I took the three 50's for a short walk. First stop was a small playground. Trees, chrome, rubber, color,... all I needed for some shots. I shot all images on 6500K, but set them to auto white balance in Lightroom to compensate the 55 Asph warm color. Since color temp can easily be corrected in post, I wont go into that.
First up is the slide. A high contrast scene with a busy background. Shot at f/1.4 the 50L is clearly better in sharpness. The 55Asph is an absolute winner in bokeh. The 50/1.4 bokeh is very close to the 55Asph.
Again shot at f/1.4, the swing. This was about 0.6 meters (2 feet) away. Again the 55Asph is better in background blur. Overall they seem about the same.
Next test made it very interesting. Shot at infinity at f/4.0. The 55Asph and the 50/1.4 are close in sharpness overall. The 50L is sharper in the center, but the edges and corners are very bad. I was not expecting that. The full images (below) don't show much difference.
First up is the 50/1.4 vs the 55 Aspherical. (Please click to enlarge) The 50/1.4 is sharper on the edge.
I took the less sharp 55Asph. to compare it with the 50L. (click to enlarge)
Even when not enlarging you can clearly see the 50L is less sharp. Maybe I miss-focussed?
Nope, I didn't miss-focus. This is the center crop of the same image. Sharper than the 55 Asph. The 50/1.4 is still a little sharper.
So, here I am testing three 50mm lenses. Getting to town hall, setting up to do some shots.
Suddenly three kids started playing in the fountains. First completely dry ended up soaking wet.
I happen to have the 55Asph on my camera and took a few of these shots with the kids playing. Would I have made better or worse images with the 50L or the 50/1.4? No. In the end it's the image and story that counts.
This moment reminded me when I was young(er) and playing with water in the garden. I just sat there not taking pictures. Sometimes you just shouldn't take pictures and enjoy the moment.
Get the 50/1.4 :) The difference between 1.2 and 1.4 isn't all that great. Yes, the bokeh on the 55 is better and the center sharpness is better on the 50L. Overall, to me, the 50/1.4 is the winner. At about 1/10 of the cost you can't really go wrong with this lens.
If you have another 50 that works, good! Don't change a winning team! A little more or less sharpness isn't everything. I still prefer the Olympus OM Zuiko 50/1.4. Is it better than any of the Canon lenses, I don't know. I just love the look of the images. I might test this against the nFD 50/1.4 next.
Any questions or comments, please let me know!
Full res images can be found at my flickr page.