Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 – review

Published by Tony on

Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 v.I – Japan LTM/LSM/m39 – vintage manual lens test and review

This is the first test of optics by Canon on the site. The lens is a good object to start with.

Canon S 50mm f/1.4 - Sony A7

Canon Camera Museum link

Canon S 1:1.4 f=5cm Japan LTM specifications via Canon Museum:

MarketedNov-57
Original Price25,000 yen
Lens Construction (group)4
Lens Construction (element)6
No. of Diaphragm Blades9
Minimum Aperture22
Closest Focusing Distance (m)1
Maximum Magnification (x)
Filter Diameter (mm)48
Maximum Diameter x Length (mm)54 x 39
Weight (g)244

More data

Floating elementsNO
Serial26956
Confidence in the test results of reviewed copiesHigh

Additional information:

  • This is the first version of the lens. The difference is just in body design – the second version has two distance scales – in ‘m’ and in ‘ft’ and has a little difference in dimensions of the rings. Two versions look very similar by exterior and absolutely the same optically.
  • It has Planar-like optical design
  • This lens arrived directly from Japan
  • The optical and mechanical condition of this copy is very nice. There is nothing which can affect the images

Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 exterior

Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 sharpness

Сlose-distance resolution test, minimal distance

Testing methods description

  • Target: 10-15 cm picture, printed on glossy photo paper
  • Distance:10% longer than minimal focus distance marked on the lens
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF.
  • The test was repeated for every F-stop on every focus position with manual focus adjustment for each shot. That is to avoid the effect of field curvature.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

Original target image (printed in horizontal orientation on 10cm X 15cm glossy photo paper)

Test results (selected version, easy to compare – 4 positions)

Test results (full version – all 9 positions):

Long-distance resolution test

Testing methods description

  • Target: cityscape
  • Distance: > 200 meters to center focus point
  • Camera: Sony A7II (24mpx, full-frame, tripod, remote control). M-mode, ISO fixed, WB fixed, SteadyShot – OFF. The focus point is on the center only.
  • RAW processing: Capture One, default settings. All quality settings – 100%. Crops – 300×200 px

Scene preview

Test results

Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 aberrations

Vignetting

Geometric distortion

Coma aberrations

Chromatic aberrations

Short-distance bokeh

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1m, plants are in 3m distance from the camera

Long-distance bokeh

Test conditions: the lens was focused on half distance on the scale (2m), buildings are on “infinity”-distance. This is a rare case for real photography but demonstrates the maximum possible level of blur

Light bubbles bokeh – short-distance

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1m of scale, diodes were fixed in 3m distance

Light bubbles bokeh – long distance

The lens is on the minimal focusing distance 1m, lights are on infinity (cityscape)

This is a rare case for real photography but demonstrates the maximum possible level of blur

Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 – other resources with tests and reviews:

Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 v.I – overall conclusion

It is a rangefinder lens with good technical abilities, predicted behavior, and lovely rendition. Historically it was a great victory for the industry  – this is the first mass F1.4 lens or at least one of first, but for today it wouldn’t be called as ‘top-level performer’. On the other hand, it’s a nice lens with a few advantages.

I believe that if a photographer is interested in cool but not overpriced RF-lens – then this Canon S 50mm 1.4 would be one of the best choices. Also, I believe that it can be recommended for photographers who are going to try a rangefinder lens after SLR-lenses and who are looking for the item which can be the first in this role. This Canon is able to make pictures that demonstrate a true rangefinder feeling – independently of cases – from flowers to landscapes, so it can be only one lens in a photographer bag.

I recommend to users avoid wide-open aperture: if closed to F2 the lens has no visible differences in picture rendition against F1.4, but F2 adds a lot of contrast. On F4 it is very good and becomes ready for landscapes from F5.6, a fantastic result for the lens from 50′. Of course, it works great with auto-focus adapters. Lens-shade is required, by the way.

It seems like one of the most universal rangefinder lenses which can be found for a reasonable price.


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