When Blanc Creative decided it was time to purchase another 50mm lens, we didn’t realise just how much deliberation and decision making such a simple task would be.

Canon users benefit from  a choice of three 50mm primes lenses offering maximum apertures of f/1.8, f/1.4 and f/1.2. The Blanc Creative review will deal with the the mid range 1.4 lens, however, we will make slight reference to the big brother f/1.2 lens.

Canon 1.4f 50mm review

The canon 1.4 50mm USM is the most useful 50mm lens. You can find it online today (15th April 2014) for as low as £255 from HDEW and from personal experience, HDEW are a reputable company with good customer service if you are happy to buy an imported lens. Blanc Creative shoot professional commercial photography and video productions and we played with both the 1.2f and the canon 1.4 50mm. If you shoot just about anything that moves in available light, you need one of these lenses simply because it gives you the edge to shoot with ISOs of only one-quarter, or shutter speeds four times as fast as the f/2.8 L Series 24-70mm which is our standard every day lens of choice.  zoom. The main stumbling falls in the area of Kudos. Having always shot with heavy duty L-series lenses, the thought of downgrading to a sub £300 lightweight version didn’t really cut it. If Canon had used a metal body and added another £100 onto the price tag, we’re sure that it would still be an incredibly attractive proposition for customers. As soon as you attach the lens to the body, you’re instantly transported into the ‘amateur’ feel. Attach the 1.2f and the reality of a weather sealed prime professional metal cased workhorse is immediately evident. But then with a price tag of £1000 more, it’s time to take a step back and look at the image quality of both and this is where the Canon 1.4f 50,mm  prime comes into it’s own.

The Canon f1.2f 50mm honestly doesn’t do anything remotely different to the canon 1.4 50mm version. Side by side, the minimal depth is so minimal and the 1.2f actually fails to focus as regularly as the 1.4f.  is much bigger and heavier, and doesn’t focus as consistently. With the lens fully opened, the 1.4 f gives an incredibly sharp spot, but you do need to shoot with precision. For video or still imagery where lighting is an absolute necessity

The canon 1.4 50mm lens has a well centred focusing ring doesn’t move during focusing and it’s possible to manually move the focus even in AF. Manual focusing is a little rough at times, particularly during the early usage and when trying pull video focus at 1.4f, but with practice and patience, the process becomes second nature. Focusing is also a little noisy in comparison with the f1.2, but the quickness of the  more than makes up for this. As a portrait lens, the canon 1.4 50mm packs decent sharpness, particularly around the f4 or f4.5 depths. 

canon 1.4 50mm

canon 1.4 50mm

The Canon 1.2 50mm gets some serious reviews from Canon and why not.. It’s their flagship prime. You get some added extras including a lens hood and pouch, but not much more for £1800.  Given the ability of the 1canon 1.4 50mm, it is difficult to imagine quite how we would justify wanting to purchase the 1.2f. We agree that every photographer will have their own perception as to what should and shouldn’t be in a kit bag. For now, we’re happy to use the 1.4f in our work.


Product Specification

Angle of view (horzntl, vertl, diagnl) 40°, 27°, 46°
Lens construction (elements/groups) 7/6
No. of diaphragm blades 8
Minimum aperture 22
Closest focusing distance (m) 0.45
Maximum magnification (x) 0.15
AF actuator Micro USM¹
Filter diameter (mm) 58
Max. diameter x length (mm) 73.8 x 50.5
Weight (g) 290
Magnification – Extension Tube EF12 II 0.39 – 0.24
Magnification – Extension Tube EF25 II 0.68 – 0.53
Lens Cap E-58U / E-58II
Lens hood ES-71 II
Hard case LHP-C10
Soft case ES-C9/LP1014
AF actuator ¹ Mechanical full-time manual focusing built-in.

Versatile, compact standard-lens design

Gaussian optics, combined with two high-refraction lens elements allow photographers working in all fields to capture crisp, clean images, even wide open at f/1.4. The lens is ideal for photographing landscapes and travel scenes as well as portraits and reportage.

Smooth background blur

A virtually circular aperture diaphragm gives out of focus regions a softer, more uniform feel. Sharp foreground objects stand out against a smooth blurred background.

Ultrasonic focusing

A ultrasonic motor drives autofocus extremely quickly, and in near silence. Excellent holding torque ensures the point of focus is reached accurately, without overshooting. Furthermore, full-time manual override is available, making it possible to adjust focus without leaving AF mode.

Super Spectra coating

Super Spectra coatings ensure accurate colour balance and enhance contrast. They also reduce flare and ghosting – a common problem caused by light bouncing off a camera’s sensor.

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For an extensive review of this lens and many more, why not take a look at the Kenrockwell site or Canon Europe 

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