Canon has made a habit in recent of years of not building the lenses that we all guess they are going khổng lồ build while often announcing và then swiftly releasing lenses that few people expected. After Canon refreshed a number of its smaller, non-L series primes (24mm, 28mm, và 35mm) with critically acclaimed (and image stabilized) new designs, the common expectation was that Canon would next address its aging yet popular EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. So what did Canon do? The opposite of expectations, of course, & instead released a refreshed version of its “plastic fantastic” aka “nifty-fifty” aka EF 50mm f/1.8 II. That new lens is the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, & it is a significant tăng cấp in a number of ways over its older predecessor. Here is a summary of those updates from a preview article I wrote (we will elaborate further on many of these):

Redesign of the aperture iris. It is now 7 rounded blades as compared to lớn the 5 straighter blades before. The previous kiến thiết would cause bokeh highlights khổng lồ be a bit ugly (I often use the term “cartoonish” if the lens was stopped down much. Expect the new lens lớn have better bokeh when stopped down and I wouldn’t be surprised if highlights stay circular until at least f/5.6 or so. This wasn’t the case even at f/2.8 with the older design.

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Shorter minimum focus & maximum magnification. The older lens had a 1.5 foot minimum focus distance và thus a maximum magnification of .15x. This is pretty much the standard for 50mm lenses, but is definitely an Achilles’s heel for them. That isn’t a very impressive magnification figure. Canon has addressed that here, however, with a new minimum focus of just 1.1 feet & a maximum magnification of .21x. This is a much more useful figure and will allow for even more diffused backgrounds and more creativity when shooting “macro” type shots. This is a big giảm giá to me, personally, as I really enjoy using a 50mm lens in this fashion.Better build quality, including a metal mount. The redesign of the lens includes a more robust build unique (no more “plastic fantastic”) around a metal lens mount (the MK II of the lens had only a plastic mount). The original version of this lens has long been prized for its more robust build quality, & this new lens should prove a modernized version of that.Better focus ring. The 50mm f/1.8 II might as well as not had a focus ring at all. It was terrible. Tiny, scratchy, và not at all fun to lớn manually focus. The new focus ring will be a bit wider & definitely smoother, and STM does allow for full time manual override (unlike previous versions of this lens). Just know that STM is “focus by wire”, meaning that it is an electronic connection and not a physical one, meaning that the camera must be on for manual focus and that there can be a bit of a lag between your input đầu vào on the focus ring & the actually movement of the elements. Not my favorite system, but here it will be an improvement over what was there before.

So after spending some chất lượng time with the new nifty fifty, let’s jump in và discover the reality of the new lens. The new 50STM is a very nice lens for its extremely low price point. It feels like a real lens rather than the toy-like chất lượng of the “plastic fantastic”. I let my wife and children handle the old 50mm f/1.8 II, and they were shocked at cheap và “plasticky” it felt in comparison khổng lồ the usual volume of lenses flowing across my desk. The 50mm STM is small và light, of course, but it feels like a real lens. It’s not a Zeiss, of course (or even a Takumar), but it has a much more reassuring “denseness” compared to its predecessor. When compared with the 40mm f/2.8 STM, the 40mm feels a bit more dense. It weighs less (130g vs. 159g) but is also only 60% as long (23mm vs. 38mm), so overall it is about 25% more dense.

The new 50STM has a finish that is more of a matte look than any Canon lens I’ve reviewed before. The look works, though, và while the thiết kế is simple (STM lenses eschew focus distance windows and any kind of hyperfocal markings) it is clean & works nicely. The focus ring is still on the smallish side, but is wider than the focus ring on either the older 50mm f/1.8 or that on the 40mm STM.






One negative carried over here from the previous generation is that the lens is NOT internally focusing. The internal lens housing does extend during focus. It is most pronounced at minimum focus và is fully retracted at infinity focus. Most annoying is the fact the lens housing does not retract when the camera is powered down, và the nature of STM công nghệ means that you cannot manually retract it when the camera is powered off. That exposes a vulnerability, as it might be possible to damage the lens by something hitting that front barrel when it is extended. It makes the purchase of a lens hood an important consideration. The lens hood would prevent that happening in most all situations. Yes, nearly $27 for a piece of plastic is a bit ridiculous, but considering the bargain price of the lens, just consider it part of the investment.

Some photographers were hoping that this lens would be a “pancake” lượt thích the 40mm f/2.8 STM. While it isn’t really a pancake, for all practical purposes it is almost as good. It should easily slip into a jacket pocket & be very easy to lớn bring along, and will địa chỉ cửa hàng next lớn no discernible weight khổng lồ most photographer’s bag. I should also cảnh báo that the compact kích thước of the lens and its use of STM makes it a very natural lens lớn use with the EOS M line of camera bodies via the EF adapter. It balances nicely there and focuses fairly close lớn native EOS M lenses in terms of speed. This lens might even replace the 40mm f/2.8 STM as my most used EF lens on the EOS M.

The reality is that Canon has given us far more lens và charged us no more for it, making this lens officially one of the best bargains (if not the best) in DSLR photography. Canon’s margin on this lens is probably initially going to lớn be fairly small (despite recycling a fair portion of the optical formula), but I have a feeling that they will make up for it in volume. This lens is cheap enough that many photographers will buy it even if they don’t intend khổng lồ use it that often. I’ll probably bởi it myself, and that’s why Canon was very smart lớn keep this lens priced so aggressively. It also deflects the attack from Chinese maker Yongnuo with their “clone” of the 50mm f/1.8.


The key component of this upgrade is found in the name: STM. STM standings for “Stepping Motor”, và it is a newer focus motor công nghệ that began with the EF 40mm STM lens. While tốc độ is always a factor with autofocus motors, STM công nghệ is more about the way focus is achieved. Specifically, “stepping” giải pháp công nghệ is about smoothness in focus, & smooth transitions from one focus point to lớn another. Its major application is in video capture when AF Servo focus can be used khổng lồ achieve smooth video focus without hunting. A lens with STM used with, say, a Canon 70D like mine will even bởi smooth, natural “focus pulls” where extreme focus changes are made from a foreground lớn a background subject. STM motors also tend khổng lồ be quieter, particularly when compared lớn the older micro-motors used in many of Canon’s lower end (non USM) lenses. Take a look at the difference in the focus unique and sound during AF Servo đoạn clip capture on a Canon EOS 70D body.

This 50mm lens is only the third full frame compatible lens that Canon has released with STM technology, & it makes far more sense than the last one that I reviewed (the 24-105mm STM). The use of STM makes perfect sense in Canon’s lower end & crop-sensor specific lenses (EF-S), as most of the recent Canon crop sensor bodies can leverage that technology (the Canon 70D & 7DMKII most effectively because of the Dual px AF technology) and the fact that STM is an improvement upon the old micro-motor technology. Its use in full frame lenses is a little more puzzling, however, as to lớn this point no Canon full frame body toàn thân employs Dual pixel AF or supports AF Servo video clip capture. I viewed the 24-105mm STM as more of a lens designed for future bodies, because its focal length is simply not a natural one for crop sensor bodies (the 18-135 STM makes more sense if you are shooting crop). I’m not as concerned here, because the low purchase price of the “nifty-fifty” means that a lot of crop-sensor shooters are likely khổng lồ use it in addition khổng lồ full frame shooters. The 50mm focal length is equally loved by full frame và crop sensor users, where the 50mm focal length becomes an effective 80mm (full frame equivalent). This puts it into a real sweet spot for portrait work as well as general purpose.

Full frame shooters get the advantage of a better/quieter/faster focusing lens even if their camera body toàn thân can’t leverage the AF Servo video focus function. Some crop sensor shooters with the right toàn thân will get the full functionality.

The older 50mm f/1.8 II lens was one of the most notorious examples of the downsides of micro-motor focus. Its AF was loud, buzzy, and had a scratchy sound lượt thích it was working through a bit of grit every time. Micro-motors do not support full time manual override, so you would have to select manual focus on the side of the lens before attempting to manually focus with the tiny manual focus ring that seemed to lớn be barely attached to the very front of the barrel. Not great. It felt much like its price – cheap.

The STM version is a big step up. The focus motor is noticeably quieter (though not silent nor as quiet as other STM lenses that I’ve used), và it is much smoother. Faster? Not noticeably, but definitely smoother. Check out this đoạn clip for a look at the build, motor, and focus sound.

Unsurprisingly the focus shines the brightest when used in a way that the công nghệ was designed for. I added a 70D khổng lồ my kit for just this kind of evaluation, và in clip AF Servo mode the lens smoothly transitions from one focus point to another. It also focuses very quickly when utilizing the Dual px AF in Live View mode. On my 6D body the focus is also nice & accurate, although the tốc độ is unimpressive when compared lớn a variety of modern lenses using either USM (Canon), USD (Tamron), or HSM (Sigma) ultrasonic/hypersonic motors.

I should chú ý that the copy of the lens that I reviewed did require significant AFMA adjustment (focus tuning) on the bodies that I used it on (save the EOS M, obviously). This included two Canon 6D bodies và 1 Canon 70D body. On all bodies the AFMA was at least -11. That is one of the more extreme adjustments that I have had to lớn make on a modern lens, but on a positive note the result was consistent across multiple bodies & was repeatable in multiple tests.

If you have a body toàn thân that does not support AFMA adjustment và find that your copy of the lens is not focusing consistently (accurately), you might consider sending the combination (body + lens) khổng lồ Canon for calibration. It might cost you a bit of money but will save you a lot of heartache.

By comparison, the older 50II needed less extreme adjustment but with less consistent results. I got a number of errors even trying to run the program, so I vì think that overall focus accuracy has been improved.

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Probably the biggest challenge for this type of lens is going khổng lồ be in portrait use. We portrait photographers tend to like sharp, accurately focuses results. I typically focus on eyes, & I demand the focus there to be accurate. You will probably find that this type of shooting (typically at wide apertures like f/2.8 or larger) will expose focus inconsistencies more than general shooting. I was initially disappointed with the focus accuracy of the copy on my primary camera body that I was using after a series of portraits (thanks khổng lồ my lovely wife for jumping in to mã sản phẩm for me).