Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM Focus Challenge

Started Nov 11, 2012 | Discussions thread
OP Noogy Senior Member • Posts: 1,823
Re: Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM Focus Challenge

mshafik wrote:

Noogy wrote:

Hi Guys,

Worse, at f1.4 I would sometimes get the neck sharper than the face itself, and I swear the focus was on the face. Prior to this I have done the necessary micro-adjustment. I use spot metering by the way and single shot option in the instances when I ran into this challenge. How do I solve this problem?

And I seek your pardon in advance if this turns out to be entirely a lack of skill on my part.

I feel you, my 50 1.4 drove me up the wall with my 5D2, and I did a lot of MFA, but it was inconsistent every time I used it, turns out I didn't do the MFA appropriately, sometimes MFA was -10 and it looked ok, sometimes it was +2 and it worked for sometime. At the end, I had to do MFA correctly, here's the guide I followed.

After that, I am reliably shooting my 50 1.4 wide open, even using the external AF points (though I know it'll be a little softer, but that's just the lens characteristics) with satisfying results. One more piece of advice, don't expect the lens to be very sharp @ f1.4 away from the center, even if you focus correctly.

Here are my own results with the 50 1.4 and the 5D2, and a quote from the article for convenience.

"This lens drove me crazy for the first couple of weeks I owned it, focusing was very inconsistent, sometimes back-focusing, sometimes the other way around, so I started playing with MFA on my 5D Mark II and ended up with +2 MFA, and I was happy with wide-open performance, but shortly after that I found more inconsistency, close shots were ok, but farther shots were out of focus, until one day I was shooting my sleeping daughter and found the focus was way off, but consistently off, so I started fiddling with MFA for the zillionth time, and this time ended up with +13 MFA, it was the magical number, suddenly all my frustration with the lens went away, the lens was singing and I went berserk running everywhere inside the house and the garden shooting everything wide-open, with amazing results, totally unexpected, it was a user error all the time, and fortunately, I've learned how to do MFA properly.
Now my lens is quite sharp wide open with a nice bite, and with nice soft out of focus bckgrounds, stopped down to f/2 makes it real sharp and at f/2.8 it is as sharp as I remember my 50mm f/1.8 is, which is very sharp. How I got focused shots at +2 MFA (and other settings I tried and worked ok for some shots) is beyond me. What's more interesting, non of my ring-USM lenses ever needed MFA (and I tried it to make sure lenses were as sharp as they would get), this included the 85 f/1.8, 100 f/2.8 L, 200 f/2.8 L, and 24-105 f/4 L. My other non ring-USM lens I tried on the 5D is the 35mm f/2 and it needed a +5 MFA, glad it was perfect on the 60D."

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Thank you for a very detailed explanation.  I shall do the same MA methodology.  However, trust me, I have microadjusted this lens to death and the same problems persist.  But no harm in trying again of course.

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"Photography is therapeutic."

 Noogy's gear list:Noogy's gear list
Canon EOS 80D Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EOS M6 Canon 6D Mark II Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0L USM +13 more
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