Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM - APS-C Review / Retest
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2010


The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM was introduced back in June 1993. Price-wise it sits in-between the extremely expensive EF 50mm f/1.2 USM L and the "cheap" EF 50mm f/1.8 II. There have been calls in forums out there that the lens is outdated by now (e.g. due to the non-circular aperture) but so far Canon had different priorities. We tested the lens a couple of years ago on an 8mp APS-C DSLR but the mega-pixel race has obviously continued so it's time to have a look again. Canon APS-C DSLRs have a sensor crop factor of 1.6x so the field-of-view is equivalent to 80mm on full format cameras here. In terms of depth-of-field you "loose" about one f-stop so all-in-all it behaves more like a typical portrait lens in the APS-C scope.

The overall build quality is very decent with a metal mount and an outer barrel made of good quality plastics. Manual focusing feels quite smooth albeit not damped. The broad, rubberized control ring is certainly a plus compared to the tiny focus ring on the EF 50mm f/1.8 II. The inner lens tube extends slightly (~1cm max) when focusing towards closer distances.

The lens is a little unusual in the global Canon lens context - it features a micro-USM AF drive including full-time manual (FTM) override in AF mode. This is a quite unique combination because FTM is usually available on Canon's ring-type USM drives only. The AF operation is fast and silent but slightly inferior compared to e.g. the 85mm f/1.8 USM.

Equiv. focal length80 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/2.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction7 elements in 6 groups
Number of aperture blades8
min. focus distance0.45 m (max. magnification ratio ~1:6,6)
Dimensions74 x 41 mm
Weight290 g
Filter size58 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodoptional, barrel-shaped
Other features-

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