A Hands on Review of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Autofocus Lens

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 II is a fantastic portrait and street lens that won't leave you or your wallet disappointed.

There have been many lenses in my life, some of them have been great and some of them not so great. I for sure have had my share of spending way too much on a lens only for it to sit in my camera bag as a unwanted fragile passenger, well unwanted is not the word, it would be best defined as a weary passenger. We are all to familiar with the feeling of being out shooting and the uncomfortable burden of guilt that is tethered to not using a lens.

With that I have had the exact opposite experience where I spent barely anything on a lens and found it almost welded onto my Canon 7D . This lens was the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Autofocus Lens which goes for about $104 and is the second version of this unbelievable prime lens. I never thought that I would be spending more for my cameras memory this year buying a Transcend 32GB 600X Compact Flash than on a new lens. How strange!

From the unboxing you will find immediately that the lens is fairly, lets say, cheaply made. Admittedly, I might add, I was even a little surprised to discover how cheap the lens feels. Well at some point you attach the lens and walla first light.

After the first or second shot you will instantly forget about that the cheap feeling of the lens and you realize that this lens is an absolute beauty. Shot after shot you will discover that the depth of field at f/1.8 and the sweet bokeh you create is unmatched. Well that is for the $119 that you spent on the lens . Of course you could go and spend $369 on the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 and achieve a slight bit more DOF and bokeh but honestly the sharpness of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is in my opinion is slightly crisper in the details.

I have been addicted to this lens now for several months and I can't seem to stop shooting with it. It's a workhorse that won't leave you disappointed. Shoot me an email via my blog and let me know what you think.

Click the link below to see more shots that I took with my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Autofocus Lens

http://www.solargravity.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=35:canon-ef-50mm-f-18-ii-autofocus-lens-2514a002-f18&Itemid=342

Thanks!
 
C

CCY020

Guest
solargravity said:
I have been addicted to this lens now for several months and I can't seem to stop shooting with it. It's a workhorse that won't leave you disappointed.
Amen!
 

AlanF

Stay at home
CR Pro
Aug 16, 2012
8,869
12,151
I bought the original lens with a metal mount and built like a tank. You would have to mug me to get it. Wide open it is soft. But stopped down it is phenomenal.
 

HoneyBadger

EOS M6 Mark II
Jul 28, 2012
57
0
I will admit that for the money, it is an amazing lens. I also love my 40mm 2.8 which is 40 bucks more but built a lot better. With the 50 1.8 II, I just cannot get past the bokeh. To me, it is harsh. I have tried it many many times wanting to buy it because I liked the price but I just cannot due to the bokeh and the build quality. If I was doing a lot of indoor shooting and wanted a backup lens for being in my pocket, then I would choose this as my 40mm f/2.8 just does not perform well enough in low light.
 
ScottyP said:
I agree, but I am afraid that if this thread has legs, you will be savaged at some point by a lens snob, or perhaps a lens snob mob.

That's okay. In the end it's all about the image and the creativity. That's what counts at the end of the day when you or your client are happy. On my blog I have an image shot with my iPhone 4s and I get so many people commenting on it. They have no idea about the camera. I think that's pretty amazing. Don't you think?

Erik
www.solargravity.com
 

robbymack

EOS RP
May 10, 2012
402
0
Nothing beats it for price/value. Still my preferred 50 because canon has yet to convince me any of their other offerings are worth the price. If there is ever a 50mm non L with true ring USM I'm totally in on the preorder.
 
robbymack said:
Nothing beats it for price/value. Still my preferred 50 because canon has yet to convince me any of their other offerings are worth the price. If there is ever a 50mm non L with true ring USM I'm totally in on the preorder.

robbymack You are so right on that! I would be next in line behind you on that preorder. I can't even begin to tell you how many people compliment me on my photos that I take with my 50mm f/1.8 and when I tell them it's a lens valued around $100 they tell me time and time again they don't believe me.

Erik
www.solargravity.com
 

Zv

EOS 5D Mark IV
Sep 23, 2012
1,765
0
www.flickr.com
solargravity said:
robbymack said:
Nothing beats it for price/value. Still my preferred 50 because canon has yet to convince me any of their other offerings are worth the price. If there is ever a 50mm non L with true ring USM I'm totally in on the preorder.

robbymack You are so right on that! I would be next in line behind you on that preorder. I can't even begin to tell you how many people compliment me on my photos that I take with my 50mm f/1.8 and when I tell them it's a lens valued around $100 they tell me time and time again they don't believe me.

Erik
www.solargravity.com

And I would be third in that line! So tempted to just say b@ll@x and buy the 50 1.4 ...
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
6,314
0
Berlin
der-tierfotograf.de
ScottyP said:
I agree, but I am afraid that if this thread has legs, you will be savaged at some point by a lens snob, or perhaps a lens snob mob.

I'm not in the "big money" league, but I have to admit I almost never use my 50/1.8 anymore except for far in between action nighttime shots because of the noisy af, extremely crappy build quality and very mediocre sharpness. But ymmv on that, I feel esp. with this lens it's very dependent on personal preferences. One thing that is an issue depending on the scene is the very harsh bokeh and non-round bokeh point lights due to the few and edged aperture blades.

But surely it's very good value for the price, though imho more modern Canon lenses have even more value like the 40mm pancake.
 
P

paul13walnut5

Guest
I've had four nifty fifty's, one mark 1 where the lend stopped foccusing to the infinity end, first mark II was dropped and became a fixed tilt lens before dying, 2nd mk2 was stolen by my Dad, and the one I'm using currently.

For some users, perhaps video or wedding guys, the 1.4 version makes the better choice for the improvrments in focus arrangements, but I wouldn't call these folk snobs.

The f1.2, I really just don't get at all.

The 'other' fifty is the macro f2.5, loved it in my film days, didn't really trandlate so well on my dslr ( got quite bad fringing on high contrast edges at closer focus)
 

Zv

EOS 5D Mark IV
Sep 23, 2012
1,765
0
www.flickr.com
Marsu42 said:
ScottyP said:
I agree, but I am afraid that if this thread has legs, you will be savaged at some point by a lens snob, or perhaps a lens snob mob.

I'm not in the "big money" league, but I have to admit I almost never use my 50/1.8 anymore except for far in between action nighttime shots because of the noisy af, extremely crappy build quality and very mediocre sharpness. But ymmv on that, I feel esp. with this lens it's very dependent on personal preferences. One thing that is an issue depending on the scene is the very harsh bokeh and non-round bokeh point lights due to the few and edged aperture blades.

But surely it's very good value for the price, though imho more modern Canon lenses have even more value like the 40mm pancake.

Yeah I agree with the bokeh, it's not very pleasing. I prob would have bought the pancake had it been available back then. I know it's cheap but I want to limit the number of lens I have. Also as a first lens the nifty impresses those who compare it to the likes of a kit lens. Once you buy your first L lens the nifty starts to show it's inherint weaknesses!

The fifties need a revamp, pronto!
 

agierke

EOS RP
Feb 23, 2012
438
0
45
Delaware
i used to recommend to my students the 50mm 1.8 as the number 1 purchase a beginning photographer could make simply for the value it provided. i know i was enthralled with it for a time when i first got it.

now, i avoid using it for anything other than reverse macro shots. for me its too mushy, has terrible color rendition, and it's slow chunky AF just cant perform under critical conditions the way i would need it to. i would definitely be very interested if they updated the 1.4 version and eventually i will probably get the 1.2L but for now i find that other lenses in the canon lineup jump above the offerings of their 50mms in terms of my priorities.

i do wonder about the 1.4 though. is it really as mushy as the 1.8? i really would be shocked if it were. can the color rendering of the 1.4 be as awkward as the 1.8? i understand the misgivings of the 50 1.2L but i also understand that the design of the lens offers more of a "look" than offering crispy focus.

when i get to the point of feeling the need of getting the "look" of the 50L i'll get it...just not there yet. i do feel my 35L is a bit wide in certain circumstances and my 85 1.8 is a bit tight in some circumstances so i do feel the desire to have a 50mm but i just can't bring myself to use the 1.8. i'm over it....it just doesnt cut it for me.
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
6,314
0
Berlin
der-tierfotograf.de
agierke said:
now, i avoid using it for anything other than reverse macro shots.

I also tried that and came to the conclusion that the mag factor with a 50mm lens is too small to be of any value against cropping from a "real" macro lens.

For reverse macro to produce ok results a wider ~24mm lens lens is needed *and* it has to be sharp at the aperture you shoot with - and since the aperture cannot be manually set on the 50mm, that's the very unsharp 1.8 setting.

agierke said:
i do wonder about the 1.4 though. is it really as mushy as the 1.8? i really would be shocked if it were. can the color rendering of the 1.4 be as awkward as the 1.8?

The 50/1.4 is an ok lens, my issue with it is that it hasn't a "real" ring usm but a mediocre micro usm. Just like the 50/1.8 the 50/1.4 is simply outdated, with the 50/1.4 not even being such a great value against Sigma and other competition.
 

RS2021

EOS RP
Aug 19, 2012
718
0
agierke said:
i do wonder about the 1.4 though. is it really as mushy as the 1.8? i really would be shocked if it were. can the color rendering of the 1.4 be as awkward as the 1.8?

Can't comment on f1.8...but I have owned both the 50L and 50 f1.4. The debate here on 50L aside, I use 35L as a standard lens, and 50mm focal length, whatever the lens brand or model, is not something I go to often. I hang on to the Canon 50 f1.4 as the only 50mm now as it is not a major investment that is being wasted and performs well for its low price.

Someone shared a Sigma 50 f/1.4 wide open shot recently in a different post and I posted a similar Canon f/1.4 subsequently. Both posts have full frame and center crops. These are just snaps and are not artsy-fartsy shots with models or careful lighting, nor can they be compared head-to-head given the variables involved. So take it with a grain of salt. And as for color rendering there is tons of red/crimson in the house, so make of it, what you will. :)

Sigma 50 f/1.4:
http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=12608.msg224867#msg224867

Canon EF 50 f/1.4
http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=12608.msg227087#msg227087
 

agierke

EOS RP
Feb 23, 2012
438
0
45
Delaware
For reverse macro to produce ok results a wider ~24mm lens lens is needed *and* it has to be sharp at the aperture you shoot with - and since the aperture cannot be manually set on the 50mm, that's the very unsharp 1.8 setting.

this is actually not true. you can use any aperture you would like with reverse macro so long as you engage the DOF preview button before you unmount the lens. the aperture will close down to whatever you set it at and then will hold after you unmount the lens. i have used the 50mm at 5.6 to get a bit more DOF as at 1.8 reversed it is ridiculously narrow.
 
C

ChilledXpress

Guest
I don't think anyone that has used all or some of the 50mm, can't really dispute the fact that the overall image quality differences from all three lenses is miniscule. I own all three, with multiple copies of the L and 1.4, and use them quite often. With the exception of the differences in stops, the major difference is build quality. I've seen the 1.8 II roll off a bench hit the ground, maybe a drop of 16-18", and explode. Not literally :eek: , figuratively. Or have had one hit the door way and fall apart. Not much to do afterwards but pick up the pieces and bin them. That's what a 100$ lens is good for. The 1.4 and it's damn weak sauce AF mechanism... has left me stranded twice. You get about a year or so with general use before that gremlin raises its head. With the 50L, it is hard to find much difference between it and the other two in respect to IQ (at least to me). A trained eye can see the difference in bokeh but to most, not so much. It is sharper below 2.0 but I find little to complain about in sharpness from all three flavors. What I have the 50L for is weather sealing, tank-like build, low light portrait monster, great FOV and my copy seems to be pretty damn sharp. Knock on wood, they have taken a beating but survive beautifully.

The biggest change I have seen with my 50's though is AF speed... and that can only be attributed to the 5D3 and 1DX. They behave like totally different animals now. My favorite combo is the 5D3 (silent) w/ 50L.... ummm, I hear the street calling now!

Maybe the new show stopper for cheap, low-profile, sharp, etc... is the shorty forty. Still getting use to it but it is always impressively sharp on the wide end.
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
6,314
0
Berlin
der-tierfotograf.de
agierke said:
For reverse macro to produce ok results a wider ~24mm lens lens is needed *and* it has to be sharp at the aperture you shoot with - and since the aperture cannot be manually set on the 50mm, that's the very unsharp 1.8 setting.
this is actually not true. you can use any aperture you would like with reverse macro so long as you engage the DOF preview button before you unmount the lens. the aperture will close down to whatever you set it at and then will hold after you unmount the lens. i have used the 50mm at 5.6 to get a bit more DOF as at 1.8 reversed it is ridiculously narrow.

Damn, I didn't figure that out when I tried the reverse macro - stopping down doesn't improve the mediocre max. magnification of the reversed 50mm lens, but it sure would improve the iq.
 

agierke

EOS RP
Feb 23, 2012
438
0
45
Delaware
yup....but i never use reverse macro for true macro purposes. i only really use it to get a creative look for smaller type objects (like ring shots at a wedding). for true macro work i would never do the reverse technique.