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New Contributor
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎09-04-2017

True Manual Lens for EOS

Hi, I am brand new to Canon. I recently purchased an 80D and a 50mm 1.8 STM. The auto focus capability is perfect for video, but I find it frustrating for manually focusing photography as I am used to a true manual focus with my old Nikon lenses (I could twist the lens body and doing so move the glass directly).

Is there an EOS lens that is more low tech and could do this? Or could I use an older 50mm 1.8 and a converter to make it fit the EOS mount?

Thanks for your help.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,485
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: True Manual Lens for EOS

[ Edited ]

So I'm hoping the information you'd re missing is that you have to "wake up" the focus system when using a Canon STM lens.


STM (Stepper Motor) lenses are special in that they are a "focus by wire" lens.   To focus manually, you have to "wake up" the focus system (half-press the shutter will usually do the trick) and then you can rotate the focus ring and the camera will respond by following your adjustments.  But there's no physical connection between the focus ring and the focus elements... you're just giving the lens electronic input.  Anything that actives the camera's focus system will do the trick (even back-button focus.)


Any Canon lens with a "USM" focus system (Ultra Sonic Motors) does have a mechanical connection between the focus ring and focusing elements within the lens.  But USM lenses have a kind a clutch in that the ring is allowed to slip -- this protects the lens from damage if the camera is trying to auto-focus while you are turning the focus ring (it'll just slip - not a defect... it's intentional and meant to protect you.)


Some very basic (old) entry-level consumer lenses had very basic focus motors with gears, no clutch, not electronic... and for those lenses you should switch the lens to manual focus (disable auto-focus using the switch on the barrel) if you want to manually focus.  The basic kit lenses used to be this type of focus system, but Canon has replaced them all with STM lenses.  Some entry-level DSLRs still come with these lenses (my "guess" is that Canon doesn't actually manufacture them anymore and is just waiting to run out of stock).  The lenses all were placed with "STM" versions which have better optics, better aperture blades, better focus, etc.


One other note about the STM lenses..... they are extremely quiet.  If you are recording video/audio and using the internal mic, the focus motors are so quiet that it's unlikely you'll be able to hear them on the recording.


Canon does make a EF 50mm f/1.4 USM which allows full-time manual focus (and is not "focus by wire")


Canon did make an EF 50mm f/1.8 II which had the old very basic focus motor... but I do not recommend that lens.  It had a pentagonal aperture (not well-rounded) and created a jittery characteristic to out-of-focus blur (not smooth).  



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
Posts: 9,151
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: True Manual Lens for EOS

Rokinon cine lenses.


A lot less stuff for 2018 but still a lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 2,383
Registered: ‎02-17-2016

Re: True Manual Lens for EOS

If you like the 50mm 1.8, get the older USM version. When the switch is in manual, it is a true manual lens, The optical quality is slightly inferior to the STM, though.

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