Skip to content

Review: Canon S 50mm f/1.4 I

The lens review: Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 I Japan LTM/LSM/m39

The first test of Canon optics on this site. Good choice of the lens for start.

In this review, only the technical properties of the lens are investigated. Artistic abilities will be tested in the future, in a separate article.

After getting a new lens, I always take a few technical shots to understand its strengths and weaknesses – usually, it helps me a lot to start using an unknown lens with much less of doubt. One day I decided that my data might be interesting for someone else and this site has been made.


Canon Camera Museum link

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

Marketed Nov-57
Original Price 25,000 yen
Lens Construction (group) 4
Lens Construction (element) 6
No. of Diaphragm Blades __
Minimum Aperture 22
Closest Focusing Distance (m) 1
Maximum Magnification (x)
Filter Diameter (mm) 48
Maximum Diameter x Length (mm) 54 x 39
Weight (g)

Floating elements NO (full support by autofocused adapters)

Additional information:

  • This is the first version of the lens. Difference is just in body design – second version has two distance scales – in ‘m’ and in ‘ft’ and has a little difference in dimensions of the rings. Two versions looks very similar by exterior and absolutely the same optically.
  • It has Planar -like optical design
  • This lens arrived directly from Japan
  • No. of Diaphragm Blades = 9
  • Weight (g) = 244
  • Serial number of reviewed lens is 26956
  • Optical and mechanical condition of this copy is very nice. There is nothing which can affect the images

Lens exterior:

(Please, forgive me the dust on the lens, I never have the patience to clean objects for close-up photo sessions)

Resolution – close distance:

Test description: target is a 10×15 cm picture (printed, glossy photo paper), fixed on the wall by scotch. Distance – 1.8m. Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with a computer display as a viewfinder. All groups of shots were repeated 9 times for every target position on all apertures from fully opened up to F16, ISO-100, WB – same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. The focus was manually corrected for each shot. After all needed shots have been taken for one target position – I moved the target to the next place.


Main idea – to exclude the field curvature affect on so close distance.

Of course, I can’t be absolutely accurate, but so many repeats of shots – 4 for corners, 2 for long side, 2 for short side are giving me insurance that test results are correct.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings, cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

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):


Resolution – long distance:

Test description: Camera Sony A7II (24mpx, full frame) was fixed on the tripod and managed remotely with computer display as a viewfinder. Targets (buildings) were fixed by gravity power on the distances in more than 200 meters. All shots have been taken with apertures from fully opened up to F16. ISO-100. Shutter Speed – depends on light (camera A-mode), WB – fixed and the same for all shots. SteadyShot – OFF. Focus was manually corrected for each shot to exclude focus-shift affect.

Finally, pictures were converted from ARW-files in Capture One with default settings,  cropped for 300×200 px elements, combined into diagrams and exported into JPEG-files.

Scene preview:


Test results:



(frames scaled – 300×200)


Geometric distortion:

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Coma aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)


Chromatic aberrations:

(100% crops – 300×200)


Close distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance (1m), plants were fixed in 3m distance from camera in front of the window with bright light from outside.

(frame scaled 1200×800, bokeh covers the frame partially)


Long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on half distance on the scale (2m), houses were fixed in infinity distance on the ground.

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Light dots bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on to minimal distance 1m, diodes were  fixed in 3m distance at the dark background.

Note: a lot of similar tests with other 50mm lenses for same or close conditions are presented on the site, so you can compare easily. Please, read other articles.

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Light dots long distance bokeh:

Test conditions: lens was focused on minimal distance 1m, lights were fixed in more than 200m.

Such scenes can’t be meet often, so this is a demonstration of extreme conditions. In most cases of real-life photography, the blur level will be less.

(frame scaled 1200×800)


Another resources with tests and reviews:

My overall conclusion about the Canon S 50mm 1:1.4 I:


It’s a predictable rangefinder lens with good technical abilities and lovely rendition. Historically it was like a great victory for the industry but for today I wouldn’t call it ‘top-level performer’, on the other hand, it’s still a really nice lens. I believe that if a photographer is interested in the cool but not overpriced RF-lens – then this Canon S 50mm 1.4 would be one of the best choices. Also, I think that it can be recommended for photographers who are going to try a rangefinder lens after SLR-lenses and who looking for the item which can be the first in this role. This Canon really makes pictures that demonstrate a  rangefinders feeling. The lens is very useful for different cases – from flowers to landscapes, so it can be only one lens in a photographer bag. I recommend avoiding wide opened aperture: closed to F2 it has no visible differences in picture rendition against  F1.4, but it adds a lot of contrast. On F4 it is very good and becomes ready for landscapes from F5.6, very nice result actually. Of course, it works great with TechartPRO auto-focus adapter. Lens-shade is needed. I think that it’s one of the most universal rangefinder lenses which can be found for a reasonable price.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: