Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II Gordon Laing, July 2013

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II quality (APS-C)

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To evaluate the real-life performance of the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II lens, I shot this landscape scene at every aperture setting using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III mounted on a tripod.

The Mark III was set to 100 ISO and the lens focused on the center of the composition using magnified Live View assistance. Most of the scene is effectively at infinity so even at f1.8 the depth of field covers the range of distances from top to bottom.

The full-frame Mark III allows us to compare the sharpness across the entire frame from the extreme corners to the center; by taking a carefully measured crop, we can also simulate the corner performance when mounted on a camera with a smaller APS-C sensor.
  Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II results
1 Canon EF 50mm f1.8 quality full-frame
2 Canon EF 50mm f1.8 quality APS-C
3 Canon EF 50mm f1.8 quality centre
4 Canon EF 50mm f1.8 bokeh
5 Canon EF 50mm f1.8 bokeh comparison

I shot the scene in RAW and processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW using sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile; meanwhile the White Balance was manually set to 5500K. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts. I also switched off all lens corrections to reveal vignetting, chromatic aberrations and geometric distortions - everything you see here is uncorrected.

I'm presenting these results over three pages: corner sharpness on full-frame, corner sharpness on APS-C (on this page below), and center sharpness. I also have a fourth page illustrating the depth of field and bokeh quality - you can jump to any of these from the index above right. Now it's time to discuss the results on this page, below, for the corner sharpness on APS-C cropped-frame cameras. I also shot the same scene moments later with the Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM, so if you're interested in seeing their results side by side, check out my Canon 50mm f1.2 review.

The image above right shows the full-frame area with three red rectangles representing the cropped areas on each results page. The crops presented on this page were taken from the second red rectangle in-between those in the corner and middle, so indicate the performance in the corner of an APS-C crop-frame image.

Like its more expensive counterparts, the EF 50mm f1.8 II benefits form the more forgiving smaller APS-C sensor area and there's no concerns over vignetting or coma in the corners even with the aperture wide open. But the image at f1.8 is still soft in the APS-C corners.

Closing to f2.8 greatly improves the corner sharpness though and by f4, it's looking very crisp indeed. I'd say there's no benefit in closing the aperture beyond f4 on an APS-C body unless you want a larger depth of field or a longer exposure. This is a great result as to achieve similar sharpness in the APS-C corners with the more expensive f1.4 and f1.2 versions required closing down to f5.6 or ideally f8. Yes you read that right: the cheapest EF 50mm f1.8 II is capable of out-performing the f1.4 and f1.2 versions under certain conditions.

Now let's see how it performs in the middle of the image in my Canon 50mm f1.8 center sharpness results.


Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II
Corner (APS-C cropped frame)
f1.8 corner (APS-C)
f2 corner (APS-C)
f2.8 corner (APS-C)
f4 corner (APS-C)
f5.6 corner (APS-C)
f8 corner (APS-C)

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II
results : Quality full-frame / Quality APS-C / Quality Centre / Bokeh / Bokeh comparison

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