My go-to lens is Canons EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. It’s extremely inexpensive selling for around $400-500. It’s sharp, small, light and with an aperture of f/1.4 it’s also super fast.
Although it is very soft wide open, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens starts to get really sharp at f/2.8. I personally like to keep my aperture around f/3.2-3.5. Strong halation is present at f/1.4 (a soft, dreamy look) with a little bit of CA (Chromatic Aberrations). Colors and contrast are very nice. It is very small in size (WxL: 2.9″ x 2″/73.8mm x 50.5mm) and extremely light weight (10.2 oz/290g). This lens is not a bother to carry mounted – and can easily be stored in very small camera bags. Overall build quality is decent…while the metal lens mount is good, the focus ring fit and function is only adequate. The 50 f/1.4 features a quiet but not-so-well-damped Micro USM (Ultrasonic Motor) motor – this is good but not as good as the Ring USM motors in many of the higher quality Canon lenses. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported. The 50 f/1.4 extends up to 5/16″ during focusing – the filter does not rotate.
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens falls in the middle of the three 50mm’s Canon has to offer. It has the middle price, the middle build quality, the middle weight…etc. It delivers the middle background blur quality – much better than the f/1.8 but not as good as the f/1.2. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens is very useful for low-light indoor photography when a flash is not permitted, appropriate or desired. It is a great lens and focal length for full-body portraits. Keep in mind that when mounted on a crop body, you need some extra space to accomplish the full-body portrait. That being said, they do an equally fantastic job with close up portraits, or even creative snap shots of the world around you. It makes a good travel lens because of it’s small size, but also because it can be used for so many different genres.
If you want a shallow depth of field and a really sharp subject then you can’t go wrong with this lens. Using the lens wide open can sometimes be tricky, as the depth of field is so shallow but when successful the results will be fantastic. Practice makes perfect. Like I said earlier I usually keep the aperture around f/3.2-3.5. Whether your subject is up close up or distant this lens enables you to single out your subject with nice depth of field. The lens can still be used for landscapes, it handles shots that are completely sharp the same way it handles shots at a lower aperture. I originally purchased the 50mm f/1.4 because it was cheap and delivers professional quality pictures, it is also one of my more versatile lens’ – I shoot just about any subject with it. I highly recommend this lens to any photographers, amateur or pro. This is a wonderful piece of gear.