To buy a bright portrait- or concert-photography lens, you have to dig deep. With a Canon APS-C SLR like the Canon 1200D or the Canon 760D, that isn’t needed. The Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM is bright, compact and inexpensive. That the STM motor provides terrific, constant AF during video is a greaet bonus. Because the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM is designed for cameras with a 24 x 36 mm image surface (the lens design dates from 25 years ago), you only use the best part of the lens (the center of the image) with Canon amateur cameras. Less weight, compact dimensions, a low price and better image quality are added plusses. Sounds good, right?
Your first lens with a fixed focal length!
Nearly everyone buys a first SLR camera as a kit with a 18-55 mm zoom lens. You learn to photograph with that, and the image quality is OK. But in low light, a zoom lens is not ideal, because the viewfinder image becomes dark. Because the 18-55 mm kit lens has built-in image stabilization, and the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM does not, the amount of light under which you can make an unblurred photo is about the same. With a moving subject, do you have an advantage with a 50 mm f/1.8 relative to the 18-55 mm kit lens, because thanks to the f/1.8 aperture, you can choose a faster shutter time. And for portrait shots, you would rather have a bit less sharp background. For that, you need a lens with a higher brightness (f/1.8). See also our Canon 50mm STM review @ Canon 5Ds.
Build and auto focus
The Canon 50 mm f/1.8 has a plastic housing and a metal mount. It thus remains light, while the attachment to the camera is made with a solid, wear-resistant mount. The AF shows a bit more spread in sharpness at full aperture in our test relative to what we are used to from Canon.
Vignetting is negligible at all apertures. That is—next to a lower price, a more compact size and lighter weight—one of the plus points of photographing with a camera with a smaller APS-C sensor.
A short telephoto lens is great for portraits or concert photography. Many photographers also like it for street photography, because you can maintain a bit of distance from your subject.
Distortion, flare & chromatic aberration
You will not have any problems with visible distortion with the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM. With Imatest, we measured 0.25% distortion. You don’t see that.
You do not have to deal with colored edges at sharp contrast transitions in the corners of the image ("lateral chromatic aberration"). Just like practically all other bright lenses, you can sometimes get color bokeh (another form of chromatic aberration, which appears not only in the corners but across the entire frame as purple edges in front of the focal point and green edges behind it) at full aperture (f/1.8). A small amount of stopping down is the simplest remedy. Thanks to lens coatings, you will not have problems with reduced contrast or light flecks as a result of internal reflections (“flare”) with backlighting. A lens hood is not included as standard. In this case, it is probably not a big deal. It’s often smart to use a lens hood as protection for the front lens, but in this case, the chance of damage is smaller, because the front lens is deeply recessed in the lens body. That has the additional advantage that, in comparison with other lenses, you will have less trouble from flare even without a lens hood.
If you compare the resolution of this lens on a Canon 760D with the Canon 50mm STM resolution with the Canon 5 Ds, then you see that the corners of the image are proportionally better, because only the center of the lens is used by the smaller sensor. After 2 to 3 stops, the highest sharpness is reached. From that, you can see that it’s an older lens design. If you compare the sharpness of the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM with the sharpness of the Canon 18-55 mm STM or the Canon 18-135 mm STM, set to the same focal length, then the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM scores higher.
Conclusion Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM review with Canon 760D
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See our list of reviewed lenses in order to compare this lens with other lenses.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom for the conversion of RAW files, then the RAW scores are the same as the jpg scores.
Attractively priced, bright lens
High center sharpness
Compact and light
STM motor suitable for video
No image stabilization
STM motor not completely silent
The Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM on a camera with an APS-C sensor is an 80 mm f/1.8 portrait- or concert-photography lens with an outstanding price-to-quality ratio.
Did you start with a Canon SLR with an 18-55 mm kit lens, and now you want to take your photography hobby a step further? Then the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM is a very attractive option: For a bit more than a hundred euros, you get the opportunity to develop your skills in playing with focal depth. With a fixed focal point, you think more consciously about the composition, so you will also progress in that area if you choose the Canon 50 mm f/1.8 STM as your first lens with a fixed focal length. I almost can’t imagine it, but if you find this lens too expensive and you have no plans to shoot video, then you can consider the nearly equivalent Yongnuo 50 mm f/1.8, which is a good 50% less expensive.
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.
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