Nifty Fifty! (Canon 50mm f/1.8 II Review)

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II: Box

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.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 Mark II
Canon 50mm f/1.8 Mark II

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, 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!

Additional Links:

Canon 5200mm f/14 lens

…really looks like a cannon. 😉


This is the most mammoth camera lens I’ve ever seen, and has almost unbelievable specifications:



  • Focal Length: 5150mm
  • Exposure Control: Light quantity is controlled with the use of built-in ND filters, corresponding to f/14, f/16, f/22, f/32
  • Minimum Object Distance: 120 meters (Approx 393 feet!)
  • Size: 500mm(wide) x 600mm(high) x 1890mm(deep) [20”x24”x75.6”]
  • Weight: 100kg (220 lbs) without stand.

Yes, this behemoth is 220 pounds! That fact alone is impressive enough, then add the fact that it is capable of taking photographs of objects 18 to 32 miles away!

And now, this bad boy is for sale on eBay, for the low, low price of $55,000.00.

I think the best part is the quote from the seller:

This is a very rare Canon 5200mm photographic lens – possibly one of only three ever built. THE largest & most powerful prime lens ever created for dedicated SLR use. Built in Japan it was purchased by a Chinese company & shipped to China where it has since had little use & is now for sale. The optics appear in perfect condition. It is my understanding that a customized SLR/DSLR/EF mount can be created/included by the team of optical engineers who presently look after the lens. Due to its large size, it may be better suited to astronomy applications. It takes two people to lift the lens. It could also be mounted on a customized truck or SUV. A large geared or motorized support head would be needed to get the most out it. The magnification of this lens is truly staggering. If mounted to a Canon XL series video camera for example, a reach of 1000x optical (at least) would be possible (approx 37,500mm). The lens could also be mounted to HD & cine cameras. Tracking the space shuttle would not be a problem. Perhaps it’s already been used for that purpose? – (Did I just say that??!) Manual focus of course. Yes rear drop-in filters can be used. With so few ever built Canon spent “squillions” on the R&D, not to mention the manufacturer of this lens. Original cost price?? – don’t even ask!! 😉 In all seriousness I can’t be accurate. The Canon factory picture shows the lens mounted to an SLR camera (circled in red) – this will further give you an idea of it’s size.

For a better idea of how powerful this lens is, take a look at the following example:


Thanks to the following sites for information on this magnificent lens!