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Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II review

January 2009 | By Andy Westlake

The Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II is the least expensive lens currently available for the EOS system, and has been in the lineup since late 1990. It's a simplified version of the original EF 50mm F1.8 of 1987 (often referred to as the 'Mark I') which was supplied as standard with some of Canon's earliest 35mm EOS SLRs; however it can trace its lineage back a lot further than that, as the company has been making 50mm F1.8 standard lenses since 1959. Like its predecessor, it uses simple symmetric Gaussian optics with six elements in five groups, in a well-proven formula which is known to offer excellent correction of aberrations.

Although designed as a 'standard' lens for 35mm film, these days the 50mm F1.8 is far more likely to be seen doing service on APS-C format DSLRs, on which it behaves like a short telephoto portrait lens (80mm equivalent). With its remarkably low (sub-$100) price, it tends to attract the interest of Canon SLR users looking to start experimenting with fast lenses for low light and shallow depth of field work, or simply hoping to get sharper results than those which can be provided by the kit lens bundled with the camera body. It's also a potential option for those seeking a near-disposable lens to use in adverse conditions.

Of course this isn't the only lens of its focal length in Canon's lineup, and potential buyers will often also be tempted by the EF 50mm F1.4 USM which we reviewed recently, despite its significantly higher price tag. So the question we'll be asking in this review is whether the slower lens offers such compelling value for money that it's an unmissable bargain, or if instead the inevitable compromises involved in hitting such a low price point are too much to tolerate.

Headline features

  • 50mm focal length
  • Fast F1.8 maximum aperture

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the angles of view on 35mm full frame and APS-C camera bodies:

50mm (35mm full-frame) 50mm (APS-C; 80mm equivalent)

 

Canon EF 50mm F1.8 II specifications

Street price • $90 (US)
• £90 (UK)
Date introduced December 1990
Maximum format size 35mm full frame
Focal length 50mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C) 80mm
Diagonal Angle of view (FF) 47º
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 31º
Maximum aperture F1.8
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction • 6 elements / 5 groups
Number of diaphragm blades 5
Minimum focus 0.45m (1.5 ft)
Maximum magnification 0.15x
AF motor type DC Micro Motor
Focus method Unit focus
Image stabilization • None
Filter thread • 52mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories Front and rear caps
Optional accessories ES-62 hood
Weight 130g (4.6 oz)
Dimensions 68.2mm diameter x 50.5mm length
(2.7 x 2.0 in)
Lens Mount Canon EF only

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 4
kartik747

Excellent lens...brilliant value for money...great sharpness, very light weight and an amazingly fast f1.8 aperture...

0 upvotes
Capestars

Very unhappy with my 50mm lens. It only worked for about 12 months, them auto focus stop working. I took it back to shop and the technician told me that this is a general fault on the canon lenses!

0 upvotes
yaki zimmerman productions

amazing i use it for portraits

1 upvote
caothanhtrung87

it's realy beautiful . I love canon
http://sieuthicua.info

1 upvote
Total comments: 4