Bad rap on Canon 50 1.4

Started Nov 10, 2012 | Discussions thread
Schnapper Contributing Member • Posts: 993
Re: Bad rap on Canon 50 1.4

Searching wrote:

I keep reading how much people dislike this lens. They say it is soft at 1.4, misses focus, has a noisy focus motor etc. Frankly, I don't see it. I bought mine used for $300 about 9 years ago. I have never had a problem with it, it never misses focus, is very sharp by F4 (pretty sharp by F2.8), does have a bit of a noisy focus motor, but has a decent build quality too. For the price, hard to beat.

Here is a sample at 1.4 with bounced flash and some minor regular pp work. This is typical of the shots I get from this lens, with the 7D.

My experience with the lens is that it missed focus a lot at wide apertures (the apertures which I had in mind when I bought it). It seemed inconsistent - sometimes front, sometimes back focused. I started to do some testing (focus chart, tripod, etc.) and it stopped AFing completely during the testing. Sent it to Canon and they repaired it for around AUD$100 (don't recall exactly how much it was, but I wasn't shocked by or particularly pleased with the bill so $100 sounds about right) - I don't think they replaced any parts on the first visit, just cleaned and adjusted some things. I took it out for a test run and it stopped focusing again within an hour. Sent it to Canon, they did more stuff to it (replaced the focus cam I think) and sent it back with a note on the work order saying I should be sure to focus on infinity before stowing (which suggests to me that they know the AF mechanism is fragile and prone to damage if it gets contacted when extended). I tested it out a bit and it stopped focusing again after about 20 shots. Sent it to Canon and they replaced the AF motor assembly. It seemed to work after that, but by then I had bought the 17-55/2.8 IS and the 50/1.4 became redundant, and I since I had no confidence in the 50/1.4 anyway it has seen very little use since then. I'll get it out every now and then if I want really thin DOF for a shot, but other than that the 17-55/2.8 IS does everything that the 50/1.4 did, plus it has the flexibility of being able to zoom (for most shots, the IS makes up for the 2 stops of aperture difference unless I need the shutter speed, in which case I increase ISO... and for most shots the dof at f/1.4 was thinner than I actually wanted so a stabilized 2.8 is better).

I leave a hood on the 50/1.4 all the time now (even in the bag or on the shelf). The lens with hood is smaller, or maybe about the same size as, the 17-55 without hood, so it's not a big deal to leave it on.

If I had it to do over again I would have bought the 17-55/2.8 IS first and never bought the 50/1.4... I've also found that the 50 is a bit long on a crop for my tastes, so my other mistake was getting the 50 instead of the Sigma 30/1.4 (or maybe the new 35/2 IS... hmmm....).

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