Review Canon 50mm F/1.8 MKII

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Canon 50mm F/1.8 MKII

This lens, one of Canon’s cheapest and most easily available prime lenses, has a reputation across the internet for being a necessity to every photographers kit bag. The ‘nifty fifty’, which is the nickname for this lens used across the internet, can be had from the UK for as little as £68 including all postage costs and if you’re willing to think about importing the lens it can be had for as little as £60 but remember to beware of import taxes which might catch you out.



I personally ordered this lens from Kerso, who has an eBay store under the name of Flash Camera. If you get in contact with Kerso and mention that you’ve been refered to him by a previous customer of his over at Talk Photography then you can be pretty sure that he’ll nock some of the price off the lens for you. The lens arrived with me the day after Kerso had sent it out, and my first impressions were quite certain. The box was tiny, which I guess could be expected with a lens as small as this one. It’s really small and dinky, but one of the first things that you realise is how iffy the build quality is. In comparison to my other Canon lenses, this lens has a definite lack of quality compared to the others but saying that, it’s not a totally awful build, just in comparison to the others. The build quality is what you get for such a cheap price though, you get what you pay for. The lens is also very light at just 130g, which adds to the very small and compact feel of the lens. The filter size for the 50mm F/1.8 MKII is 52mm, so if like me you want to protect the front element you can pick up a 52mm skylight filter to protect the element from possible hazards. This will still be hard to do, as the front element of the lens is set into the body of the lens and will be hard to accidentally knock.



The 50mm F/1.8 MKII has an effective focal length of 80mm on my Canon 20D, which means that it can be quite easily used for portrait photography as well as using it in low light circumstances with its large maximum aperture of F/1.8. The auto focus motor on the 50mm F/1.8 MKII is a non-USM motor which means that there is no full time manual focusing with this lens. There is a traditional AF/MF switch at the base of the lens which can toggle between auto focus or manual focus. To focus manually, you turn the textured ring at the tip of the lens. The actual auto focus motor in this lens is quite noisy compared to some of Canons other non-USM lenses. Also, despite the large maximum aperture of F/1.8, you will find that the 50mm F/1.8 MKII can hunt a lot in low light and can be very inaccurate. If you use the lens in good lit areas, there are no problems with the focus system and it’s snappy and quick to focus on your target.

Tests


F/1.8




F/2.8




F/4




F/5.6




F/8




As can be seen in the images, the sharpness of the 50mm F/1.8 MKII peaks at around F/4 before starting to get softer again towards F/8. Despite what it may seem from the image of the 50mm wide open at F/1.8, this lens is VERY usable wide open and I have produced some very sharp images. The only problem is that with such a small depth of field due to the large aperture, the focus has to be exactly spot on otherwise the image will be soft and out of focus.

In conclusion, for the price of this lens you really cannot complain. It is very sharp and in good light quick to focus. Once you get past the small nit-picks like the plastic mount and the build quality you will really see what a good lens this is. I will finish this review saying what everyone else has. EVERY photographer needs this lens in their kit bag!
 
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#2
Great review Johnny and you got it spot on.
Image quality wise it's the best in my bag and if it breaks I'm not going to sweat, I'll just buy another one!

You found the f4 sweet spot too!
 

RobertP

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#3
Nicely done review.

Your test images - are they a corner of frame crop or ?
 

Matt

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#5
excellent review jonny, thanks!
 

CT

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#6
Good review. :) I have the 1.4 version of this lens, and I can can hand hold it in virtually any light. It's tack sharp and also gives bokeh to die for. It's the only lens that sometimes makes me wish for full frame coverage for the better field of view, although the 1D is significantly better than the 20D in that respect.

The 1.8 version is an absolute steal!
 

Marcel

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#7
And if the postman gets his skates on, mine should be here...aaannyyy minute now :D
 
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#8
Great review, totally sums up this lens, thanks for putting the time in - Im sure it will be a great persuader for those who have yet to purchase this lens or who are considering doing so (y)
 
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#10
I have the Mk I but have used the Mk II.

The main differences between them are:
For Mk I:
Metal mount
Focal range window
Slightly better built than MkII

Against Mk I:
Heavier than MK II
Noisier than Mk II
Slower AF than Mk II
 
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#12
Ally said:
really nice review sammyC. I'm a bit dissapointed that its pritty poor at 1.8, but you get what you pay for! really sweet at f4 tho :)
Cheers mate, Jonny is my nom de plume!


;)
 

Marcel

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#14
lol Aaaan my fifty has just landed on my doorstep (not literally you understand).
 
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#16
I got mine a few weeks ago to supplement my old manual Nikon 50mm...

its a great lens - and for those of you that are prime virgins - it makes you want more :) (Nothing makes you want more primes like a 135 2.8/2.0/2.5 though)

Leo
 
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#17
Your review is very good.

I've owned this lens for quite some time. Saw it for £50inc delivery (7dayshop, tho they no longer sell it). Couldnt resist at the price.

I'd not appreciated the f4 sweet spot before, probably because I only tend to use it for low light condidtions where my 17-85(f4-5.6) wont play ball without a flash.

You are correct about the build quality too it's pants. Sounds like someone has added sand into the works.
 

Marcel

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#18
I missed out on the 7dayshop prices. By the time I came to buy, 7day had stopped selling Canon gear, which was a big shame for us UK photographers really. They used to have some great prices, especially the nifty fifty.

I've not tried it at an f4 sweet spot, like you oldigt I tend to use it for low light conditions, and thus wide open.
 

Grendel

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#20
Just ordered the nifty from your friend and mine Kerso!!!
Yup. Me too, well my girlfriend is ordering it tonight for an Xmas prezzie for me :D - I wonder if I'll be able to wangle getting it as an EARLY xmas prezzie. I mean to know it's in the house and I can't use it....torture!:banghead:
 

Grendel

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#22
I'll be giving it my best shot! I'll let you know how I get on!
 
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#23
I loved this lens on my film eos, but it has taken a while to get used to it with a 1.6 crop factor. i have started using it more though, and appreciating its small size and low light capabilites more.

I would certainly not get the 50 1.4 until I had a full-frame camera though - so the 50 1.8 is a great compromise build wise, with very little compromise in terms of image quality. the biggest downer is the 'chunky' bokeh.
 
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#25
Mine does have sand in the works...genuine white Montrose beach sand.

Don't take this lens to the seaside ;)
LOL - first goldfish, now sand....is there no end to the stuff you're going to try to fil your lenses with?! ;)
 

Dark Star

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#26
Just received mine from King Kerso and posted my first portrait with it in the people and portraits forum - neat little lens - a bit noisy in autofocus but quite handy!
 
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#27
Used this lens at a gig recently and its amazing for the money, £50 (7dayshop) coupled with ISO 800+ and you can work in some very low light conditions that for the money no other lens can match.
 
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