This lens isn't bad, but it's not necessarily worth the price either. I own the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, and I really didn't notice any appreciable difference between the two lenses. At nearly half the cost to rent, the 50mm 1.8 does more or less the same job. I photograph live concerts, and I also had some minor focus issues with this lens when I was more than about ten feet from the stage. Occasionally the lens would hunt for focus or would fail to focus properly. The dof is also extremely shallow at 1.4, so unless your subjects aren't moving and you're okay with a face being in focus while the torso is noticeably blurred, you probably don't want to shoot that open anyway. The USM motor actually seems louder than the focus mechanisms on my 50mm 1.8 as well, and it's noticeable in quieter environments like acoustic shows (or presumably certain portions of weddings/receptions). The lens itself is "sturdy" with a fairly heavy build, but I prefer the much lighter 50mm 1.8. I've heard people complain about the plastic housing on the 1.8, but shooting shows, it was much easier to pull the lens out and get it on quickly one handed than it was to do so with this lens. My 1.8 has handled a few drops and dings without any damage or marks as well, so it's sturdy enough. The lens does what it's supposed to for the most part, but the difference between this lens and the 50mm 1.8 isn't worth the price jump in my opinion. For me the bottom line is that the 1.8 will do pretty much anything this does, and the few extra stops aren't worth the money. I would either go with the 1.8 or rent the L glass 50mm or one of the L glass zooms.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
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Rental Includes: Front cap, rear cap, and UV filter.
BorrowLenses.com (Sohail's) Write-Up
Our Video Comparison of the Canon 50mm primes
I rented this as a surprise for my friend who was attending my wedding and shoots with a Canon T2i. He usually uses slow zoom lenses, so I picked this lens up for him and told him it would be great for night time shots at the reception. He got some wonderful low light shots with it wide open at f/1.4. 50mm was a little tough (hard to get group shots in close spaces) to work with on a 1.6x crop camera though, so in retrospect if I were to recommend a low light lens to him for wedding receptions again I might suggest the Canon f/1.8 28mm for his T2i.
What can I say? If you are looking at renting the 50mm 1.4 instead of the 50mm 1.2, chances are it's a budget thing. And if the price is right, you can't go wrong with this lens. I have shot stills with the 50mm 1.4 on a 5D classic, and stills + video with a 5D MKII. Color quality and sharpness are excellent. I strongly believe that the Canon quality - the creamy skintones and soft light are completely exemplified through this lens. It is fabulous for portraits. At f2.0, it's dreamy. The major concern I have with the 50mm 1.4 is both a plus and minus - it can shoot usable images at 1.4. When shooting with super low light, I often had issues with the AF hunting and sometimes, not locking at all. Again, this is a plus and a minus. That's a very big aperture, and I am not surprised that this lens would have some problems with AF there. It feels like the big aperture might be a bit too much for the technical restrictions of this $350 lens. Deal breaker? Absolutely not, if you can work it. Keep in mind: the build quality on this little guy is not fabulous. It has a metal mount unlike the 50 1.8, but the rest of the body is plastic and it can feel a bit cheap, especially when you are using the manual focus ring, which I really find to be unpleasant. If you are shooting video, you're not going to get a super fluid motion. I don't find it to be a total drag, but it is something to consider.