Canon 50mm f/1.8 ii For Video Review

Is this the best budget canon lens for video in 2019? The Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 ii reviewed.
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Is This the best budget lens for video?

The Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 mark ii is an ultra lightweight fast prime lens. Made almost entirely from a plastic chassis, it weighs a mere 130g and has a very unassuming, uninspiring aesthetic. But coming in at around $/£60 used, this fast prime is something of sleeper in video lens world.

It has a maximum aperture of f/1.8, so ideal for both lowlight situations and for getting that popular shallow depth of field look. This can stop all the way down to F/22 with a minimum focus distance of 45cm. 

For sure it’s not going to win any awards for how it looks or even feels, but this lens offers something magical. And that’s hitting the sweet point of the performance & price ratio. With that, lets jump in and look at the good bits of the Nifty Fifty. 

Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 ii

Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 ii The Good

Value For Money. It has to be said, because in truth that’s what I really love about this lens. For around £/$50 you’re getting a lens that would cope perfectly well in any situation you put it in. It gives you low light performance, Shallow depth of field, sharp images and compatibility with both APS-C & Full frame cameras. There’s nothing else out there that compares to that value.

I also really love the aesthetic & general usability. I’m a huge fan of lenses you can carry & use without noticing, maybe it’s because I’m lazy, but sometimes having something super compact and lightweight it’s a real bonus, especially for those run n gun or vlog scenarios, and this lens does just that.

Optically it’s also perfect for interview or talking head style pieces, having that faster aperture also adds to this, allowing a beautiful level of separation between the subject and the background. But as with all things there’s compromises, so lets take a look at the bad bits of the Canon 50mm F/1.8 Mark 2.

canon ef 50mm f/1.8 - nifty fifty

The Bad Bits

The Aesthetic of the image, it certainly isn’t the most beautiful of lens. The design of the aperture blades is such that it does render a harsher bokeh and just generally an image that isn’t the most beautiful. But we are talking about a £/$50-£/$60 lens here. 

It uses the DC Auto Focus Motor – which is Noisy, no scrap that, it’s very noisy. If you’re recording audio internally on your camera it is going to be an issue. Certainly not a drastic one, but something you do need to be aware of. 

Finally is the Fly-by-wire Focus ring & General build quality. It just isn’t very good, the whole thing feels quite flimsy & plastic. Now obviously no lens is particularly strong and I do like the fact it’s so light, but in hand it does feel like a cheap lens. And to go back to that focus ring, it’s hard to use when pulling focus manually and being a fly by wire design has a slightly un-natural response. To be fair I’m being picky when highlighting this as a bad point, but it is something you’ll notice when first using the lens.

Summary

For sure this lens has a whole host of shortcomings, especially when compared to it’s bigger and more expensive siblings. But there’s something magical about the nifty fifty, being able to get a fast prime lens that works well for talking heads & interviews for the same price as it’s focal length is incredible, I genuinely don’t think there’s anything out there in the that offers that same value. So for any budget conscious filmmakers, or just video shooters with £/$50-£/$60 burning a hole in their pocket, I’d 100% recommend adding the Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 STM ii to your kit bag.


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