on December 30, 2005
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.
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
on May 4, 2006
Pros: Absolutely no better way to get started with prime lenses short of finding a used EF 50mm f/1.4; it's fast, it's light, and it'll teach you about depth of field and bokeh. It'll make you focus with your feet, and getting closer WILL improve your images. If you get a good one--and I received a good one first time out--the autofocus is fast and locks in tight. And if something goes horribly wrong (slip, crash, tinkle), you can buy a new one with very little heartburn.
Cons: With the sensor factor, it's effectively an 80mm lens, so it's not really "normal," it's made of plastic, it can be soft when it's wide open (the focal plane is vanishingly small at f/1.8), and it seems to be subject to some quality control issues in manufacturing. If you have big, meaty fingers, it can be difficult to find the ring when you want to focus manually.
I bought this thing as an affordable experiment: it's been a happy little surprise because it's a damn fine bit of glass. I find myself reaching for it a lot, especially for close-up work. Now, the only thing holding me back from more primes is that pesky money issue.
on March 11, 2015
I purchased this lens and a small zoom to replace my kit lens on my Rebel T3. I was so excited to be able to get a lens with a 1.8 aperture at such a great price!! The kit lens with its variable 3.5-5.6 just wasn't cutting it for the kind of pictures I wanted to take. Everyone I talked to said I needed a nifty fifty and directed me to this lens as a beginner 50mm. The fixed focal length took some getting used to and did not always work for every situation, especially on my crop sensor. Many times it was hard to use in my house as it got a little cramped. Once upgrading to a full frame a few months ago however, I love this focal length. The pictures come out sharp and the bokeh at 1.8 is great! For the price this lens can't be beat, that said it had some definite flaws or limitations.
One of my biggest complaints about this lens is it is SLOW to focus. When I first bought it my daughter wasn't running around yet so it wasn't a big deal, but now with a toddler it is a big problem. By the time the camera can achieve focus she is already moving away, I miss a lot of pictures that way. Another thing to note is this lens is loud, not usually a big deal to me but after using my other lenses I really notice how loud this one is! One thing I worry about a little is the build quality. It is made of plastic and doesn't feel very sturdy, but I am sure the price has something to do with this. I know people that call this a disposable lens because of the cheap build quality and for the price that doesn't bother me but I get worried about it getting stuck on my camera. I have talked to several people who bumped or dropped their camera with this lens attached and then it gets stuck. You can send it in to get it off but that costs money (plus your lens is toast) or you can google DIY videos and attempt this yourself but that freaks me out. That said, I have had mine a year and a half and haven't had any problems with it. I tend to be very careful with my stuff but I know accidents happen.
Overall I have been very pleased with my purchase of this lens and would recommend this to someone looking for a good beginner lens. I love that Canon made a nice affordable prime lens option because when I first began I had sticker shock over a lot of the lenses (now I have a wishlist of L series lenses, lol). Love the photo quality I have gotten but I just wish the focus was a little faster, then I would have given five stars.
on April 26, 2006
Ive had this lens for a few years now. With a couple L lenses and a full frame camera now, this lens still finds its way into my bag. I like it as a good all around prime lens - it can do portraits, low light, sorta close ups.... I even bought a 50 1.4, but took it back after a week. Sure, the 1.4 was prettier, sturdier, slightly faster and much (okay - much, much) quieter, but I will spend the money on something I dont have instead. Save it for another beautiful L, or spend it on your kids... okay, probably the 16-35L, sorry kids.
Durability? I toss it into my backpack in a small soft case. take care of your stuff and it will take care of you.
This lens with a nice polarizer takes great photos outside.
Bottom line, still worth it!
Ive been shooting with this lens in my bag for a few months - sometimes it even ends up in my pocket. I havent had a an issue with durability yet. The lens has great clarity at the midrange F stops for its price, especially on a digital with a cropping factor. Any lens can have aberrations at the minimum F stop - yes even the 'L' lenses - it just gets less noticable as the price goes up. the question you should ask is how much am I willing to spend to get that small increase in quality?
I dont think that I will have an issue with the durability as some other reviewers have - mostly because I try not to abuse my camera.
If you are putting this on a Rebel XT then realize that although the Rebel has great features, it is NOT a Pro body with dust and weather seals, an alloy metal outerbody, etc.... and anything that will damage the lens will most likely damage the body too. ALWAYS use a filter - UV, clear or haze to protect the glass, and it will protect the end of the lens barrel too.
If you bought the Rebel XT because you wanted great and sometimes incredible photos at a great price, then buy THIS lens too! If you bought the 5D then you can afford the all metal 50mm 1.4, and send me your hand-me-downs!
Pros: excellent optics for the price, small, light and fast.
Cons: 50mm is actually a little long for the 1.6 factor - I havent used it as much as I thought I would. Plastic body will not take Pro level abuse - should be fine for average or above average user who sometimes puts stuff back in the camera bag.
Recommended based on value. Even with the 1.6 factor making it longer - I like having it around at this price...
If you have a Rebel XT save the extra money from the 50mm F1.4 and buy the Opteka Battery grip, an extra battery, another CF card and some good filters.
on May 23, 2006
Very good and fast lens. I was struggling taking indoor rock climbing pictures without a flash until I got this one. Can use faster shutter speeds to stop the action while the 1.8 aperture lets in enough light to get the correct exposure without having to crank up the ISO. Only one complaint: feels like it's made out of cheap plastic. Have been using it for a couple of months now and don't think it will fall apart if it's taken care of but I would prefer it to have a more solid feeling. But then I guess it wouldn't be so cheap, either. I still definitely recommend it.
on February 14, 2012
This thing is not totally sharp wide open, and experiences a bit of coma. Multiple tests of shooting stars at night revealed this. When I shoot during the day @ f1.8, I don't notice the flaws. Once you get to f4, the performance is much better. So many guys who shoot astrophotography avoid shooting at f1.8, and shoot at f4. I personally shoot between the two to capture more light.
This lens is very cheap. Maybe the cheapest feeling lens I have ever handled. It is very light as well. The focus ring is tiny, and not suited for MF. Despite this, I still shoot video and photos in manual focus mode. The AF is loud. Be careful with what type of lens hood you use on this lens. A stiff hood might break the lens if you drop it or something. I would suggest using something that would absorb shock, like a rubber hood.
This lens might have the highest sharpness/cost ratio out of all the lenses that are being sold right now. A great added bonus is that it can shoot at 1.8, and provide decent images.
Personally, I think I will upgrade to the canon 1.4 soon, but keep the 1.8 as a back up or something. I've used the 1.4 a few times and the difference in focusing is night and day. The 1.4 focuses way faster! The 1.8 usually goes back and forth before it focuses but the 1.4 snaps right to it. Plus it's quieter, not that I care.
My bro has an 18-55IS and a 55-250IS that he recently got. I have shot with them a bit and would skip the 18-55is. It is a fine lens for the money, but I think you are better off saving up for a sigma 10-20 or a samyang (aka rokinon) 14mm and combining that w/ a 50mm 1.8. The 55-250 is quite impressive because it is small and the IS at the long end allows for great sharpness handheld. So if you are debating between which 1st lens to buy, I would say: 1. 50mm, 2. 55-250is, 3. 18-55mm is. The 18-55mm is only useful if you really want the 18-35mm range for cheap. If that range is not critical for you, buying the 18-55mm given the superior optics of the 50mm 1.8 would not make sense.
If you scroll to the second page of images, you can see a shot that I took of the andromeda galaxy. The only reason I rate this lens 4/5 stars is because the focusing ring is a joke. I don't understand why they could not improve it just a tadd, and sell the lens for and extra $20.
on January 3, 2013
Until I got the 50mm f1.4 as a gift, this was my favorite and most-used lens. I found that shooting with a really fast lens like this takes some getting used to as it is very easy to not perfectly focus on exactly what you want as the DOF is so very shallow, but this is a great lens. The fact that it is so cheap is telling though. It takes great images, but this is not a lens you can be at all careless with. You have to be careful with all lenses, but in all the time I have been doing photography (20+ years) I've never had a lens as fragile as this one. The first one I had fell off a low table onto a rug and it was destroyed. The second one was pulled out of a camera bag by a pet and rolled a few feet across the floor and it was also dead.
If you want a fast, sharp lens and don't want to or can't spend a lot of cash, buy this lens. Just treat it as though it were a Ming vase.
on December 17, 2006
This is a cheap, all-plastic little piece of lens that takes some amazing pictures. I agree with the other reviewers that it just feels cheap - but heck, for this price you can replace it every year. The optics are really good for a product at the bottom of the Canon product line. It's much better than I expected... I expected the same performance I get from the 28-80mm kit lens, but I was pleasantly surprised.
I'd recommend the 50mm anyone who just bought a Canon Rebel XT as a good experimentation piece of glass to see what's possible outside of the kit lens. Once you figure out the value in having this lens you can step up to the more expensive USM version, or buy a different quasi-macro prime.
on July 22, 2005
Talk about Bang for the buck. For less than the price for the standard zoom lens that Canon packages with their bodies into kits, you get a lens that has the optical quality of lenses three or four times the cost of this little 50mm f/1.8 II.
IMO, this (or the 1.4) should be a required lens in every photographer's kit. Not only does it allow you to shoot in dim light indoors; but it's tiny, super light, versatile, and practically disposable (well, the 1.8, not the 1.4).
On a 20D with a 1.6x FOVCF, this lens becomes something like an 85mm equivalent, making for a pretty good medium portrait lens.
People who complain about prime lenses and not being able to frame a shot by a twist of their wrist need to learn how to use their feet. Sure, zoom lenses offer more versatility and the ability to change the subject to background perspective (angle), but the cost and the quality you get from prime lenses makes a prime lens like this a GREAT VALUE.
With the exception of the 100mm f/ 2.8 macro, this is the only other non-L lens in my kit, and I find that I use it a lot -- especially indoors. This lens on a 20D at ISO1600 and f/2.0 allows me to hand-hold indoors at night with pretty dim light and still get a pretty decent shot. I use this lens so much I'm thinking of ditching it for the f/1.4 (to get the better glass, the 8-blade aperture, the better construction, the USM, the usable focus ring, etc).
With that said, I have to say this lens is pretty good. It's not GREAT, but it's definitely worth buying, especially since you get so much for your money. From f/1.8 to about f/2.5 or so, it's kind of soft... especially at f/1.8. From f/2.5 on though, it's sharp. Not as sharp as the L-series glass, but much sharper than any of the other consumer grade lenses. The bokeh is bleh, if you ask me. Blame it on the 5-blade aperture. Somebody has a site that compares the bokeh (among other things) on the f/1.8 and the f/1.4, and it's a huge difference. You can find it pretty easily if you search for it. Also, when wide-open, the Depth Of Field is REALLY shallow. You need to anticipate it, because it's hard to tell in the tiny viewfinder.
Also, it feels cheap... but who cares, it IS cheap. The motor is loud, but also who cares? It's cheap. Just don't use it when everything is supposed to be quiet. And the manual focusing ring, unless you're a hobbit, is really hard to use (it's tiny).
This lens is a definite "BUY". It's hard to find another lens that's optically such a bang for the buck. It's cheap. But clean -- that's the point.