A great value for beginners

Canon lens 50mm 1.8 II

For a very affordable price, this 50mm f/1.8 is a good quality lens. Lightweight and fast with a very large aperture, it is suitable for many uses (portrait, street photography …). However, the optical quality lacks consistency at the widest apertures. I tested version n°2 dating from 1991 on a Canon full-frame camera.

This lens is made of plastic and composed of 5 lenses which makes it very lightweight and convenient to handle. The minimum focusing distance is 45 cm. After experimenting with the different apertures of this lens, I noticed that the sharpness of the photos was optimal from f/5.6. Just good at 2.8 which is not a big issue because f/2.8 is still a large aperture. Also, the focus ring is not very well placed, it is inconvenient to use as it is at the very end of the lens and small. Autofocus works fine even if it is a bit noisy.

Sharpness test

In the test, we see that this lens is not great by its performance in terms of sharpness. The images it delivers are very soft and lack crispness at the largest openings. We forgive the lack of sharpness at f / 1.8 on a lens of this caliber, but with difficulty at f / 2.8. At the largest apertures, the images also lack homogeneity. In other words, the center is much sharper than the edges: it is a classic phenomenon. To get the best sharpness of the lens, you’ll need to go to a smaller aperture like f / 8. In this case, it provides very detailed images from the center to the edges. Good point, however, the vignetting is quite soft, the distortions very slight and chromatic aberrations absent.

Pros :

  • Maximum aperture of f/1.8
  • Creative possibilities with depth of field
  • Not much distortions
  • Discretion, weight and size
  • 50mm focal is useful for all purpose
  • Cheap


  • Soft sharpness until f/5.6
  • No optical stabilization
  • Strong vignetting at the large apertures
Canon 50mm test

Sample photos

Jacques Julien

French photographer based in Paris specialised in black and white photographs, animal photos, architecture, portraits.