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I am pretty new to photography. I have an APS-C camera, Canon 77D with a EF-S 18-135mm kit lens. I want a prime lens for shooting nice bokeh portraits along with street and day to day life photography in day and night. I have looked at tons of video references for the:

  • Canon 50mm f1.4 (Really attracted to it because of the big apperture 1.4)
  • Canon 35mm f2 (It has IS and relatively new model when compared with the 50mm)

But could not decide which one should I go for. I have heard that over the years I would get AF problems with the Canon 50mm as it is an older model. Is it true for all the Canon 50mm f1.4 (older model) lens and unavoidable? Could you guys please help me choose one along with the pros and cons of one with the other for the type of photography which I mentioned?

Thanks a lot in advance! :)

  • I would recommend the 50 mm because it gives an extra stop of light in the dark. It has worked very well for me for portraits and general day and night photography outside. There is almost always enough space to take a few steps back so I never had much problems with the field of view being too narrow. It does not work very well inside, there the 35 would be much better. – Orbit Mar 2 at 13:27
  • @Orbit ok thanks. I will go with the 50mm then. what about the image quality? is it sharp enough at f1.4? – KALHIM Mar 2 at 18:33
  • No, the image quality is not great at f/1.4. You may find it reasonable for a given situation, but the lens will sharpen up well by f/2 and dramatically better at f/2.8.Don't worry, you still get great bokeh at f/2.8 and minimal DoF. – OnBreak. Mar 2 at 20:25
  • @Hueco thanks a lot. Ordered and will get it today evening. thank you for all the help :) – KALHIM Mar 3 at 13:01
  • Hello. My 50mm f1.4 lens arrived. But the box was not sealed. Is it common for lens boxes? – KALHIM Mar 3 at 21:29
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Your camera has a 1.6x crop factor. On APS-C, 50mm gives you the field of view of a classic portrait lens on full frame (80mm). While 35mm will give you the FOV of a "normal" lens (56mm).

  • If you want the lens mainly for portraits, go for the 50/1.4. If you're on a budget, consider 50/1.8.

  • If you want the lens for general photography, get the 35/2. You might even consider EF 28/1.8 USM (which has the FOV of a 45mm lens on full frame – also, "normal").

Other options:

  • Consider other primes, like the EF-S 24/2.8 STM. It's inexpensive and very sharp, though it won't give you the amount of background blur you appear to be seeking.
  • Maximize the background blur that the 18-135/3.5-5.6 zoom delivers by using the long end of its range (135mm).
  • Experiment with the focal lengths on your zoom to see what FOV you need or prefer. You can tape the zoom to preset focal lengths to simulate the experience of working with a prime.
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  • Thank you. I took on the suggestions and tested on the 18-135mm. I found the 45-75mm, more suitable to me. But what about the longevity between the two lenses as I asked before in my question, and 50mm f1.4 model is an older model. Could you please help in this query? – KALHIM Mar 2 at 10:11
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    I actually read it here. Also I found it in many youtube videos where they point out the problems regarding the AF. But nonetheless, thank you so much for clearing that up. I guess all depends upon usage and the maintenance of the 50mm :) – KALHIM Mar 2 at 11:22
  • Seems more like some type of damage than aging. Any lens can break if dropped. You can avoid lenses with the listed serial numbers, since they may be more prone to damage. – xiota Mar 2 at 14:11
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    I have one of the very first 35mm lenses for the EOS system, and it still works like a charm. On the other hand, I had to exchange my 50mm/1.4 already twice … there are no guarantees … – tquadrat Mar 2 at 23:50
  • Maybe try 50/1.8 if the 50/1.4 is problematic? – xiota Mar 3 at 2:20
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Thank you for the help. These past few days I had tested both 50mmf1.4 and 35mmf2.. and at the end I decided to stick with 35mmf2. The reasons are as follows:

  1. The 50mm is really soft at f1.4 and starts to give sharp performance from f2.5. From f2.8 it is really sharp. The 35mm is really sharp from f2. If I buy a lens I would like to use it from the widest aperture which was not the case for me in 50mm. Again it is an old lens and next best 50mm costs 1300 EUR. Personally I found it too soft for me. Other photographers might like it. Someone in this question's answer suggested me not to buy the 50mm for this reason as I remember. Thank you and sorry not to trust you before.

  2. Image stabilization is a big plus in 35mm. Its good and gives stabilised images till 1/10 of a sec handheld. After that depends on luck actually or might need tripod 🙂

  3. The crop factor makes the 50mm - 85mm and 35mm - 56mm on my Canon 77D APS-C camera. After 2 days of street, daily life and portrait photography, with each lenses, I found 35mm to suit more, my style of photography. Really, spending time did wonders in making the decision.

  4. The bokeh is acceptable in 35mm though it is f2. You could see the background a bit more than 50mm at f1.4 but then sharpness is a bit less and without IS in 50mm. With 35mm I can be sure that images will have blurry background and sharp focus at f2. In 50mm I cannot be sure for every image at f1.4. It was kind of gamble so again, I went with 35mm with decent bokeh and blurry background.

  5. Build quality is better in 35mm than in 50mm. Currently the 50mm lens is made in Malaysia and 35mm is made in Japan. That doesn't mean that Malaysia products are bad. This is just an information I think I should include as previously 50mmf1.4 lenses were manufactured in Japan.

Overall I got my answer. The price is a bit higher for 35mmf2, but was ok for me. Thank you again all for your knowledge sharing as I gained a lot from the answers and comments. Please do feel free to correct me somewhere if I am wrong. We will talk again on some future discussion for sure 😃 namaste 🙏🏾

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