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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

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350 560104 May 29, 2016
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94% of reviewers $128.42
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This is the lightest EF lens of all at a mere 4.6 oz. (130g). Compact and high-performance, standard lens. Its Gaussian optics provide sharp delineation from near to far focusing distances. The color balance is excellent for a standard lens.


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Registered: Nov 8, 2009
Location: France
Posts: 8
Review Date: Nov 8, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $150.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Price.
Build quality. AF.

Let's face it for this price you won't get a better portrait lens. It's a must have for any photography starters on a budget. It'll allow you to take pictures you just cannot take with your standard kit or even most zoom lenses.
Got it for a year, once I got more serious about my new hobby I updated it for the 1.4 model, sold it for the price I bought it.

It's very cheaply built, doesn't always focus correctly, and manual focus is more or less useless, so anybody who's got some extra hundreds in his pocket is better of going directly for the 1.4 version directly. But still a nice starter lens to fall in love for prime lenses.

Some examples:

Nov 8, 2009
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Registered: Aug 6, 2009
Location: Thailand
Posts: 5
Review Date: Sep 20, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Stunning image quality, brightness, portability
cheap build, noisy aufo-focus

I recently purchased a DSLR: Canon 1D Mark 3 which put me into the 'poor-house'... could only afford a cheap beginner lens to get started as I was broke.

Anyhow, buying this lens I wasn't really expecting much but when married to my Canon body I was absolutely amazed with the stunning picture quality.... the sharpness. Bold colors.

Bokeh isn't too bad either but when taking pictures in high contrast areas you'll see that the background appears to be a bit 'choppy'.

I haven't noticed any chromatic aberration in my many thousands of snapshots even in high contrast environments. The Auto-Focus is not always spot on and my keeper rate i'd say is about 85%.

Of course the build quality isn't great. It rattles and feels very cheap. Makes you wonder if this was manufacturerd on a "Toys-R-Us'' assembly line but what does one expect for this price ?

If i accidentally dropped this lens and was to become unusable, i would certainly go out and buy another one.

All in all, for the price I'm very satisfied with the quality of the pictures. Sharpness is most important to me, brightiness and portability. This lens rewards in all those categories.

I'm very pleased with this lens.


Sep 20, 2009
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Registered: Sep 15, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 986
Review Date: Sep 19, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: price / performance fantastic, cheep
a little too cheap needs better build.

Common to all reports

This is my attempt to give something back to the forum members who have provided this wonderful resource. I found much here that helped with my lens selection. So over the last 1 to 2 years here is what I used all on a pair of 5D bodies. (My comments will be subjective and personal. I will try to avoid saying anything that cannot be read in the spec sheets).

17-40 L
24-105 L IS
70-200 f4 L IS
180 L Macro
400 f5.6 L
50 f1.8 mkII
Sigma 50 f2.8 Macro EX

50 f1.8 mkII
I got this because I wanted a light, fixed FL walk around lens. The lens delivered IQ higher than all reasonable expectation. But . I stupidly put a lens hood on it. DO NOT make the same mistake. When the inevitable knock happened the hood exerted more leverage than the flimsy plastic construction could stand. I tore the front off the lens.

I bought cheep and I had to buy twice to replace. The replacement is a Sigma 50 f2.8 Macro EX

Sep 19, 2009
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Registered: Aug 24, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 222
Review Date: Aug 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Cheap, lightweight, wide aperture, did I mention cheap? Acceptable sharpness, bokeh, contrast.
Cheap build quality, poor AF speed and accuracy

Many tout this as the nifty fifty or the fantastic plastic. I've been able to purchase this lens new several times for $75 and for the price I am willing to forgive some of its flaws.

It's an inexpensive and good introduction into primes and wide aperture lenses. And the 50mm focal length is fairly versatile too.

Wide open the lens is quite soft. Center sharpness is acceptable at 2.8 and quite useable at f/4. I don't find corner sharpness acceptable until at f/8 even on a crop, but especially on a FF body.

Now, let's talk AF, it's terrible. It's slow and hunts in low light. And I find its accuracy to be horrible as well, maybe only one quarter of the shots are in focus. Sometimes it will slightly back focus or sometimes front focus but half the time it just gives up entirely and what the AF was trying to focus on or if it just decided to give up completely. Unfortunately, the manual focus ring is not FTM focus and is small an located at the very front of the lens. It's quite difficult to use reliably, unlike it's mkI predecessor.

The build quality leaves much ot be desired. It's cheap thin plastic nad if you drop the lens it will likely break. On the plus side I've found the AF motor to be more durable than its 50mm 1.4 counterpart. But that's due to the inherent flaw in design of the USM AF on the 1.4 lens.

Bokeh is acceptable, especially wide open. But closed down and you'll notice the aperture blades as they produce a pentagon effect.

Contrast and color reproduction seem muted or washed out. Colors aren't nearly as vivid as the 1.4, again likely due to cheaper elements.

So, why did I rate this lens so high given all it's flaws. Well, cost is a considerable reason and the pictures can still be quite useable, well the keepers that happen to be in focus, anyways.

But I feel that it's flaws can also discourage some and turn them off to low aperture or prime lenses, which would be a shame. And should you really like low aperture primes you'll certainly want to upgrade from this lens. Like I said, a cheap foray but also a frustrating one at times.

I think in the long run you are better off going with the Canon 50mm 1.4 right off the bat. It's a better lens in many regards though again not without its flaws. I've routinely found them used or refurb for $250USD, and while it's certainly a vast price difference at least in terms of percentages, I think it's quite worth it.

In retrospect I really should reconsider my ratings as it probably should be much lower. But again it was cheap and let me get my feet wet in primes and low apertures. And the keepers were good enough and furthered my interest hence the purchase of better lenses. That, and I'm not really sure what to expect from a $75, or now $100 lens. For the price it probably is a great value, though I place a greater importance on metrics such as IQ, AF speed and accuracy, etc. Price being only a secondary factor, not that I'm fabulously wealthy and can afford nothing but L-glass.

Aug 24, 2009
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Registered: Jul 17, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 17, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Cheap, sharp at f/2.2 but f/1.8 is still usable, great in low light, lightweight
Very poor build quality, lens takes from 5-18 months to fail

I have owned 5 of these lenses in the last 3.5 years. The lenses are cheap, the IQ can be excellent but the build quality is awful and they don't last long.

The 1st one was second hand and lasted 18 months before the focus mechanism stopped working. But the lens was 10 years old so I wasn't so upset especially as the image quality was so good and it hadn't cost me any money to buy as I had inherited it from my brother. The 2nd one I bought from new also had excellent image quality and this one lasted just over 12 months before the focus mechanism stopped working.

I then bought a new one and this one front-focussed badly so I sent it back and got a new one which focussed as it should. This one lasted 5 months before the inner section of the lens came part from the outer casing while I was changing the lens. My on-line retailer blamed me for this and refused to repair or replace lens so I cut my losses and bought a Canon 50mm f/1.4.

So my message is buyer beware. If you buy one, yes, the lens is cheap and it could take excellent images but expect it to break pretty soon due to the poor build quality.

Jul 17, 2009
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Registered: May 14, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 217
Review Date: Jun 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $130.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Cheap, Light, Fairly Fast Focus, Good results @ f1.8
None really

If you just bought dSLR and looking for your first lens GO and BUY this lens right now you wont regret it. I have learned so much about photography by using this lens over my kit (Canon 18-55mm IS) lens. Don't be disappointed by this lens until you know how to use it and first rule is 1/focal length is what your shutter speed should be or else you will get blurry pictures due to hand shake but you already knew this right.
Anyways the IQ is great and tack sharp at f5.6. I hope you will enjoy this lens as much as I do.
Cheers and happy nifty-fiftying!

Jun 18, 2009
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Registered: Nov 28, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 293
Review Date: Apr 29, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: cheap, sharp, lightweight, needs no hood, quick focus
for the price none

Lacking a 50mm prime I initialy wanted to buy the new Sigma 50mm/1.4 EX HSM which has been discussed here in the forums. But after checking out the Canon 50mm/1.8 II I quickly changed my mind. Side by side the Sigma wasn't worth the 300 EUR premium. It was better build but not sharper. The Canon performs very good on the 5D II from f1.8 (ok) to f2 (already sharp) onward to f5.6 (razor sharp). A colleague of mine has the lens too but it is noticeably softer than mine. I would recommend this lens to anyone who wants a light/cheap/chap fifty for fullframe ... if you can test before you buy.

Apr 29, 2009
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Registered: Apr 25, 2009
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 25, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $100.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Cheap, produces really nice pictures, nice bokeh.
Build quality (plastic)

I've bought this lens about 2 years ago, and i've taken thousands of pictures with it. This lens is so cheap, if you're just starting taking pictures and you want to check if primes are for you, you just have to buy this lens.

I have enjoyed this lens a lot untill it just fell apart a couple of days ago.
It's a plastic lens so you know that you can't use this lens forever so I've decided not to buy another one but instead go for the sigma 50mm 1.4.

So if you want a good, cheap prime, check it out, but if you want something durable and well built, DON'T buy this lens.

Apr 25, 2009
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Registered: Jan 5, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $85.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Good price, sharp, pretty fast AutoFocus, lightweight, compact.

This was the first lens that I bought for my camera (300D, a used body, so it didn't come with a kit lens) and was very satisfied with it. The second lens I got, a Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4, though good, really made me appreciate some of the positive aspects of the 50mm f/1.8 II. The AF on the 50 is considerably faster and quieter than the Tamron (I know, it's comparing apples to oranges, but they're the only two lenses I own).

I did, however, get a chance to use a 50m f/1.4, and I noticed it focused faster, smoother, and the overall build quality just felt better. However, I don't currently feel that the improvements of the f/1.4 justify the price increase over the f/1.8, given what I'm doing with it.

As far as I'm concerned, you can't really beat the price of this lens, considering what you get for it.

Mar 18, 2009
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Gary Lee 44
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Registered: Jan 1, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 7048
Review Date: Jan 30, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $74.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp and cheap
Nothin g for the price I paid!

I know all the arguments about this lens. It is plastic, it's focus is to slow, or the auto focus hunts, it has a plastic mount ond so on. But so what. The lens is SHARP and has and f 1.8 so how can anyone complain about this lens. I know if you drop it , it is going to break. But shouldn't you be careful not to drop any of your equipment. The best thing is, if you do drop it you can buy another for $74. It is a great lens for the price. BUY ONE!

Jan 30, 2009
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Registered: Apr 29, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 230
Review Date: Jan 27, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $50.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Cheap, light
Inconsistent focus accuracy, a little soft on the far right (mine at least)

I bought this lens used from local Craigslist, planning to pass it on to a friend who is trying to put together a kit on the cheap. I've read over and over again what a bargain it is for the money and thought it would be a good starting point for him.


- When this lens focuses properly, it is very sharp indeed. Just a little softness on the far right of the image, but not too bad and inconsequential if taking shots of your kids.

- Super light


- Flimsy build (see 'super light')

- Major inconsistent focus problem. Using center spot, the camera will confirm focus while the lens is front or back focused. This happens on about 1/2 the shots. Not an issue with my other lenses.

Bottom line: Maybe it's just this example, but I would recommend staying away from this lens. $90 may seem like a bargain, but missing shots because of poor focusing is not worth it.

Jan 27, 2009
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Registered: Jan 24, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Jan 25, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $89.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Cheap, Light, very sharp starting at 2.2, does not have USM but it's has a very fast and accurate Af on a 50D body, IQ
Focus ring is to small

Very fast and accurate focusing on my 50D, it hunts sometimes on my 40D but the AF is still fast most of the time.

AF is not as Noisy as some people are claiming, yeah sure we can hear it but some of the people act as if you would be disturbing an entire wedding if you were to use it and that defiantly not the case. In a small quiet room yeah someone else that's near by will hear it but not at any small event or gathering.

Jan 25, 2009
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Registered: Jan 24, 2009
Location: Denmark
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 24, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $120.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Sharp, cheap and light
Durability is an issue

Got this one for my Canon 350D and it followed me to the 30D and on to the 1D Mk III.

Its fast, cheap and light and a great tool when first trying out DOF and DSLRs. Durability is an issue though - after one year some plastic came loose on the inside, but it doesn't show up on the pictures (probably because of the 1,3x crop factor).

AF is a bit slow but I still use 50 mm from time to time - especially for product shots. But will not replace it when it finally breaks - instead I will look for a 50 mm 1.4 or a 24 mm 1.4L (nice but expensive)

Jan 24, 2009
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Registered: Apr 6, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 195
Review Date: Jan 20, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $80.00 | Rating: 4 

Pros: Lightweight, very sharp at /5.6 and smaller apertures and it is cheap
extremely soft at /1.8 all the way to /4, sent to Canon 3 times for calibration/fixing, bad build quality, bad autofocus and noisy autofocus.

I got this lens new about a year ago after hearing all the great reviews about it and how great the quality of the optics were. I didn't bother to do any tests after receiving the lens and just started to go out and shoot, after coming back there were almost no keepers, every shot at a wide aperture (save for 1) was unbearably soft.

After seeing this I found it a bit harder to want to use the lens, but I tried it off and on for a couple more months before finally getting fed up with it and I sent it off to Canon to calibrate it. I received the lens back shortly thereafter and the manual focus ring was stuck so it went back to Canon again. After receiving it back again the autofocus started to make a very odd sound at both the closest focusing distance and infinity focus. But the lens did work, although after testing it in the field again I came back with soft results at anything below /5.6 (/4 being soft but usable in small prints).

This made me test the lens, and the results of it backed up the results from the field, the lens was soft (/4 being usable but still soft) until /5.6 where it was tack sharp. I don't know about anyone else, but when I buy a fast prime lens I plan to use it at wide apertures and not at /5.6 and smaller. So yet again I sent it back to Canon and I finally got a decently sharp copy but I just decided to sell it for cheap (making sure that the buyer knew the history of the lens) because a lens that costs less than $100 is not worth this much trouble. Maybe I just got an extraordinarily bad copy of it, but personally I'd avoid this lens.

Jan 20, 2009
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Registered: May 22, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 157
Review Date: Jan 18, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $85.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, colors are nice, neat bokeh (both good and bad), PRICE
Af is loud and inaccurate, Mf switch is tiny and hard to move, and the focus ring is a bit small, but it is only $90, so why complain?

It is a sharp lens that has produced great results for me over and over again. The colors are very nice, but contrast is lacking sometimes. F/1.8 is usable, and once you stop it down to f/2.2 it is extremely sharp. It is very light, so when paired with an entry level slr like the XT/XTi the combo weighs slightly more than a super zoom point-and-shoot. If you ever feel like stopping down to f/8 this lens hits optimal sharpness and is great for shooting buildings--although for serious applications you will want a T&S. Great for people starting out to learn the basics of photography and produce great results along the way.

Jan 18, 2009
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Dawei Ye
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Registered: Sep 14, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 3751
Review Date: Dec 20, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Sharp Wide Open, Very sharp stopped down, Light, Inexpensive
Very weak construction, Erratic AF, Bokeh (Boke) a bit harsh (not very creamy)

I thought I would post a bit of an updated Review to one I did a long time ago (well, not really, but I know much more now than then)

You are likely reading this because you are considering the purchase of this lens. Please be aware of several important pieces of information and myth surrounding this lens


lens either suffers from significant sample variation, or it's used by newbies (given its "consumer" status) who don't know how to use a lens wide open very well. But there are reports of dud copies so if yours is not sharp wide open get it replaced.

My copy is sharp wide open, almost as sharp as my 85mm f/1.2L II wide open and my 35mm f/1.4L wide open. Other reviewers have reported this lens as soft as s--- wide open. It leads me to be uneasy about the variation. If you don't believe that this lens is sharp wide open send me a PM and I can link you to some of my test shots. What is my definition of sharpness? Well I'm a pixel peeper who views the 100% view for every photo I take, so my idea of sharp is very sharp.

Getting sharp photos from this lens is complicated though. Firstly this lens has erratic focus accuracy. Secondly, because the depth of field is thin at f/1.8 you have to be wary of what your AF sensor is locking onto, as well as avoiding any movement yourself either from swaying or camera shake.


This lens is weak. I have snapped mine in half on numerous occasions. But note what I just said about "numerous occasions". That's right, you can easily fix this lens yourself for the most common breakage where the lens breaks into two halves.

Many forum users suggest you just dump your broken 50mm f/1.8II lens and buy a new one because its so cheap. Wrong. I'd rather save that money towards a nice L lens instead. If you drop your lens and snap it in half, you will have to find the little plastic pieces that snapped off, superglue them back into the top half, then lock the two pieces back together. It takes a bit of trial and error but the lens works perfectly if you do it right.


I made a mistake of buying this lens because many people said "It's a great beginner's lens" or "It's only $XX, it's like pocket change". Well, any amount of $ you spend on this lens means it will take that much longer for you to buy a quality lens like the 35L or 85L II or another lens that you really need. My 50mm f/1.8 II is just sitting at home doing nothing. (I dropped it and superglued it back together so whilst it still works, it's unlikely to fetch much

I am not convinced this is a good lens for beginners. Many users are seduced by the hype and the "affordability" of this lens, but does it really have value for money?

Wait...did I just say the 50mm f/1.8 II (which is always voted best bang for buck Canon lens) is bad value for money? Yes. I did. It is bad value for money for me at least.

Why? Well ask yourself what can this lens really do?

General Use? No, with its 80mm FOV on APS-C bodies (what most newbies use), it's too long for most walkabout purposes

Landscapes? No for similar reasons

Portraits? Yes...but this lens has a harsh quality to its out of focus regions, meaning there are better options

Wildlife? Sports? No because it is too short and slow AF

Weddings? AF is too erratic, and I like my primes to have nice creamy bokeh (boke)

As you can see it's usefulness is very limited.

Make no mistake, this lens is for you if you are happy with the focal length and you don't do time critical photography and you just want great image quality in a lens without spending heaps of money. But don't think for a moment that this lens is for everyone.

And if you don't like the 50mm focal length, or you do time sensitive work, then better to save that money towards a nice L lens or a Speedlite...

Hope that helped in your buying decision. My recommendation? (Unless you are sure the 50mm f/1.8 II is for you) If you are a newbie with a APS-C Camera, put the money towards a nice walkabout zoom lens like the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 or preferably Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS for the time being, and then save up for a FF camera with quality primes like the 24L,35L,85L,135L if you want primes.

Dec 20, 2008
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
350 560104 May 29, 2016
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $128.42
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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