SoCal PhotoExchange

Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens check

Posted in Camera equipment, Photo techniques, Photography by douglaspstockdale on January 15, 2018

05-13-17_Santa_Ana_KI6A5725

Santa Ana, CA, May 13 copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

This is not meant in any means to be a full technical review of the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens that I recently purchased, but in the immortal words of the late Garry Winogrand, “I want to see what this looks like”. As background I have been using almost to the exclusion, the standard Canon 24-105mm L zoom lens which is the “kit” lens that came with my Canon 5D. I think that the 24-105mm is a great all around lens but I am also of the opinion that the prime lens, such as this 50mm f/1.4, will provide an extra brilliance in the rending of the image.

The photo above is essentially the first exposure I made after walking out of Samy’s Camera store in Santa Ana, CA, a full frame capture on my Canon 5D Mark3. I am planning to dedicate this lens on my Canon 5D for my studio work for when I re-photograph photo books for The PhotoBook Journal.

Right now I want to see this full frame image after processing with Photoshop in a lower resolution (72dpi) JPEG on my monitor, since the images I make with this are essentially destined for viewing in this format on the web. I first did a check of the image’s outer edges and corners since that is where a lens usually starts to fail in image quality. My assessment: looking very good and this appears to be a keeper. No need to make a return trip back to Samy’s Camera.

I am not thinking about another photo project involving Southern California food trailers, but it is nevertheless an interesting idea. I must admit, while walking out of the store and trying to decide what to quickly photograph, this red foodie trailer quickly caught my eye. So a little bit of formal composition and the photo was captured.

After working with a zoom lens for so long, using a fixed focal length (e.g. prime) lens was a mental rust remover. Such that if I wanted to tighten up this composition and stay full frame, I actually needed to move my feet. Back in the day when one bought a 35mm film camera, it usually came outfitted with a 50mm lens, such that my Canon Ft-QL (that was somewhere in the very early 1970’s) came with a 50mm f/1.8 FL lens, and this same focal length came with my upgrade to the Canon Ae-1 in the early 1990’s.

Actually for street photography the 50mm (normal focal length) is a really nice lens to work with and I know a lot of street photographers who swear by this focal length for the majority of their work. Nevertheless I may also just tuck this little lens in my camera bag when I take some road trips, or if I want to go low-key/light-weight to replace the heavy and slower 24-105mm zoom altogether ;- )

Cheers!

Below, recent photograph with this 50mm f/1.4 on the Canon 5DMk3 from my project Path to Somewhere; Arroyo Trabuco Trail, December 2017 (cropped square).

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  1. […] I will still be writing about some photographic stuff, with a concentration on some of the photo technical side of things, but will be posting this information on the SoCal PhotoExchange site, where I am the Associate Editor (and founder sometime in 2009). So I hope you might want to check this out and perhaps follow me there as well. Recently I stated a series of articles about the Zone System, and reviews of the Pentax Spotmeter V, Really Right Stuff ball head, Gitzo Carbon Fibre tripod and the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. […]


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