I’ve had the 18-55mm kit zoom lens for my Canon Rebel XSi for 4 years now. It was a great lens for when the day is sunny, my subjects are close by and nothing moves. Change any of these variables and my pictures were a blurry mess. I could get a good shot every once in a while, but the frequency was so low that it put me off from spending more time with the hobby. I mentioned this to several people and they all gave me the same suggestion: get a good 50mm lens. They said it would dramatically change the way I thought about taking pictures and would increase my odds of capturing a great shot.
And they were right.
Canon offers three 50mm lens for me to choose from: the f/1.8, the f/1.4 and the f/1.2.
The lenses increase greatly in price (~$125, $400, $1400) as the maximum aperture increased. This prompted me to read and watch numerous reviews of these three lens over the course of two weeks. All of the reviews dismissed the f/1.8 as being a plastic piece of crap and some even mentioned the lens breaking off at the attachment point or getting stuck to the camera body. That was enough for me to completely remove that lens as a contender. On the other end of the spectrum, photographers ooh and aah over the picture quality of the f/1.2. I wasn’t completely sold though. Was it really 3x better than the f/1.4?
Maybe, but I wasn’t willing to pay 3x as much. I settled on the f/1.4 and then spent the next week agonizing over my choice as I perused beautiful pictures off of the f/1.2 as I waited for my lens to arrive. Did I mention that I achieved expert level at buyer’s remorse?
I think I picked the right lens. 😀
Once I did get the f/1.4 in my hands, I was ecstatic! It greedily gobbled light to produce low-light pictures that were impossible for the old lens! The fast shutter speed also reduced how often camera shake affected the image. I do miss the zoom capabilities of 18-55mm however it’s a more than fair trade off for the quality of pictures the 50mm f/1.4 churned out. The f/1.2 might have been the better lens, but I find myself rarely going close to the maximum aperture of the f/1.4.
The pictures below are from a mini-excursion I took to celebrate this awesome lens. If you’d like to learn more about these three lenses, I recommend watching DigitalRev TV’s review. It’s educational and entertaining!