Let me preface this by saying yes I fell for the hype. I had been using my trusty 40mm pancake lens for years now but I kept seeing this “nifty fifty” everywhere. Seeing how inexpensive it was, I thought heck, why not give it a try?
I was not as amazed as many online voices seemed to be.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great little lens (that’s far better than the 18-55mm zoom that comes with most entry level rebels) but it didn’t give me the WOW factor that I had expected. In hindsight, I think I should have just waited and saved up a bit more to get the 50mm 1.4, but I’ll just plan on upgrading later once I have another camera body.
I should also note that these are my experiences with my T3i. Things may be different on a newer cropped sensor or full frame body.
So with that back story out of the way, I’ll list pros & cons of this lens and share my final thoughts.
-The focal length causes no distortion
-The ability to have a shallower depth of field and congruently creamier looking bokeh is nice
-It’s small enough to leave on the body and put in my bag without worry
-Adequate, but not the best low light performer
-Images aren’t tack sharp until 2.8
-The plastic casing feels a bit cheap
A big advantage of this lens is indeed its focal length: 50mm. On a full frame it’s just that and many would say this is in the “normal view” which would be great for lifestyle, travel, & portraits. On a cropped sensor, it equates to an 80mm which is great for portraits (my primary subject matter.) I enjoy that because of its 1.8 aperture, I am able to achieve a softer, dreamier bokeh (my preferred option.) And overall it’s a compact lens that I can leave on my body and fit in my bag with no problems.
A disadvantage to this lens is not necessarily the fault of the lens itself, but perhaps my prior expectations of its performance before actually testing it out myself. I’ve found that unless I’m shooting on a really well-lit day or with a strobe, I still have to have a mid-high (on my body) ISO to get proper exposure. My subject matter is also still a bit soft wide open too, so I find that I have to stop down to 2.8 if sharpness is paramount. Lastly, the lens itself doesn’t feel as nice or weighty like my 40mm. (granted, this is an extremely low cost lens, so it’s to be expected that it would feel this way.)
All-in-all, though I wasn’t blown away by this lens, I do think it is a great performer in most situations. If you’re a beginner then I’d highly recommend you pick this up.
If you’re at immediate level or you’re mid-range in the photography business like I am, I’d recommend waiting and saving up more for the 50mm 1.4. It is a higher quality and the cons aren’t nearly as prominent within this version, but it’s still affordable (especially compared to the 1.2 version.)
So there you have it, my thoughts on the 50mm 1.8 nifty fifty. I hope this has helped.
May the light be with you.