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Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II Lens Review







September 27th, 2010:
The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is a low cost fast prime lens designed for the Canon EOS system of cameras. When attached to a digital SLR camera with an APS-C size sensor, the lens offers approximately an 80mm field of view in full frame 35mm equivalent terms.

As a result, the Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II presents itself as a good portrait lens, although it can be used for other types of applications such as low light and fine art photography. With a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture the lens offers the ability to control for shallow depth of field as seen in the images below, and to shoot at higher shutter speeds than would be possible under the same conditions with a slower aperture kit lens attached.


 
Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II
set to wide open at F/1.8
Canon EF 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS
set to wide open at F/5.6


What makes the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens so appealing is in part its very reasonable price point. While the optical quality certainly delivers, the cost cutting that has to be associated with keeping the price so low is evident in the construction of the lens itself.

The Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II lens provides a very plastic feel, and the auto focus motor is not of the Ultrasonic (USM) type found in many other Canon lenses. The lens is also noisier and a bit slower to focus compared to other lenses in the Canon line up.

Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II vs. EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom

 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II with Rebel T1i SLR
Aperture Priority Mode 1/640 sec at F/5.6
Evaluative Metering, 200 ISO, Auto WB
 
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS with Rebel T1i
Aperture Priority Mode 1/640 sec at F/5.6
Evaluative Metering, 200 ISO, Auto WB


While the difference in optical quality provided by the Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II versus the standard Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens is not very noticable at smaller image sizes, the enhanced sharpness and resolution capabilities provided by the Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 lens become more obvious when the images are compared at a larger size.


 
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II with Rebel T1i SLR
Crop from full size image
 
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS with Rebel T1i SLR
Crop from full size image


For the Canon Rebel series of SLR users in particular, the Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II provides a great solution to taking your photography further at an affordable price. While the lens is also suitable for full format SLR camera bodies, those users might also want to consider the higher end Canon 50mm F/1.4 USM prime lens.

The Canon 50mm F1.4 USM lens features tougher construction, an ultrasonic AF motor, and offers improved performance in terms of certain optical characteristics rendering even more natural and pleasing out of focus background areas. It is also considerably more expensive compared to the Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II.



Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II Prime Lens Major Features

  • Fixed focal length lens. Offers approximately 80mm field of view in 35mm terms when mounted on a Canon APS-C sensor type of camera like the EOS Rebel T2i, T1i or the Rebel XS SLR.


  • Provides a fast F1.8 maximum aperture. Allows for extended creative versatility by delivering shallower depth of field capabilities compared to a standard kit lens. Can also be used as a fast lens for low-light photography or when higher shutter speeds are required


  • Sharp image quality (noticably sharper than EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens)


  • Focus as close as .45 meters


  • 52mm filter thread for attaching optional filters


  • Optional Canon ES-62 lens hood available. Comes supplied with front and rear lens caps.


  • Polycarbonate lens mount and barrel construction (not very rugged)


  • The lens weight is 130g and the dimensions are 68.2 x 50.5mm (Diameter x Length)


  •  


    We have no hesitation in recommending the Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II lens, forgiving the rather plasticky construction of the lens itself. The sharpness and image quality is a step above the standard kit lens.

    Being a practical tool for many different types of photographic opportunities and considering the image quality that is offered, we feel that the Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II provides very good value for the money. Check out the Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II image samples below and decide for yourself.


    Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II Lens Image Gallery


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