Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Lens: Canon 50mm f/1.8

I recently upgraded from my kit lens to a prime (fixed) lens - which essentially means a lens at a fixed focal length (i.e. zoom) and therefore has no 'zooming' function.  This particular lens is at 50mm (which on my kit lens scale of 18mm to 55mm is highly magnified).  This means you have to step back to capture the same amount of image as previous compositions, at say 18mm.

The lens I purchased was the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and costs £85 on Amazon (see link).
Considered to be one of Canon's cheapest lens (evident from build quality), it's main advantage, which more than compensates plastic exterior and noisy function is the actual lens within.  At an aperture of 1.8 (remembering that the kit lens only gave a maximum aperture (f number) of 3.5), you get an idea of the power of this lens.  Aperture is essentially how big the whole with which you allow light through a lens is - and the lower the 'f' number, the lower the aperture.  The main purpose of aperture is to allow more light to enter at a give shutter speed, in other words, with an aperture of 1.8 instead of 3.5, less light is required to take the same image.  This is useful when you are in low-light conditions such as indoors (and you do not want to use a flash).

The other main and exciting feature with this lens is the ability to work with Depth of Field. I don't know enough about DoF to explain it properly (lots of the net), but in essence, it is a parallel plane (to the capture medium / camera's sensor) which is in focus with the remain sections in front and behind slows fading out of focus.  Low aperture enables the plane of focus to be really narrow (i.e. shallow depth of field) giving those trademark captures with crystal clear subject and blurry backgrounds.

For example, we can see a shot I took of a goose eating bread on a winters day - the head is in focus and relatively clear compared to the background which is 'blurred' - this demonstrated the potential of this 50mm lens:
Goose captured using Canon 50mm f/1.8 Lens
More examples of 50mm lens images can be found on the 50mm Flickr Group.


  1. Hello Pramal..Just stumbled across your blog.I liked you little review of 50mm f1.8 lens. I am also considering this lens but I am also inclined to 50mm f1.4 due to it's build quality and image quality.f1.8 should be good for exprementation and best for novice photographers like us but f1.4 is investment and would last long. What do you say?

  2. Hi Nitin. Thanks for reading my review, glad it was helpful. For what you get on the f1.8, I found it a bargin at around £85 compared to the f1.4 version, which costs around £270. The added 'stop' will give you a wider aperture therefore a lot more to play with, combined with the quality invested by canon to make the lens build better, will make it last longer I guess. They call this lens the 'nifty fifty' as its handy to have around. If I had the money, I'd go for the 1.4, but as I didn't I went for 1.8 and what you're essentially paying for is the lens inside and nothing else - and it does the trick for me. Happy with what I've been able to shoot.

  3. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    as a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed.
    thank you :)