50mm 1.8 lenses are cheap. Why hasn't Fuji made one?

Started 5 months ago | Discussions thread
jeremyclarke
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Re: 50mm 1.8 lenses are cheap. Why hasn't Fuji made one?
In reply to 57LowRider, 5 months ago

As someone else already said I think the main reason why Fuji should not be tempted to make a "nifty fifty" is that 50mm has never been the right "cheapo" focal length for APS-C sensors. 50mm became an industry-wide standard because it was the most useful length for 35mm film cameras assuming they only had one lens (which is how they were sold obviously). Back in the day zooms were all slow and unsharp, so everyone needed a prime and 50mm was considered "normal" and thus became the go-to length. Not so long that you can't photograph a house but long enough for decent portrait work if you know what you're doing.

Later when APS-C DSLRs came out the "kit" lens morphed into the 18-55mm because zooms had gotten better and cheaper to build and because it gave you the 28-70mm "standard zoom" range that was considered most useful on full frame cameras (and still is).

Despite that, the cheap 50mm lenses were still out there and CaNikon had mastered their cheap and effective production, so they kept selling them as a cheap "intro fast prime" for people who were curious about what else was out there (bokeh/low-light shooting) but not eager to invest deeply.

Now, Fuji aside, the big manufacturers should have realized at this point that their most popular format was APS-C and that on APS-C the 50mm was no longer a "normal" perspective, and consequently they should have started having a cheap 35mm lens ("cereal prize thirtyfive?") that offered the fast normal prime experience that you get with a 50mm f/1.8 on full frame. That's not what they did though, instead they just ignored the situation and kept selling the same nifty fifties as always (though Canon went the extra mile and made theirs even cheaper by removing all the metal and anything that might make someone think it wasn't the cheapest lens on the market, that's when it became the "50mm f/1.8 II".)

So: Canon should sell a cheap 35mm lens for APS-C as the true replacement for the 20th century nifty fifty, but they never did. Their current "cheap" 35mm lens debuted at $800 and goes for $600 dollars now. If they'd solved that problem I probably wouldn't have switched, but I decided to buy an X-E1 instead of that lens

BACK TO FUJI AND 35mm LENSES

So how does Fuji fare in this world? Well the first lens they released – notably as the "kit" lens for the X-PRO1 – was a 35mm! A perfect "normal prime" for it's APS-C sensor to match the classic+prime theme of the X-PRO1. I'd say they were definitely on the right track with that move.

The Fuji 35mm was a f/1.4 which means it's not nearly as cheap as Canon's 50mm f/1.8, but still it's SUPER affordable compared to the Canon 35mm f/1.4, which is their top-of-the-line L lens. Overall I'd say the Fuji 35mm is a good deal for what you get, and none of the other modern lens lineups (m43 and Sony at least) offer anything significantly cheaper or more comparable to the price range of the CaNikon nifty fifties.

If Fuji sold a 35mm f/1.8 or f/2.8 for half the price I bet they'd sell a ton of them to X-M1/A1 users and people like me who grabbed old X-E1s after the price went down. That said I can definitely see them not wanting to do so since the current one is already cheap (cheaper than the Canon 35mm f/2!) and it's widely considered excellent. I doubt they'd want to dilute their brand with a lesser lens with such a small price difference. They don't seem interested in chasing the bargain basement customers, and as others have pointed out it would take them a long time to recoup the development expenses with the razor thin margins you'd get from such a lens.

BACK TO 50mm LENSES

So as to your original question, there's no reason for Fuji to produce a cheap 50mm lens. Their lens lineup is designed for APS-C format and as such 35mm is the lens that they would make cheaply if they wanted to compete with the essence of CaNikon's 50mm f/1.8 lenses.

The Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens is clearly comparable not to a Canon 50mm on a Rebel, but to their 85mm portrait lens mounted on a 6D, in which case Fuji's price ($999) is extremely competitive with the Canon equivalent ($1699). If you want something cheaper for non-"normal" portrait work then Fuji's 60mm f/2.4 macro will certainly get the job done for you, and is comparable in price to Canon's 85mm f/1.8 (with the trade of half a stop of speed for macro capabilities).

CHEAP OLD MANUAL 50mm LENSES ARE PLENTIFUL AND EFFECTIVE

Personally, I pulled the rock-solid old MD 50mm f/2 lens of the Minolta SLR I bought for college and use it with an adapter as my cheap 50mm lens. It is capable of some wonderful images, though I'll be the first to admit that nailing focus takes time and when I'm not completely alert I end up with a distressing number of non-keepers. FWIW though the focus peaking works great with the big wide aperture, and the manual focus tools on a Fuji X camera are very useful once you get used to them, making these manual lenses much more valuable than they would be on a DSLR.

Anyway, that's my opinion CaNikon are the ones being inconsistent by not having a cheap 35mm for their crop sensors to match their nifty fifties. Fuji is right on track with nothing but awesome lenses for sale, and almost every important "range" available in their lineup for under $500.

 jeremyclarke's gear list:jeremyclarke's gear list
Fujifilm X-E1 Fujifilm XF 35mm F1.4 R Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Canon PowerShot S95 Canon EOS 450D +2 more
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