Is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM still worth buying in 2022?

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
(Image credit: James Artaius)

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, for years, was Canon's essential lens. The must-have prime, the camera bag completer, the one that everyone should own. Is that still the case in 2022, though? 

The answer, to me, is a big fat yes: the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM (opens in new tab) is as essential now as ever it was. And that's even in the age where it has been replaced by the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM (opens in new tab)

Let me explain. First of all I firmly believe that every camera owner should, in fact, own a 50mm f/1.8 prime lens. Even if every other lens you own or intend to buy is a zoom, you should have a nifty fifty. 

The reasons are obvious and well worn at this point, but in short it's the 'standard' focal length, it's incredibly versatile and can be used for a multitude of all-purpose everyday shooting situations, blah blah blah portraiture, blah blah blah same perspective as the human eye and so on.

Why the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM in particular, though? Especially as a Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab) user, shouldn't I be pushing the newer, better RF version? 

Here's the thing: faster autofocus and increased sharpness aside, there's nothing the RF version does that my EF version didn't. I look at pictures shot on both lenses and I can't actually tell the difference. We get swept up in GAS and the chase for the newest thing, but the truth is that the EF 50mm didn't suddenly become rubbish just because a newer lens came out. It's still great.

And there's one thing the EF lens does that the RF lens doesn't: adapt.

I can use the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM on my full-frame Canon EOS DSLR. I can use it on my APS-C Canon EOS DSLR. I can use it on my APS-C Canon EOS M mirrorless camera. I can use it on my full-frame Canon EOS R mirrorless camera.

Hell, I can use it on my Olympus cameras (opens in new tab), my Panasonic cameras (opens in new tab), my Sony cameras (opens in new tab)… I can use an adapter and mount it to virtually any camera I own. The RF version won't do that.

So, is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM still worth buying in 2022? Unquestionably. It performs as well as it ever did, and you can shoot with it on more cameras than ever before. It is quite simply the most versatile lens I own. 

Read more: 

Best 50mm lenses
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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.