Expert Reviews Of Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens


Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM Len Review

If you are a beginner in the photographic world the first and foremost step is you should have to increase your photographic skill a little bit so that you have to move away from the kit lens and buy a prime lens that many photographers generally do in their initial career. As a beginner, you probably may expect a good camera that is better in function, affordable in price, best in design and handgrip, and performs an all-around function. So, here comes the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM lens (review) which can give the desired amount of results that you have expected.

Here we have tried our best to give you a general insight regarding the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM lens (review) which is shortly explained below.

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Canon 50mm f1.4 DSLR Lens

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens (review) is a Canon’s midrange level lens which is a very compact and lighter lens and comes with the USM focus adjustment and full-time manual focus. This lens was firstly launched in the year 1993 and with the passage of time, it has been serving greatly to its users. 

The Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM lens regained most popularity when the EOS series cameras hit the market. Besides that, it serves as the best standard lens which can be used in full-frame cameras. In APS-C cameras it also fits well and gives a significant amount of results.

The optical design of the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM lens (review) is quite conventional which includes 7 elements in 6 groups. Out of which 2 are designed with the high refraction glass. It has a quick focus system which can be achieved by the ultrasonic motor system. Besides that, the lens comes with the manual override feature. This lens offers a beautiful blur effect over the subject which many of us want in our photo-shoots.

With the appropriate amount of ISO range, the lens gives pretty good results. In the long-range competition with any other brands such as Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM  and other rivals, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens(review) is a really exceptional lens which is very low in price and gives a pretty amount of resolution on subjects with the fast and low aperture value.

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  • Focal length : 50mm
  • Max. Aperture : f/1.4
  • Min. aperture : f/22
  • Compatible with : full frame cameras and APS-C( gives 35mm equivalent focal length)
  • Angle of view in full-frame : 47 degree
  • Angle of view in APS-C : 31 degree
  •  Optical design : 7 elements in 6 groups
  • No. of diaphragm blades : 8
  • Minimum focussing distance : 1.5ft
  • Max. magnification : 0.15x
  • Autofocus : Micro type Ultrasonic and full-time manual focus
  • Filter thread : 58mm
  • Lens mount : Canon EF
  • Weight : 290g

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Design and Operation

The build quality of the Canon 50mm f/1.4 is good and it is mostly made of plastic but the mount type is metal. As far as the design and construction is concerned the 50mm f/1.4 is way too better than Canon’s 50mm f/1.8 MK II. The front elements which are provided with the lens offer great quality focus over the subjects.  

The optical lenses are quite flexible and can move forward and backward with ease. Among the type of class, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens for Camera (review) is slightly larger due to its auto-focus motor system. Though Canon 50mm f/1.4 is slightly larger, it is way too compact than Sigma’s 50mm 5/1.4 EX DG HSM.

Canon’s DSLR works very well and focuses quite nicely. Talking about the auto-focus ability, the Canon 50mm comes with an amazing auto-focus system which includes an ultrasonic motor with full-time manual override. Though the ultrasonic ring is quite fast, it does not deliver refined results like other Canon’s ring-type USM. 

The auto-focus is quite reasonably fast which needs one’s expertise over the focus adjustment and accuracy. However, the accuracy and focus speed generally depends on the camera body, lighting and subject contrast, etc.

Irrespective of the type of Dslr cameras the lens fits on both the full-frame and APS-C types of cameras. There is a plastic grip that is 6mm wide positioned near the rear of the barrel responsible for the lens changing.

Talking about the filter thread, the filter thread is quite larger for this lens and measures about 58mm like other Canon lenses, serving as the best for polarizer users.  The optical glass elements which are associated with this lens are positioned deep inside the lens to give good auto-focus.

As mentioned above the focus ring is smooth in action and during auto-focus, it does not rotate and measures about 11mm wide. Due to the highly geared design, the focus ring has the ability to rotate 200 degrees from the maximum to closest focus position i.e. 0.45m which ensures great manual focus. At the close focussing, the angle of view generally decreases.

There is a switch system on the side of the lens barrel meant for the switching between auto and manual focusing mode. Even when the lens is on auto-focus mode you can go for manus focus over the subjects.

There are two scales found on the lens which include distance scale and depth of field scale. The distance scale has the marking points in both feet and meter units which is suitable for infrared focusing. While the depth of field scale gives a better depth of field.

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Canon 50mm f1.4 review

On APS-C Cameras

As far as the performance is concerned at wide apertures this lens is comparably a less performer than Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM when used on the APS-C cameras. But at f/2.8 aperture the Canon 50mm f/1.8 USM performs amazingly ensuring low distortion and vignette.  

On APS-C cameras, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM lens (review) is very soft, preferably to the corners.  As you go shopping down the sharpness quite increases in the center. Overall, between the aperture values f/5.6 and f/8, the lens performs very nicely. 

There is a little bit of chromatic aberration especially axial chromatic aberration (mainly blue color) which can be minimized if you use the lens at the aperture value of f/2.8. Coming back to the distortion, the distortion is usually less around 0.5% barrel distortion.

At wide apertures, this lens is not good when used on APS-C cameras. The better results you can get mainly depend on the accuracy level of your photography especially in manual focusing. Due to blue color chromatic aberration, the lens does not perform so nicely even at its best.

If you take the photos of the wall specially made of bricks, you might find some low contrast over the subjects.

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On full-frame Cameras

When used on full-frame cameras the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM lens(review) performs better within the aperture range 5/4.5 and f/16. As far as the sharpness is concerned, at f/1.4 aperture, the image quality is sharper in the center than in the other parts.

But the sharpness can be increased at the f/2 aperture and the corner sharpness can be increased at f/4. The optimum sharpness can be achieved between f/5.6 and f/11, giving all-around sharpness across the frame.

Talking about the chromatic aberration, the lateral chromatic aberration is quite low (absolutely no fringing)when this lens is used on the EOS-1Ds Mark III. But there are little bits of axial chromatic aberration that can be removed at the f/2.8 aperture.

Coming back to the Distortion, there is 1.3% of barrel distortion can be found on this lens while used in the full-frame cameras but the actual sharpness can be achieved at f/8 aperture.

Talking about the macro focus ability of the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens (review), this lens behaves similarly on both full-frame and APS-C cameras. At both the cameras the lens focuses on the closest distances of about 45cm and offers the same type of magnification around 0.15x.

As far as the flares are concerned, this lens gives maximum flares under the strong light, especially inside the focus frame. But this can be minimized by moving away from the strong lights or even focusing on the subjects ( light should be outside of the frame).

Lateral chromatic aberrations are almost absent on this lens. However, there is little lateral CA at the wide aperture whenever you go for the strong bokeh effect, giving green fringing to the edges with the magenta fill.

With a wide aperture and on full-frame cameras the resolution is quite low, giving soft corners with some dark vignette. 


  • As you go stopping down it performs amazingly giving excellent images
  • No lateral chromatic aberrations with this lens
  • The autofocus is fast and accurate which includes manual override.


  • At wide aperture this lens gives bokeh chromatic aberrations
  • At wide apertures especially at f/2.8, it gives vignetting on full frame cameras
  • Highly susceptible to flare

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Overall, the DSLR lens is reasonable in price when compared with the features. Maybe there are slight flares and a little bit of distortion but that is okay with this price range.

You can get maximum results on stopping down, giving excellent images. The quality and overall performance will be okay if you use it properly as mentioned above.

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