This week, I decided to revisit some previous equipment and write a new review on an oldie lens: the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. Revisiting this lens, I'm surprised about how well this affordable consumer-grade lens holds up in comparison to more expensive lenses from Canon. The quality looks great and even holds its own against my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L. Of course, a lens this cheap isn't without its downfalls. Let's break down the details of this little guy.
When I bought this lens last year, I paid a little over $100. Looking at just the price, you might think that you’re getting what you pay for. I thought the same thing. However, after reading some of the reviews, I was convinced that this was something beyond what the price was telling me. Amazon currently lists the lens at $95.00, which is cheaper still. With a f-stop that opens to 1.8, compact design, and quick-response auto-focus, you’re getting a powerful prime lens that is targeted for both beginning professionals and casual users. In fact, I’m still using this as one of my main lenses until I feel it’s time to make the upgrade to an L series lens.
Like I mentioned before, this is one case where you’re actually getting more than what you pay for. If you’re a beginner who is a little too attached to the convenience of a zoom lens and wants to try a prime, but is afraid to pay too much, then this is where you start. This compact little guy is great for travel shooting/filming, and its wide range of aperture settings and balanced depth of field provides a variety of options for any situation.
|Very compact and light.|
Looking at the physical aspects, the lens itself is about 2 inches long and 2 ½ inches in diameter, making it very compact and great for travel. It is compatible with all Canon EOS models and doesn't weigh down even the lightest models.
The auto-focus quickly adjusts to any target object in the frame. Even in dark settings, the autofocus seems to work better than most Canon lenses in this price range.
Speaking of dark settings, the lens handles very well in low light situations, with its very wide aperture. In this regard, the EF 50mm f/1.8 II beats out some of the lower end L series lenses that Canon has to offer. Once again, this lens proves its worth beyond its price.
|Test shot from the EF 50mm f/1.8 II|
With its wide aperture, you can get some amazingly shallow shots, in terms of depth of field. The shots come out looking beautiful, bringing out the details in the focal points and producing some very effective bokeh for areas out of focus. This lens really covers all of the essentials for beginners, while still providing excellent shots for even the most seasoned photographer.
|Krillin took a little tumble.|
On the downside, a 50mm prime lens provides very little flexibility, in terms of spacing and framing. Of course, its important to note that this is a disadvantage for any prime lens. They are all designed for a specific type of shooting. If used otherwise, you’re going to develop a need to invest in a wider/narrower angle lens.
This is the main reason why zoom lenses have become so popular, because they cover multiple angles of shooting. This means that the photographer/videographer has to invest in one or two zoom lenses, as opposed to multiple prime lenses, which are close to the same price range. However, the benefits of a prime lens greatly outweighs those of a zoom lenses, but that’s a lesson for another day. For now, skeptics of the prime lens should give this cheap model a try and they’ll quickly realize what they've been missing from their zoom lens.
Once again, every lens is made with a specific use in mind, so obviously every lens is going to have benefits and drawbacks. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is just a great starting point for those looking to get a little extra depth in their photos and video footage and is a great stepping stone for those looking to start their prime lens collection. Open your horizons and see what you've been missing!