Should I go for the Canon 50mm f/1.8?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by M@lew, May 27, 2007.

  1. M@lew macrumors 68000


    Nov 18, 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    Currently, I own a Canon 400D with the kit lens and the 75 - 300mm telescopic lens. I want to purchase another lens but I don't have that much money at the moment.

    I've had a look at the Canon 50mm f/18 lens which is pretty cheap and I've heard good things about it. But it has a cheap build (which is to be expected) and I'm not sure if it's what I really "need" in a lens.

    The lens I would be happy with getting is the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC lens which is about 3.5 times as much.

    What I'm wondering is should I get the Canon lens and not get the Sigma for a while, or keep saving and eventually get the Sigma?

    I generally tend to shoot a lot of different photo's, ranging from people to landscapes to macro and don't really have a special purpose. For long shots I'll whip out the 75 - 300 lens anyway, so I'm pretty much looking for a replacement for the kit lens.

    I'm also aware that they're both prime lenses and don't have any zoom. Would this be a positive or a negative? Should I be looking at lenses that have zoom?

    Thanks in advance. :)
  2. jlcharles macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2006
    Wenonah, NJ
    Everyone should own a 50mm lens. I own this one and use it a lot. I think the build issue is really overstated. Plus, it's a great low light lens which you don't have now.
  3. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
    Optically the 50mm f1.8 is one of the best lenses you will ever own.
    The f1.8 maximum aperture is great for low light photography as well as giving you a very bright image in the viewfinder.
    Last but not least the 50mm focal length on your digital SLR will give you the equivalent of 75mm (approx) which make a great short telephoto lens which is excellent for head and shoulders portraits. :)

  4. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    The 50mm f/1.8 is a fantastic lens. First time you hold it, you'll think it's a cheap piece of crap. First time you put it one your camera, you'll think the AF is really clunky. But optically nothing else comes remotely close in terms of bang for the buck. The 50mm f/1.4 is only marginally better and 4 times as much.

    The reviews I've seen of the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 are a little underwhelming.

    Of course, it's not exactly comparable to the 50mm f/1.8 in terms of it's uses, being much wider and a bit faster.

    If money's an issue though, the 50mm f/1.8 can't be beat.

    Think of it this way: for the price of the Sigma you could get the Canon 50mm f/1.8 and the Canon 28mm f/2.8 or 24mm f/2.8, and have money left over. Or you could use that left over money on a good macro lens. Or a flash. Or a vertical grip. Or whatever.
  5. sananda macrumors 68020

    May 24, 2007
  6. jburns macrumors regular

    May 1, 2007
    Buy it. Unless you're taking combat photos the build should be fine. This lens is known as the "plastic fantastic". Tack sharp.
  7. seenew macrumors 68000


    Dec 1, 2005
    buy it, don't even think twice about it. That lens lived on my camera for six months. Now it shares the rent with the 17-40 F/4L. :p
  8. Bunsen macrumors member

    May 1, 2007
    Orlando FL
    I just ordered mine today for my Digital Rebel! I've been reading a lot of great reviews about it. Even with the cheap build quality, I think it's going to blow the doors off the 18-55mm kit lens, which is only f3.5-5.6! I also have the Tamron 28-300mm, which is a great compact zoom, but quite slow.
  9. sjl macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    First comment: get the 50mm f/1.8. It's not called the "thrifty fifty" for nothing; as has already been stated, it cannot be beaten for quality for double the price.

    There are compromises that are inherent in making zoom lenses. A given prime lens will be cheaper, and give better image quality, than a zoom lens at the same focal length. It may well be significantly faster, too, although that's not a given (especially for long telephotos; once you're past 200mm, speed comes at a significant price - just look at the price of the 300mm f/2.8 for an example of that without going overboard; the 400mm f/2.8 is getting into second mortgage territory.)

    Basically, you're trading off flexibility for image quality, is what it comes down to. Only you can make the decision on which direction of that tradeoff is worth it.
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The 50mm is the ideal second lens. the f/1.8 is very useful for both low light and to reduce DOF. If shooting indoors the 50mm lens will do head and shoulder shots and has a shallow DOF while open so you loos the typical indoor background clutter.

    As for lack of a zoom. Can you move. So many snapshooters are so lazy that they don't even concider walking and their shots suffer. Movement of the camera location changes perspective, the zoom acts like a crop but has no effect on perspective.

    Another reason for not getting a zoom is that there are no really fast zooms to be bought at any price. Most zooms go only to f/2.8 but f/1.4 primes are easy to find and affordable and two stops faster.
  11. ppc_michael Guest


    Apr 26, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Just to add to the yes-ness: yes. Get it. I'm in your same basic situation: I just ordered my first SLR (Canon Rebel XTi) with the zoom lens, and I ordered the 50mm f/1.8 with that. The lens came before the camera did, so I had no other lens to compare "cheap build" to, so that didn't strike me.

    It's a WONDERFUL lens. Oh my. I rarely use the zoom lens now. It's the 50mm for me!
  12. xPismo macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2005
    You may want to look at a 28mm since you have the 1.6x CMOS sensor but you cant go wrong with a 50mm. Great portrait lens.
  13. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2003
    I am getting ready to buy the 50mm F1.8 and a close up tube set for my Canon EOS 1D. 50's are great and provide all the benefits mentioned above. Fast F stop and super sharp. The close up tube set is just a bonus for 1:1 or better.
  14. Celticsun macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2005
    I managed to get a hold of a MK1 f1.8 50mm I found the build on this a lot better than the newer plastic mount MK2. It also has a distance guide.

    But having said that its a 14yr old lens so you take your chances with the older ones.

    That said and done it really is a nice lens the MK1 or MK2 you will be very very happy with the results for the price, the only grumble (and its slight) is the background blur suffers slightly and you may find yourself looking a the photos thinking "Why can such a beautifully sharp fast lens provide such cheap background blur"

    I mainly use mine for candid party shots because its so sharp even in low light and you don't need the reach as the photos crop beautifully.

    Do it you need one!
  15. mcmadhatter macrumors 6502


    Sep 6, 2005
    Bath, UK
    I was in exactly the same lens position as you with my 350D this time last year, I opted to buy the 50mm 1/8 and am very pleased with it! I took i travelling last summer and it stood up ok in my rucksack for 3 months, the build quality is not bad, it's just not the same as a £500 lens, but I've had no problems with it.

    It is great for low light and a very good lens to compliment what you have if you are on a low budget. I would buy this lens rather than the sigma, and then save your money for a while to get something to replace your kit lens eventually.
  16. seenew macrumors 68000


    Dec 1, 2005

    Yeah, I was able to fine a Mk1, too. It's a little denser and feels stronger. But I'm sure the Mk2 is more than 'fine.' I love the 50 1.8. :D
  17. euclidjr macrumors newbie

    May 31, 2007
    Once upon a time the 50 mm lens was THE standard camera lens and was THE optical benchmark by which manufacturers were judged and compared. Although the basic lens focus has now shifted (at least at the low to mid amateur level) to zooms - you can still benefit from years of research and development that went into designing the 50 mm lens and the Canon 1.8 50 may be the best lens, dollar for dollar, that you can ever buy. It is faster than any zoom lens - and sharp as a filed tack. The question is can you afford not to own this lens?

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