• Matt Smart

Why the Canon 50mm 1.4 is my favourite wedding lens


You would think that with the job I do I'd have had lots of different lenses, but I haven't.

I have only ever sold one lens, that was a Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II and that wasn't a straightforward sell, it was a swap for Canon 50mm f1.4 at Jessops. So apart from that one lens, I have all my others - the collection isn't that big.

  • Canon 50mm f1.4

  • Canon 24-70mm f4 L

  • Sigma 70-200mm f2.8

  • Canon 18-55mm f3.5

That's it! I figured that I should have two telephoto lenses and a portrait lens. But here's my logic;

I shoot weddings. I need the range. I have a full-frame AND a crop sensor on my waist all day. So my 50mm can become an 80mm, 24-70mm becomes a 40-110mm (ish) and my 200mm becomes a 320mm when I use them on my crop sensor.

Let's be clear though, I NEVER use my 70-200mm on my crop sensor for a wedding, most of the day is shot on my 50mm on my full-frame and the 24-70mm on my crop to give me that reach when I need to get into the audience during the ceremony for example.

I only really break out the 70-200mm for the speeches, portraits and any special shots we go off to do.

On a wedding day, I'll make full use of the three capable lenses.

The 4th and yukky lens I keep in the bag as a backup but as far as kit lenses go, it isn't that bad. If the kit lens is all you have, that's fine too. I did my first 10 weddings on that lens. God, it makes you learn!

But which is my favourite lens?

As I said, I use all my lenses, however, there is one that I just love to use. Even if it's a ball ache to use, I'll make it work. And that lens is the 50mm f1.4.

What? Over the L lens?

Yes! That 24-70mm is an f4 remember, not that great in low light, but the 50 opens right up to a whopping f1.4. That's fast! But I'm gonna be honest with you, I usually use it at 3.5 - 5.6. The reason? Weight. At that aperture, I find that lens is crystal clear, sharp and so light that you don't know you're holding it!

After 10 hours with a bride, holding a full-frame camera with a 24-70 and a 70-200 you'll appreciate the rest this little guy gives you.

The 50mm f/1.4 USM is, in my opinion, Canon's most useful 50mm lens. It sells for about £275 new, you can still get them from Amazon, check the listings out there. If you shoot low light, you need one of these. It allows you to shoot with your ISO on the floor!

This isn't a review of this lens, but I did just want to mention some of it's defining characteristics.

Build quality

Ok, this is a cheap lens, but not as cheap as it's little brother the nifty fifty 50mm 1.8. Compared to that lens, the 1.4 is far tougher in build quality, feels a lot more resilient to being thrown around. If you compare this lens to an L series lens it does feel cheap, but the cost of the 1.2 is well over a grand - suddenly that cheap feel doesn't really seem to matter as it only lacks one stop of light.

Bokeh Bokehlicios! This lens is great for blurring out the background and making your subject pop. The only problem I found is the minimum focusing distance, it's a huge 45 cm's - that's nearly half a metre!


Focus speed

Ok, it's not the fastest in the world, but it's a hell of a lot quieter than it's little brother. If you do any video work, make sure you're using an external mic and not the built-in mic, it sounds awful. zzzzp zzzp zzzzzzzzp.

For a more in-depth review, visit Chris Winter's YouTube Channel - he has a great review here

#toptips #reviews

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