First Impressions: Canon 50mm f1.8 STM

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It’s been years since Canon updated their 50mm f1.8 lens. The first version had a metal mount, the second version went cheaper on the build, and the new STM version includes a brand new motor, seven aperture blades, a metal mount and what otherwise seems to be the same plasticky build quality of version two. At the same time, the lens is also just a bit over $100–and it remains to be one of the best bang for your buck lenses that you can possibly get your hands on.

As of the publishing of this post, we’ve spent most of the past weekend with the lens. And so far, it’s proving to be quite the great offering.

Tech Specs

Tech specs taken from the Adorama listing of the lens.

Focal Length
50mm
Aperture
Maximum: f/1.8
Camera Mount Type
Canon EF
Format Compatibility
35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor Canon (APS-C)
Minimum Focus Distance
14″ (35.56cm)
Magnification
0.21x
Diaphragm Blades
7, Rounded
Autofocus
Yes
Filter Thread
49mm
Dimensions (Diameter x Length)
2.7 x 1.6″ (69.2 x 39.3 mm)
Weight
5.61 oz (159g)
Mfr #
0570C002
SKU
CA5018STM

Ergonomics

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Like its predecessor, the Canon 50mm f1.8 STM is a prime lens with not very much to it. It’s designed for those that want something cheap, simple and very effective. With this design, Canon seems to have given the consumer what they want.

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We start this tour with the front of the lens. The design is very much like the previous one where the front element is deep into the lens body. Because of this, the body seems to serve as its own built-in lens hood.

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Move to the top of the lens and you’ll notice the focusing ring. Canon didn’t bother putting a depth of field scale or distance scale on this lens that would be effective. At this price point, I can’t say that I blame them. A major improvement over the previous lens is that you now have a full manual focus ring instead of moving the focusing element section yourself. In practice it works out rather nicely for the size of the lens.

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The only control on the lens is the autofocus switch. Here you can tell the lens to focus manually or with autofocus. When in autofocus mode, the lens can manually overridden by the user.

Build Quality

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It’s a 50mm f1.8 lens made by Canon. What do you honestly expect me to say?

To be fair, it feels better than the previous one and the entire lens element unit doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall out of the lens if it takes a tumble. But compared to many other lenses out there, it’s cheap. Indeed, it’s also just in the price range where if you break on you just go buy another one.

For this reason, we strongly recommend it for concert photographers who seriously get their gear banged up.

Autofocus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (14 of 43)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 1.8

With the Canon 6D, the autofocus on the lens is rather quick and accurate most of the time. There are surely situations where it will struggle, but in those situations pretty much every DSLR has a problem. These include strong backlit scenarios.

The 50mm f1.8 STM is very quiet to focus–so quiet that no one heard me shooting candids when out on the subways taking photos. In fact, the shutter is the louder thing and finding a way to dampen the 6D is something that could prove useful.

Image Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (1 of 43)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 2.8

So far, what we’re finding is that the lens is plenty sharp in the right situations. The colors are also rather spectacular and it’s probably the strongest feature of the lens. The bokeh isn’t half bad either. Where the problems start to occur, however, is with color fringing–there is quite a lot of it in the spots where one would expect it to happen.

Again though, we have to save our final judgement for the full review. Here are some image samples in the mean time.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (2 of 43)ISO 4001-400 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (43 of 43)ISO 1001-1600 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (42 of 43)ISO 1001-1600 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (41 of 43)ISO 1001-800 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (40 of 43)ISO 1001-400 sec at f - 5.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (39 of 43)ISO 1001-250 sec at f - 5.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (38 of 43)ISO 1001-2500 sec at f - 2.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (37 of 43)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 2.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (36 of 43)ISO 1001-1250 sec at f - 2.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (35 of 43)ISO 8001-30 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (34 of 43)ISO 32001-250 sec at f - 2.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (33 of 43)ISO 1001-2000 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (32 of 43)ISO 1001-2000 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (31 of 43)ISO 1001-3200 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (30 of 43)ISO 1001-3200 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (29 of 43)ISO 1001-1250 sec at f - 3.2
Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (27 of 43)ISO 1001-500 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (26 of 43)ISO 1001-1000 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (25 of 43)ISO 1001-640 sec at f - 3.5


Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (23 of 43)ISO 3201-60 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (20 of 43)ISO 8001-50 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (19 of 43)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (18 of 43)ISO 1001-250 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (17 of 43)ISO 1001-320 sec at f - 2.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (16 of 43)ISO 1001-3200 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (15 of 43)ISO 4001-4000 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (13 of 43)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (12 of 43)ISO 64001-250 sec at f - 1.8
Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (8 of 43)ISO 64001-125 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (7 of 43)ISO 32001-160 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (6 of 43)ISO 32001-125 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (5 of 43)ISO 16001-125 sec at f - 3.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (4 of 43)ISO 32001-50 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (3 of 43)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 1.8

 

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (28 of 43)ISO 1001-320 sec at f - 5.6

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (24 of 43)ISO 1001-1250 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (22 of 43)ISO 3201-1000 sec at f - 4.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (21 of 43)ISO 8001-1250 sec at f - 4.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (11 of 43)ISO 64001-80 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (10 of 43)ISO 64001-80 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM first impressions photos (9 of 43)ISO 64001-200 sec at f - 2.5

First Impressions

So far, the new Canon 50mm f1.8 STM is proving to be well worth the money. But we’re not sure if it’s worth the upgrade and we have yet to see how it compares against many other lenses and on higher megapixel camera bodies.

Stay tuned for our full review yet to come.