Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

This review covers


PAGE 2

» Image Quality «


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» Sample Pictures «

» Conclusion «

» Further Information «


Table of contents

Image Qualityhide all test shotsshow all test shots

Note: the test shots for each of the image quality tests can be compared directly amongst all tested lenses. Within the test box click on "Choose lens to compare with..." to add a lens to the comparison. Then use your mouse to hover over the lens thumbnails. If all those test shots are a little too overwhelming consider clicking on "hide all test shots" above this paragraph.

Sharpness / Resolution

What did I expect from one of the lowest-cost Canon lenses in regard to sharpness / resolution? Well, certainly less than what the EF 50mm f/1.8 II has to offer. Starting at f/2.8 the lens is really sharp and from f/4 on it's excellent from the image center to the corners. Of course most people will buy this lens to use it with lower f-stops but let me ask you this: are you going to need an excellent resolution for those images you take with very low f-stops? If I shoot available light I am usually not really interested in sharpness. Instead I try to capture the ambient light athmosphere and will usually work with narrow in-focus ranges anyway. To me available light photography is more painting than drawing - if you receive my meaning. Most shoots that require a high resolution also require broad in-focus ranges which are achieved by using high f-stops which in turn will give you decent resolution with this lens. Compare its performance with a lens like the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II but make sure to compare them at similar settings for sensor, focal length and aperture. At 55 mm focal length (88 mm effective) the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II's maximum aperture is f/5.6. Choose this aperture on the EF 50mm f/1.8 II to see a much higher resolution.

Let's also compare the resolution with the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. Set both lenses to f/1.8 and compare the text crop (7) as well as the Siemens star (3). You can see that the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM's Siemens star shows more detail towards its center and that the text is a lot sharper. The checker board pattern (5) is also sharper. You have probably noticed the difference in brightness between the two lenses but that's because of their different performance in regard to corner shadow (see test below) and has nothing to do with resolution. Another comparison you should make is both of those lenses set to their individual maximum aperture because if it's dark chances are you are using as low an f-stop as you can to take your picture - in real life that results in an f/1.4 picture for one lens and an f/1.8 picture for the other.

-Test shots

Full FrameAPS-C    tested with 5D Mark II
Sharpness / Resolution

Distortion

The EF 50mm f/1.8 II has a noticeable amount of barrel distortion when used with a full frame sensor which isn't great but it's still better than the distortion of the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. On an APS-C camera there is still a small amount of distortion left but I wouldn't worry about it. Distortion cannot be helped with stopping down so you'll have to live with it or use software to correct for it.

-Test shots

Full FrameAPS-C    tested with 5D Mark II
Distortion
Aperture:
Irrelevant

Crop from top of image (downsized)

Crop from bottom of image (downsized)

Best case: the line between the black and white boxes is completely straight in both test shot crops

Color Errors Transverse Chromatic Aberrations

The type of color error shown in this test occurs in focused parts of the image and is worse the farther away from the image center the test crop is. That's why the test box shows you two crops from the lower and from the left image border. For lenses that offer very low f-stops like the EF 50mm f/1.8 II the color error test shots can be a little confusing because the out-of-focus color fringes tested below interfere at low f-stops. Choose a higher f-stop like f/8 to see the excellent performance of the EF 50mm f/1.8 II is regard to this type of color error. As in the distortion test the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM shows more color errors than this lens.

-Test shots

Full FrameAPS-C    tested with 5D Mark II
Color Errors

Crop from lower image border
(in landscape orientation)

Color errors in focused parts of the image (upscaled)

 

Best case: no color fringes

Crop from left image border
(in landscape orientation)

Beauty of blurred image parts Bokeh and Axial CA

Here's a weak spot of the EF 50mm f/1.8 II: look at the aperture shape (switch to higher f-stops to see it) and you'll see a shape that's far from circular. This will make out-of-focus parts of the image less even which most people find less beautiful. The EF 50mm f/1.4 USM has a much nicer aperture shape which is no wonder because Canon use 8 aperture blades (instead of 5) for this lens.

Color errors do occur in out-of-focus areas of the image and they are quite noticeable. To loose them you'll have to use f-stops higher than f/4. The EF 50mm f/1.4 USM shows even worse color fringes.

-Test shots

Full FrameAPS-C    tested with 5D Mark II
Beauty of blurred image parts

The way blurred parts of the image look depends on several things such as focal length, aperture setting, aperture shape, distance to the background, distance between foreground and background as well as the texture and dynamic range of the background. With so many things to consider it's very difficult to compare different lenses. Moreover the beauty of blurred image parts is also a matter of personal taste.

In general blurred image parts should be as uniformly blurred as possible and ideally not show any artifacts. Out of the above mentioned criteria only the shape of the aperture cannot be influenced by the photographer and thus this test will show you the shape you are dealing with (left test image). To minimize artifacts there should be no bright line around the edge of the aperture shape. To get uniform blur the aperture should be as circular as possible (which depends on the number of aperture blades used and their individual shape). Furthermore there should be no color fringes in out-of-focus areas of the image (middle and right test shots).

Aperture Shape

Number of aperture blades:  5
Type: straight
Best case: circular and evenly bright

Color errors in out-of-focus areas of the image (upscaled)

before focal plane

behind focal plane

Crops from the center of the image
Best case: no color fringes in out-of-focus areas

Curvature of the focal plane Field Curvature

Fortunately the EF 50mm f/1.8 II does not show any curvature of the focal plane.

-Test shots

Full FrameAPS-C    tested with 5D Mark II
Curvature of the focal plane

Crop from the corner of the image
focused at the image corner

 

Best case:
no difference

Crop from the corner of the image
focused at the image center

Corner Shadow Vignetting

The EF 50mm f/1.8 II shows a lot of corner shadow. At low f-stops this is to be expected but even at higher f-stops it doesn't completely fade - at least on full frame cameras. If you use the lens with an APS-C camera the corner shadow is moderate for low f-stops and gone for f/2.8 and higher. The EF 50mm f/1.4 USM has a better performance (compare same apertures!) irrespective of the sensor type used. Bear in mind that corner shadow can be removed with software fairly easy and that there is a creative use for corner shadow as well.

-Test shots

Full FrameAPS-C    tested with 5D Mark II
Corner Shadow

Crops (100%)

Corner

Center

Best case: no difference in brightness

Test shot (downsized)

Corner

Center

Best case: perfectly even brightness

Result-Chart

Best case: no color gradient

EV

0

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-2

-3

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-5

PAGE 1

Handling

PAGE 2

Image Quality

PAGE 3

Conclusion

 

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