Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

This review covers


» Image Quality «


» Sample Pictures «

» Conclusion «

» Further Information «

Table of contents

Shot with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM:

Trunks in Deadvlei  (50mm, f/22.0, 1/50s, ISO 100, Full Frame)  © Gil De Sousa



EF 50mm
f/1.4 USM

The EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is Canon's medium-budget 50 mm prime lens that combines good image quality with a compact and lightweight form factor. It has a USM motor that allows manual override during autofocus operation but it's an older generation model that's a little slower and noisier than modern USM motors. The lens is solidly built but of the outer parts only the lens mount is made of metal. The very low f-stops available make this lens ideal for available light photography and portraits. Due to its high resolution at higher f-stops it's also suitable for landscapes (not so much on APS-C cameras where the effective focal length is 80 mm). Even wide open the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM has an impressive resolution but color fringes (both in focused and in blurred parts of the images) are a problem with this lens. Distortion is also an issue if the lens is used with a full frame camera. While corner shadow is present it does fade with higher f-stops and there is no curvature of the focal plane. The aperture shape is circular and creates even-looking bokeh.

The EF 50mm f/1.4 USM costs more than three times as much as the EF 50mm f/1.8 II but (unlike the high-end offering EF 50mm f/1.2L USM) is still affordable for most. The surcharge is paid for a better autofocus motor, higher built quality, a properly sized focus ring and of course a better maximum aperture of f/1.4 rather than f/1.8. I would have hoped that the image quality were also a step upwards but it's very similar to the EF 50mm f/1.8 II (which is probably good enough anyway). In real-life applications however the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM will likely deliver better images just for its superior focusing operation. If you are on a tight budget you'll be more than happy with the lower-cost offering but if you can easily afford it the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM will be a nicer lens to use.

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Further Information


-Data table

NameCanon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Model year1993
Market price (Germany)€ 310
Market price (USA)$ 380
CompatibilityCompatible with full frame cameras
Lens typePrime (fixed focal length)
Aperture range at shortest focal lengthf/1.4 to f/22
Aperture range at longest focal lengthn.a.
Model No.?
Number of aperture blades8
Aperture blades are circular?No
Has image stabilization?No
F-stop gain of image stabilizern.a.
Number of image stabilizer modesn.a.
Allows manual override during autofocus?Yes
Has filter thread?Yes
Filter size58 mm
Officially compatible with extenders?No
Has a metal lens mount?Yes
Weight9 oz
Diameter2.9 "
Length (mount surface to front end)2.0 "
Length - fully extended2.3 "
Length - fully extended with hood?
Shortest focal length50 mm
Longest focal lengthn.a.
Effective shortest focal length on cameras with APS-C sensor80 mm
Effective longest focal length on cameras with APS-C sensorn.a.
Minimum focus distance1.48 '
Maximum magnification0.15 x
Front element rotates when focusing?No
Front element rotates when zooming?n.a.
Extends when focusing?Yes
Extends when zooming?n.a.
Zoom lockable?n.a.
Number of AF ranges1
Number of AF presets0
Length of AF preset recall ringn.a.
Sealed against dust and moisture?No
Seal requires filter to be present?n.a.
Has AF stop switch?Yes
Has AF stop button?No
Has distance indicator?Yes
Distance information is in EXIF data??
Uses drop-in type filters?No
Drop-in filter sizen.a.
Length of zoom ringn.a.
Length of focus ring0.4 "
Number of lenses7
Number of optical groups6
Lens Hood
Maximum diameter?
Model No.ES-71II
Lens Cap
Weight0.4 oz
Length0.2 "
Model No.E-58
Tripod Mount
Maximum diameter?
Model No.?
Case / Pouch
Model No.LP1014



Image Quality