when you're trying to focus something that's near the minimum focus distance, it front focuses. Then, when you're trying to focus near infinity, it back focuses. Micro adjustment doesn't help. If the lens in under warranty, you can get new firmware to fix this problem.

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sean lancaster
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to sean lancaster, Apr 14, 2013

sean lancaster wrote:

JLim22 wrote:

In terms of image quality, I would say Sigma is the best of the three. You just need to find the one that focuses properly. I also have the Sigma 35mm, so I'm not in a hurry to get a 50mm. But it would be nice if I can find a good Sigma 50mm soon...   50L is out of my price range, so no need to talk about that one. Haha.

Starting tomorrow, the 50/1.2 L should go on sale for nearly $200 off. I think I'll buy it. I went cheap on the 35 (f/2) just for when I need a little wider, but I'll have the 50/1.2 on my camera 90% of the time. But if I had gone with the Sigm 35 then I was going to go with the Sigma 50 to pair with it just based on wide open IQ (and the increased cost of the Sigma 35 ruled out also getting the 50/1.2).

FYI: I bought the 50/1.2 for $1,369 this morning when it showed 1 remaining. I checked after my purchase and the price was in the $1,400s. But the current sale by Canon means that other retailers probably have the 50/1.2 for around $1,369 if anyone is looking.

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James Cricket
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Bryan Cady, Apr 15, 2013

I've been using the 50 1.4 a ton since I got it. It's no contest. Much faster, quiter, and more accurate than the venerable 1.8.  Bought a refurb on a whim.

Plus 1.4 gives you more flexibility to stop down.  Been shooting a lot of very low light images with the 6D at ISO 3200 and very happy with the results.

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pete zeugma
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the 50mm 1.4 heavy!
In reply to JLim22, Apr 16, 2013

try holding a 1Dx and a 500mm all day

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Kabe Luna
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to sean lancaster, Apr 16, 2013

sean lancaster wrote:

If you're wanting to use the 50 wide open (and you seem to indicate that is the case), then I'd explore the Sigma 50/1.4. Here's a thread elsewhere that compared the Sigma, and the two Canon 50s (1.4 and 1.8).

I had the Sigma for a few weeks, and I agree its image quality is hands-down the best of all the available 50/1.4 options (it even fares quite well against the vaunted 50/1.2L). However, from what I understand, it's impossible to get the Sigma to focus at the same point throughout its focus range. By default, it focuses correctly at the mid-range (say, for a waist-up portrait), but it's off for near and long distances–significantly so for wide apertures. If you fine-tune the AF for better close-up or near-infinity results, you give up accuracy, progressively, throughout the rest of the range.

My experience with the lens was elation with its image quality, followed by ever-greater frustration about not being able to get that image quality through the wider range of usage. I sold it and got the Canon 50/1.4, which isn't as great wide open, but isn't very far off (and is actually better from f/4 onward) and actually focuses well and consistently from near to far distances.

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biza43
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Bryan Cady, Apr 16, 2013

Yes.

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Cane
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Re: the 50mm 1.4 heavy!
In reply to pete zeugma, Apr 16, 2013

pete zeugma wrote:

try holding a 1Dx and a 500mm all day

Are you suggesting using that combo like a batting ring in baseball, because otherwise it doesn't really make the 50mm 1.4 combo any lighter?

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Kabe Luna, Apr 16, 2013

Kabe Luna wrote:

I had the Sigma for a few weeks, and I agree its image quality is hands-down the best of all the available 50/1.4 options (it even fares quite well against the vaunted 50/1.2L). However, from what I understand, it's impossible to get the Sigma to focus at the same point throughout its focus range. By default, it focuses correctly at the mid-range (say, for a waist-up portrait), but it's off for near and long distances–significantly so for wide apertures. If you fine-tune the AF for better close-up or near-infinity results, you give up accuracy, progressively, throughout the rest of the range.

I would say that your understanding might be flawed.  YOU can't do it with MFA, but the Sigma optical bench seem to have done a fine job on mine.

My experience with the lens was elation with its image quality, followed by ever-greater frustration about not being able to get that image quality through the wider range of usage. I sold it and got the Canon 50/1.4, which isn't as great wide open, but isn't very far off (and is actually better from f/4 onward) and actually focuses well and consistently from near to far distances.

The Canon's a good lens, just wish it had ring USM.

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Kabe Luna
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Re: Besides the heft, is the 50mm 1.4 worth the extra cost over the 1.8
In reply to Keith Z Leonard, Apr 16, 2013

Keith Z Leonard wrote:

Kabe Luna wrote:

I had the Sigma for a few weeks, and I agree its image quality is hands-down the best of all the available 50/1.4 options (it even fares quite well against the vaunted 50/1.2L). However, from what I understand, it's impossible to get the Sigma to focus at the same point throughout its focus range. By default, it focuses correctly at the mid-range (say, for a waist-up portrait), but it's off for near and long distances–significantly so for wide apertures. If you fine-tune the AF for better close-up or near-infinity results, you give up accuracy, progressively, throughout the rest of the range.

I would say that your understanding might be flawed.  YOU can't do it with MFA, but the Sigma optical bench seem to have done a fine job on mine.

I am not of a mind that a brand new lens should have to be returned to its manufacturer to be made to work correctly.

My experience with the lens was elation with its image quality, followed by ever-greater frustration about not being able to get that image quality through the wider range of usage. I sold it and got the Canon 50/1.4, which isn't as great wide open, but isn't very far off (and is actually better from f/4 onward) and actually focuses well and consistently from near to far distances.

The Canon's a good lens, just wish it had ring USM.

Indeed. However, I do enjoy its relatively compact size. If ring USM means it has to become as massive as the Sigma, I'll pass (however, given Nikon's 50/1.4 AF-S is roughly the same size as the current Canon 50/1.4 USM, I doubt this is the case). Also, higher build quality, overall, would be nice for this lens' replacement. The current lens uses cheap-feeling plastics.

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