DxOMark review: Which 50mm lens for my camera?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Nikon Mount | Canon Mount | Sony and Pentax Mounts | Conclusion

 

 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Let’s make it clear: this lens is the best 50mm choice among our 4 Canon-mount competitors, no matter the sensor size. It has the best definition of all the lenses displayed in these pages. Mounted on a 1Ds MkIII, it climbs to 63 lp/mm. No other lens-body couple listed here can outperform this. Moreover, this 50mm shows a very good MTF and has a very constant definition on the whole picture field. Vignetting is quite visible when fully opened, but almost disappears 2 stops later. Its only weakness, as with all the Canon lenses listed here, are that its chromatic aberrations are more noticeable than those for other brands.

In summary:

The Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM is the 50mm to have if you have a Canon body, no matter the sensor inside. It is a very sharp lens.

 

From left to right: Evolution of the optical resolution at f/1.4, f/2.8 and f/5.6.

 

All the metrics for the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM:

 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

This is the most expensive 50mm among all our competitors. Unfortunately, however, it is not the most efficient as far as its metrics are concerned. Mounted on a 1Ds MkIII, this 50mm scores 10 lp/mm below the much cheaper 50mm f/1.4 USM. An analysis of the MTF chart also reveals another weakness of this lens, which does not manage to reach a balanced homogeneity on the whole field no matter how tight you close the lens. Moreover, the lens produces very dense chromatic aberrations.

In summary:

Far from being the best on any Canon sensor, the Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM 50mm is surpassed by most other lenses, and above all by the excellent 50mm f/1.4 USM.

 

From left to right: Evolution of the optical resolution at f/1.2, f/2.8 and f/5.6.

 

All the metrics for the Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM:

 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8II

As it was the case with the Nikon mount, Canon’s entry-level 50mm is also a tough competitor. If the others have a better pure resolution, this 50mm f1.8II proves very good in low-light conditions, reaching very good DxOMark scores at f/2.8 aperture. Mounted on a full-frame body, it has a slight tendency to produce too-soft edges. The problem is similar to that of the 50mm f1.2L USM, except for the price. And in fact, the 50mm f1/8II’s chromatic aberrations are well-contained. Mounted on an APS-C sensor, this 50mm shows the best definition, and its edges are much better. If they are too soft at f/2.8, closing 1 more stop produces a well-balanced image.

In summary:

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is no match for the Cannon 50mm f/1.4 USM on a full-frame body, as the edges of the image may be too soft. On an APS-C sensor, however, it proves very good, especially at f/4.

 

From left to right: Evolution of the optical resolution at f/1.8, f/2.8 and f/5.6.

 

All the metrics for the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II:

 

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM

Just like its Nikon-mount counterpart, this 50mm for Canon is a highly reliable lens, especially with respect to its central resolution. It reaches very good definition at f/2.8; moreover, it achieves its best DxOMark score fully opened. This is very good for a fast lens. But as it is the case with the Nikon mount, this 50mm shows some soft edges— softer than those for the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM. Further, while the vignetting is well-contained, the chromatic aberrations are a bit strong.

In summary:

An excellent performer on every Canon sensor, this Sigma is a perfect alternative if you want something other than the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM.

 

From left to right: Evolution of the optical resolution at f/1.4, f/2.8 and f/5.6.

 

All the metrics for the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG EX HSM: