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Old April 6th, 2010, 12:29 PM   #1
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Canon 50mm 1.8 Lens - The Cons?

So I've been looking for a budget lens for low-light purposes such as indoors and such. I've recently stumbled across the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens - and can't quite figure out how it's so cheap!

I've watched a few videos on Vimeo, and it genuinely seems to look like a good lens, but I thought I'd double-check with you guys here first!

I've seen it on eBay for around 75, and retail it's not a great deal more! Also; if I did purchase it, how would it hold up in very low-lit shots (such as solely lit by a street-lamp?).

Thanks in advance :)

(Sorry if it's the wrong section by the way; couldn't figure out where it goes!)
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Old April 6th, 2010, 12:42 PM   #2
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The 50/1.8 is a great bargain. It has a cheap body and focus ring, but the glass is nice and sharp.

f/1.8 allows you to shoot in low light. It's more than a stop faster than an f/2.8 zoom, and moving up to f/1.4 buys you only 2/3 stop more light.

The focus ring is really the weakest aspect of the design, and this can be an issue when shooting subjects that move near the lens when wide open.

Oh well, you can't expect the world for such a low price. :)

If you shoot in low light and your budget is tight, the Canon 50/1.8 is a great buy.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 12:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Jon :) I'm very tempted to just go for it; my local Jessops is selling it for 100, but I've found it cheaper online new so I think I might just go for it. I'm currently equipped with a 550D standard kit lens (18-55/f3.5-5.6), so it should be a big upgrade for low-light. I'm wanting to try and shoot extreme low-light conditions, but I'm not 100% sure will be able to handle a location lit by a streetlamp.

Ah drama, you and your difficult locations...
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Old April 6th, 2010, 01:23 PM   #4
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If your budget is in that range, I'd go for it. The kit lens has a pretty poor reputation. The 50/1.8 will be a huge upgrade.

And, to give some perspective, the 50/1.8 will let in 9.7 times as much light as your zoom at 55mm, or a bit over three stops. That's like taking sunglasses off.

The other popular option would be to go for a Nikon Ai 50/1.8 for roughly the same price. The Nikon won't auto focus or communicate with your camera to enable all exposure modes. The focus ring turns the wrong way. You'd need to spend some cash on an adapter that might or might not have good quality. The Nikon is only available used.

The Canon, OTOH, is new, enables all photo features, and is plug and play.

The one drawback of this lens is that it's a bit long (80mm equivalent) on a crop sensor body. A 24, 28, or 35mm lens might have more utility. But those lenses are much more expensive. For various reasons, 50mm lenses are the least expensive primes by a significant amount.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 01:24 PM   #5
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I've just borrowed a friend's 50mm 1.8 and really like it. I don't shoot in a ton of super low light situations so I think this one would be more than perfect for me. I think I'll be picking one up.
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Old April 7th, 2010, 05:09 PM   #6
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The focus ring is suuuuper hard to work with. Other than that, for the money, it's nice.
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Old April 7th, 2010, 05:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Piggott View Post
- and can't quite figure out how it's so cheap!
Partly it's because 50mm lenses are very simple in design and therefore cheap to make, and traditionally it was because of economies of scale - there were lots made as they were the standard lenses sold with cameras. The 2nd is less true these days of course, crappy slow zooms have taken their place!
The only thing I'd caution with most of these wide aperture standard and short tele lenses is not to get too excited about their wide open performance. I have the Nikon 85 1.4 and Sigma 50 1.4, and before that a Nikon 50 1.8. None of them are what I'd call great until stopped down at least 1 stop, and much better again when stopped down another stop.
With long teles above 180mm it's different though. I have a Nikon 200 f2 which is sublime even wide open. Similar for the likes of the 300 2.8, 400 2.8 etc.
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Old April 8th, 2010, 01:12 AM   #8
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Pros: Light, small, fast, made by Canon, quite sharp, and cheap - about $110.

Cons: Light (wouldn't take it on an expedition), small (it's certainly not going to impress anyone), and basically only wide for medium close-ups (unless you're in a big room or outside, then it's just wide enough).

Bottom line: I was amazed at the quality for the money; the bang for the buck.

Yes, I want a wider lens, yes I'd like a L class zoom. But the 50mm is a real nice place to start (and it'll keep a nice resell value).

john
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Old April 8th, 2010, 03:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Piggott View Post
So I've been looking for a budget lens for low-light purposes such as indoors and such. I've recently stumbled across the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens - and can't quite figure out how it's so cheap!

I've watched a few videos on Vimeo, and it genuinely seems to look like a good lens, but I thought I'd double-check with you guys here first!

I've seen it on eBay for around 75, and retail it's not a great deal more! Also; if I did purchase it, how would it hold up in very low-lit shots (such as solely lit by a street-lamp?).

Thanks in advance :)

(Sorry if it's the wrong section by the way; couldn't figure out where it goes!)
Others have pointed out the weakness. And yes, focusing can be hard. Even if you get those rings to help rotate it, the travel distance of the focus ring is too short for precision work. And I don't know how you can put those add ons on the 50 f1.8 mk-2 considering it's very thin and on the edge of the lens.

The lens also flares badly with green gobs on the image. No filter or even lens hood is going to fix that. Part of that is the lack of good coating on the elements. It also suffers from veiling flare. That's when contrast really drops. Again, poor or weak coatings and baffles.

Another problem is poor bokeh. Bokeh is harsh, compared to the f1.4. Part of that is the 5-blade diaphram. And this blade also causes a pentarpism specular highlights on light sources that are OOF (Out Of Focus). Not good. :(

Seriously, go for the 50 f1.4 usm. It's around U$350 w/c is about 3x as much, but you can focus better, has better flare control, and better bokeh. A warning on the 50 f1.4 usm though. It's AF gets busted easily. Use a lens hood to protect that front element. It will cost you over U$100 to have the AF fixed.

You can use the 50 f1.8 mk-2 if you can definitely control the variables w/c causes problems for it. It is cheap but very sharp. I have both this lens and the f1.4. I like the f1.4 better, but for traveling and not so serious shoots, I bring along the f1.8.

Another solution for you is to try to find a 50 f1.8 mk-I. That's better built and the focusing is easier to do due to the larger focusing ring and the travel distance is longer for more precise control of focus. It also has distance marks unlike the mk-II. I can't guarantee on the bokeh or flare though. The mk-I might set you back around U$125-150 used. It is hard to find though.
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Old April 8th, 2010, 01:34 PM   #10
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I own the EF 50/1.4 and it's probably my least favorite EF prime lens. It has some barrel distortion, which really bothers me with a normal 50mm view. I'll accept some barrel on a wide, but on a normal I want my images straight up.

The 50/1.4 has decent focus ring travel, but poor feel. I'm considering upgrading to a Zeiss ZE 50/1.4, even though I would give up AF. At work, we have Zeiss ZE 21, 35, and 85mm lenses, and the 85 ring is fantastic: about 220 degrees from 1m to infinity. Add a Red Rock follow focus and you're looking at one and a half turns from end to end.

The 50/1.4 is Zeiss's least expensive lens, but it still costs many times that of an EF 50/1.8. On a tight budget, I'd get the cheap lens right away and upgrade later. You can sell it on ebay without much loss. Considering that you have the camera now, only have the kit lens, and want to do low light shooting, I'd pick up what you can best afford without waiting.
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Old April 8th, 2010, 02:37 PM   #11
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Good advice Jon - totally agree. Drop a hundred bucks and start shooting!

john
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Old April 9th, 2010, 09:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
f/1.8 allows you to shoot in low light. It's more than a stop faster than an f/2.8 zoom, and moving up to f/1.4 buys you only 2/3 stop more light.
At f1.4, a lens will gather almost TWICE as much light as a lens at f1.8. And if you plan on shooting in low light, 2/3 of a stop is a lot of light.
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Old April 9th, 2010, 11:45 AM   #13
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I bought a canon 10D used for cheap (body only) to see if I enjoyed SLR photography. My first lens was a $100 70-300 from Walmart (I already know what a poor decision that was, no need to flame. :-P). My second lens was the 50mm f/1.8, and it practically never leaves my camera body. I believe I paid $95. Best purchase I have made.

I am planning on upgrading to the f/1.4, simply for the nicer focus ring, USM autofocus (don't use AF very much, but the USM is NICE when needed), and the metal body.

If you have $100, and want a new lens, you will absolutely NOT regret buying the 50 f/1.8.

Oh, and it is sharp sharp sharp!
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Old April 21st, 2010, 04:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Piggott View Post
So I've been looking for a budget lens for low-light purposes such as indoors and such. I've recently stumbled across the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens - and can't quite figure out how it's so cheap!

I've watched a few videos on Vimeo, and it genuinely seems to look like a good lens, but I thought I'd double-check with you guys here first!

I've seen it on eBay for around 75, and retail it's not a great deal more! Also; if I did purchase it, how would it hold up in very low-lit shots (such as solely lit by a street-lamp?).

Thanks in advance :)

(Sorry if it's the wrong section by the way; couldn't figure out where it goes!)
Hi, this is my second post so far, and it's another post about Takumars! Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I really believe they are great for video (I have a 550d plus a bunch of them)

I won't repeat myself, as I already ranted on this here:

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-eo...ml#post1516579

Every time I read a thread about lenses and DSLR video, I am more convinced that a number of professionals still forget to transpose the discussion about lenses from the domain of still photography to shooting video, where the requirements and parameters are slightly different.

A great lens is a great lens, but some differences in sharpness which are obvious in stills become literally invisible on HD video, especially on the 550d, which is soft compared to a pro HD camera (that's not to say Takumars are not sharp - there are very sharp ones)

Also, things like focussing action become much more important as you will need to learn to focus manually.

I have an EF 50mm f/1.8 lens, and quite a few Takumar 50mm & 55mm's, each of which have their own signature characteristics.

I would NEVER shoot video with the EF 50mm, the image is just inferior. For what I paid for it, I could have bought 2-3 more Taks. I do use it for indoor party and family stills, where the AF is great.
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Old April 21st, 2010, 06:31 AM   #15
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Interesting thoughts James - any samples or tests to illustrate this? I'm a big fan of older lenses, especially regarding mechanics, but I thought that optically things had moved on so that a modern 50mm f1.4 and 300mm f2.8 for instance will be better than an older one (in general). Is there really a massive difference between the Canon 50 1.8 (which I'm sure is regarded as a really decent lens?) and the old Takumars?
Steve
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