Oh, that's too bad (about your 50 1.4). My own copy is a superb lens and I love it! Some folks suggest it should be an "L" lens, but then again it doesn't quite have the build quality.
I tend to shoot my 35mm and 50mm lenses most often at f1.4. And my 85 1.2L at about f2. I've also got a 135L which I usually shoot wide open at f2. It's a question of shooting style more than anything else, I guess. I've also got a 200 f2L on order and my dealer says he expects the first shipment about April.
I did notice the "racoon" eyes in your first shot, but really they weren't all that objectionable. I wonder if anyone other than us picky photographers would even notice that. I love the separation you got of the subjects from the background. And your exposures are bang on. Did you use any noise reduction software? I found that at 1600 I like NeatImage quite a bit. (I'm shooting with 1DIII's.)
Anyway, back to the OP's original question, just because you have a 1.4 lens, doesn't mean you MUST shoot it wide open, but it's really nice to have that option when you need it. And the ability to minimize distracting backgrounds because of the shallow DOF is a great feature (again when you need it and depending on your shooting style).
Oh, one of my shots with the 85mm f1.2L shot at f1.2 is displayed on the MIR site at: http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardw...2LUSM/index.htm
There's some of my work on the 24mm f1.4L and 35mm f1.4L pages as well.
awe shucks... thanks.
it's funny how 20 years ago I would use a dozen lights... but now I've grown to love whats real. i still had a SUV full of strokes, kinos and lowels just in case.
my only problem with the 1st shot is the deep eye sockets... there was a chandeleir hanging right over me which made a decent key.
yes... my treasures are my 35 1.4 and 85 1.2.... my 50 1.4 is a bad egg I think.