Best 50mm lens for your camera: 8 ‘Nifty Fifty’ lenses tested and rated

Best 50mm lens for your camera: 8 'Nifty Fifty' lenses tested and rated

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Price: £280
Were money no object, you could get the L-series (Luxury) Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens, but it costs a monstrous £1,170.

At a quarter of the price, the f/1.4 is much more affordable and a mere one-third of a stop slower.

It offers some of the same attractions as the dearer lens, including an eight-blade diaphragm to give a rounded aperture, a focus distance scale positioned beneath a viewing window, and Super Spectra coatings to reduce ghosting and flare.

One bit of downgrading is that the autofocus system is based on an ultrasonic motor, rather than being ring-type ultrasonic.

It’s a bit slower and more audible, but quiet nonetheless. Unusually for an ultrasonic motor system, or Micro USM as Canon calls it, full-time manual override is available in One Shot autofocus mode.

This is a feature usually reserved for Canon’s ring-type USM and more recent STM (Stepping Motor) autofocus systems.

Build quality and specs are superior to the cheaper Canon 50mm f/1.8, also on test. The mounting plate is made from metal rather than plastic, and the f/1.8 lens lacks a focus distance scale.

Typical of non-L-series Canon lenses, however, there’s no lens hood supplied; the optional ES-71 II hood costs an additional £25.

Performance
Relatively fast 50mm f/1.4 lenses often fail to give great sharpness at their widest available aperture, and this is no exception. It’s pretty good by the time you hit f/2.8 and has a sweet spot at f/8. But even here, sharpness is slightly outclassed by most competing f/1.4 lenses.

Features: 4/5
Build quality: 4/5
Image quality: 4/5
Value: 4

Overall: 4/5

PAGE 1 – What is a 50mm lens good for?
PAGE 2 – Features to look for in a Nifty Fifty lens
PAGE 3 – Best 50mm lens: 01 Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
PAGE 4 – Best 50mm lens: 02 Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
PAGE 5 – Best 50mm lens: 03 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
PAGE 6 – Best 50mm lens: 04 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
PAGE 7 – Best 50mm lens: 05 Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8
PAGE 8 – Best 50mm lens: 06 Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
PAGE 9 – Best 50mm lens: 07 Sony 50mm f/1.4 A
PAGE 10 – Best 50mm lens: 08 Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM
PAGE 11 – Image quality comparison
PAGE 12 – Best 50mm lens: Verdict

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