A great-value lens that let's you shoot low-light indoors
I bought my copy for $350 from Amazon -- right before an even greater price reduction to clear it out for the newer model -- and have been very happy with it ever since. I'm sure it's not as sharp or as accurate focusing as the newer model, but I have been very pleased with the lens nonetheless.
I bough it primarily to take indoor photos of my family without having to use the on-camera flash. During the day, I typically can get away with sub-1600 ISO at 1/250 and f/1.8. In the evening, with just a single 40w-equivalent bulb, I can shoot as low as 1/60 at ISO 3200 and f/1.4 (although it's difficult to focus properly in that light).
Some people complain of front- or back-focusing, but my experience is that it performs adequately with decent lighting. If anything, I'm limited by the single cross-type AF point on my 600d. It's also possible that users are shooting f/1.4 without selecting a single AF point: with such a short DoF, it's easy to not get the desired part of the subject in focus if you let the camera select the AF point used.
With f/1.4 glass, you would expect very narrow DoF and nice bokeh. This lens unquestionably has narrow DoF, and I think it delivers nice bokeh, too.
FTM is a welcome addition, although I don't find myself exercising it except in Live Mode, since it's difficult for me to discern focus tweaks at f/1.4 through the EVF.
The closest Canon lens is the EF 28mm f/1.8 USM, which gives up a 2/3 stop and is slightly wider. The Canon might be a better performer in AF (resulting in sharper pictures), but it cost $100 more at the time of purchase.
I have a couple indoor shots with this lens in my gallery; feel free to check it out.
If you're considering purchasing this lens today, I think you have to consider what's available now and how much it's going to cost. Sub-$300, I think it's a stellar deal. Over $350, I think you need to consider the aforementioned Canon EF 28mm f1/.8 USM or the newer version, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM Art Lens.
I think you have to consider cost in the rating. At $350, I think this is a 4-star lens. (Below $300, it's 4.5 stars. Above $400, it's maybe 3.5 stars.)
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