This year, the Catechism EF 50mm f/1.eight Ii, also chosen the “Nifty 50” celebrates its 25th birthday. Yes, that’s right: this lens was released dorsum in December 1990 and is the second oldest lens that’s however in production. Yet it even so dominates the list of the most pop Canon lenses, and for good reason: it’s inexpensive, information technology’s fast, it’s small and lightweight, and it offers practiced operation for the toll, which makes it the commencement prime lens for near Canon owners.
But of course, existence such an sometime lens does have its downsides, so Canon has but released the successor to the sometime Nifty 50: the new Catechism EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.
E’er since my wife barbarous in honey with the onetime Peachy Fifty, I started to miss it in my own photographic camera bag, then I’ve been looking for a replacement. I tested out the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, but didn’t feel that it was worth the extra price: at that place’s no band USM — but an USM motor. It as well had a very plasticky feeling and wasn’t as fantastic optically at more than tripled price.
A bang-up alternative would be the Sigma 50mm f/one.iv Art lens. Only while it may be a
lens, information technology’s even
expensive and as a hobbyist photographer I’k non really dependent on its corking performance. Also I wanted a lightweight, always-in-my-bag lens, and the Sigma is very heavy.
In the end I was very happy to hear news of the updated EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, and yesterday information technology arrived in my hands.
And then here is my comparing of the old Nifty Fifty versus the new one: is it worth the higher cost? Should you purchase information technology if you lot already have the old version? Should you purchase the STM version, or is the old version still a skilful choice?
Information technology’southward said that both lenses comprise the same optical formula with the aforementioned number of optical elements. However the test results prove much more differences than expected.
First Impressions of the STM
The very offset impression yous get when yous hold the new STM lens in your paw for the beginning time is its less plasticky experience. In fact, information technology feels more than like the polycarbonate top plating of my Canon EOS 6D. Information technology’south great.
The new STM has a metallic mount (Yes!). One thing people often criticize the one-time EF 50mm II about is its plastic mount. Fear no more than: The new STM version offers a robust metal mountain.
Y’all tin can argue how useful a lens hood is in combination with the Nifty Fifties, as the forepart glass chemical element is already deeper inside the lens trunk, but information technology offers an additional level of protection. This is very welcomed especially for external focusing lenses for which the front element extends when focusing on close objects. And to be honest: in my opinion lens hoods simply look good.
The old EF 50mm Two was never designed to work with a lens hood. There are a few tertiary-political party offerings, however you have to screw these hoods into the filter thread.
For the new STM version, Catechism began offering the new ES-68 lens hood. Of course Canon users know the notorious Canon problem: but L-lenses come with lens hoods included. Therefore you take to order the lens hood separately and as usual they come with a hefty toll tag.
I’g sure that at that place will be much cheaper 3rd-party offerings soon. Only well, I wanted it. Now. And information technology looks then much nicer with a lens hood in my opinion. I cannot name whatever other rational justification for ordering this piece of plastic for more than $30 right now when there will exist options for around $10 bachelor before long.
Ane nice thing with this lens hood is that it offers the same not-plastic experience as the lens itself and locks securely on the lens. You take to press a release button to unmount the hood. Of course information technology can as well be mounted reverse to relieve storage place in your purse.
The focus band of the Canon EF 50mm f/i.viii STM is broader than the very narrow focus ring of the onetime Slap-up 50. However when yous hold the lens in your mitt you lot turn the ring, nothing happens. And then you mount it to the camera and even so nothing happens. Then you switch information technology to manual focusing mode and of a sudden turning the ring starts to work.
This is because the focus band is no longer a mechanical focus band, just an electronic control ring that steers the focus motor by wire. So in order to change the focus, the lens must be powered. One advantage of this focus past wire engineering science is that the lens offers an all-time manual focus override similar to the more expensive ring USM motors. Only in auto focus mode this just works while the shutter is half-pressed. Then you can half-press the shutter and the AF will focus on an object. While keeping the shutter half-pressed you can plough the focus band to alter the focus manually.
However, focus-by-wire comes with drawbacks.
1 that is the biggest in my opinion is: since the lens does not offer internal focusing, the front lens chemical element extends when focusing. This is the same with the erstwhile 50mm II, only in that case, you simply turned the focus ring to retract the front end of the lens. Even when the lens isn’t mounted on the photographic camera.
This is no longer possible with the new STM version. You tin can simply retract the front lens element when 1) the lens is mounted to your camera, 2) the camera is powered on, and 3) the lens is switched to transmission focusing mode or switched to auto focusing mode and while one-half-pressing the shutter.
Why is retracting the lens and then important? Well, if the front lens is extended and you place the lens in your purse, if information technology is exposed to some pressure on the front element, the focusing motor could suffer damage. This is a known problem with the EF 50mm f/1.iv USM, for which users frequently experienced damaged AF motors and it’s recommend to e’er keep the lens hood on to protect the motor.
I am not sure how well the STM motor can handle this and I promise I volition never observe out. However with my erstwhile Nifty Fifty I adult the habit of e’er retracting the front element afterwards unmounting the lens, but now that’s no longer possible.
Another drawback of focus-by-wire: Although focus follows the plough of the focus ring very fast and there is nigh no delay, it is an entirely different feeling. Don’t get me wrong: Transmission focusing works well plenty. Simply each time you turn the ring, you lot hear the AF motor, which reminds y’all that this is just focus-by-wire.
In short: I don’t like it.
STM stands for stepping motor, or the motor that drives the autofocus. According to Canon, STM should offer near silent focusing. Well, the sound of the AF motor is clearly noticeable in the EF 50mm f/one.viii STM. It’s not every bit loud as the old focusing motor in the older version, but I really wouldn’t call it well-nigh silent. The STM is still definitely louder than whatsoever of my other lenses with USM (ultra sonic motor). But then the Smashing Fifties are the only lenses without USM that I’m using today.
Luckily I am neither a video guy nor a wedding lensman shooting in a church building, then I can live with the dissonance of the STM motor. What’s more than important to me is the focusing speed. Good news: the new STM motor focuses faster and more than accurately than the old focusing arrangement of the EF 50mm II. In cases where the one-time lens tends to focus hunt, the new STM version finds the focus instantly.
Of course the nearly of import attribute of any lens is the image quality. Information technology should go without saying that you cannot expect perfect results from a $150 lens. There is a reason why Zeiss can sell the Otus 55mm 1.4 for more than than $3,000 and why Sigma can charge and then much for the 50mm f/1.iv DG HSM Art. Information technology’s a question of performance per price, and past that mensurate the EF 50mm f/one.eight STM (every bit well every bit the older EF 50mm f/1.8 II) shines.
If you lot are a professional person photographer, you probably should aim for the Sigma or the even the Zeiss. If photography is just a serious hobby like for me, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM tin exist absolutely sufficient.
Lastly there is i thing that the onetime Corking L always offered despite its flaws: character! It’s not its perfectness that fabricated it the most popular Canon lens, it’s the attractive toll combined with its lovely characteristics. Vignetting? Soft corners? Let’s cover it!
Many criticize the sometime keen l for its aperture blade blueprint. At narrower apertures the outline of the 5 aperture blades are clearly visible. The newer STM version offers vii blades with an improved design that allows well-nigh round bokeh lights even when stepping down the aperture leading to a more pleasant bokeh, especially in combination with brilliant lights in out-of-focus areas.
OK, enough has been written. Here are the test images. All images tin be downloaded in total resolution and I encourage yous to open the total resolution samples in separate browser tabs to be able to compare these more than hands. The pictures were taken from a tripod at unlike apertures with both lenses. Focus was achieved through the live view in both cases on the same areas.
Note: The results I am presenting here are not the results of a scientific research and only cover my copies of the lenses. I might have good and bad copies, so take the results with a grain of salt.
Test Image: Moroccan Sugar Pot
A Moroccan saccharide pot with fine details with candle lights and a bunch of flowers in the out-of-focus areas.
Download the samples in full resolution:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II: Moroccan saccharide pot shot at f/ane.8
Canon EF 50mm f/1.viii Two: Moroccan sugar pot shot at f/ii.viii
Canon EF 50mm f/1.eight 2: Moroccan sugar pot shot at f/5.half dozen
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 2: Moroccan sugar pot shot at f/8.0
Canon EF 50mm f/ane.8 STM: Moroccan carbohydrate pot shot at f/1.eight
Canon EF 50mm f/ane.8 STM: Moroccan carbohydrate pot shot at f/2.viii
Catechism EF 50mm f/1.eight STM: Moroccan saccharide pot shot at f/5.6
Canon EF 50mm f/i.8 STM: Moroccan sugar pot shot at f/8.0
Allow’s do some pixel peeping: Nosotros are starting with the center of this paradigm, the fine details of the Moroccan sugar pot.
When shot wide open at f/1.8 we tin see chromatic aberrations for both lenses, although these are slightly amend controlled past the newer STM version. In both cases the chromatic aberrations disappear when stopping down to f/five.half dozen. In terms of sharpness both lenses are very close. Still the older version shows slightly more dissimilarity.
Focusing on the candle the major improvements in rendering bokeh become credible. While there is not much difference when shot wide open at f/1.8 the shape of the lights are much more pleasant with the new STM version. It’s most impossible to detect the shape of the aperture blades, while the old EF 50mm Two conspicuously exposes the pentagonal shapes. Besides the bokeh of the new STM version appears to exist creamier than the older version.
Looking at the flowers reinforces the improvements in the bokeh. The bokeh of the old EF 50mm II looks more turbulent, and the STM version displays a creamier bokeh.
Test Image: Manual
To judge the sharpness of the lens, I took a picture of the EF 50mm f/1.eight STM manual with both lenses. Notation that the dark corners on the lesser are caused by the tripod legs, so please ignore these corners.
Canon EF 50mm f/one.8 Ii: Transmission shot at f/1.8
Canon EF 50mm f/ane.8 II: Manual shot at f/ii.8
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Ii: Transmission shot at f/5.6
Canon EF 50mm f/i.8 STM: Manual shot at f/one.8
Canon EF 50mm f/i.8 STM: Transmission shot at f/2.viii
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM: Transmission shot at f/5.6
The first thing you might notice from these images that both lenses show quite a chip of vignetting wide open. With profile corrections in modern RAW converters like Lightroom this isn’t too big of a problem. Personally I even like some vignetting and often add information technology in post. And so this isn’t an issue to me. When stopping downwards to f/v.6 vignetting is no longer a problem in either lenses.
Here are the comparisons for pixel peepers: And again we are starting with the center.
At the beginning glance you tin see that the new STM version offers a more consistence performance in terms of sharpness. Wide open it’s clearly sharper than the old version. When stopping down at that place is almost no noticeable improvement from f/2.8 to f/v.6.
The 50mm II nevertheless improves consistently. While softer broad open it improves at f/2.eight and once more at f/5.6. What’south surprising is that the former Nifty Fifty manages to slightly surpass the sharpness of the new STM version at f/v.6 in the center. And not only that: The contrast of the older version looks also better.
And so in terms of heart sharpness the new EF 50mm STM is conspicuously amend when shot wide open, only falls behind slightly when stopping down.
But let’s see what happens, when nosotros look at the top left manus corner.
Information technology’s almost like the old 50mm Two wants to say: “Corner sharpness? Never heard about it.” The new 50mm STM tin control corner sharpness much, much meliorate and is the obvious winner here. Of course you cannot look wonders from a $150 lens. But what y’all can come across here is already very good and a huge improvement compared to the onetime Nifty Fifty.
Still if you actually need a lens that is tack abrupt from the center to the corners, even when wide open, you will accept to pay much more.
Test Image: Christmas Lights
Well, this is a must-have examination epitome, isn’t it? Why else would yous like to buy a fast prime lens, if it’s not for shooting Christmas lights?
Download the samples in full resolution:
Canon EF 50mm f/1.viii II: Christmas lights shot at f/1.8
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 Ii: Christmas lights shot at f/2.8
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II: Christmas lights shot at f/5.half-dozen
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 2: Christmas lights shot at f/8.0
Canon EF 50mm f/ane.eight STM: Christmas lights shot at f/i.eight
Canon EF 50mm f/i.8 STM: Christmas lights shot at f/two.8
Catechism EF 50mm f/ane.viii STM: Christmas lights shot at f/5.half dozen
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM: Christmas lights shot at f/8.0
And finally the crops for comparison:
I won’t comment on these samples. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.
Minimum Focusing Altitude
The minimum focusing distance has been reduced from 45cm (1.5ft) to 35cm (1.1ft). This means you can get closer to your subject while keeping it in focus, and therefore small objects can be pictured larger.
And so how much of a departure in the field of view results from these 10cm departure in minimum focusing distance? Let’s have a wait.
Every bit you tin encounter, the deviation is pretty big. Of course the new STM is still far away from beingness a macro lens, but if y’all accept close ups of larger objects very often you’ll love the new Nifty Fifty. As well I’ve used my 50mm Ii for a long time for shooting macros with extension tubes. Using the new STM you can use shorter extension tubes, which results in less light loss.
Pros and Cons
Canon EF 50mm f/ane.viii 2
- Slightly amend center sharpness (merely this could be just my copies).
- Extends later focusing on close objects, but can exist retracted when dismounted with the focus ring.
- Cheaper (in some markets)
- Bad corner sharpness at all apertures.
- Bad center sharpness, when shot wide open.
- Clearly visible aperture bract shapes at narrower apertures.
- Plastic mount.
- External focusing: Extends when focusing on close objects.
- Loud AF motor.
- Slow and sometimes inaccurate auto focus.
Catechism EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
- Much improved corner sharpness. Usable, fifty-fifty wide open up.
- Overall improved sharpness when shot wide open.
- Meliorate controlled chromatic aberrations, although still noticeable.
- Faster and more accurate automobile focus.
- 7 discontinuity blades and new discontinuity blade blueprint atomic number 82 to nearly rounded bokeh lights, fifty-fifty at narrower apertures.
- Automobile focus more silent.
- All-time manual focus override after half-pressing shutter.
- Lower minimum focusing altitude: 0.35m instead of 0.45m.
- Metal mountain.
- Thread for lens hood. Uniform lens hood ES-68 available. Lens hood with release push.
- Non-plastic experience.
- Overall better build quality.
- New lens cap design works better with lens hoods.
- Broader focus ring.
- Still very light and is a small lens that can stay in your bag.
- Center sharpness and contrast non as good equally the one-time EF 50mm 2.
- External focusing: Extends when focusing on close objects. Cannot exist manually retracted without power.
- Although the STM auto focus motor is more silent, it’south not as silent equally you would expect information technology to be.
- Slightly more expensive in some markets.
- Notorious Catechism effect: Lens hood sold separately and overpriced.
Is the new Canon EF 50mm f/1.viii STM a worthy successor? I would say
About the writer: Carsten Schlipf is a photographer based in Gäufelden, Germany. He seeks to capture the dazzler of everyday life through the viewfinder of his photographic camera. You lot tin connect with him through his website, Google+, and 1x. This review has likewise been published on his website.