Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens review

Posted by jerry on October 15th, 2009 — Posted in Journal

After having some difficulty with getting low light action photos recently, I checked out the photography forums and lens reviews and realised that I needed a brighter lens to capture the action without blurring the subject.

The consensus on the forums was that what I really needed was a ‘nifty fifty’ – a 50mm lens that would open up to f1.8 instead of the f4.0 I was getting on my standard lens.

A quick phone-around saw me head off to Teds main camera store in Canberra’s Civic area and with the exchange of AU$150 I departed with a small box.

Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens

The lens fits perfectly on the Canon 1000D DSLR that I bought last year. The first thing I noticed was the plastic mount – this doesn’t look that sturdy, but the fit was fine and smooth. Some have complained at the ‘plastic’ feel to the lens, but the six element glass is optically brilliant, and for my money that suggests Canon put the expense in the right place.

Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens

The focus motor is quick and not obtrusive. Again some have suggested that the focus is a bit noisy – it is certainly quieter than the shutter click and I didn’t find it annoying. It is a fixed lens – so it means more moving around to frame the subject if you are used to a zoom, but that is a small issue if it means you actually get the shots you want.

So the big question is how it compares in terms of letting light in? Well, the f1.8 full opening lets in more than three times the amount of light that my standard 18-55mm zoom did, and that makes a big difference to the photo.

Here is a photo at 800 ISO using the 18-55mm/f4.0 lens
Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens

And here is the same photo using 800ISO 50mm/f1.8

And the brilliance and detail on a close focus subject shows excellent focus in the centre, with only minor softening at the edge.
Canon 50mm/f1.8 lens

Overall, I am very happy with this lens and think it will solve a number of problems shooting in less than optimal light. For a lens that doesn’t have pretensions beyond its key function this is excellent value for money and I would recommend that if you only buy one extra lens for your DSLR this would be the one. I give it 4.5 stars.