Today I’ll be testing the Canon 50 mm 1.8 STM, also known as the plastic fantastic or nifty fifty. I will make the review from a video perspective, so if you are a photographer better info is likely found elsewhere. This is a super affordable prime lens that is ideal when shooting a video for b-roll.
Canon had a 50 mm prime lens in the arsenal for many years even before we started recording video. So this is the second or third generation lens released around 3 years ago offering some real advantages when recording video compared to its predecessor. If you are new to lenses, a prime lens means that it has only one focal length. So the only way of zooming is to moving either closer or further away to the subject. The benefit of the prime lens is that it produces some really sharp images.
Build quality and Specifications.
The lens has a metal mount that makes it really sturdy and it has a rounded seven-blade aperture. It feels light with a decent build quality, it’s plastic but it feels like nice plastic. Switch between autofocus and Manual. This will allow focus through the manual focus ring in the front using focus by wire. That approach is a bit slower, but at least you don’t wreck the lens if you accidentally turn the ring when the lens has been put into autofocus. The filter thread of 49 millimeters which makes it one of the smallest in the Canons lens family. This lens utilizes Canon’s STM focusing motor, that makes it super precise and efficient when doing autofocus. Fast 1.8 maximum aperture, that offers really good low light performance in combination with the seven rounded aperture blades makes the bokeh looks really nice.
With a big aperture of F1.8, you get a really shallow depth of field, making this lens perfect for close up shots or interviews where you wish to blur the background, while the foreground stays sharp making your videos look really professional. It fits on canon full frame camera, but when used on APS-C cameras, like the Canon 200D with a crop factor of 1.6, the lens is more like an 80 mm short telephoto lens ideal for shooting b-roll. It does not work very well as a vlogging lens as the image is too cropped in with the APS-C type of camera Minimum focus distance of 35 centimeters, this is not bad but it is not macro level but also not what lens was designed for. It’s around 160 grams and sizewise It sits very nice on my Canon 200D.
The lens is delivered with a lens cap and back cover, but you have to buy the lens hood separately and at an outrageous price common Cannon. The only downside using this lens for video is that it does not offer image stabilization. So it’s not a very good option as a running gun as your footage will end up shaky.
Autofocus is really important when you’re recording video. It needs to be swift, accurate and with any focus hunting. When I record myself it’s pretty important that I stay in focus despite that I’m moving around. Yes, I know I had some serious issues with that in the past but that a different story that I will tell you another time. With the STM motor, the lens should be able to keep up, but the performance of the autofocus is not only determined by the speed of the lens. The autofocus system in the camera also plays an important role. And with my Canon 200D as the entry level camera, you should only see better performance than what I show in the video with some of the bigger models.
Finally, noise when doing autofocus is a factor considering. This is not such a big deal for me because I normally use the lens for shooting b-roll, where I don’t use the audio track, but could easily see this being a problem if the audio track is needed. My Canon 200D is currently equipped with an external microphone, Røde Video Mic Pros, but Let’s try and do a few examples, so you can judge for yourself with or without the external microphone.
With a Canon 50 mm Prime lens you are getting sharp images, but the image is sharper at some aperture settings than others. This one is really sharp around F2.8 and shows no signs of dark corners also known as vignetting. There is also no chromatic aberration showing as purple fringes in the corners of the picture.
So, all in all, I’m very happy with the Image Quality of this 50 mm lens, and with the shallow depth of field, you will be able to produce some stunning footage with blurry background. The new Nifty Fifty is a lens that every Canon DLSR video shooter should have in their bag, especially at this price level, Period! You can a pick a Canon 50 mm 1.8 STM for around 125 dollars on Amazon. If you add an additional 10 dollars you can have the lens hood included in a kit.