My comparison of the Canon EF 50mm 1.4 USM and the Canon EF 50mm 1.8 II prime lenses. I give a short overview of the characteristics I found important for video and then conclude with demonstrations of manual focus, auto focus, image quality, and bokeh.

*** !!! CAUTION !!! I've been told that you may break your 1.8 II lens if you try to turn it in AF mode. I turned my 1.8 in the video only to highlight a nice feature of the 1.4 that allows you turn the ring in either AF or MF mode (if you are shopping around for lenses, this is referred to as "full time manual"). Don't try this at home! ***

With the release of the new T2i/550D, I'm sure many people will be "agonizing" over which prime lens to choose. Since I happen to own both of these lenses, I've been meaning to make this video for a while and it seemed like now was the time.

I give a short overview of the characteristics I found important for video and then conclude with demonstrations of manual focus, auto focus, image quality, and bokeh.

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that there is a large difference in the amount of "focus breathing" each lens exhibits. Focus breathing refers to an apparent change in focal length as the focus is changed. Pay close attention to the rack focus in the second half of the video. You will see that the 1.4 exhibits little to no "breathing" while it is quite noticeable on the 1.8. For video, this seems VERY important to me and may justify the extra cost of the 1.4.

UPDATE: The Sigma 30mm has been mentioned as an alternative to the Canon 50mm that will get you to an effective 50mm focal length on crop sensor cameras (7D, T2i). Unfortunately, I don't have one of these to compare : ) It's a little pricier, but you may want to consider it when shopping around for a prime.

Technical specifications for these lenses can be found on the Canon website.

Filmed on the 7D and HV20. Final result is high quality 1080P so you can get a good look at the images.

Voiceover recorded on a Zoom H4n digital recorder using the built-in microphones.

Loading more stuff…

Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?

Loading videos…