"A 50mm f/1.8 lens tends to cost in the $100-150 range—the same as a kit lens—while an f/1.4 lens costs at least twice as much. At their widest apertures, these lenses produce a very narrow depth of focus and create separation between subject and background (or foreground) that adds dimensionality to your photos for flattering portraits.
There’s so little difference, spec-wise, between an f/1.4 and an f/1.8, but the difference in price is huge. How does that translate as far as image quality? All settings being equal, does one lens outperform the other?"
Read more here: http://www.adorama.com/alc/0012817/article/50mm-lens-shoot-out-f18-or-f14 (For those who don’t want to geek out, let me give you the summary and spoil the ending: For both Nikon and Canon 50mm lenses, overall image quality is generally sharper, with less vignetting and fewer aberrations over the range of apertures with the less expensive f/1.8 version. In most (but not all) cases, this makes the f/1.8 a more desirable lens. Why? Read on!)
Ok - the 1.8/50 is a bargain - its a better choice than any other kit lens - from the optics to the creativity factor - I'm using it quite a lot - on the crop camera it's a fantastic portrait tele and on full frame perfect for everyday shooting - but I still want to change to the 1.4/50 USM as soon as I can because the built and the manual focus of the 1.8 are rather "toyish" - and there are situations you want that extra 1/3 aperture ....
IQ is only one piece of the puzzle when evaluating a lens. Other factors include the weight of the lens (making it more comfortable to hold), rotating front mount (annoying with polarizers), different size front element (requiring adapters to use standard size filters), number of aperture blades (you usually get a rounder aperture the more you spend), distance scales, and full time manual (and silent) focus. I played with both the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and f/1.4 and in the end went with the 1.4 mainly for the focusing and overall build quality. The f/1.8 had more distracting background blur as well... Take a look at the blur quality in this review between the 3 Canon 50's when stopped down to f/2.8.
Of course, now I shoot with the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 lens as my 'standard' lens and it is beautiful at f/1.4 :) Probably...(More)
Off-topic: Hey, web designer, I wonder why the USEFUL button is placed on top right and not at bottom right or left. Is so useless there, nobody can see it. The reading, on Planet Earth, is from top to bottom.
As mentioned....the f1.8 remains best value for money. I have heard many users of the f1.4 not really using the f1.4 and the two lenses are so close at f1.8 the extra money is not worth it. The added value on the f1.8 though is that the lens is more robust and sturdy with a metal mount.
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