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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 03 Apr 2009 (Friday) 00:33
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50mm prime lens tests

 
joe ­ mama
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Apr 03, 2009 00:33 |  #1
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www.slrgear.com (external link) has completed their test of the Sigma 50 / 1.4. So, just for quick reference, here are the tests:

Canon 50 / 1.2L:

http://www.slrgear.com …t.php/product/1​000/cat/10 (external link)

Canon 50 / 1.4:

http://www.slrgear.com …ct.php/product/​140/cat/10 (external link)

Canon 50 / 1.8:

http://www.slrgear.com …ct.php/product/​150/cat/10 (external link)

Sigma 50 / 1.4:

http://www.slrgear.com …t.php/product/1​202/cat/30 (external link)

Sigma 50 / 2.8 macro (too bad there's no Canon 50 / 2.5 macro test):

http://www.slrgear.com …ct.php/product/​216/cat/30 (external link)


--joe

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Grentz
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Apr 03, 2009 00:48 |  #2

Interesting. Very interesting how the Canon 1.4 is overall a bit softer than the 1.8 which is killer in the center it looks like, at least in sharpness ;)


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joe ­ mama
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Apr 03, 2009 01:23 |  #3
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Grentz wrote in post #7657172 (external link)
Interesting. Very interesting how the Canon 1.4 is overall a bit softer than the 1.8 which is killer in the center it looks like, at least in sharpness ;)

Not sure what you're seeing -- f-stop for f-stop the 50 / 1.4 is sharper on both FF and 1.6x. Could you tell me which format and f-stop you were comparing?


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tkbslc
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Apr 03, 2009 01:49 |  #4

joe mama wrote in post #7657322 (external link)
Not sure what you're seeing -- f-stop for f-stop the 50 / 1.4 is sharper on both FF and 1.6x. Could you tell me which format and f-stop you were comparing?

wide open the Canon 1.4 looks super ugly. That is probably what he means.


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joe ­ mama
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Apr 03, 2009 02:17 |  #5
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tkbslc wrote in post #7657395 (external link)
wide open the Canon 1.4 looks super ugly. That is probably what he means.

Ah. How delightfully ironic:

https://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=671623

:D


--joe

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Grentz
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Apr 03, 2009 09:23 |  #6

I actually miss read the charts the first time as I was tired as heck last night :oops:

Still the 1.8 does not seem to be too much of a slouch, at least in the center.


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wimg
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Apr 03, 2009 10:07 |  #7

Interesting. I have no experience with the Sigma, but with all of the others, several copies, plus the 50 F/2.5 CM, and several MF 50s, used with adapters.

Essentially, in my experience, with the exception of 1, the Meyer Domiplan 50 F/2.8, all slower 50s (F/1.7 and slower) are great lenses, usable from wide open, and very sharp from F/2, or from F/2.5 or F/2.8 if that is the maximum aperture.

When it comes to F/1.4s, it gets a little disappointing, as most 50 F/1.4s are soft wide open, don't focus too well at large apertures especially in close up circumstances, but they all get very good to excellent at F/2.8. This includes the "famous" Zeiss Planar T* 50 F/1.4, and the Canon 50 F/1.4. The best in this category, if you ask me, are the Sigma 50 F/1.4, followed by the old Zuiko OM 50 F/1.4, where the Sigma is sharper at F/1.4, and the Zuiko is excellent at F/2. Bokeh of the Sigma is a lot better.

However, IMO the best 50 currently out there, is the 50L. Slightly soft at F/1.2, sharp from F/1.4, and better than anything else up to F/2.8, and at least equal from F/2.8 and stopped down further. Bokeh, colour, contrast and flare resistance are all better, IMO, than anything else out there.

For some reason, all current fast 50s seem to have problems, however, generally related to focusing, so it is a matter of finding a good copy, or have the lens calibrated if it is not too far out.

My personal rating list of 50 mm AF lenses for Canon, both APS-C and FF is as follows:

1. EF 50L - just find one without the focus shift problem, in which case it is easily the best out there, there is no other lens which renders images this great. Slightly soft at F/1.2, and some halation around bright objects wide open (the glow people mention).

2. Sigma 50 F/1.4 - some copies with focusing problems nearby and/or far away, also some focus shift at F/1.6 to about F/2.5, and less sharp at F/2 and F/2.8 than at F/1.4 and F/4.

3. EF 50 F/2.5 CM - this is a gem: sharp throughout, and amazing bokeh. It is just relatively slow, and not very fast focusing, but it is one great little gem, often overlooked.

4. EF 50 F/1.8 Mk I / Mk II - usable at maximum aperture, sharp from F/2 to F/2.2, slow focusing at times. Sharpest at F/5.6 - F/8, pecular highlights are ugly due to the 5-bladed diaphragm.

...

10. EF 50 F/1.4 - I was really very disappointed by 4 out of 5 copies I tested, and just disappointed by 1 out of 5, due to focusing problems nearby, and the softness up to F/2.5; it only is really sharp from F/2.8, but then it suddenly is exceptionally sharp. Sharpest at F/4 - F/5.6

I have no experience with the Sigma 50 Macro.

If I had to add the Zuiko 50 F/1.4, not taking the MF into account, I would probably put it ex aequo with the 50 CM, although its bokeh is not as good. All other slow MF 50s are as good as the Canon 50 F/1.8s, and some are even better.

I have no experience with any of the F/1.2 MF 50s out there, like the Minolta, Olympus, Pentax or Nikon, so can't comment on those.

Kind regards, Wim


EOS R & EOS 5 (analog) with a gaggle of primes & 3 zooms, OM-D E-M1 Mk II & Pen-F with 10 primes, 6 zooms, 3 Metabones adapters/speedboosters​, and an accessory plague

  
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rooftopsuicideclub
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Apr 03, 2009 10:44 |  #8

i just bought one of these this morning from B&H. i'll post a testing update next week.
i've heard heaps about the hit & miss nature of 1.4 with this lens, and eagerly want to see what's what.


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LostShootingStar
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Apr 03, 2009 10:50 |  #9

rooftopsuicideclub wrote in post #7658990 (external link)
i just bought one of these this morning from B&H. i'll post a testing update next week.
i've heard heaps about the hit & miss nature of 1.4 with this lens, and eagerly want to see what's what.

i've heard/read this too. Mine seems to be fine, and so do most of the others i've seen

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WallyJr74
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Apr 03, 2009 10:53 |  #10

I had 50/1.4 and I found it useless with APS-C @ 1.4-2. I went with 1.8 II instead.


5D/BG-E4 | Σ 50/1.4 | 100/2 | 28-75/2.8

  
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joe ­ mama
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Apr 03, 2009 15:52 |  #11
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wimg wrote in post #7658704 (external link)
1. EF 50L - just find one without the focus shift problem...

The focus shift is endemic to the design -- there are no 50Ls without this issue:

http://forums.dpreview​.com …rum=1029&messag​e=25117450 (external link)

It is a result of strong uncorrected SA (spherical aberration) and no floating RE (rear element).

10. EF 50 F/1.4 - I was really very disappointed by 4 out of 5 copies I tested, and just disappointed by 1 out of 5, due to focusing problems nearby, and the softness up to F/2.5; it only is really sharp from F/2.8, but then it suddenly is exceptionally sharp. Sharpest at F/4 - F/5.6

In my experience and for my standards, the 50 / 1.4 was outstanding from f/2 on up, but iffy below f/2. Someone loaned me a Sigma 50 / 1.4 to compare to my 50 / 1.2L. In some test shots, the 50 / 1.4 was amazingly good -- much better than my 50 / 1.2L -- but in others it was unimpressive. In real life shots, however, I much preferred the 50 / 1.2L. I attributed the differences to focus accuracy. However, my 5D shutter failed soon after receiving the lens, so I returned it to its owner, so my results are tentative at best. As I really love my 50 / 1.2L, I'm not in a hurry to get the Sigma, but some day, I imagine I'll give it a more honest trial.


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wimg
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Apr 03, 2009 18:43 |  #12

Hi Joe,

joe mama wrote in post #7661304 (external link)
The focus shift is endemic to the design -- there are no 50Ls without this issue:

http://forums.dpreview​.com …rum=1029&messag​e=25117450 (external link)

It is a result of strong uncorrected SA (spherical aberration) and no floating RE (rear element).

Yeah, I know, I've written many a post on this, as I have been testing 50Ls as well. The question is when you call focus shift focus shift. My current 50L shifts at most 1/6 of DoF, where my 85L shifts 1/4 of DoF. So, all relative.

BTW, I think the SA is not so much uncorrected as deliberately introduced. It is what causes the great bokeh both in front and at the back of the focus plane after all. Most lenses with good bokeh only manage good bokeh behind the focus plane. Therefore, I think it was by design, but I think they did not realize how hard it really would be to properly calibrate this lens, or that it even would be possible at all with all specimens.

In my experience and for my standards, the 50 / 1.4 was outstanding from f/2 on up, but iffy below f/2. Someone loaned me a Sigma 50 / 1.4 to compare to my 50 / 1.2L. In some test shots, the 50 / 1.4 was amazingly good -- much better than my 50 / 1.2L -- but in others it was unimpressive. In real life shots, however, I much preferred the 50 / 1.2L. I attributed the differences to focus accuracy. However, my 5D shutter failed soon after receiving the lens, so I returned it to its owner, so my results are tentative at best. As I really love my 50 / 1.2L, I'm not in a hurry to get the Sigma, but some day, I imagine I'll give it a more honest trial.

As mentioned, I only had 1 out of 5 EF 50 F/1.4s that was kinda ok, indeed reasonably sharp at F/2, but still with focusing problems nearby, both on a 5D and a 40D. Even so, the old Zuiko handsomely beat it.

The Sigmas I tested (2 different ones) both had the same problem, namely focus shift nearby, strongest at about F/2, to just outside the correct placement of DoF, and focusing further away was not entirely up to scratch either, at any aperture.

Kind regards, Wim


EOS R & EOS 5 (analog) with a gaggle of primes & 3 zooms, OM-D E-M1 Mk II & Pen-F with 10 primes, 6 zooms, 3 Metabones adapters/speedboosters​, and an accessory plague

  
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Jman13
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Apr 03, 2009 19:34 |  #13

I have owned a LOT of 50mm lenses. Here are the lenses I have owned:

Canon 50mm f/1.8 II
Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM
Canon 50mm f/1.2L (albeit only for one day, then returned)
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX
Carl Zeiss (Contax/Yashica mount) 50mm f/1.7 Planar
Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4
S-M-C Takumar 50mm f/1.4
Minolta Rokkor 50mm f/1.4
Minolta ROkkor 58mm f/1.2 (not a 50, but close enough)

Of all these lenses, the Sigma 50 is probably the best of all of them, taking into account all factors. The 50L is just as good, if not a little tiny bit better, but it certainly is not $1000 better, at least compared to my Sigma 50.

Interestingly enough, the Sigma 50 is not at the top of any imaging category of the lenses I posted, except in bokeh, where it's easily as good, if not better than the 50L. However, it is VERY good at nearly everything, which is why I like its overall image quality so much.

Of the 50s I've owned, I'd rate the best in these categories:

Wide Open Sharpness:
1. Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 Planar
2. Minolta Rokkor 50mm f/1.4
3. Sigma 50 f/1.4 EX / Canon 50 f/1.2L (tie)

Overall Sharpness at sharpest aperture (though ALL are very sharp at their sharpest...this is splitting hairs except for the top spot):
1. Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 Planar
2. Canon 50mm f/1.4
3. Minolta Rokkor 50mm f/1.4

Most contrast:

1. Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 Planar.
2. S-M-C Takumar 50mm f/1.4
3. Canon 50mm f/1.2L

Best skin tones / portrait tone curve:
1. Minolta Rokkor 50mm f/1.4
2. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX
3. Canon 50mm f/1.2L

Best Bokeh:

1. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX
2. Canon 50mm f/1.2L
3. Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.2

Best color:
1. Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.7 Planar
2. Canon 50mm f/1.2L
3. Sigma 50mm f/1.4

Best AF Accuracy:

1. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (Yes, my Sigma is the most accurate AF 50 I've ever used).
2. Canon 50mm f/1.4
3. Canon 50mm f/1.8 II
- My 50L backfocused like mad...the other categories were judged on manual focus.

Best overall image quality:
1. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 / Canon 50mm f/1.2L
3. Minolta Rokkor 50mm f/1.4
4. S-M-C Takumar 50mm f/1.4

At least, that's my experience. Now, you may ask why the Zeiss 50 f/1.7 isn't in my 'top overall image quality' list. It's the sharpest lens I've likely ever used. However, the bokeh on it is pretty terrible, and the contrast curve is so steep, that it is not flattering for portraits. It makes a wonderful nature/landscape 50, though.

And here's a shot of my daughter at bath time, taken about an hour ago with the Sigma 50 f/1.4. This is at f/2, natural light with the 1Ds II:

IMAGE: http://www.jordansteele.com/forumlinks/chloe_bath.jpg

Jordan Steele - http://www.jordansteel​e.com (external link)
Admiring Light - http://www.admiringlig​ht.com (external link)
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Canon EOS R5 | R6 | RF 24-105mm f/4L IS | RF 35mm f/1.8 | RF 50mm f/1.8 | RF 85mm f/2 | RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS | Sigma 12-24mm f/4 | Sigma 135mm f/1.8 | Tamron 35mm f/1.4 | TTArtisan 11mm Fisheye

  
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joe ­ mama
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Apr 03, 2009 21:07 |  #14
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Originally Posted by joe mama
The focus shift is endemic to the design -- there are no 50Ls without this issue:

http://forums.dpreview​.com/forums/re...ssage​=25117450 (external link)

It is a result of strong uncorrected SA (spherical aberration) and no floating RE (rear element).

wimg wrote:
Yeah, I know, I've written many a post on this, as I have been testing 50Ls as well. The question is when you call focus shift focus shift. My current 50L shifts at most 1/6 of DoF, where my 85L shifts 1/4 of DoF. So, all relative.

BTW, I think the SA is not so much uncorrected as deliberately introduced. It is what causes the great bokeh both in front and at the back of the focus plane after all. Most lenses with good bokeh only manage good bokeh behind the focus plane. Therefore, I think it was by design, but I think they did not realize how hard it really would be to properly calibrate this lens, or that it even would be possible at all with all specimens.


Interesting. I was under the impression that the floating RE of the 85 / 1.2L offset the shift. I've long been a pundit of correcting for the shift via software. That is, since the 50L reports focus distance back to the camera, and the camera also knows the f-ratio the camera is set to, the AF algorithms can *easily* be programmed to adjust for the shift.

Anyway, one interesting take I've heard on the issue is that the 50L "should be" calibrated for accurate AF wide open, and thus the shift would be visible when framing closely stopped down using center AF. However, a miscalibrated 50L might be dead-on at f/2, show slight front focus wider, and slight back focus narrower, and the focus shift might go unnoticed, with people mistaking the shift for wide open softness. Don't know if it's true, but it sure sounds good. : )

In any event, by far the most important aspect to sharp pics at wide apertures is critically accurate AF, and at 50mm f/1.2, that's not the easiest thing to do, especially using off-center AF points, and even more so in low light. That's why I was so disappointed with the 5DII. While it's a great camera, to be sure, I was really hoping for a killer AF system. I'd love just a few more AF points more spread out, with all having the same performance as the center AF. While I'm not saying that fast 50mm primes are incredible wide open, I think most people's disappointment with them stems more from the difficulty in achieven accurate AF than it does with the performance of the lens.

For example, this gallery shows the potential of the Canon 50 / 1.4 wide open on the 5D:

http://www.pbase.com/j​oemama/on_a_good_day (external link)

Perfect? Of course not. But not too shabby, actually. The 50 / 1.2L has less difficulty nailing it wide open than the 50 / 1.4 (don't know why), but I prefer how it renders the image regardless (most likely contrast/bokeh). Still, if Canon made a 50 / 1.4 II that nailed the focus more consistently below f/2, I think a lot of people would call it a killer lens, even if the optics remained unchanged.


--joe

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Tom ­ W
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Apr 03, 2009 21:27 |  #15

wimg wrote in post #7658704 (external link)
...

10. EF 50 F/1.4 - I was really very disappointed by 4 out of 5 copies I tested, and just disappointed by 1 out of 5, due to focusing problems nearby, and the softness up to F/2.5; it only is really sharp from F/2.8, but then it suddenly is exceptionally sharp. Sharpest at F/4 - F/5.6

...

Thanks for that. In terms of sharpness, my experience with the 50/1.4 is similar. I would say that the lens gets exceptionally sharp from f/2.8 up. It's advantage over Canon's f/1.8 (Mk I or II) is its bokeh - it renders a much smoother bokeh than it's less expensive brother. Of course, having superior build, a focus scale, full-time-manual focus, and a metal mount are certainly positive factors as well.

I'm happy that my copy focuses quite well, though a true USM system would be desirable.

I've given the 50/1.2L some thought but at this point, I don't see the value. I have the original version of the 85/1.2 ( a great lens) and I'm thinking that a 50/1.2 wouldn't fill a unique void in my lens lineup.


Tom
5D IV, M5, RP, & various lenses

  
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50mm prime lens tests
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