This 50mm lens is one the few lenses I own that is still available in stores. With its Gauss-design it can produce top quality images despite the rather fast lens speed of f/1.8 and at a pretty low price. And even if it is – of course, I might say – softer wide open than stopped down, it can surely be used at f/1.8.
Stopped down this lens gets very sharp and resolves on a high level. The colours are neutral and optically there is not much left to be wanted. You, however, need to accept some drawbacks when you buy a fast lens at that price: the autofocus, though reasonably fast, is not 100% reliable, neither on the EOS 50e, nor on the EOS 40D, nor on the EOS 5D. Especially at f/1.8, when the DoF tends to be pretty narrow, the AF sometimes does not hit. If you know that, you can cope with it by either shooting at f/2.8 (if light allows) or using focus bracketing – which EOS cams do not allow but which can be done by simply shooting a series at high speed settings. The normal movement of your hand will kind of automatically change the focus position.
The second and much worse drawback is the built quality of this lens. It feels like a plastic yoghurt pot! Nicknames such
as “plastic fantastic” proof that many users share this impression. I would not dare to use the EF 1.8/50 II in heavy duty surroundings. But this lens also is called “nifty fifty” which again is a rather nice nick, isn’t it?
The version II has, as you might have already thought, a predecessor, the EF 1.8/50. That lens uses the same optical layout, but sports a much more rugged body which leads to the strange situtaion that a used first version lens is more expensive than a new version II.
For more information, please check these three reviews:
And finally, some recent images: