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Old 25-08-2006, 11:55 AM
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Canon 50mm f/1.8 vs Canon 50mm f/1.4

Hi all

Would be pleased to hear your thoughts on what the difference is between the two above mentioned lenses..

The 50 f/1.8 is pretty much a staple of most photographers, and cheap as chips as approx AU$120. The 50 f/1.4 is obviously faster by a little bit, but is also at least 5 times more expensive!

What is the difference between the 2? Is it just the aperture, or is it sharper, or is there some other difference?

How much difference is f/1.4 compared to f/1.8 in real terms, anyway?

What does it mean in terms of exposure times?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 25-08-2006, 12:25 PM
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Striker (Tony)
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I cant give you the stats Mike but if your saying the 50mm 1.4 is 5x times the price of the 50mm at 1.8.....go the 1.8...their both very very fast lenses and cant really justify that type of price difference...also the 50mm 1.8 may be sharper so you may have to back the 1.4 to 1.8 at the end of the day.
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Old 25-08-2006, 12:39 PM
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acropolite (Phil)
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IMO and from what I've read, little difference except in dollar terms.
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Old 25-08-2006, 12:57 PM
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Each f-stop doubles or halves the exposure time, but the difference between 1.8 and 1.4 is actually only 1/2 a stop, not a whole stop. 1.8 exists because of some weird historial reason. Also the f-numbers are rounded up or down - 1.4 is actually 1.375 etc.

The 'usual' camera f-stops are the following, and I've put in the 1.8 for comparision. The second collumn is the time - say in seconds - that would give the equivalent exposure, disregarding film reciprisosity failure (how do you spell that?) and noise effects etc.

f .......... seconds
32.......... 51200
22.......... 25600
16.......... 12800
11.......... 6400
8........... 3200
5.5........ 1600
4.......... 800
2.8....... 400
2.......... 200
(1.8)..... (150)
1.4....... 100
1 ......... 50
0.7....... 25

Often the main reason for having a 1.4 instead of a 1.8 is to show off a bit. The extra bit of glass looks nice... Having said that, often the lens manufacturers will have better optics in the faster lenses, hence the big increase in price. It's really the law of diminishing returns - or Paranti's Law (?). You get 80% of the results for 20% of the effort (or cost). but sometimes 80% is not enough....
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Old 29-08-2006, 05:40 PM
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Hi Mike,

I've been thinking about the exact same thing, I'm finding it hard to justify that extra cost of the f/1.4...but then again.

If you keep yourself warm at night by burning wads of money in your cumbustion heater (old notes, not the 'new' plastic ones, of course) you could even get the old supposed 'holy grail' of lenses the 50mm f/1.0. It has been discontinued and now sells for more than its original cost of US$3K, I saw it with my own two eyes on American ebay last week going for US$5,990!
Check out some photos, particularly the one of Niagara Falls:
http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/50-1.0.html

Here's a couple of forum type websites on the subject if you've a couple of hours to spare to read them:
http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/s...ort=7&thecat=2
and
http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/50-1.4

Hope they don't add to the confusion of choice.

Cheers,
Michael
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Old 29-08-2006, 10:52 PM
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All this reminds me of about 10 years ago when I was in Singapore.

I went into a camera shop and asked what Olympus gear they had. The guy just laughed and said that 'Orympus is crup!". (This was in the daze when Orympus had bought out the OM10, 20, 30, 40......)

He then said "Whut cumera do u huv?" I replied that I had a OM2n... he then said "Oh! You special custumoh. For speshal Orympus customoh, I have speshal lens - loook..." and he pulled out a 50 mm 1.2.... I think he wanted S$500 - about AU$400 at the time.

Really, the difference between a 1.8 and a 1.4 is you reach the skyglow limit in 1 minute or a minute and a half. Maybe the 1.4 will also give slightly smaller star images due to the better glass. But for a 50 mm it is hard to tell the difference - I doubt if you can focus that accuratly to tell the difference.

Having said all that, I have a FD 50 1.4 (the old canon lens) and its great for slow speed hand-held stuff and I still use it with my new 30D, although it acts as a 100 mm f1.8.

A few years ago you could get 50 mm lenses cheap - every 35 mm came with a 50 mm and you could get them for almost nothing - I think I paid $50 for an OM 50 1.4 and $75 for the Canon FD 50 1.4. Now daze the cameras all come with 10 to 120000 mm f560 - 678 zooms or whatever.

If you want a 'standard' lens for a digital EOS, then Sigma makes a 30 mm f1.4 or something like that. A 50 mm will be the equivalent of a 80 mm.
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Old 30-08-2006, 05:29 AM
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Mike,
most have answered your immediate queries. Can I ask (and deviate slightly from what the thread was originally about) WHY?
If it is to gain a decent/fast low light lens for astro (only) use then there are alternatives.
Gary
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Old 30-08-2006, 07:24 AM
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Gary, it's not for astro only.

I want to use it for terrestrial and portraits as well. Would be interested in hearing your thoughts on alternatives, too..

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I don't think i'll be going the 1.4.
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Old 30-08-2006, 10:56 AM
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OK, well if it was for astro only I would be suggesting something like an R series Leica lens, or an older Zeiss, These are absolutely top quality, and fit via an adaptor. They are manual only all the way though.
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Old 30-08-2006, 10:57 AM
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Wonder what a 17-40mm L series would have been like....lol
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Old 30-08-2006, 12:11 PM
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Canon 50mm 1.4 vs 1.8

Mike,

Main difference is in build quality/weight - ie plastic mount (1.8) 130g vs metal mount (1.4) 290g and the faster, quieter USM autofocus with manual override full time on the 1.4. There is a 5 blade diaphragm on the 1.8 but 8 blades on the 1.4.

Having said it is not for astro you might find those differences significant...if it was for astro I would get (well have got in fact :-)) a Zeiss or SMC Pentax plus adapter...
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Old 30-08-2006, 02:32 PM
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I doubt either lens will be sharp enough for astro work when they're wide open. It's more of a build quality thing, like John said. Both lenses probably need to be stopped down for a sharp image accross the entire field of view. The 1.4 should be the better of the two. I'd prefer the 8 blade diaphragm as well but the expense over the 1.8 is significant. I went through this a couple of years ago buying a Nikon 50mm. They have virtually the same options, a cheap 1.8 and an exspensive 1.4. Looking back I'm glad I paid the extra for the 1.4, the build quality is just far better.
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Old 01-09-2006, 09:54 AM
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Hi,
I just happened to chance upon this website:
http://www.photo.net/equipment/canon/ef50/
It's the best one I've found so far when it comes to comparison.
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Old 01-09-2006, 10:42 AM
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Great review...snipped this...

Thanks for the review, it's actually quite direct and informative, but it unfortunately (for Canon) made me realize that I wouldn't want either of these lenses. And while it's no surprise that my 50mm Summicron (Leica f2.0) is far better (yes, at 3 x the price) it does seem odd that, based on the images shown, my 25 year old Pentax SMC 50mm also out performs them (at least with respect to flare resistance, distortion and bokeh).

...end of snip. from a 50mm Pentax SMC owner ($40).
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Old 01-09-2006, 02:17 PM
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Well it all depends. And if you want to try them, I have a supply of older screw mount Takumars. Believce me though, I have tried them, and they are not a patch on the L series zooms. (especially the 17-40 Striker)
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