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So I dropped my kiddos off at school and decided that my task for the day was to clean out my “camera closet.”  Well…I don’t want you to think that I have an entire closet dedicated to camera equipment…I wish!  What I actually have is a small shelf, in a closet in my husband’s study that he so graciously gave up for me, and that is where I store all my camera treasures.  One day, I would love to have a camera closet!  Or better yet…an entire camera room! I can dream right?

It almost makes my camera look like a "toy camera," because the lens is so small!

It almost makes my camera look like a “toy camera,” because the lens is so small and lightweight!

I was sorting through my lenses getting them all organized, and I ran across my first portrait lens – the Canon 50mm Prime Lens.  Oh my goodness…  It was like Christmas morning.  I had sort of forgotten about this lens, because I am so dazzled by my Canon 70-200 lens and use it most of the time.  I thought maybe this was a lens I could sell.  So glad I attached it to my camera and took some head shots of my kids!  Wow…  What an amazing lens!!

There are many reasons why I like this lens, one of them being that it is SO lightweight.  After lugging my camera around most of the time with my 70-200 lens attached, this was a very nice and welcome change.  The lens is so small and compact, I could practically carry the camera in my pocket.  Well…I’m exaggerating just a bit, but the lens is quite small.

In addition to that, the pictures I am able to get with it are incredible.  The 50mm lens is very compact and lightweight, so it is perfect if you have to carry your camera around with you all day.  The Canon website describes it as a perfect prime lens for portraits, action, and even nighttime photography.

It has a maximum aperture of f/1.4 which helps quite a bit in low light situations, and it also gives pictures very good background blur (Bokeh).  If you read about this lens on the B & H Photo – Video – Pro Audio website they say:  This EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens from Canon is a standard length lens featuring superb quality and portability. Its f/1.4 maximum aperture makes it very effective in low light situations and able to provide shallow depth of field focus. Two high-refraction lens elements and new Gaussian optics eliminate astigmatism and suppress astigmatic difference. Its ultrasonic autofocus motor (USM) enables fast, smooth and silent autofocus action and full-time manual focus override allows for the precision of manual focus even in One Shot AF mode.

Some of the technical details and features of this lens that are listed on most of the websites are below:

See how much smaller this lens is than the 24-70 lens? And that is not even a very large lens. Still, it's huge compared to the 50mm.

See how much smaller this lens is than the 24-70 lens? And that is not even a very large lens. Still, it’s huge compared to the 50mm.

  • 50mm focal length
  • Lens not zoomable
  • 80mm equivalent focal length on Canon APS-C cameras
  • F1.4 maximum aperture; F22 minimum
  • Ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing
  • 58mm filters
  • 0.45m/17.72″ minimum focus
  • This large aperture standard prime lens has superior peripheral brightness even at the maximum aperture
  • Lens construction: 8 elements in 6 groups
  • Filter size: 77mm and has a minimum focusing distance of 17.7″ and a maximum magnification of 1:7.4
  • Optimized for Digital
  • The optimum optical design and molded glass aspherical lens elements provide excellent correction for all types of aberrations, including coma aberration, resulting in superior optical performance
  • The Hypersonic Motor (HSM) ensures silent, high speed auto-focusing as well as full time manual focusing capability

According to DP Review, this lens has been around since late 1990 and is currently one of the least expensive lenses available.  If you’re not sure whether or not you want to invest in one of these lenses, head over and visit the DP Review Website – you can learn all about it.  They also have a Canon EF 50mm Real World Samples Gallery.  They spent a few days with the lens and took pictures at small and wide apertures to see how it performed.  The pictures on their website speak for themselves…

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Telephoto Lens

Look at that! As crisp and clear as any of my other lenses! And not as heavy…. (f/2.8)

So I attached my 50mm lens and headed out to take headshots of my nephew (with Morgan at my side – she was my assistant).  We were outside in medium light (it was a pretty dreary day), and I followed him around to several places to take some shots.  Most of the shots I took were around 1/50 of a second at f/1.4-3.2.  It just depended on what look I was going for – typically, I love lots of bokeh (blur) for the background (smaller aperture numbers to achieve this), but I wanted a variety of shots for this particular shoot.  If you’re not sure why you would want to be able to shoot with a “wide-open” aperture setting of f/1.4, read this article about it called Seeing in Depth of Field: A Simple Understanding of Aperture.  It will help you understand part of the beauty of this lens.

My little assistant began to lose interest in the photo shoot, so I got a few shots of her photo-bombing our pictures!

My little assistant began to lose interest in the photo shoot, so I got a few shots of her photo-bombing our pictures!  But…the picture is still nice and sharp!  Don’t you think? (f/3.2)

I played around with this lens quite a bit before I went out to take pictures for my nephew.  I was worried that it had been too long since I had used it.  I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before I spent an hour shooting with a lens I hadn’t used in over a year!  I was pretty successful with it (I think). It takes such sharp, clear pictures, and when I shot with a wide open aperture of f/1.4, the bokeh (background blur) looked phenomenal!  I know…I think I over-use the wide open aperture – I just love the way it makes your subjects pop!!

This picture was taken at 1/50 at f/2.0 inside. Nice and sharp, right?

This picture was taken at 1/50 at f/2.0 inside. Nice and sharp, right?  I set the aperture at 2.0 because I wanted them both to be in focus!  But you can see that the iPad and Zach’s hand are nice and blurry!


Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Telephoto Lens

I love this picture. I used an aperture setting of 1.4 for this. I wanted everything to be blurry but the center of her face. I think I achieved that!!  Look at that smile…


Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 Telephoto Lens

It didn’t take long for my kids to get sick of me and my 50mm lens, so I went and found Sport. He didn’t seem to mind me taking pictures, as long as I didn’t ask him to smile. This was taken with a wide-open aperture of f/1.4.

All I can say is WOW!  I don’t think my nephew could’ve gotten better shots at a studio with all their expensive gear and lighting.  Okay…well maybe!  But these pictures I took were free!  I am going to ask him to take me out to lunch though – he just doesn’t know that yet!  All the pictures were sharp and crystal clear.  I was impressed with my own work.  And so happy that I decided to attach that 5omm lens to my camera one last time before selling it.  What was I thinking?

So after cleaning out my “camera closet,” I have 3 main lenses that I’m keeping at the front of the shelf.  My 70-200, my 24-70, and my 50mm prime lens!!!  I think I’m set!!  Now I need to really clean out my camera closet – I got so distracted by my 50mm lens, that I forgot to organize and clean – I just crammed it all back on the shelf.  Oh well…it’ll all still be there tomorrow.  Now get out and take some pictures.  Until next time…