A true veteran in the Canon line, Canon EF 50mm f / 1.4 USM is 25 years old. Only about half the physical length of Sigma and Zeiss 50mm lenses competes, and only a third the weight. That's certainly a good thing for all of us who don't like to carry big, heavy lenses. The downside is that the lens feels basic and is light on features and performance.
The fact that it's a 'USM' lens may seem like good news, but the autofocus relies on ultrasonic motors rather than a ring-type system. It certainly isn't as fast or quiet as the AF system on many comparable lenses. On the plus side, this lens is not unusual for Micro USM systems, because this feature uses full-time manual overdrive autofocus.
Little treat, including the more affordable Canon 50mm f / 1.8 focal length scale not found, and the aperture rating is two-thirds of the fastest f-stops. This allows for the use of a narrower depth of field, but is accompanied by its own performance hazards.
In many of these lens samples we've tested, the autofocus precision tends to be a little vague and disappear. Sometimes it's okay, but more often it's not. The problem is especially noticeable when shooting wide open, where the depth of field is very small and needs all the focusing precision you can get. Even when the focus is perfect, the sharpness is pretty bad unless it stops down to at least f / 2.8. Vignetting is also quite severe and overall this is a lens that has been waiting a long time for an update to stop it.
It has a 58mm filter thread, larger than a 50mm f / 1.8 Canon, which is 49mm. In general it has a better shape, more durable than 50mm f / 1.8, although it should be noted that there is still a weather seal, another point where the lens can use an upgrade.
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