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50 1.8 vs 50 1.4

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Terri French, Aug 13, 2008.


    I was recently given the opportunity to test out three prime lenses from a fellow cafe member. (His generosity is still so amazing to me). I'm trying out the 35 f2, 50 1.4, and 85 1.4.

    I still have his lenses, but will be returning them right away. I love all three and purchased the 35 f2 from the for sale forum, and am awaiting the arrival of my own new 85 1.4. This kind person has said that I can keep his lenses to test out against my new purchases.

    I own the 50 1.8 so haven't purchased the 1.4 version yet. This morning I thought I would give the 1.8 and 1.4 a shootout.

    Here are my results. I would love any comments you folks have comparing the two so I can decide whether or not to purchase the 50 1.4 in the future.

    Here is a resized for web version of the shot I did with each lens--both at 1.8 and on a tripod. These were equally sharpened in the resize action I have made.

    The 100% crops have no sharpening and no raw processing on them. They are straight out of camera with no in camera sharpening.

    I can see minute IQ improvement with the 50 1.4. It's a bit sharper and more contrasty. The bokeh is a bit smoother.

    Are there any other things you observe? My initial reaction is that eventually I would like to own the 50 1.4, but for now the 50 1.8 is pretty good in comparison. I was kind of expecting the difference to be more dramatic.

    Full scene taken with the 50 1.8 @ f1.8

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Full scene taken with the 50 1.4 @ f1.8

    View attachment 239083

    Detail of the 50 1.8 shot

    View attachment 239084

    Detail of the 50 1.4 shot

    View attachment 239085

    Detail of the 50 1.8 shot

    View attachment 239086

    Detail of the 50 1.4 shot

    View attachment 239087
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2008
  2. This is often a price vs speed issue. Your tests look good. Did you try shooting them at the same apature? The f1.8 is a good lens even at f1.8, although better around f4-5.6. The f1.4 has more speed and if you plan to do a lot of available light, this is the lens to get, however, it is better at closed down some. I usually don't use this lens at f1.4 but often use the f1.4 lens at f5.6.

    The two lenses I would consider having are the 50mm f1.8 and 35mm f2. Both very usable wide open, under a variety of conditions.
  3. i have them both (the 1.8 is sold waiting for payment) and the big diff is 1.4, they are too close to call at 1.8 or higher but 1.4 is fun

    I also have the 85 1.8 & 1.4, same comment, 1.4 is fun
  4. I have both and prefer the 1.4. I may or may not sell the 1.8. Either way, I love it too. :) 
  5. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    color, contrast, sharpness a bit better on the 1.4, imho.

    i like to describe it as "more bite". do a shoot off @2.2 and i think you'll see a more dramatic difference...;-)))
  6. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    i think the differences between the 85's are -> HUGE! the bokeh from the 1.8 can be just TERRIBLE!
  7. Not always, Nute... not always:rolleyes: 

    85mm 1.8 @ 1.8:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


    D300, D200, MB-D10 and MB-200
    Primes: 10,5 2.8 fisheye, 50D 1.4, Tokina 100 AT-X
    Zoom : 12-24 (Nikkor),17-55 2.8, 18-200VR and 70-200VR
    SB-800, TC Kenko Pro300 1.4, Manfrotto 190MF4+804RC Head

  8. paulskimcb


    Feb 12, 2007
    To be fair, I think that the bokeh on the 85 1.8 can be beautiful; not as creamy as what I've seen here from the 1.4, but still stunning at times.
  9. LXShooter


    Feb 28, 2008
    First off, I must say those are excellent test shots. In comparing the 1.8 to the 1.4, it all comes down to price. I was faced with this decision when I first looked into getting a 50mm prime a few months ago. I ended up getting both because I found deal I couldn't resist on the 1.4. The 1.4 is nearly 2.5X the price of the 1.8 new. There's no doubt the 1.4 is better than the 1.8 and it should be better, but how much better is it. IMO, the difference in quality between the 2 lenses are not enough for me to spend $150 more for the 1.4 if I was to buy one of them new.
  10. oz388


    Aug 8, 2008
    That's true, I bought a used f1.4 for $240, and did a testing with my f1.8. I found both lens at f1.8 gives no major differences. And the built quality of f1.4 is not any better than f1.8 expect it gains more mass. However on a camera, f1.4 looks much Pro than f1.8 becasue of the larger front glass! I sold my f1.4 after a wedding project, now I miss it, I really wish f1.8 looks better!
  11. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Thanks for running this test Terry! They do look awfully similar in your test shots.
  12. Hotplate


    Oct 23, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I've had the 50 1.8 for a while now and compared it to the 50 1.4 a couple of times- I couldn't see enough of a difference myself to spend more for the 50 1.4 upgrade. Not saying there isn't a difference though. Your test shots look similar enough to me that I would feel fine just sticking with the 50 1.8 Terry. I kind of like getting a descent shot with something as affordable as the 50 1.8 too...

    BTW, congrats on your new primes. I like using my few primes over my zooms more and more.
  13. i couldn't agree more with Nute, here. I looked at the overall pictures and that is exactly what popped into my head. I've owned both, and both are excellent lenses but I don't need two and have decided to keep the 1.4. I most often use it, as Nute says, at 2.2.....arrived their independently.
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