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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

ef50mmf_18_1_
Review Date: Nov 1, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $65.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast, small, lightweight, very cheap, great image quality. It's an excellent starter for anyone who hasn't worked with primes before.
Cons:
Considering the price? None. Without that consideration? flimsy focus ring and AF switch, noisy and slow AF, no focus distance indication.

This is, hands down, the lens with the best Price/Performance ratio of the whole Canon line-up. Nicknamed the "Plastic Fantastic" and "Nifty Fifty", it delivers good performance at a bargain price. ( I paid 76 for it, which was at the time I bought it, around 60 to 65 US$. )

As such, it is a great introduction into prime lenses for anyone who hasn't worked with fixed focal length lenses before. I recommend it to anyone who has a Canon EOS dSLR, except for those who already have the faster 50 mm options, of course. It's small, lightweight, cheap, has a fast aperture and, it being a prime, will stimulate anyone who's used to zooms to think more about composition. Novices, take heed.

My copy is tack sharp at all apertures. Wide open at f/1.8 it will exhibit some blooming, which reduces the contrast of brighter areas, but this is almost gone at f/2 and completely gone at f/2.2. The blooming effect can actually be a bonus because it gives an image a bit of a dreamy look.

Another little bonus is the fact that this lens works absolutely great for near IR photography. IR low-pass filters for the 52 mm filter size are cheap and the lens has no IR hot spots. This allows for another low-threshold into a sub-section of photography.

You get what you pay for. With this, you get an awful lot for very little, but there is one substantial bad point with this lens: The AF performance is mediocre. It's noisy, it's slow, and in low light it hunts considerably. Using a Speedlite or ST-E2 with AF assist light, even if you set the flash to AF-assist beam only, is a very good idea.

Build-wise you get a lot of plastic. Because the lens is so small, that's no issue. Plastic lens mounts may be a problem with larger heavier lenses, not with this one. The focus ring is iffy and the lack of distance indication can be a problem. Also, the AF switch feels flimsy.

Considered as a whole, I give this lens a perfect 10/10. In my opinion its drawbacks in build quality and AF performance are more than overcome by its incredibly low price.