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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-08-2015
Accepted Solution

Nifty Fifty

I'm a beginner photographer and I want to add the EF 50mm f/1.8 lens to my bag - I am not intersted in doing video so should I get the older version or the new STM version. I've been online and read the reviews comparing the 2 but in my beginner world would I really notice the difference? I have been seeing some great deals on the older version and that is why I am asking! thanks in advance.

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Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,831
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: Nifty Fifty

You want the "STM" version of the lens -- the new one.  (Really the f/1.4 USM version is ideal but if money is a factor then go for the STM lens.)

 

There are four different 50mm lenses in the Canon lineup.  These are:

 

  • 50mm f/1.2L USM - the highest build quality and image quality.  But very slow to focus.  Designed more for careful and deliberate shooting -- not a good choice for quick shooting situations.   9 blade aperture.
  • 50mm f/1.4 USM - great build quality and faster focusing.  Much better for quick shooting situations.  8 blade aperture.
  • 50mm f/1.8 STM - better build quality and reasonably fast focusing (very quiet).  7 blade aperture.
  • 50mm f/1.8 II - poor build quality and very slow and very noisy focusing.  5 blade aperture.

Notice I mentioned the number of aperture blades... the 50mm f/1.8 II (about $100) with it's 5-blade aperture provides a very poor quality blur in the out-of-focus areas.  So if you want a shot with a tack sharp subject and beautiful smoothly blurred background... this lens is not it.  

 

The very best in the creamy background blur (of the 50mm choices) is the f/1.2L, but that lens is very expensive and not approprirate for quick shooting situations.

 

The 50mm f/1.8 STM is the new "nifty fifty" -- it's only $125 (which is the price that the "old" nifty-fifty used ot have before they introduced the "STM" version and lowered the price on the non-STM lens).  But the 7-blade aperture provides a more well-rounded aperture opening and a very noticeable improvement to the quality and smoothness of the background blur (not as good as the f/1.4 or f/1.2L but a very noticeable and substantial improvement over the f/1.8 II version.

 

As of now, I would never consider nor recommend the 50mm f/1.8 II.  The "STM" version of the lens is just so cheap that the price savings of the non-STM isn't worth it.  Go for the STM version.

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-08-2015

Re: Nifty Fifty

[ Edited ]

Well, I'm so glad I asked - I'll be getting the STM, thank you!!

 

I'm open to more opinions if they're out there!

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VIP
Posts: 9,243
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Nifty Fifty

Unless you spend top dollars, a camera lens will always be a compromise on something.  The first "nifty fifty" has an inferior build.  It's connection to the camera is made of plastic.  The 50mm STM lens has a metal connection to the camera, but it does not show up in the Canon software package Digital Photo Professional with lens correction data yet.  The older model lens is there.

 

I would recommend the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM.  While not as fast as the 50mm, it is still fast enough for the majority of outdoor, daytime shots.  Even though it is only f/2.8, that is still pretty good performance, and it will give you a slightly wider view.  This lens does show up in DPP, and it has a metal connection to the camera.  It has been on sale for months, sellling for just a little bit more than the "nifty fifty".

 

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
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Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,861
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: Nifty Fifty

Do you even use DPP though?  They will eventually put it in there if you do. 

 

I would go go for the 50 STM.  Can't go wrong at that price. I had the older version and it was more cheaply made than the new STM and the focusing was so loud and jerky that I hated that lens, and I never shoot video so it must have been really loud.  The images were very good and having that extra stop of aperture is really really nice. 

Scott

Canon 5d mk 4, Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
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Posts: 12,280
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Nifty Fifty

"I'm a beginner photographer and I want to add the EF 50mm f/1.8 lens to my bag ..."

 

I am not impressed with either of the f1.8 offerings from Canon in the 50mm focal length.  So I can't recommend you buy either or any of the various versions.  Personally I would avoid the 40mm Pancake lens.

 

If you have to, save your money a little longer to get the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM  do it.  It is head and shoulders better that the others.

 

The EF 50mm f/1.2L USM  is the best 50mm made, IMHO, of course.  I love this lens.  But, it is not a beginner lens.  It is definitely not a beginner lens besides being several times the cost.  There is just something about f1.2 that no other 50 can do.

 

If IQ, sharpness, is you big goal you may want to check out the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art.  It is the sharpest 50mm lens made but it is around $900 bucks.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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Posts: 9,243
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Nifty Fifty

I still say that if you want a good lens for under $200 US, then the 40mm STM is currently the best choice, especially  for a crop sensor body.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
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VIP
Posts: 9,243
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Nifty Fifty

Okay, all of my previous posts are now moot. 

 

Canon has, just this past week, added the 50mm STM to DPP.  On that note, I'd have to declare the 50mm STM a best buy for under $200, although I still favor the 40mm, or even the 24mm, if you're using a cropped sensor camera body.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
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Occasional Contributor
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-08-2015

Re: Nifty Fifty

I tried a friend's 50 and really like it so now I just have to get my own this weekend, I already have the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8, and the bundle when I bough the camera of the 18-55mm kit lens and 55-250mm lens. I was looking at the 24mm as a wide angle, or would a wide zoom be better?
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Posts: 9,243
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Nifty Fifty

Which is the best lens to buy really depends upon what you will be photographing, and what result you want. If you're looking to do landscapes or cityscapes, then I'd consider a wider lens.  Zooms are useful for me when I do not know ahead of time at what distances that I will be photographing, and I can simply dial in an ideal focal length.  Primes cause me to pause and think about my shots, which helps me to take better shots.

 

The 50mm STM produces a better picture than the EF-S 17-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens can at 50mm.  I would have expected  that your f/2.8 can produce comparable picture quality to the budget primes, perhaps even better.  But, there is something that gives me a thrill when I'm using a prime lens, though.  I don't know what, but it's more fun for me.

 

On a full frame camera, many feel that that 50mm is the ideal focal length because it closely reproduces the field of view of the human eye, or at least what the brain pays most attention to.  A 35mm  lens captures what the 50mm at just a bit wider angle, usually without barrel distortion, or fisheye.

 

On a 1.6x cropped sensor you would need a 31.25mm lens in order to exactly reproduce 50mm, and 21.875mm to reproduce 35mm.  As far as I know, no such lenses exist, but there are many that come close.  You may also wish to consider whether or not the lens is EF or EF-S, when you are purchasing a lens, especially a wider one. Do you want a wide lens that produces a fisheye effect, or one that is more rectilinear.

 

For example, I have the Canon EF-S 10-22mm, which gives an effective range of 16-35,2 mm on my Rebel.  As I vary the zoom from 22 down to 10, the field of view changes from rectilinear at 22mm to fisheye at 10mm.  It is a great walk around lens for taking in the sights.  I also have a 14mm for the EF mount.  On a full frame body, the lens has pleasing fisheye effect, while on my Rebel, the image is far more rectilinear with just a trace of fisheye around the edge, which is almost ideal for shooting video, BTW, and how I plan to use it the most.

 

Again, which lens is best to buy depends upon what it is that you wish to photograph, and the result that you want.  Somebody around here is always posting a link to a lens comparison tool, which I have found to be extremely useful for comparing different lenses.  The distortion setting seems to be quite accurrate for comparing how rectilinear or fisheye a given lens is.

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"Doctor told me to get out and walk, so I bought a Canon."
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