Canon 50mm 1.4 vs. 1.8 x3 Lens Review – There’s A Clear Winner

A photographer’s life is not complete without a 50mm nestling in their bag. It may very well be the only lens you will ever need. While there are many models you can choose from, there is a good reason why the 50mm lens is popular with amateur and professional photographers alike.

In this Canon 50mm 1.4 vs. 1.8 x3 comparison review, we take a closer look at both models to determine what best suits your unique shooting needs.

Short on time?

The 1.4 is quieter, sharper at the same aperture, and has a more durable build, but it also costs over twice as much as the 1.8. Given this, the 1.8 is better for those on a budget.

Individual Product Reviews

Canon 50mm 1.4

The Canon 50mm 1.4 is a small, sharp, and inexpensive lens with a 1.4 aperture. It has a silent motor and a bigger aperture, which comes handy when photographing in low light conditions.

Key Features

  • Aperture range f/1.4-22
  • Micro USM AF motor
  • 2040 focus ring rotation
  • Minimum focus distance 17.72-inch
  • Eight aperture blades

What I Like

The Canon 50mm 1.4 USM lens has a large aperture that creates excellent foreground/background blur quality. Colors and contrast are attractive, and the halation strong.

Since it has a standard focal length, it lends itself to various kinds of shooting scenarios, including day-to-day photography. Full-time manual focusing is possible, and its IMicro USM motor is quiet.

It’s also easy to mount its lens, which happens to be of superb quality and available at a reasonable price.

What I Don’t Like

Some of the plastic parts give the 50f/1.4 a somewhat cheaper feel. The manual focus ring has been known to bend out of shape after years of use. Like most prime lenses, it isn’t the sharpest at its widest aperture.

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Full-time manual override
  • Zero lateral chromatic aberration

Cons

  • Susceptible to ghosting and flare
  • Cheap plastic helicoid

The 50f/1.4 offers excellent value at an affordable price. It’s suitable for casual photographers and pros who want a high-quality and portable lens than can shoot crisp images even at the widest aperture.

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Canon 50mm 1.8

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is suitable for beginners who want to get the hang of a DSLR camera. As far as lenses go, it offers a handful of features at an affordable price. Its inability to zoom may seem like a downside, but it’s not as it compels you to get creative and think outside the box when taking shots.

Key Features

  • Seven rounded aperture blades
  • 8-inch minimum focus distance
  • Smoother and quieter STM motor
  • Super Spectra coating
  • 49mm filter diameter

What I Like

Thanks to its wider f/1.8 aperture, this lens lets in more light than standard camera lenses. The outcome is clear images with minimal motion blur.

Just like the f/1.4, its STM motor runs smoothly and quietly enabling a continuous focus. Canon f/1.8 also has a Super Spectra Coating that minimizes flare and prevents ghosting.

Since this lens fills the frame with your subject, you can use it comfortably in all your portrait photoshoots.

What I Don’t Like

The 50mm f/1.8 STM is not as sharp as the f/1.4 USM, but this is to be expected considering the lower price.

Pros

  • Silent autofocus
  • Better optical performance
  • Amazing value for your money
  • Improved ghosting and flare resistance

Cons

  • Not as sharp at higher apertures
  • Bokeh quality could be better

If you’re looking for a compact lens for your portraits or nighttime photography needs, you should consider the lightweight f/1.8 as it produces sharper images in dim conditions.

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About the Lenses

The Canon 50mm lens was released in 1993 and is at the top of the food chain. Over the years, it’s seen gradual improvements that have enabled it to deliver exceptional photographic experience.

Given that Canon 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.8 have some similar features, it is easy to assume that both are suitable for everyone. Yes, you can use them interchangeably, but this doesn’t mean they’ll always rise to the occasion.

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is an excellent choice for amateur photographers who are just getting started with DSLRs. Users benefit from smooth and quiet STM motor, seven rounded aperture blades that help with sharpness and Super Spectra Coating for flare resistance.

The lens boasts sturdy construction with a combination of plastic and metal. The minimum focus distance and maximum magnification are precisely what a beginner needs. If you are looking to get creative with your shots, the inability to zoom will undoubtedly work in your favor.

The Canon 50mm f/1.4 is a step up from the f/1.8, offering multiple improvements at a higher price. It has a silent USM motor that you hardly hear when focusing. It is sharper than the f/1.8 at the same aperture, and the extra one stoplight is a nice bonus. The larger hole comes handy when shooting in low light conditions. It is more than twice the price of the f/1.8 and suitable for someone making the transition from beginner to pro.

About the Category

Canon’s lineup of 50mm prime lenses has been around since the early 1990s. It is popular among beginners learning black and white photography as well as professionals looking to take the perfect shot. The lenses share the same focal length of 50mm and their designs based on the double-Gauss lens. When matched with a 35mm full-frame sensor, this focal length matches the perspective seen by the human eye.

Canon 50mm lenses feature an EF mount that is compatible with Canon EOS cameras. Canon offers seven 50mm lenses, two of which have been discontinued and one replaced. These are suitable for all kinds of photography, ranging from street and portrait photography to day-to-day photography.

The range of Canon 50mm lenses is as similar as they are different. They pack great features into a compact build. Some of their notable features include rounded aperture blades, plastic and metal construction, full-time manual focus and silent focus motors.

So, what are the 50mm lenses good for? They’re useful in taking portrait photos and landscapes. Since they come with wider apertures, they can capture good images in low-lighting conditions. You don’t have to worry about running short of room when you zoom in or distorted images when you zoom out. It captures images just the naked eye does, but at a better depth of field than a mere 35mm.

About the Brand

Established in 1937, Canon is a Japanese multinational corporation that makes imaging and optical products. Its product lineup includes cameras, printers, copiers, scanners, camcorders, VR headsets, flash units, medical equipment, projectors, and calculators. The company’s headquarters is in Tokyo.

As a top camera maker, Canon is uncompromising when it comes to quality. Each product that comes out of its assembly lines undergoes stringent tests to ensure it meets safety standards, compliance requirements, and the expectations of customers. This is the reason why many customers trust Canon.

Canon has an excellent reputation worldwide. Over the years, it’s sought to promote respect for humanity, use of technology, and ingenuity. Its products are popular with millions of consumers worldwide ranging from recreational to professional users. The Business Solutions division is responsible for DSLR cameras, multifunctional printers and scanners, video camcorders, compact digital cameras, and digital visual solutions.

As for its environmental record, Canon’s ‘Green is just a shade of blue’ strategy in Europe gives equal measure to green issues and other areas such as education, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, social welfare. The company’s environment charter seeks to provide products that lower environmental degradation by improving resource efficiency.

Canon also gives back to the community. For instance, the brand has been supporting 13 Red Cross Societies in Europe since 2006. Canon provides financial contributions and donates imaging equipment such as digital radiography devices, cameras, and copying machines.

Product Variants/Models

The Canon 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.8 share a good number of features. Both support full-time manual override and use rounded aperture blades. Also, they have a conventional optical design and use plastic filter threads.

Other similarities include:

  • 50mm focal length
  • Zero image stabilization
  • Unit focus method
  • Minimum focus of 1.5ft
  • 470 diagonal angle of view (FF)
  • Canon EF mount only
  • Unit focus method

Are there any differences between these two lenses, then?

Yes, both have some unique features. For instance, the 50mm f/1.8 supports instant MF override when you hold the shutter button. Other than that, the f/1.4 has a larger aperture that results in higher quality pictures in low-light situations.

The other distinct difference is the AF motor. The f/1.4 uses a micro USM motor, which is quieter, while the f/1.8 comes with an STM motor. The /1.8 also appears to have faster autofocus than its counterpart.

Head to Head Comparison

Specification

Canon 50mm f/1.4

Canon 50mm f/1.8

Focal length

50 mm

50 mm

AF motor

Micro USM

STM

Filter thread

58 mm

52 mm

Maximum aperture

1.4

1.8

Weight

290 grams

130 grams

Diaphragm blades

8

5

Optical accessories

ES-711 hood

ES-62 hood

Aperture

This refers to the hole that lets light into the lens. Its size determines the depth of field and the amount of light that passes through.

Image stabilization

Most camera makers incorporate this feature in cameras and lens to eliminate camera shake.

Focal length

This refers to the distance between the lens of a camera and the image sensor the subject is on autofocus. It’s usually in millimeters (mm).

Ergonomics

A small and light lens comes handy to any photographer, especially one who spends longer shooting and carrying it around.

Final Thoughts

If the choice comes down to the Canon 50mm f/1.4 vs. f/1.8, we recommend the former. It offers everything the 1.8 does, and more. It’s sharper at the same aperture and has a solid metal body with a plastic mount. The motor is quieter, too.

So, what if it comes at a higher price? It’s worth every penny. On the other hand, the f/1.8 is an excellent choice if you’re starting photography. It will get you through the first few years of shooting, and you won’t have to spend a lot. However, you’ll have to put up with a little motor noise. 

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