The 50mm focal-length lens is a true photographic icon and an essential piece of kit for any photographeru2019s kit bag, but there are quite a few to choose from. Richard Sibley and Andrew Sydenham test 12 such optics to assess their particular qualities

Specificiations: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

RRP: £539.99Street price: Around £280
Filter diameter: 58mm
Lens elements: 7
Groups: 6
Diaphragm blades: 8
Aperture: f/1.4-22
Minimum focus: 45cm
Length: 50.5mm
Diameter: 73.8mm
Weight: 290g
Lens mount: Canon EF

Chart analysis

Tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

For a lens with an f/1.4 aperture, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM shows little vignetting. Curvilinear distortion is also kept to a reasonable level, although some correction will be required for straight edges right at the limit of the frame. The lens can resolve a reasonable amount of detail, and although it is far better than the Carl Zeiss lenses when shooting fully open, it can’t quite match the detail resolution of the Sigma f/1.4 lens at maximum aperture. That said, the closeness of the blue and green lines indicates that it is sharp across the frame, and with little difference in resolution from f/2.8 to f/11.

Score: 5 out of 5

  1. 1. 50mm lens test - Introduction
  2. 2. Page 2
  3. 3. Page 3
  4. 4. Specificiations: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
  5. 5. Specififications: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
  6. 6. Specifications: Nikon Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
  7. 7. Specifications: Nikon Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
  8. 8. Specifications: Pentax SMC DA* 55mm f/1.4 SDM
  9. 9. Specifications: Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8
  10. 10. Specificiations: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
  11. 11. Specifications: Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro EX DG
  12. 12. Specifications: Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 SSM
  13. 13. Specifications: Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM
  14. 14. Specifications: Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4
  15. 15. Specifications: Zeiss Makro-planar T* 50mm f/2
  16. 16. Our verdict
Page 4 of 16 - Show Full List