One of the most popular lens lengths on the market is the 50mm. As a Canon shooter I have a few different choices to pick from at that length, but the three most popular seem to be the 50mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.2. While on a shoot last week I decided to play with all three lenses and shoot a few photos to see how different each lens was from each other. Here are my results.
I feel like I should preface this article by saying this is not by any means a comprehensive test. A group of photographers were out shooting and I realized we had the full variety of 50mm lenses (1.8, 1.4, and 1.2) so I asked if I could borrow each for a couple shots. In order to keep things fair I shot each of these photos with the exact same settings, from the exact same distance, using the same camera. I decided to shoot all the photos using an aperture of f2.0 so that it was even across the board. I realize that the 50mm 1.2 lens is a great performer even when wide open so shooting at f2.0 might be limiting it's potential but I thought it would be nice to see all the images using the exact same settings. Lastly, the images being shown are JPEG's coming straight from the camera. Any processing (contrast, colors, sharpening) were done all in the Canon 5D Mark III using the Camera Standard profile.
In order to get a good close up look at each file I have uploaded the high resolution images as well for comparison. You can view them by clicking the links here. Photo from 50mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 50mm 1.2.
Here is another example.
As I mentioned in the beginning this was by no means a comprehensive test. But it really was quite eye opening for me and the other photographers with me that day. I was surprised that at f2.0 I really didn't notice as much difference as I thought I would between each of the three lenses. I plan on doing more of these tests on upcoming shoots and trying out a number of different scenarios. But I thought it would be fun for now to share these shots. Hopefully if you are a photographer sporting the 50mm 1.8 lens on your camera you can hold your head high and carry it with confidence knowing that your $100 lens is actually quite nice!