I just picked up the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens, and so far, I’m quite impressed – much more than I thought I’d be!
Until yesterday, when I purchased the 50mm f/1.8, I had been shooting almost exclusively with the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens that came with my Canon EOS 30D. I’m still quite fond of the 28-135mm, and for most occasions it’s the perfect walking-around lens (until I can get my hands on one of the L-series zooms). However, everyone I’ve talked to so far in the photography world has highly recommended getting a prime lens, and I wanted to find something inexpensive to tide me over until I could get my hands on the 100mm f/2.8 macro that I’ve heard such wonderful things about.
I’d also heard good things specifically about 50mm lenses (though on my 1.6x crop APS-C sensor, the 50mm is more like an 80mm), and set out to find myself a relatively cheap 50mm as my first prime lens. Of course, I found the 50mm f/1.8 Mark II lens first, because of it’s ridiculously cheap price compared to the rest of the EF/EF-S lineup of lenses, and the reviews said that the optics were surprisingly good for such a cheap lens.
I must say that I agree on both points above: this is a ridiculously cheap lens (both in construction and price), and it’s optics are surprisingly good. I first saw this lens on Amazon.com, so I knew what it looked like, but had no idea of the actual physical quality. If you haven’t seen this lens before in person, and you’re coming from a relatively higher quality kit lens like the 28-135mm, you’ll probably scoff at the 50mm f/1.8 lens. No ultrasonic motor, completely plastic housing and mount, and it’s light as a feather. I almost thought that I was going to break the damn thing when I was holding it, but I decided to try it out anyway, and I loved the clarity of the images that I saw coming from it. It is remarkably crisp, and quite fast for the price – much faster than my zoom at the wide end (f/3.5) and way faster at the narrow end (f/5.6). I’ve found that I’ve been able to take handheld shots in much lower light, and I love the bokeh it makes when it’s wide open at f/1.8.
I’ll admit, the plastic body of the f/1.8 made me strongly consider stepping up to the f/1.4 (the f/1.2 is waaaay too rich for my blood), but the price of the f/1.8 was just too good to ignore. I picked up the f/1.8 locally for $119, while the f/1.4 at the same shop was going for $300, and the f/1.2 was over $1600!
I haven’t been able to process any of the photos I’ve taken with it yet, since I’ve taken so damn many of them, but I’m sure you’ll be seeing my Flickr stream flooded with shots from my “nifty-fifty” as soon as I can get them posted. I’m really getting a kick out of this lens, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to get their first prime lens for their Canon SLR or DSLR!
Great review Will, making the big purchase this month and the nifty fifty is on my list! Can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Nice review – so refreshing to have someone describe what a lens is actually like to use (from a normal ‘keen amateur’ point of view) rather than a pixel-by-pixel analysis of how sharp an image of a colour chart is 😛
I’m considering making The Switch(tm) at some point this year, and if/when I do then this lens will probably be the one I buy at the same time as the kit.
Could you post a link to your Flickr photostream? I want to see what kind of photos you produce with this!
Thanks for your comment, David – I’m glad to hear that it was useful!
As you requested, here’s a link to my Flickr photostream: http://flickr.com/photos/willwm/
…and here’s the set of images specifically taken from my Nifty-Fifty: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
Let me know how you like it when you do pick it up! =)
There a lot of really good and affordable 50mm lenses out there, it really just comes down to which brand your prefer. They are all quite good.