Reveiw – Canon EF Lens 50mm f/1.8 II USM

The Canon Lens EF 50mm f/1.8 II also called the “Nifty-Fifty”, is the cheapest (read cost effective) and one of the most popular lenses in the Canon lens lineup. This lens is probably the most preferred and sought after replacement of the kit lens. Being an ‘EF’ this lens can be used on both the full frame and crop sensor Canon bodies. I have been using this lens for more than two years now and I felt this lens is worthy of getting first comprehensive review on this newly launched website. Here is my experience with this lens.

Chandni Chowk Portrait

Image Quality (IQ) and Performance

The IQ of this lens is excellent. See the image below I made with this lens mounted on a Rebel XS. This lens is little soft at large apertures i.e. 1.8 and 2.2 but from f/2.8 onwards it’s excellent. Stop it down to f/5.6, and you will see absolute sharp images from this lens. Stopped down it can even outperform some of the expensive zoom lenses.

The f/1.8 allows large amount of light to reach the camera sensor. This large aperture of f1.8 provides for an excellent choice of lens which could be used under low light situations. The large aperture also makes this lens an excellent candidate for the videos for HDSLRs. You can see a sample video that I shot with this lens mounted on Canon EoS 60D.

The bad about the lens is the visible chromatic aberration (CA) and softness on large apertures. The CA makes me avoid this lens when it comes to weddings especially Indian Weddings. However, I have seen some good photographers making great photos with this lens in weddings.

Auto focus is fast and accurate. It focuses fast even in low light situations. The lens sometimes hunts for focus on a plane wall or dark surface. The quality of Bokeh is not great but very much acceptable. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 on a crop sensor body (APS-c sensor) provides an 80mm equivalent focal length which makes it candidate lens for portraits. On a full frame body it renders a Normal focal length.

The Build Quality

Before putting my point of view, I want you to read what most of the reviews have to say about the build quality of Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II.

  • Build quality of this lens is pathetic
  • The lens Lens is made of cheap plastic even the lens mount is of plastic
  • The lens does not have a full time manual focus ring. I have to use the switch to move from AF to MF
  • The focus ring is very thin
  • No IS
  • etc. etc.

Well guys (read girls if you are a girl), if you ask Canon to remove the above mentioned shortcomings of this lens then probably you would get all the frills i.e. a metal body with a metal mount along with a possible image stabilizer and a rubber (soft) focus ring with manual focus override. What you don’t realize here is that along with all these goodies attached, the price tag for this lens would be considerably hiked. Such a ‘with frill’ lens will cost at least four to five times the existing price.

People need to realize that this lens is targeted at users who are looking to replace their kit lens or have a cheaper option for a normal or portrait lens with great quality optical output. This lens perfectly serves the target customers. With all the frills attached the lens will no longer serve the target segment.

Being said that, as the build quality is cheap you need to take precautions while using this lens. This lens is not meant to be used in harsh conditions so don’t do it. Don’t pick the camera by the lens as it will damage the plastic mount, always pick the camera by the camera body.

If you are trying to make a decision whether to buy this lens. I strongly suggest you go for it. The price of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II usually hovers around US $100 to $105. I believe it is a great bargain for the price.

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