A week with the new EF 50mm f1.8 STM.
I’d love to spend a bit more time with this lens testing it, but all the testing this lens went through over the last week was mostly professional use in event and portrait photography. Though I would love to talk about amazing bokeh, which is usually the main topic of discussion when talking about 50mm lenses, my main points this time are build, speed and image quality.
Let’s talk about the build; first thing that you will notice is the metal mount (old 50mm 1.8 had plastic). Not that it makes much difference for an extremely light weight lens, but definitely makes it look more robust and professional. The old nifty fifty was a lower price point plastic lens and very good for its money, the new metal mount puts the 50mm in line with other non L Canon primes in looks and build quality, at least visually.
Next part is a wider focusing ring, which makes it actually useful, not just present like on the old 50mm. All-time manual focusing is another game changer for the nifty fifty, though it is electronic, it makes focusing on the 50mm STM something that you could do with pleasure and without any extra steps, like switching autofocus or battling an old non-USM motor on 50mm 1.8 II. Everything on the old 50mm stopped me from using the manual focus, making exceptions only when camera failed focussing several times.
Finally, the STM motor. It was rather hard comparing focussing speed of the new 50mm to my other Canon L primes (50mm STM had to work really hard to impress me) I had something other to compare it to — the previous 50mm 1.8 II. And this is where the difference is staggering, the new STM version just felt like a completely different lens from a higher class of lenses, and technically it is, as it is not labeled as 50mm 1.8 III
Another good use for the STM motor is video capture. My wife does a lot of Youtube video blogging and now with her new EOS 700D and kit STM lens she is able to be in constant focus in her videos without any noise. I bet she’d love the blurred background with all the constant focus and total silence in her videos with the new 50mm STM.
Canon EF 50mm 1.8 STM is positioned as an update to the old nifty fifty and takes its place in the pricing segment of “cheap and extremely good for its price” and really leaves no reason not to update your old 50mm or just get one if you don't yet own any 50mm lenses.
Personally I do not own the L series 50mm 1.2 lens or even EF 50mm 1.4, since I don't use that focal length often preferring 35mm or 85mm instead, plus I still own and sometime use my old 50mm 1.8. Having the 50mm STM over the week made me want to use that focal length more and wanting to keep the lens after review.
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