1,657 of 1,675 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, fast, inexpensive
Once upon a time the 50 mm lens was THE standard camera lens and was THE optical benchmark by which manufacturers were judged and compared. Although the basic lens focus has now shifted (at least at the low to mid amateur level) to zooms - you can still benefit from years of research and development that went into designing the 50 mm lens and this here lens may be the...
Published on April 10, 2005 by Richard Aubin
640 of 693 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great images, poor build quality
Optically, you can't really do that much better than the f/1.8 - strong contrast, good color rendition, and very sharp even when shooting wide open. I bought this lens and it lived on my camera for several months and was the default piece of glass that I reached for when the quality of the shot "really mattered."
But, honestly, it's built about as solid as a toy prize...
Published on April 30, 2003 by esliving
Most Helpful First | Newest First
1,657 of 1,675 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, fast, inexpensive,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)Once upon a time the 50 mm lens was THE standard camera lens and was THE optical benchmark by which manufacturers were judged and compared. Although the basic lens focus has now shifted (at least at the low to mid amateur level) to zooms - you can still benefit from years of research and development that went into designing the 50 mm lens and this here lens may be the best lens, dollar for dollar, that you can ever buy. The question is can you afford not to own this lens?
Years of development have brought us a lens that has a fast aperture of 1.8 - far faster than any consumer zoom lens - and that is sharp as a filed tack. Be forewarned about the sharpness . . . if you are taking pictures of people, this lens is unyielding in its sharpness and may well surprise you and your subjects whose every blemish is captured. The lens has a fabulously shallow depth of field if you want to use the 1.8 aperture to blow out a background. This lens is also ridiculously inexpensive. It is not USM - so it is a little loud. It does not have a moving focus scale. For the money though - this is heaven.
As to the build quality - yes, it is plastic. No, it's not built like the Rock of Gibraltar. If you are going to give this lens extensive use as your everyday lens and you shoot a lot, it may not hold up all that well as one reviewer suggests. However, I've now had this lens and used it fairly regularly (although not as the primary lens) for about 8 years and it is still in great condition. In my mind, spend the $$ on this first before you go and drop $330 on the 50mm 1.4 USM lens and I think you'll find it gets the job done nicely and that the extra $250 on the 1.4 may not be worth the difference in build (major difference), speed (minor difference) and image quality (minor difference).
871 of 889 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Value in Photography!,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)Wow! My theory now is that Canon doesn't put this baby as their kit lens because many people would decide that they DONT NEED ANOTHER ONE! And many of them would be right!
Like others, I bought the Rebel XT and the 28-135 IS lens. The 28-135 is heavy and priced like a gold brick. I guess it does OK, and I do keep it mounted most of the time.
And like others, I stumbled on this lens somehow, read the raving reviews, and for the price figured, "What the heck?"
This lens in tack sharp. It shows the fire in the colors you photograph. The wide aperture means candles can be excellent lights for portraits. Its narrow field is great.
There are pitfalls though. I snapped a pic of my face at arm's length using autofocus a while back and (1) the focus locked on the tip of my nose and my face was already blurring (2) the lens was so sharp that I saw blackheads clearly on my nose tip I can't really see in the mirror (doh!). I've read that dSLR images are slightly soft to aid in later editing. I can only imagine what it would do on a film camera.
Yesterday while camping I slapped this lens on. Unlike the 28-135, this one is light enough that I didnt notice I was carrying a camera everywhere. At night I put the lens on the top of the car pointed at the sky, set the shutter for 15 secs, and hit the button. Much to my amazement, the lens not only showed hundreds of stars that were invisible to my eyes, but it also found a galaxy. That pic is on the customer image section of this page. You can see what I saw, but the smaller size doesnt do the lens justice.
One quirk of Amazon is that this page keeps alternating pictures of lenses. This lens does not have the distance focus scales on the outside of it.
Zoom is nice for many things. But where zoom isnt necessary, performance is very, very nice. Performance at $70 is almost too good to be true.
Let me close by repeating what has been said elsewhere and will continue to be said here....IF YOU OWN A SLR, STOP NOW AND GET THIS LENS!
UPDATE 12/06 I have owned this lens for about a year now. Over that time I have immersed myself in photography, workshops, books, tests, etc. I have since upgraded to the 30D and a couple of L lenses, and now have a portfolio strong enough that I am now getting dollar signs thrown at me that I didnt even see coming. I say all this to give you some perspective on what I will write afterward.
Now that Ive really learned the difference, I can agree with others that it is a tad soft wide open, but that is to be expected. I read a lens test recently that put the 1.8 against Canons heavweight L glass, and, not surprisingly, the L beat out the $70 plastic wonder in most categories. What might surprise you, however, is that when the lens was tested at F 8 it BEAT THE L GLASS in sharpness! As one that has felt the pain of trading large sums of money for L glass, I appreciate affordable quality...not something anyone can plan on seeing much of in photography.
My 28-135 has since joined my kit lens in the garage. The 1.8 is still in my case with my newer 30D.
With some experience under my belt I now would make the following recommendation. Right now, as you read this, you may have an idea if you've been bitten by the photog bug. You may know that this beast is going to morph into something more than a simple pasttime. If you look inside the depths of your aspirations and you know that you are going to be a serious amateur, bite the bullet and get the 50mm 1.4. Trust me on this one. Eventually you'll end up getting it anyway, so just apply the $70 to the 1.4 now.
If you're just exploring different areas of SLR photography, you cant go wrong with this lens. Case in point- as of this writing the baby in pink in the customer images section of this lens is one of the top-ten rated images of all pics uploaded on Amazon! This lens will allow you to dazzle friends and relatives used to snapshots from point & shoots. It will be the start of what you upgraded to a DSLR for in the first place. For you, the 1.8 is still, by far, the best value in photography!
405 of 421 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Value,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)I've had the 50mm f1.8 for about three months now, so I wanted to put in my two cents worth after a little field use. What originally attracted me to this lens was, obviously, the price. It is very, very inexpensive. This is likely due to the fact that the housing is, unlike its predecessor the Mark I, entirely plastic. That initially put me off, but after seeing some images posted that had been taken with this lens (and after seeing the prices of the f1.4 and the used mark I)I decided that I really had nothing to lose. There are, as with most lenses good and bad elements to this lens. Lets start with the bad.
Keep in mind that if you are shooting a canon DSLR (as I am) this 50mm lens actually behaves as an 80mm lens, so it isn't that terribly wide. The fact that it is functionally 80mm can make framing shots a bit difficult. This is definitely a secondary lens and really isn't that appropriate for a "walking around lens." At least it isn't for me, as I tend to prefer shooting wider angles.
If you have some sort of mishap with your camera, like dropping it, you can likely kiss this lens goodbye. I have fortunately never had to test this, but I imagine that it wouldn't stand up to any sort of impact very well. The flimsiness of the build is very obvious when compared to some of the older canon lenses. MY 35-135mm USM is about 10 years old, and has a metal chassis. These lenses can often stand drops and still operate. This is not so for the 50mm mark II.
Since everything but the glass is bare bones, the autofocus isn't terribly fast. If all you have ever worked with is USM lenses, you will have to be ready to take a little more time focusing. If you have experience with the 18-55mm kit lens, you will find that it is about the same.
All that being said, you are probably wondering why I rated this lens at four stars instead of, say, three. That's because there are a lot of nice features to this lens that far outweigh the bad.
If you have never used a prime lens before (meaning, a "fixed" lens that doesn't zoom) then you are in for a pleasant surprise. It is far more expensive to build a quality zoom than a quality prime, thus decent zooms tend to cost a mint. Also, zooms are only at their best in the middle of their range. The 50mm doesn't move, and so has been optimally designed for its focal length. Shots are sharp at all aperture ranges; shots at medium apertures (f8-f11) will blow your mind. Really. Search the web for some images made with this lens in those ranges and you will buy it. Resistance is futile. Canon may have skimped on the body, but they didn't cut corners on the glass. It is excellent.
The wide aperture (f1.8) is really outstanding as well. I had never really worked with a lens this fast before because, frankly, I hadn't been able to afford to. You dispense with your flash and handhold at levels that you would not have thought possible. And once you get away from flash use during night/lowlight photography, you will see some truly amazing colors that flash typically obliterates.
The fact that it is fixed, and not too wide, forced me to be a little more creative than I normally would when framing shots. When I went to Burma this year, I left my principal lens at my hotel, and didn't realize it until I was far away, so I was forced to use the 50mm as my principal lens. Some of my favorite shots of my whole trip actually come from that day, as I was forced to come to terms with the focal length limitations of the lens.
And finally, there is the price. A lens with glass this good that costs less than a filter setup, or a dozen 8x10 prints? How can you say no? Unless you have the bucks to spend on the f1.4 or the Mark I, this lens belongs in every EOS shooters bag.
640 of 693 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great images, poor build quality,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)Optically, you can't really do that much better than the f/1.8 - strong contrast, good color rendition, and very sharp even when shooting wide open. I bought this lens and it lived on my camera for several months and was the default piece of glass that I reached for when the quality of the shot "really mattered."
But, honestly, it's built about as solid as a toy prize in a box of Cracker Jack. After a few months of use - use, not abuse - the lens literally came apart, the front barrel separated from the mount. The bad news was that the lens was completely shot - it was in pieces, after all - the good news was that it had been cheap, so my pocketbook was able to stand the cost of replacement.
I replaced the lens with it's older brother, a used version of the Mark I - much more solid, and which gives equal optical quality even used. It's a shame that the body and housing on new version of this lens is so shamefully cheap, because the glass is very nice. But I can't recommend it, unless you either a) don't do that much shooting, or b) don't mind replacing the lens on a fairly regular basis.
My suggestion is to either cough up the money for Canon's 50mm f/1.4 - gains you a half a stop and is built to pro-quality standards - or pick up the older version of the f/1.8 on the used market. Either option will likely end up being cheaper in the long run.
135 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good deal? Fugedaboudit...,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)For less than $100, you get a great lens.
Other reviewers, on Amazon and many other sites, have complained about the poor build quality... I can't deny that it's made cheaply compared to it's $300 cousin. But most of the people complaining have an unending list of L-glass lenses in their bag.
If you're an amatuer, this lens is more than good. The more expensive version gives you 1/3 stop... a $200 1/3 stop. I've had mine about a year. At f/1.8 I've handheld shots in streetlight and in dim torch-lit restaurants. I cannot imagine a better lens for the money.
And worst case, if the lens breaks, I can buy two more before I've come to the total that I would have put into the f/1.4 cousin.
I highly recommend this lens.
UPDATE 02/2010: After almost 5 years with this lens, it finally bit the big one... literally. First, my wife dropped it onto a wooden deck from chest-high. Other than a scuff on the plastic, no issues with the function of the lens. 2 weeks later, my dad dropped the lens out of my unzipped camera bag (DOH!). The drop didn't kill the lens, the night outside being used as a chew toy for 2 giant schnauzers did. Bottom line, I stand by my original fervor for this lens. I might personally upgrade to the f/1.4 because I do like to work in very low-light and I occaisionally wish I had just a little more lens speed. But I am certainly teetering because I know how good this lens is. Happy shooting!
UPDATE 12/2011: After a long hiatus, Santa Claus hooked me up with my second copy of this lens. It is just as good as the original.It is still taking wonderful nature shots and is the lens that most often makes people smile when they see the photographs it takes.
558 of 619 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Portraits: Canon 50mm f/1.4 vs. f/1.8 Lens Comparison,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)The 50mm/f1.4 and 50mm/f1.8 are the BEST PORTRAIT LENSES that Canon offers. I own a Canon Rebel 2000 and Digital Rebel XT and have used both these lenses for several months. Pictures have been outstanding and my professional customers frequently cite the sharpness, light balance, depth of field, color reproduction, and "bokeh" (intentional blurring of background in portraits) from these lenses. Some people question the usefulness of a 50mm lens on digital SLRs with a 1.6x crop factor (i.e., 50mm lens = 80mm on a dSLR like the Digital Rebel XT)... I can vouch that the range is beautiful and relevant, focusing more closely on key subjects in portraits.
WHAT DO THESE LENSES HAVE IN COMMON? They are both fast (the f1.4 is blazing fast - dSLR can hardly keep up!), details are incredibly sharp (you can see individual hair strands), virtually no chromatic (color) aberration, no dithering or shadows in the corners, focusing is rapid and quiet (thanks to Canon's patented Ultrasonic USM technology) and photo quality parallels even my professional Canon "L" lenses. These fixed aperture lenses also provide superior pictures than telephoto lenses at 50mm because of better glass and aspherical elements.
HOW ARE THESE LENSES DIFFERENT? Having tested both lenses across 1500+ pictures, there are 5 key factors that make the f1.4 superior (justifying the $300+ price tag).
1) FASTER ESPECIALLY IN LOW LIGHT: Extra f-stop makes the f/1.4 better for indoor photos or low light. Great companion to the 480EX flash. I was able to take nearly 40 pics/min with flash and the fastest Sandisk 1GB Ultra II CF card
2) NO CHROMATIC ABERRATION, whereas the f/1.8 has slight yellowing of photos under certain lighting conditions or where edge definition is low
3) FULL AUTO/MANUAL FOCUSING RANGE: f/1.8 requires flipping between auto and manual using a switch, while f/1.4 can be manually "hot" focused/tweaked after auto focusing
4) SUPERIOR BUILD QUALITY: The f/1.8 is plastic and feels cheap, like it might fall apart anytime. The f/1.4 is metal, weighty, and is for the proud lens owner
5) CLEANER "BOKEH" - f/1.4 produces beautiful blurring of background in portraits ("bokeh") while the f/1.8 leaves less clean edges. Canon reviews suggest this is due to the f/1.4 having 8 lens elements vs. 5 elements for the f/1.8
WHICH LENS SHOULD YOU BUY? This is a question of utility vs. value. The f/1.4 costs over $300 while the f/1.8 can be acquired for under $75. The f/1.4 will last forever while the f/1.8 will probably break under normal use in a year. Does this justify the 4x price tag? If you are a budding photographer looking for a "play lens" then the f/1.8 will more than over-deliver. If you are a photo enthusiast who looks for "the perfect shot," you will want the f/1.4 because it surpasses every expectation (and so you're not left wondering, "what if"). If you are a photo professional, you already have the f/1.4 lens among your bag and are not reading this review. :-)
80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a great lens, especially for the price, super Sharp at F2.5!,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)Pros:
Ok at F/1.8
Better at F/2.2 F/2.5 F/2.8
Sharp as most lens at F3.2 and still blurs the background well
Natural light photography sharper at F1.8 then the Kit lens at any setting
Great portrait lens on cropped 1.6 cameras like the Rebel Xti
Poor low light auto focus
Poor motion tracking auto focus
Cheap plastic construction
Flash performance much worse then the 18-55 Kit lens
No Lens Hood
Actual use and thoughts:
I bought this lens because I wanted to take sharper clearer photos then the kit lens until I can afford another L lens and because I wanted to shoot using natural light inside churches while photographing wedding portraits.
Is it sharper then the Kit 18-55 lens? In natural light shots you bet!!
I did some tripod mounted tests at different F stops and it's sharper at F1.8 then the kit lens is at any setting at any focal length. However!! You do not want to use flash with this lens. I know I know you buy this lens to take natural light photography. But I flipped up the flash on my Rebel Xti to add light when my daughter wanted the lights out to blow out the candles on her birthday cake. The results where terrible!! There was glare on all reflective materials and highlight over exposure. Plus when trying to focus on moving subjects in candle light you had better be ready to switch to manual focus.
I found out that this lens is an old design and does not support E-TTL II flash photography and does not have the coatings the newer designed for digital photography anti-glare coatings or distance flash distance measurement system. What does all that mean for the person who bought this for natural light photography? Nothing, it doesn't detract at all just know that the flash photography will not be anywhere near as good as that of the kit lens or any of the newer lens.
Now, on to the good, this lens is great at natural light portrait photography on the cropped 1.6 Digital Rebel Body!!! On this camera it's now a 80mm lens, perfect for Portrait, with very nice Bokeh and good contrast. Great for low light when you have to get a shot like this with no flash.
On the other hand, it's not much good for anything else. This field of view is too narrow with a cropped sensor for getting the entire scene and if you want their entire body you really have to back up. It's also too narrow for scenic shots where you want people in the foreground and great wide scenic shots of places like the Grand Canyon where you would need something like 17 - 24mm. It's also too short to be a telephoto lens. Why do I mention this? Because you will surly want a good zoom lens in addition to this lens Do NOT buy this as your only lens. Buy it as a backup to a good zoom for when you need low light great Portrait or both. Also know that you will be switching between the two during a shoot to get good portrait and wider angle shots. In fact if you find yourself in a situation where you need to be versatile do NOT put this lens on your camera, it is not very versatile. What do I mean by versatile? Situations where you need to change angle of view or switch from natural to flash photography quickly. Or shots where there is a lot of movement causing you to refocus your shot quickly.
Bottom Line: If you are cash strapped and want a great natural light Portrait lens to go with your Canon Digital Rebel then go with this lens. If you have a little more money then you should go for the F/1.4 50mm lens which focuses faster has better build quality etc. and does the same job just better.
If you can only afford just one do it all lens in this price range do NOT get this lens, get the 18-55mm kit lens It's not as sharp in natural light but is all around a much more versatile lens and produces much better flash photos.
If you can afford $200 buy this 50mm F/1.8 lens and the 18-55 kit lens and use them together as a team.
In closing over all I am pleased with the F/1.8 50MM lens when using it as a natural light portrait lens, but it's not as versatile as I thought it would be and I wonder if I should have saved up my money and waited to get the 50MM F/1.4 lens which is a much better lens over all even if it does cost more then 3 time as much. Now however I am hearing that the F/1.4 is having reliability problems with the auto focus and manual focus. When shooting a wedding I can not use a lens I can not rely on. I can rely on the F/1.8 to see me through and even afford a backup just in case I drop it again.
I now own the expensive and heavy Canon 85mm F/1.2 L II and Canon 135mm F/2 L lens for portraits and of course they blow this poor 50mm away. But I still have a soft spot in my heart for this lens and for those on a budget or for those who are taking this lens into areas where you would not want to take an expensive lens I still heartily recommend the Canon 50mm F/1.8 II lens for the price it takes fantastic photos!
Filter Update 3/28/2008
After much searching I found the perfect filter. The Hoya Multi Coat HMC Pro1 Protection filter is not supposed to filter the shot just protect the front lens element. I was very worried that it would affect the shot after having tried some other premium filters like the B+W UV which caused the photos to be softer and duller. However, after some tests I found that in some weird way the Hoya Multi Coat HMC Pro1 actually makes the photos seem to have just a little more contrast and be a little sharper then without. I thought I had gotten the test shots backwards and had to retest with a little sign in the photo saying with and without filter in place just to make sure. Really amazing!!! I'm sold!
My love of this lens continues. Not long ago I took another short motorcycle ride with some friends and didn't want to risk my more expensive lens and camera. So, I took my Canon Rebel XTi and 50mm F/1.8 lens. I had forgotten just how great this little lens is. You can take nice portraits with decent bokeh (some shots it's really good, but points of light show the 5 aperture blades producing 5 sided points of light). You can vary the shot with F/1.8 giving you a creamy white super soft effect for the women and F/2.5 giving you less Bokeh but the sharpness you need for detail shots and male portraits. The big plus for me as well is the weight. This is a combo you can carry all day long without killing your back and arms.
At this low price how can you NOT own this lens?
01-03-2009 Canon 5D Mark II Update:
This lens which was pretty decent on the 40D and Rebel XTi comes completely apart on the 5D Mark II. No surprise since it's only $89. I guess the surprise was how well it works on a Canon 40D and Rebel XTi.
If you have a cropped sensor camera I still recommend for the reasons listed in my review. If you are using a full frame sensor camera like the 5D Mark II look elsewhere.
Lenses I currently own:
Canon EF-S 17-55 F/2.8 IS Zoom Lens Ultra sharp, great colors, great low light, poor zoom action
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Rebel XTi Kit Zoom lens Muddy, slow, pile of junk
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L Zoom Lens Fantastic colors, sharp zoomed 17 to 24mm and stopped down, ultra smooth zoom action, light weight
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L Zoom Lens Fantastic colors and contrast, sharp zoomed 40 to 70mm, zoom a little stiff at first, heavy, repair prone!
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Good budget portrait lens, light weight, disposable, sharp from F/2.5
Canon EF 85mm F/1.2 L II The best portrait lens for female and children clients, buttery smooth Bokeh, heavy and expensive it shares sharpness with 135mm
Canon EF 135mm F/2.0 L The best portrait lens for males and tied with Canon 85mm F 1/.2 for sharpest lens I own, buttery smooth Bokeh
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L Zoom Lens Fantastic colors, sharp for a zoom, very versatile ego boosting and attention getting and heavy! My favorite zoom lens that I own!!!
Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS Zoom Lens super colors, sharp for a zoom, extremely versatile, variable Bokeh can be great or bad, even more ego boosting and attention getting when extended and 400mm reach!!
My next lens purchase I'm saving for right now: 'Canon EF 300mm F/2.8 IS L the finest lens ever
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Until the Real Thing Comes Along,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)Unless you already have a top-quality fixed lens around this length (and Canon makes no L-series in 50mm) I can't understand why you don't own this. It's so cheap. It's fast and sharp.
Eventually, every photographer needs a fixed lens at somewhere around this focal range. I favor zooms for telephoto: it's hard to quickly shuffle on foot between a 70mm and 300mm focal range. I also like zooms for wide angle: you can grab a big landscape or group shot, then a person in close-up, all of which makes a wide-angle zoom a good "walkaround" lens, especially for travelers. The "middle range" between, say, 35mm and 100mm is portrait-range, and a great opportunity for the extra precision and handiness of a prime lens.
Prime lenses usually generate better images at every price point, and the EF 50mm f/1.8 II is no exception. In fact, on a ratio of image quality to price, this lens may be unmatched. Images are sharp and have nice contrast and color. At faster speed, indoor shots without flash are easily possible at reasonable lighting levels. This is crucial for those of us without high-end flashes and who rightly abhor built-in flashes, or flashes in general. The speed (and, again, the clarity) of this lens makes it an obscene bargain. See the peachfuzz on your baby's cheek? Get it; no flash. It's also disposable: you can take greater risks because replacement costs are relatively low.
Buy this, at least as a holdover, until you get L-series glass for your portrait range prime lens.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than I bargained for. Seriously.,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)Lenses are funny things. We'll spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars for a lens. Bokeh, the widest possible aperture, reputed clarity of the glass - those things that affect the picture - have to be measured against the impact to our wallets. We'll cough up for AF, IS, even cool stuff like catadioptrics or telephotos so long we look like anteaters carrying them around. Sometimes it gets to the point where we think we *have* to spend a lot of money, lenses are so cool.
And yes, I've spent the big money for lenses; I don't like doing it, but sometimes, it seems like to get the features you want, you just have to.
This lens taught me something. Maybe you *don't* have to. I'll tell you why.
I bought a new camera. An EOS 40D. A great camera for me, does the things I like, and does them well. My first Canon, though, I had no lenses. So I thought long and hard about what lens to get first. I ended up buying a macro lens, about $500 out of pocket by the time it was shipped to me. A great lens, and you bet I got some great macro shots. But it was a *macro* lens, and you know it was only a few days before I was pining to shoot some "regular" images. I looked at all manner of lenses, and the choices were just too much. I ended up unable to decide on anything.
So... then I saw this. $73? What the heck, let me get this and I'll have something to play with until I can decide among the many others that were seriously vying for my attention.
And THEN... then I received the lens. Now I don't feel what it was that attracted me to the more expensive lenses. That's how good this baby is. It's true, it doesn't have as many blades as a higher end lens and so your background blur - bokeh - is a little bit polygonal instead of nice round blurs; but frankly, I consider that to be nit picking in the extreme. Look at the beautiful samples people have uploaded here, actual results, and you can see that it will do a great job of isolating foreground objects. The bokeh is fine unless you're in some kind of pro competition or you are so finicky about your photos you sit in front of your prints all night, twisting your hands like someone who's had too much coffee.
Plus, this thing is really, really sharp. Give it the best chance - lots of light, tripod mount, fast shutter speed - and you'll be rewarded with pixel level detail, or at least as much as the optical low pass filter in your camera lets through to your sensor if you're shooting digital. I was *astonished* at the clarity, the EOS 40D's 10 mp sensor would surely find any glass problems, but... nothing. It makes perfect pictures. The AF works precisely, so that using center point only on my 40D, I was able to resolve exact details on many subjects using nothing but the AF. This is *not* typical behavior for an inexpensive lens.
Speed: It's pretty quick, all right, especially if you're willing to sacrifice some depth of field. Canon's got an f/1.2 in the L series for about 20 times the price if this really isn't quick enough. Though I suspect that most of you, like me, look at lenses priced well above $1000 and quickly find other things we want to buy instead. Like a whole new camera! With this lens, you can literally shoot decent space photos on a high-megapixel camera just by setting the lens to wide open aperture, laying your camera on its back, and using a good fast ISO setting. There's a good example of this in the gallery. I tried it for myself, and it worked great (by the way, see if you can find a moment to rate that photo up... it's a terrific example of what the lens can do!) Frankly, that's something only a really fast lens can pull off, at least, in my experience - because if you keep the shutter open too long, you'll have star trails instead of points.
Features: It's a basic lens. It just works. Which is just what we want, of course. But that's not to say it doesn't bring some features to the table.
It's good from about one and a half feet out to infinity; it's autofocus, but you can't touch the focus ring while it is driving it - it isn't a full time manual focus design. There's a switch for manual / AF mode in the usual place. One thing I appreciated was the red alignment dot being a physical nub instead of just being silk-screened on (or inside!) the lens - I change lenses around often, and I really eyeball those dots a lot to save wear and tear on the camera. You get both the lens covers you need, one for the business end and one for the camera end (for when it isn't mounted on the camera.) It uses 52 mm filters, and the threading is well machined, I had no trouble at all attaching and removing filters. It takes the ES-62 hood, which is not included. The lens system itself is five groups of six elements for f/1.8 - they didn't just throw it together.
Now, as to build. Yes, the barrel is plastic. Plastic is not a dirty word, though, really - it can be quite durable, with the right plastic in the right application.
The lens feels fine, not "cheap" at all. I mean this in the sense that the lens fits the camera well, and there are no funny noises or other warning signs of less than sufficient design.
It *is* plastic, and one thing about that is that the lens is very light weight for what it does, and that makes longer shooting sessions more pleasant. I can tell you that my physically much larger macro lens tires me out in just a few minutes; this lens doesn't do that, it's almost like it weighs nothing - it's only 4.6 ounces, all of it physically close to the camera so it doesn't exert much leverage on your wrists.
Here's an issue you can, and should, sink your teeth into: When focusing, the lens physically extends, and that is a difference between a more expensive lens and this one that can really matter. This is because it affects how you can use the lens. It is something you should, no, you *must*, keep in mind when using this lens. I'll explain.
Actually, I would speculate that of the people who managed to destroy this lens in short order, I bet at least some of them physically had the business end of the lens resting on something, or were holding onto the focusing ring when the AF system tried to drive the lens to a new physical configuration, and poof - the gear train, or the motor, or both, went nipples north.
You just can't do that - not with *any* lens that extends physically. Don't touch, or rest, the focus ring on this lens in AF mode, EVER! If you watch out for that one issue when you use it, just keep the lens free in the air and your fingers off the ring, I bet the lens will last years.
Why so confident? Simple: Based on the incredible track record Canon has for its camera and lens product lines, I think we can very safely say that Canon knows precisely what they are doing, generally speaking. They're not fools, I think we can all agree.
With that in mind, simply consider that Canon has placed a full one year warranty on the lens. Frankly, I don't believe they would do that if it was truly going to fall apart in a few months when used properly, as some of the less positive reviews here have said. Treat it right, it'll almost certainly treat you right. This is *Canon*, people, not the Wang Chung Junque Manufacturing Co. operating out of a cave somewhere.
In the end, even if mine did break, I'd replace it in a heartbeat. It is a truly great lens for the money. Highly recommended.
*** I've added an image to the image gallery that is a CLIP of a small portion of an image shot of the night sky. In it, you can clearly see the great nebula in Andromeda. I've identified the individual stars for you, and you can see the entire image by checking my flickr account (fyngyrz). When I saw what I had captured with this modestly priced lens, my jaw nearly hit the floor. Is this lens sharp? Unbelievably so, and here's stone proof of it.
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canon's 'Thrifty Fifty' Belongs in Every Camera Bag,
This review is from: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens (Camera)I've been shooting seriously for about a year now and a friend of mine had been trying to get me to use his EF 50 1.8. I shoot quite often in low light conditions and my fastest lens before this purchase was Canon's discontinued EF 28-70 f2.8 L lens. It's a wonderful lens, albeit a bit heavy, but really sharp. Not quite fast enough for stage performance work, but it was the fastest lens in my bag. After borrowing his 50, I was shocked at the plastic housing construction and the tiny focus ring. All of that bias disappeared as soon as I took some test shots and examined them on my PC. This lens is a real jewel producing acceptable bokah and color depth. I find that I use it quite often and the featherweight allows me to keep it in my bag without adding much weight. In most low light situations, the slight light fall off toward the corners is unnoticeable. I highly recommend this lens, as on a price performance ratio, it certainly keeps up with the two L series lenses in my bag. Bravo Canon. You can view how this lens performs on my blog at [...]
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