Summary

Highly Recommended awardCanon's EF 50mm f1.8 STM finally upgrades the 24 year old EF 50mm f1.8 II with smoother focusing, more rounded aperture blades, closer focusing and a tougher lens mount. Like its predecessor, it'll gather over eight times more light than a typical kit zoom, making it great in low-light, deliver a shallower depth-of-field for attractive blurred backgrounds, and capture sharper results too. Meanwhile the low price makes it the most affordable lens in Canon's catalogue and the closest you'll find to a no-brainer, whether you own a budget DSLR, a mid-range model or even a high-end full-framer. Bottom line? It should be in every Canon DSLR owner's collection.

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Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM review

Quality

To evaluate the real-life performance of the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM, I shot this exterior scene at every aperture setting using a full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark III mounted on a tripod. The 5D Mark III was set to 100 ISO and the lens focused on the center of the composition. The corner and center crops shown below were taken from the areas marked with the red rectangles below and presented at 100%.

 

canon50mm_f1-8_stm_outmain_2000

 

The first thing to note from the crops below is just how good both the latest EF 50mm f1.8 STM and the old EF 50mm f1.8 II are, even when mounted on a full-frame body. Sure there’s some vignetting (darkening in the corners) and a little softness in the far corners at the largest apertures, but it’s impressive just how well these low-cost Canon lenses perform for the money. Close them to f2.8 and the sharpness in the corners improves a lot, while vignetting is virtually eliminated. By f4, both are looking very crisp and at f5.6 I’d say they reach their maximum sharpness. You’ll continue to enjoy good results up to f11, but beyond here the effects of diffraction begin to kick-in with a gradual softening of the image.

As for new versus old, I’d say the later EF 50mm f1.8 STM is a little sharper in the corners at the largest apertures, but scroll down to the crops taken from the middle of the frame and you’ll see it’s noticeably crisper in the centre than the old model, resolving finer details in the grills.

The bottom line is both lenses perform better than you might expect, but the newer version is superior, especially in the centre at large apertures. Couple this with the smoother focusing, closer focusing, more rounded aperture blades and tougher lens mount and I’d say it’s worth spending the extra.

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_1-8_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f1.8

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_2_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f2

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_2-8_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f2.8

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_4_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f4

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_5-6_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f5.6

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_8_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f8

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_11_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f11

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_16_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f16

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_corner_22_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from corners at f22

 

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II vs EF 50mm f1.8 STM centre quality

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_1-8_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f1.8

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_2_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f2

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_2-8_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f2.8

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_4_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f4

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_5-6_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f5.6

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_8_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f8

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_11_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f11

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_16_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f16

 

canon50mm_f1-8_ii_vs_stm_centre_22_945

Above left: EF 50mm f1.8 II, above right: EF 50mm f1.8 STM. 100% crops from centres at f22

 

Next check out my sample images from APS-C and full-frame bodies or skip to my verdict.

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