Optically fine, mechanically lousy
The lens is quite sharp when it's in focus. But it doesn't autofocus. At all! It made an attempt at autofocusing when it was new but after a few months it wouldn't autofocus at all. The selected focus spot blinks, claiming that focus has been achieved. But usually it doesn't even make the attempt. Mine can be focused manually if you can stand the gritty feel. I have a friend whose 50 f/1.4 won't even focus manually! It would be fine if it would just focus.
November 6, 2013
I am in love with this lens. It has became my primary lens.
June 27, 2013
Luck of the draw
It was my fault for never fully testing the lens I got till it was too late to return it. Horrible CA, could not make it focus reliably. I have micro focus adjust on my camera but couldn't cope with the focus problem. It bounced between +15 close-up subjects (2-3ft) to -10 on 6ft and out. Stopped down, the focus issue becomes less dramatic but then why buy an F1.4 lens? Will be trading it in for a used 50mm F1.8. I KNOW those work. Maybe I got a bad copy.. but it's not my job to play QC.
March 24, 2013
Great bang for the buck
I have owned this lens for 5 years and used it to photograph weddings.
Pros: Very near L lens image quality as far as I can discern. I'd say the contrast and colors are a tad flatter than the 50/1.2. Considering the low price and fast aperture, it has to be the best value of any lens in Canon's lineup. It is wide enough for group and individual full length portraits with minimal distortion. The subject's legs don't look stretched like with a wider lens. But, one has to be careful not to use it for very close up portraits because barrel distortion will become evident in the facial features. I use a tripod to get maximum sharpness at 1/50 shutter speed. I can zoom in to see tremendous detail because it is so sharp. If you're nitpicky about sharpness like me, I don't recommend shooting below 1/50 shutter speed even if you use a tripod because of subject motion blur. The bokeh is rather pleasing, like an L lens. And, the lens is rather lightweight, so it's great for walking around as a tourist. Minimum focusing distance is short enough that it can be used as a macro in a pinch.
Cons: AF is slow and gets slower in low light. AF occasionally misses under f/1.8, like 10%, where it is focused on something else besides what was intended. Not super sharp at f/1.4 but acceptably sharp by f/1.6. That isn't much of a drawback considering its low price. There is some purple fringing below f/2.0, and at f/1.4 it has a heavy vignette. The vignette is easily correctable in post if you don't like it.
Overall: I could photograph an entire wedding with this lens considering its versatile focal length, wide aperture, and near L lens image quality. It's the first lens I purchased, and if I had to sell off all my other lenses and keep just one, this would be it.
January 6, 2013