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Review: Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM

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Dustin Abbot has completed his full review of the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM, Canon’s most affordable RF lens. Sometimes dubbed the “nifty fifty” or “thrifty 50”, it usually finds its way into ever Canon shooters bag at some point in their photographic journey.

For the $199 USD price tag, you really are getting a lot of lens for your money. However, don’t confuse it with the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM, it’s definitely nowhere near as good optically or autofocus wise.

Even with some caveats, Dustin came away quite impressed by Canon’s newest little lens.

So, in conclusion, the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM is not only worth buying because it is cheap, but also worth buying because it is competent.  No, it’s anywhere near the class of the RF 50mm F1.2L, but that’s to be expected.  But, because of its affordability, there will be more great photos taken with the cheap F1.8 version than the expensive F1.2 lens.  The RF 50mm F1.8 will not be a credible impediment to producing top-notch photographs.  It’s the photographer, after all, who makes the images.  A lens is just a tool…and, in this case, it’s a pretty good tool, and one most anyone can afford.  More of this, please, Canon! Read the full review

Fischer

EOS RP
Mar 17, 2020
272
189
Got it just to have a small light weight lens in my RF kit that is otherwise dominated by rather large and heavy lenses. Like that the relative sharp center area is somewhat larger than on the newest of the "old" EF 50mm f/1.8. It is what it is. Probably will not get much use in my hands. But the price is right and the weight/quality is there to enjoy.
 

frjmacias

EOS R5 and EOS M50
May 14, 2020
21
15
29
Monterey, California
The lens is amazing for its price and weight. I happened to find it at the camera shop I go to in the Bay Area shortly after release, which surprised me since it always seems to be on backorder. I have found myself replacing even my EF 50mm f/1.4 for it because in my testing, it seemed sharper at even f/1.8. The weight also makes it a joy to use in many situations because I do not have to carry around so much equipment. It is perfect for hiking here where I live in Monterey. RF glass has really impressed me. I am saving up to eventually buy the RF 50mm f/1.2L beast. I know that lens will be next level amazing. But I would still keep this lens for the size in my bag alone. If you get a chance to try it out, definitely do so. You could be pleasantly surprised.
 

Andy Westwood

EOS R6
CR Pro
Dec 10, 2016
146
226
UK
Agreed Dustin is an excellent Camera reviewer but particularly as a Lens reviewer, he, and Christopher Frost. I couldn’t resist buying the RF Nifty Fifty when it came in stock in the UK. I sold my EF version and virtually got what I paid for it on eBay after owning it for several years.

I never really used the EF version very much but with the new R6 and R5 having IS built in I think this lens appeals more now. I’m also hoping Canon do bring out a more compact RF body that will be good for holidays and a backup camera, that would be good for the RF Nifty Fifty.
 
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Act444

EOS R
May 4, 2011
1,126
198
Thanks for sharing. I've been wondering whether to go for this lens eventually as a replacement for the EF version (pairs better with the smaller RP than on a 5D body). I can't help but be a bit disappointed by the lack of IS (yes, I know the newer R5/R6 bodies are stabilized) though. Hopefully all of Canon's future RF bodies get IBIS...

Of course, my (not so) secret wish is the RF 50L in EF mount...
 

Robbie_B

CR Pro
Apr 11, 2020
7
11
I upgraded from the RP to a R6 but have kept the RP and put the new Nifty Fifty on it as my general street system. So far very pleased with the results and far less bulky on the little camera than the EF version with an adapter. Now we just need to be able to get out and about again here in the UK.
 

Richard Anthony

EOS 90D
Feb 24, 2020
144
173
Agreed Dustin is an excellent Camera reviewer but particularly as a Lens reviewer, he, and Christopher Frost. I couldn’t resist buying the RF Nifty Fifty when it came in stock in the UK. I sold my EF version and virtually got what I paid for it on eBay after owning it for several years.

I never really used the EF version very much but with the new R6 and R5 having IS built in I think this lens appeals more now. I’m also hoping Canon do bring out a more compact RF body that will be good for holidays and a backup camera, that would be good for the RF Nifty Fifty.
They already have one , the RP would be a superb little camera with the RF50 1.8
 
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Daner

AE-1 Program
Aug 15, 2017
108
112
Stockholm
danethomasphotography.com
I do a bit of portrait work, so the IS and better overall image quality gave me a clear use case to sell my EF 85 f/1.8 and get the RF 85 f/2.

Using my EOS R with the webcam software for online teaching (up to 40 hours a week) gives me a reason to add the RF 35 f/1.8, as the focal length is perfect for my needs, and the bokeh is noticeably better than I can get at f/4 when using the kit RF 24-105 f/4L.

The 24-105 is my default lens for when I am not shooting portraits, half-macro with the 85, or something requiring more reach. Going through my photos, I don't see very many that I have taken at or around 50mm at f/4 that would have been better at a wider aperture. For those that could have been good with a wider aperture, it is a toss-up whether the additional light or speed or improved bokeh would have been worth the potential reduction in sharpness due to the lack of IS and potential difference in IQ due to the budget glass.

Even with my impending switch to an R6 with IBIS, I still don't see the size and weight benefits of the RF 50 as compelling enough to use it as a primary lens rather than the 25-105 f/4L. If small and light are my primary considerations, and the quality only needs to be good enough for social media, my iPhone does fine most of the time at that focal length. If I need better quality, I'll continue to use a bigger, more versatile lens with better IQ under most circumstances than the RF 50.

I agree that the RF 50 is a compelling combination of size, price, and quality for use with the RP, and especially for upcoming low-end models with IBIS, but that is not where I am right now.
 

Foxdude

EOS M6 Mark II
Aug 14, 2014
80
7
Thanks Dustin, very good review as always. Really looking forward to upgrade to RF version from EF 1.8 stm. Bit better overall IQ and focus, no need for adapter, and additional control ring is enough for me to upgrade.
 

degos

EOS RP
Mar 20, 2015
376
311
Ah the Canon Effect in full force. If this 'competent' lens had been made by a third-party it'd be trashed. But reviewers are too scared to criticise the Big C.

"It’s the photographer, after all, who makes the images."

Sure, go and do some BIF with this 50mm... The lens is *everything* in photography, at least if you're doing something more than arty impressionism.
 
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slclick

Earl of Exposure
Dec 17, 2013
4,417
2,563
Ah the Canon Effect in full force. If this 'competent' lens had been made by a third-party it'd be trashed. But reviewers are too scared to criticise the Big C.

"It’s the photographer, after all, who makes the images."

Sure, go and do some BIF with this 50mm... The lens is *everything* in photography, at least if you're doing something more than arty impressionism.
delusional
 

Fischer

EOS RP
Mar 17, 2020
272
189
Ah the Canon Effect in full force. If this 'competent' lens had been made by a third-party it'd be trashed. But reviewers are too scared to criticise the Big C.

"It’s the photographer, after all, who makes the images."

Sure, go and do some BIF with this 50mm... The lens is *everything* in photography, at least if you're doing something more than arty impressionism.
The lens you got is worth a lot more, than the lens you wish for. This lens will allow many people to take great shots that their kit zooms can never achieve. It will also allow people to shot earlier and later in the day - extending their available shooting hours. You may not see any need for it, but that's no argument against for others. Not sure which third party RF mount 50mm AF lens you think is a better buy. But please enlighten us.
 

koenkooi

EOS 5D Mark IV
CR Pro
Feb 25, 2015
1,564
1,393
The lens you got is worth a lot more, than the lens you wish for. This lens will allow many people to take great shots that their kit zooms can never achieve. It will also allow people to shot earlier and later in the day - extending their available shooting hours. You may not see any need for it, but that's no argument against for others. Not sure which third party RF mount 50mm AF lens you think is a better buy. But please enlighten us.

The RF50 f/1.8 is also the lens I wasn't afraid to bring onto the ice to take pictures of my kids flailing about on the frozen pond. At noon on friday almost everyone was at work or in school, I used the RF100-500 to take pictures of my 2yo, no need for bright apertures and no collision hazards.

I'm not sure I would've brought an f/1.2 L onto the ice if I owned one. The RF50 f/1.8 was lightweight, provided good quality pics and was cheap enough to risk breaking. It also doesn't scream "EXPENSIVE, STEAL ME" :)