Why would you want a 50mm f1.8 lens in the first place? There are many reasons: One: they deliver high quality images and Two: They are really inexpensive. These lenses range from around $120 for the Canon, $150 for the Sony and Nikon has two, one for $125 and the other for $220. The color contrast and sharpness of the lens are actually very good for the price you are paying. Consider that the Canon f1.2 L version is $1500 and you start to see what a great value these lenses represent.
The third reason you would want one, especially on one of the newer all plastic camera bodies, is the weight. These are super light lenses.
The Canon 50mm f1.8 MKII weighs in at only 4.6oz (130g) the lightest of all of Canon’s current lens lineup. When I had this on my Canon 60D it felt like a feather compared to my Canon 5d without a lens on it.
Nikon has two and the 50mm f1.8g is the newest one and it comes in at only 6.6oz (187g) and the older f1.8d is 5.5oz (156g)
Sony’s 50mm f1.8 DT is in between the newer Canon and Nikon lenses at 6oz (170g)
The fourth reason is the speed of the lens. A 50mm at f1.8 will give you 2 stops more to open up versus a typical kit lens. This could really make a difference in a low light situation such as a party or other event where a flash isn’t allowed. This speed also makes this a great video lens to use on all the new DSLRs that also have video capabilities.
We will now go over a few of the numbers and technical aspects of each lens just to give you some basic info.
Diaphragm Blades (more is generally better for bokeh):
All four lenses felt about what you paid for them.
The Canon 50mm f1.8 MKII was extremely light and felt cheap. The focusing ring was not easy to use as I kept grabbing the barrel and the ring at the same time. Hopefully on the MKIII they will make that ring a bit easier to grab. The autofocus switch was on the left hand side and easy to use with your thumb while shooting.
The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8g was by far my favorite as far as focusing goes. It was quiet and the focusing ring is a nice wide ribbed band that made it easy to find and use. It also had the most solid feel to it, which was probably due to it also being the heaviest. The autofocus was also easy to use with just your thumb while shooting.
The older sibling Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8d felt a lot like the Canon 50mm f1.8 MKII although the focusing ring on the front was raised and easier to use then the Canon one. You will want to double check and make sure this will work on your Nikon camera as the auto-focus will not work with all of their cameras.
The Sony SAL-50f18 50mm f1.8 DT lens felt cheap, but handled great. The focusing ring, although smooth, was easy to use. The auto-focus was a bit slow at times and noisy. The Autofocus switch was easy to use with your thumb while shooting.This one is only works on the non-full-frame Sony cameras.
All the lenses get a WOW! due to the low cost of each of them.
Canon 50mm f1.8 MKII:
WOW! on this lens is the super lightweight. It was the lightest and cheapest of all the lenses.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8g:
WOW! was the wonderful feeling I had holding this lens. It was the most expensive, but it also had the best feel to it.
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8d:Wow! Another lightweight lens. If you are looking to buy a 50mm for your Nikon this one gives the most bangs for the buck. Although I would recommend you go for the newer version if money is not an issue as it has the newer glass and better build.
Sony SAL-50F18 50mm f1.8 DT:
Wow! Again a really lightweight lens and the bokeh was extremely nice.
When I used my Canon 50mm f1.8 MKII for the first time I was pleasantly surprised at how well the images were with such an inexpensive and cheap feeling lens. It is not called the plastic fantastic for nothing. After using the other lenses I have gained even more respect for the nifty-fifties and recommend them to everyone. They are unobtrusive and not as in your face as a typical zoom. People will not feel as intimidated if you have one of these on your camera. They are light and inexpensive, so they won’t break your budget. They make for a great video lens because of the ability to open up to 1.8 for low light conditions.
Click on the corresponding links below to view technical details or make a purchase:
(sometimes price is better on Amazon sometimes at Adorama)
Canon 50mm f1.8 at Amazon click here
Canon 50mm f1.8 at Adorama click here
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8d at Amazon click here
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f1.8d at Adorama click here
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8g at Amazon click here
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8g at Adorama click here
Sony SAL-50F18 50mm f1.8 DT: at Amazon click here
Sony SAL-50F18 50mm f1.8 DT: at Adorama click here
Obviously if you have a canon camera you get a canon lens, nikon lens for a nikon and sony for sony. However is you haven’t gotten a new camera yet read our previews review: DSLR Camera Kits Under $500
If you have one of these lenses or have used one in the past please post a comment! If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see in the upcoming reviews please email us here. Have great Holidays!