Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
My expectations were much higher
on November 11, 2012
First, let me just say that Amazon gets a 5 star rating for their shipping. I use Amazon Prime, and couldn't be happier with it. Everything arrives in two days, for free. In 95% of the cases, no tax either.
Now the lens itself. I am a pro photographer and owe it to anyone who considers buying a prime lens to WARN you: if you are buying the lens with the intent to use it between f1.4 and f2.8, there is a high chance you will be disappointed. Both this version, and its high-end sibling, 50mm/f1.2L are surprisingly VERY SOFT lenses when the aperture is wide open - definitely NOT what I expected from a normal prime lens. Some online reviews and Canon representatives at trade shows call them "dreamy", to me they are just plain soft. I have tested two f1.4's and two f1.2's. To me both are unusable, unless you shoot with a closed aperture. My tests were outdoor fashion portraits on a bright sunny day, with plenty of light to let you focus well. For comparison purposes I took a few other lenses with me - my Canon 70-200/2.8L, my 24-105/f4L, and my prime 100/2.8L Macro. ALL of them had better sharpness than the two 50mm primes at their maximum wide aperture, my 100mm/2.8L macro being the sharpest, with the most pleasing bokeh.
Auto focus is far from perfect - the lens keeps searching for a while, but is really not that bad after all - especially at that price range. The 50mm/1.2L has a much better auto focus system.
The reason I decided to keep this lens my underwater photography. I shoot brides and models - at f8 - f11 - and do not need the narrow depth of field there. The lens performs as expected. Everything is tack sharp there. 1.4 allows for more light to pass though it than most other lenses, and in underwater conditions - where light is scarce - that is critical. Considering it's not that expensive, it's a keeper. I chose it over the 1.2 because it fits my Ikelite housing and the existing port I have for my f2.8 fisheye, so I won't have to invest in extra underwater equipment.