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Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM
Full-Frame EF USM
(2015-today)

©2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

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Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM (Full-frame, 35mm EOS, 1.3x and and APS-C coverage, 49mm filters, 1.1'/0.35m close-focus, 5.6 oz./159g, about $125.) I got mine at B&H; I'd just as well have gotten it at Adorama or at Amazon.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Canon does not seal its boxes, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used lens. My approved sources ship from remote automated warehouses far away from any store where salespeople or other lookie-loos can drop your new lens before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

June 2015    More Canon Reviews    Canon Lenses    All Reviews

Why Fixed Lenses Take Better Pictures

Canon 50mm Lenses Compared

Premium 50mm Lens Comparison

EF 50mm f/1.8 II (1990-2015) Same optics, with plastic mount and 52mm filters.

EF 50mm f/1.8 (1987-1990) Same optics, metal mount, focus and depth-of-field scales.

 

Sample Image      (more in the review)    top

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Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Katie and Free Spirit the Clown

Katie and Free Spirit the Clown. (Canon 5D Mk III, Canon 320 EX flash, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, 1/200 at f/13 at Auto ISO 400, Perfectly Clear V2.) Bigger or full-resolution.

 

Jewelry Store, Orange County

Jewelry, 20 June 2015. Just look at the full-resoluton image to see every textured nipple in the stucco and every perforation in the speaer grill. Canon 5DS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/7.1 at 1/320 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear V2. Perfect fill-flash in broad daylight from 20 feet away! Full 50MP resolution.

 

Three Jensen Precast Interceptors

Three Planets, 20 June 2015. Only the center is in focus, and boy is it sharp. Canon 5DS, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/9 at 1/250 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear V2. Full 50MP resolution.

 

Palm Pineapple, RP 08 Oct 2015

Pineapple Palm, 08 October 2015. Canon T6i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/6.3 at 1/40 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file to explore on your desktop computer.

 

Water and Granite, RP 08 Oct 2015

Water and Granite, 08 October 2015. Canon T6i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/7.1 at 1/400 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file to explore on your desktop computer.

 

Knotty Wood, RP 08 Oct 2015

Knotty Wood, 08 October 2015. Canon T6i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/5.6 at 1/320 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file to explore on your desktop computer.

 

Fruited Palm, RP 08 Oct 2015

Fruited Palm, 08 October 2015. Canon T6i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/8 at 1/60 at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file to explore on your desktop computer.

 

In the Wood Shed, RP 08 Oct 2015

In the Wood Shed, 08 October 2015. Canon T6i, Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, f/11 at 1/2 second at ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © JPG file to explore on your desktop computer.

 

Introduction       top

Sample Images   Intro   Specs   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

This Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM packs superb optics into a small, inexpensive package. That's why it's already Canon's number-one best-selling lens; heck, it's the world's best selling camera lens, period.

This new lens is an ounce heavier than the previous EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens because it adds a metal mount.

This new STM lens also adds instant manual-focus override and closer focussing. It replaces the regular 5-bladed diaphragm with a rounded 7-blade diaphragm.

 

Formats & Compatibility

This 50/1.8 STM lens is optimized for full-frame digital and 35mm film, and of course works on 1.3x and 1.6x Canon cameras.

Full frame lenses like this are at their best on full-frame, which is how I will be reviewing it. You can make the usual inferences when used on smaller sensors.

This Canon EF EOS 50mm f/1.8 STM works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus 35mm camera made since 1987.

Of course it works great on today's 5D Mark III, 6D, Canon 7D Mk II and other Canon DSLRs.

I even tried it on my Canon EOS 620 35mm camera from 1987. Everything is fine, although manual override only works if the AF system hasn't locked yet; once AF is locked, it's locked.

Of course if you're shooting 35mm film you deserve an EOS 1V, and when I tried it, everything, especially instant manual-focus override, works perfectly.

You can't get manual override with any Canon camera or lens while in SERVO AF mode; it will keep trying to autofocus Select either "MF" on the lens or "SINGLE-SHOT" on the camera for manual focus to work.

 

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.

 

Specifications         top

Sample Images   Intro   Specs   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Name

Canon calls this the CANON LENS EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.

EF means "electronic focus," meaning that there is an autofocus motor in the lens itself. All Canon lenses since 1987 have been EF.

STM means that the AF motor is a STepper Motor.

∅49: 49mm filter thread.

 

Optics       top

Same optics as the 1990 EF 50mm f/1.8 II and 1987 EF 50mm f/1.8, classic variants of the double-Gauss design:

 

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM construction

Canon 50/1.8 STM internal construction.

6 elements in 5 groups.

Multicoated, branded as "Super Spectra Coating" (SSC).

 

Diaphragm       top

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM at f/1.8; EF diaphragm not visible.

7 rounded blades; reasonably straight at moderate and smaller apertures.

Stops down to f/22.

 

Focal Length        top

50mm.

On 1.3x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what a 65mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

On 1.6x Canon cameras it will see angles-of-view similar to what an 80mm lens would see on a 35mm camera.

 

Angle of View (on 35mm and full-frame cameras)

46º diagonal.

27º vertical.

40º horizontal.

 

Close Focus       top

1.1 feet (0.35m), specified from the image plane.

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio        top

1:4.8 (0.21x), specified, at close-focus distance.

With EF12 II tube: 1:4.2 ~ 1:2.2 (0.24 ~ 0.45x).

With EF25 II tube: 1:1.9 ~ 1:1.35 (0.53 ~ 0.74x).

 

Hard Infinity Focus Stop?        top

No.

You have to let the AF system focus for you at infinity.

 

Focus Scale       top

No.

 

Depth-of-Field Scale       top

No.

 

Infra-Red Focus Index       top

No.

 

Filter Thread       top

49mm.

Plastic.

A 49mm to 52mm step-up ring will be made of metal and allow using more-standard 52mm filters.

 

Size       top

Canon specifies 2.72" (69.2mm) diameter by 1.55" (39.3mm) long.

 

Weight       top

5.613 oz. (159.1g) actual measured.

Canon specifies 5.6 oz. (159g).

 

Caps       top

49mm front cap, included ($10 to replace).

Standard EOS cap rear, included.

 

Hood       top

Optional ES-68 plastic bayonet, $27.

 

Case       top

Optional LP1014 sack, $27.

 

Included       top

Lens and caps; that's it.

 

Announced       top

12:01 AM, Monday, 11 May 2015, Melville time.

 

Promised for       top

The end of May 2015.

 

Shipping Since      top

The end of May 2015.

 

Canon Part Number       top

0570C002 (0570C001 in Japan).

 

Canon Model Number       top

EF5018STM.

 

JAN Code       top

4549292-037692.

 

Price, USA        top

2015 May: $125. (19,500 yen list price in Japan.)

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.

 

Performance       top

Sample Images   Intro   Specs   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Overall    Autofocus    Bokeh   Breathing   Color   Coma   

Distortion   Ergonomics   Falloff    Filters   Flare & Ghosts

Lateral Color Fringes   Macro   Mechanics   

Sharpness   Spherochromatism   Sunstars

 

Overall     performance      top

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM is optically superb and handles very well.

It has exactly the same superior optics as the EF 50mm f/1.8 II, which had the same optics and added multicoating to the optics of the EF 50mm f/1.8 of 1987.

 

Autofocus     performance      top

Autofocus is fast and nearly silent, as we take for granted with Canon.

The STM focus motor makes a slight hum that you'll hear in a silent room, but your subject won't hear it, and you won't either if there's any noise in the room or outdoors.

The lens will not focus unless attached to an active EOS camera. In an emergency you can push or pull the front of the lens gently (use a filter or screw-in hood so you can grab it). Push or pull the the front of the lens and you will move the lens and turn the motor inside, but I don't recommend this.

Don't expect this lens to be able to focus if used on other brands of cameras with adapters.

 

AF Speed

AF is fast, as Canons always are.

 

AF Accuracy and Consistency

I saw no autofocus error on my Canon 5D Mk III.

Especially at f/1.8, every shot is dead-on.

 

Auto/Manual Switching

Just move the focus ring at any time for instant manual-focus override — but only if your finger is pressing the shutter halfway.

Only move the AF-MF switch to MF if you want to disable the camera from auto focusing.

 

Manual Focus

Manual focus is easy; just move the ring.

It works extremely well for a focus-by-wire system; it's very responsive.

Manual focus is by motor only.

Turning the focus ring focuses the lens manually, but only if the camera's meter is on so the electronics can drive the motor.

To get manual-focus override in the AF position, your finger has to be half-pressed on the shutter button. You also can set most cameras' AF ON button to activate manual focus override; just try it and see.

To focus in Manual mode (switch set to MF) the meter has to be on. You don't have to keep pressing the shutter button when set to MF, but it will stop focussing in several seconds when the meter turns off.

 

Bokeh     performance      top

Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is good and neutral.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Bokeh

Canon 50/1.8 STM shot on full-frame at f/1.8, no correction. Camera-original © JPG file. Only the center is in focus; the weather station is at an angle.

 

Harpoon Henry's, Dana Point, Fathers Day, 21 June 2015

Harpoon Henry's, Dana Point, Fathers Day, 21 June 2015. bigger. (Canon 5DS, 50mm/1.8 STM, f/3.5 at 1/60 at ISO 100.)

 

Focus Breathing     performance      top

Focus breathing (the image changing size as focused) is mostly of interest to cinematographers who don't want the image changing size ("breathing") as the lens is focused among different subjects.

The image from the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM gets larger as focused more closely.

 

Color Rendition     performance      top

The color balance of this 50mm f/1.8 STM seems the same as my other Canon EF lenses. This isn't 1953 anymore where lenses varied.

 

Coma     performance      top

Coma, or saggital coma flare, is when points of light in the corners turn into batwing-shaped blobs. This is often a problem with fast normal or wide lenses.

I see coma at the largest stops, which is typical for these double-Gauss designs.

 

Distortion     performance      top

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM has some barrel distortion.

Use these values in Photoshop's Lens Distortion tool to remove the distortion for more critical use if your camera can't correct for it automatically:

 

Correction Factor on Full-Frame or 35mm

10m (30')
+2.0
3m (10')
+2.0
0.35m (1.1')
+2.0

© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Ergonomics     performance      top

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM.

This little lens handles great.

The focus ring moves with a fingertip, and focus-by-wire works very well.

My only complaint is that the AF-MF switch is flat, so you really have to push down on it to get enough grip to move it quite deliberately. The lens is so tiny that the switch has to be close to the camera body, where it's a little more difficult to put enough pressure on it.

 

 

Falloff (darkened corners)     performance      top

Falloff is visible without a profile at f/1.8, and invisible by f/2.8.

With a profile, it will vanish even wide-open.

I've greatly exaggerated this by shooting a flat gray target and presenting it against a gray background:

 

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM falloff on full-frame

No correction: (same results on film):

f/1.8
f/2
Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM falloff Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM falloff
Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM falloff Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM falloff
f/2.8
f/4

© 2015 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Filters, Use with     performance      top

The plastic 49mm filter threads are big enough that even three normal stacked filters won't cause any vignetting on full-frame (or any other format).

There is no need for expensive "thin" filters.

 

Flare and Ghosts     performance      top

Flare performance is quite good. I can shoot with the direct disc of the sun in my image and get no significant ghosts.

In this image, I went out of my way to include the direct disc of the sun as well as a backlit tree:

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM flare

At f/10, direct view of mid-day sun. Camera-original © JPG file.

 

Lateral Color Fringes     performance      top

There are no visible lateral color fringes at 22MP full-frame, even without a lens profile.

This is excellent performance, as expected for a normal lens.

 

Macro     performance      top

It gets closer than any other non-macro Canon 50mm lens: 1.1 feet or 0.35 meters from the image plane, which is just inches from the front of the lens.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Macro performance

1968 Omega Constellation at close-focus distance on full-frame at f/10.

The images would be even tighter on smaller-format cameras (see crop factor).

It's super-sharp; here's a crop from a 22MP full-frame image at 100%:

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Macro performance

Crop from above image at 100%. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the full image would print at 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters)!

This is at f/10; it's softer wide open at macro distances due to spherical aberration. Here's a crop from an image shot at f/2.2 at 100%:

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Macro performance

Crop from similar image shot at f/2.2 at 100%. If this is 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, the full image would print at 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters)!

It's not quite as sharp at f/2.2, but tough, Canon's macro lenses aren't this fast! Blown up to this size, no one is going to complain. Do know that at f/2.2 the depth of field is shallower that the distance from the hands to the face; this all isn't in focus is it is behind a plastic crystal.

 

Mechanics     performance      top

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. bigger.

The Canon 50mm f/1.8 IS is well made, but it's all plastic except for the glass and the mount.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Mount

Plastic.

 

Identity

Printed on plastic ring outside filter threads.

 

Focus Ring

Rubber-look plastic.

 

Barrel

Plastic.

 

Internals

I see what looks like all plastic.

 

Moisture seal at mount

No.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Markings

Paint.

 

Serial Number

Laser-engraved in nearly invisible black in to the bottom of the black plastic lens barrel.

 

Date Code

None found.

 

Noises When Shaken

Moderate clunking.

 

Made in

Malaysia, carefully hidden in black-on black around the outside of the rear element.

 

Sharpness     performance      top

Image sharpness depends more on you than your lens, and lens sharpness doesn't mean much to good photographers. It's the least skilled hobbyists who waste the most time blaming fuzzy pictures on their lenses, while real shooters know that few photos ever use all the sharpness of which their lenses are capable due to subject motion and the fact that real subjects are rarely perfectly flat.

This said, the Canon 50 STM is ultra-sharp at all apertures in the center (just look at the sample images).

It has a little less contrast at f/1.8 due to spherical aberration.

Coma renders the full-frame corners a little softer at f/1.8, it's better at f/2.8, excellent by f/4 and perfect by f/8.

Your biggest detriment to sharpness will be a lack of proper vision and technique, not this lens. I bought mine from B&H who ships from a very secure warehouse. Canon does not seal its boxes, so if you're foolish enough to buy at a retail store, Heaven help you because you'll have no way of knowing what damage the lens has gotten from salesmen and others fiddling with it before you bought it. It is a delicate lens, especially its focus system. I can't vouch for anything if you buy from a local store or chain where you never really know who's opened and played with your lens before you buy it. I never buy retail; too many risks since Canon doesn't seal its boxes, so why pay more? I buy only from my favorite stores because they don't have their warehouses anywhere near salespeople or other customers.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM MTF

 Canon's specified MTF curve, 50/1.8 STM.

Canons' MTF curve agrees with what I saw: superb performance stopped down, with lower contrast wide open. This is a classic lens design unchanged since at least the 1980s since it's so good: super sharpness at low cost.

 

Spherochromatism     performance      top

Spherochromatism, misnamed "color bokeh" by laymen, is when out-of-focus highlights take on color fringes at full aperture.

Spherochromatism is a completely different aberration from lateral color fringes.

I see just a tiny bit of spherochromatism, but only if I look for it. If anything it helps bokeh for outdoor portraits. Ignore this.

 

Sunstars     performance      top

With its 7 rounded blades, this Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM makes soft, weak 14-pointed sunstars on brilliant points of light, but only at the smallest apertures.

At most apertures, there are no sunstars or very soft ones at best; you need f/22 and prayer to try to get them.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM sunstars

Sunstar at f/10. Camera-original © JPG file.

 

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM sunstars

At f/22. bigger.

 

Compared       top

Sample Images   Intro   Specs   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

See also:

Canon 50mm Lenses Compared

Premium 50mm Lens Comparison

EF 50mm f/1.8 II (1990-2015) Same optics, with plastic mount and 52mm filters.

EF 50mm f/1.8 (1987-1990) Same optics, metal mount, focus and depth-of-field scales.

 

Overall

All three of these Canon 50mm f/1.8 lenses have exactly the same glass optics. Your choice among them is for the focus system, barrel and mount.

This new lens uses a greater number of rounded diaphragm blades which make rounder out-of-focus blur circles, but make weak sunstars if any at all.

This new lens focuses much closer and more quietly than either of the others. It uses a less standard 49mm filter thread and a less easy to move AF-MF switch, but adds manual focus override.

 

Compared to the EF 50/1.8 II (1990-2015)

The EF 50mm f/1.8 II has a plastic mount and is pretty dinky — but the EF II lens focuses faster!

It has no instant manual-focus override, but does have a 5-bladed straight diaphragm for much better sunstars and classier bokeh, and a standard 52mm filter thread.

This -II lens is partly multicoated. I compared the two, and they are mostly the same.

 

Compared to the EF 50/1.8 (1987-1990)

The original EF 50mm f/1.8 is the toughest of this bunch, but has very noisy autofocus (like a kid's toy) and no instant manual-focus override.

It does have the better 5-bladed diaphragm and a metal mount.

It is only single-coated, but is the only lens of these three with a focus and depth of field scale.

 

Usage       top

Sample Images   Intro   Specs   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Instant manual-focus override only works with the camera set to SINGLE SHOT (or when AI FOCUS selects SINGLE SHOT mode). This is the same with all Canon cameras and lenses.

All Canon lenses will keep trying to autofocus while in the SERVO AF mode, so manual focus override won't work. Select either "MF" on the lens or "SINGLE-SHOT" on the camera for manual focus override

I program my AF-ON button to be an AF-LOCK button, which enables manual focus at the push of a button!

 

Recommendations       top

Sample Images   Intro   Specs   Performance

Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Get one! I've used my all-plastic mount EF 50mm f/1.8 II since 2010, and I've never had a problem with its dinky construction. This new STM is much tougher, and focuses much closer and offers instant manual focus override — all for the same price. The close focus and override do it for me; this new lens is great for when I don't feel like lugging my 50mm f/1.2 L.

I'd use a Canon 49mm UV or 49mm Hoya HMC UV for protection. These filters are all excellent.

If you'd rather use a $46 filter on a $125 lens, others love the 49mm B+W XS PRO Nano 010M MRC UV filter.

A 49mm to 52mm step-up ring will be made of metal and allow using more-standard 52mm filters. Then I'd use a 52mm Hoya HMC UV, 52mm B+W XS PRO 010M MRC Nano UV filter or Canon 52mm UV for protection — and the standard 52mm B+W filter and adapter ring costs much less than the 49mm size B+W filter!

Far tougher than this lens is the 49mm Hoya HD2 protection filter or the 52mm Hoya HD2 protection filter.

 

Getting Yours

I got mine from B&H; I'd just as well have gotten it at Adorama or at Amazon.

If you find the time I spend researching and sharing all this helpful, this ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get anything through these links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you take the chance of buying elsewhere.

Never buy at retail, especially for a popular lens like this. Canon doesn't seal its boxes so you can't tell if it's a used, returned, damaged, dropped or store-demo lens. Especially with this lens, anyone silly enough to buy at retail has got to know that it's going to have been taken out and played with by everyone in the store before being sold as "new;" while online orders are shipped from secure automated warehouses located far away from any store so no one else gets to drop your lens before you do. Use only the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken.

 

More Information        top

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Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

 

Canon, USA's data.

 

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

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11 May 2015