Is Canon 50mm f/1.4 much better than the f/1.8?

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by Keyman, Apr 28, 2007.

  1. Keyman

    Keyman
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    This is my first SLR (350d) so I may be even asking the wrong question or there may be a much easier solution instead of spending money.

    Got a copy of the 50mm 1.8 on a 350d and finding it a little problematic for my use.

    Basically getting a significant percentage of out of focus shot (seems to focus a little further back a lot of the time), maybe because the low light indoor situations and AF is not coping. I need to keep the lens on low F with faster shutter because of subject unpredictable fast movement (baby). Also because of the possible irractic fast movement, baby can move out of focus and the AF on the 1.8 isn't very fast neither. With such shallow DoF, it becomes a bigger problem. Can get some great shots every now and then but the hit and miss is winding me up bad. (seeing some shots with lovely baby smile but out of focus etc...)

    The focusing on the lens seemd OK as I tried it on a tripod with objects in good light and the focus is fine.

    The questions are:
    1. Is the 50mm f/1.4 sharper at the lower F range?
    2. Is the 50mm f/1.4 better on the AF on a 350d in low light (AF accuracy)?
    3. Is the AF siginificantly faster becasue of the USM?
    4. Should I save a bit (LOT) more and go for the 35mm 1.4? It seems to be a better FL for the job but the £ is holding me back. Is there a good 3rd party alternative (sigma etc)?
    5. Do I just live with the high percentage of write off as this comes with this type of shots. Is the spending going to be worth while?

    Any help and suggestions on related issues would be appreciated.
     
  2. senu

    senu
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    Sorry you are having this problem, However I have both lenses and wonder if your 1.8 may be faulty
    It is not recommended you use it below 2.2
    Specifically, the 1.4 is not sharper then the 1.8 at any f stop,but in my experience it has better colour , contrast , bokeh and build
    AF accuracy may be camera dependent
    AF is faster,quieter and ( and the risk of contradicting the above) more accurate but the USM isnt the Ring type
    Im in a rush , Ill elaborate later this morning:)
     
  3. Radiohead

    Radiohead
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    I'd agree with senu here - the 50/1.4 is faster to focus (although it has micro USM rather than true ring), it certainly has better build, nicer colours, contrast and bokeh as well. My experience of the 50/1.4 is that it's fairly soft as 1.4, but at 1.8 it's sharpened right up and it's better at 1.8 than the 1.8 is at 1.8 (if you follow).

    Some users (including me) have found the 50/1.4 to be a little inconsistent with acquiring focus as well. It's something I work round and sadly the 50/1.2 gave me headaches elsewhere. That said, since sorting out my zooms I use my primes a lot less now anyway.

    If you do use it a lot it's worth the extra but 50mm on a crop body is closer to headshot territory - if it is the true 50mm FOV you're after then the very expensive 35/1.4 will get you there, although I'd be looking long and hard at the excellent Sigma 30/1.4 as well.

    The excellent Digital Picture site will show you crops of the two - like this.
     
  4. senu

    senu
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    Just to add quickly, you could try changing the AI AF mode and ISO but I'd agree that avoiding using a wide aperture is usually desirable.

    Also without meaning to sound discouraging,( I've been there myself) it is quite often the case with babies and children that you'll waste a lot of shots to get a few really good ones.( regardless of lens and camera;;ie even with the 30D +50mm1.4) Your pre focusing skills are tested to the max:devil:
     
  5. Chunder

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    You're not the only one who struggles with the nifty/thrifty fifty - I've managed to do everything you said :)

    Basically, even though the lens can be opened up to f/1.8, you'll almost never be able to use it that wide open - a slight miss on the focus point give a nice sharp nosetip, and nothing else :) Been there, done that...

    It's also extremely hard to focus manually (perhaps a better/brighter replacement focus screen would help) and it also doesn't have the distance scale, so you can't even make a guesstimate ;(

    I'm tempted to upgrade, but it's not on my list of essentials.
     
  6. Keyman

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    With my current bad skills (shaky hands + not good at manual or hold focus), I am hoping to relying on a fast lens with fast and accurate auto focus to solve part of the problem (especially in low indoor light with moving subject). Would this logic be correct?

    If so, is there a particular fast-ish lens do reasonably well (around the 30-50mm with preference towards 35mm). The criteria would be:
    1. Reasonable sharp and good IQ
    2. Very accurate and fast auto focus
    3. Say at least f/2.8 minimum

    As this would cover 90% of my shots, so do not mind spending on an L if it needs be. Thanks to Radiohead on pointing out the very good link to look at different shots taken with lense on different apperture (which point out the sharpness of different lenses), just looking for a bit more info on the AF accurarcy and 'colour performance' also. Now also consider good zooms instead of primes.

    Once again, any suggestions welcome. :lease:
     
  7. senu

    senu
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    I did ask earlier about your use of Ai AF mode and ISO... Whichever lens you get, you can use them to your advantage

    The one shot AF when things are calm, and a higher ISO than seems necessary, to get a faster shutter speed esp in AV mode

    Otherwise
    If you can stretch to the 17-55 f2.8 IS USM EF-S lens I think you will find it gives you far more consistently pleasing results
    It ticks all the boxes in your "criteria" and with constant f2.8 IS you get upto 3 stops more ( in shutter speed). It is made of L glass though it hast been labelled as such
    It will set you back £560-600 but if you can stretch to it, youll love it
     
  8. Keyman

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    Having a serious think about spending some £.

    Short list right now:
    EF-S 17-55mm IS USM
    EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM

    Hope it will get me better quality and more consistancely in focus pics.

    Money side of the logic will go as:
    get rid of kit lens & 50mm 1.8 & current rebate, should offset some cost.

    I am a little more tempted on the 24-70mm as the
    'a new processing unit makes the AF faster than ever.'

    + probably have to wash the dishes for a few months to seal the deal:(
     
  9. allymac123

    allymac123
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    I wouldn't imagine the 24-70's focus is any faster than the 17-55's. If it is it'll likely be such a small difference that it is not noticable. Unless you are planning on upgrading to a full frame body in the very near future, I urge you to get the 17-55 as the IS is extremely useful (especially as you say you suffer from shaky hands) and the IS gives an equivelent aperture of F1.0 when used on still subjects. It also has a more usefull focal legnth on a crop camera as 24mm vs 17mm is quite a large difference. (55mm vs 70mm is not nearly so noticable)
     
  10. senu

    senu
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    allymac123 is spot on there

    With a Crop Body like the 400D, you would be paying more ( and losing out on useful wide end , IS ) by buying the 24-70L over the 17-55

    As stated above, I cant imagine there's any AF difference in performance( both have Ring type USM ), and given that USM and IS on the 17-55 and the fact that its lenses are ( the
    ultra low dispersion) L glass, It ( the 17-55) is a better buy all round

    The cashback of £33 vs £45 is offset by the lower starting cost of the 17-55:)
     
  11. Radiohead

    Radiohead
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    I'd go with the 17-55 unless you're planning on a FF body soon. Remember to add the cost of a hood for the 17-55 though.
     
  12. Keyman

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    Many many and many thanks guys. :thumbsup:

    EF-S 17-55mm IS USM it is.

    The FF body scenario did sneak into mind but too much etc etc............

    Is there any known issues to look out for this lens, bad copies etc? If there are, probably worth while to get it from a shop rather than the internet. Probably will just take the dive straight away :D
     
  13. Tobers

    Tobers
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    Note: I got a "fake" hood for my 17-55 from Hong Kong for £6. Looks fine, fits, delivered in 6 days, cheap as chips. See eBay :D
     
  14. RobDickinson

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    As saif the 50f1.8 isnt very good at focusing in low light.

    Couple that with the 350d which also isnt the best in low light (400d/30d lots better) and a very shallow DoF at f1.8/2.2 etc its not easy.

    But you can always switch to manual focus which I do often in low light with the 1.8, or use flash assist.
     
  15. jonnypb

    jonnypb
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    the 50mm 1.8 is probably the best VFM lens but it's yet to set me on fire with the IQ (Probably more to do with my photo skills than the lens!)

    I am happy with the lens as it only cost £50 but I do get mixed results with it. I took it out today and it was outdoors in good light and the images weren't as sharp as I would have thought they would be. I was shootingin AV mode and between F5.6-7.1

    I'll post some pics later or tomorrow to see if it's just me being picky or if I'm not using it right. I must admit I leave the AF on one shot all the time and if I'm trying to get pics of little ones thats maybe not the best
     
  16. dave_bass5

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    I dont know if its been mentioned yet but the 300D/350D dont focus as accurately as the 20D/30D/400D etc.
    Canon added a high precision sensor that kicks in for F/28 and faster i believe. This was one of the reasons i sold my 350D and got a 400D.

    I have also had a lot more keepers with the 50mm f/1.4 over the f/1.8II but IQ is quite close IMHO.
     
  17. Keyman

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    Did read up on the better focus on the 400d a week after the 350d purchase. Suppose I can blame it on Jessops salesman whom told me the only difference were more pixels, larger LCD and self cleaner sensor. Teach you not to some specific store salesman may not have the full knowledge.

    Now not 100% sure on the EF-S 17-55mm IS. Options are
    1. Hope the new lens going perform on a 350d
    2. Change the whole lot
    3. Get a EF prime and if it doesn't cut it, live with it for now and then get another body sometime later

    I think I will take my 350d into a store and play with the lens..........
    But Jessop EF-S 17-55mm IS £890, Onestop £530 ?????????:mad:
     
  18. dave_bass5

    dave_bass5
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    I must admit that i only changed to the 400D because i was having problems with my Sigma 30 f/1.4 at the time(and the 400D didnt correct it) Other than that i cant say i noticed any real focusing issues with my 50mm f/1.8II or Tamron 17-50f/2.8 on my 350D

    I would go and try the 17-55IS. its a really sharp lens with a good focus speed and i cant see why it wouldnt work fine on a 350D.
    Take a printout of the cheapest uk place you can find (like Warehouse express) in to Jessops and they should price match that.
    Then get the hood off ebay for no more than £20
     
  19. senu

    senu
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    I would be circumspect with some reviews and interpret them in the right context: Keep your wallet close: The 400D is hardly a 350D "upgrade" even if it is a nice evolution

    The 400D does have the 30Ds 9 point focusing system. I have however used the 400D in a "party" low light environments and not found it to be that dissmilar to the 350D: Both are actually quite good

    The 30D (its AF is modelled on) performs much better than either though despite similar paper specs .

    However, even on the 30D, the 50 1.8 does occasionally hunt ( the 1.4 much less so)

    With the 17-55. the USM and speed will make a big difference compared to the 50mm 1.8


    Jessops will never learn: £ 890??:suicide:..
    And
    you have to be careful with salemen..thier aim is not to sell you what is best for you.. rather what they need to "shift":mad:

    That is why you have these forums.. opinions might differ, but unlike the Jessops salesman we have no commission ( therefore no pressure to sell)
    There is nothing wrong with the 350D, but buying new now it would have to be the at least the 400D
    Saying that, Im not sure you are not giving up on the 350D too hastily
    Costlier bodies ( and lenses) will still have some limitations and half the fun is in gaining the skill to get round them
    As I had casually hinted earlier in the thread, Children are very challenging to shoot regardless of kit.

    Best wishes whatever you decide on
     
  20. dave_bass5

    dave_bass5
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    What Senu said makes perfect sense.

    One thing i will add is that for babies and children i find the best thing to have is an external flash. If you bounce this off the celling you can get some very nice shots that don't really look like a flash was used but by doing this you can use almost any lens you want.
    I use M mode to do this and find i can run around the flat with the kids and still get good shots.

    As for other lens's. As i said i had problems with a Sigma 30 f/1.4. i know lots of people don't but i ended up getting a Canon 35mm f/2.0 and its a great lens. As sharp as the 50mm f/1.8II IMHO but wider and the focusing seems quicker. Cheaper and smaller than the Sigma as well. I could put my 350D+35mm in my jacket pocket. But USM will get you faster focusing, no doubt about it.

    Oh, and the 17-55IS is only £612 from Warehouse Express with cashback from Canon
     

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