If you have bought yourself a canon SLR camera sporting the default 18-55mm lens, and are now wondering which should be the next lens you pick up, I seriously suggest the cheap 50mm f/1.8 lens from canon. The reasons are simple
The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is one of the sharpest lens Canon has to offer, some say even sharper than the expensive 24-70mm lens (which is known for sharpness). However I have noticed that at f/2.8 and narrower aperture its the sharpest. At 1.8 it tends to have slight blurriness although good enough for most people.
2. Wide aperture / Good for night/dim-light photography
Having a wide aperture of f/1.8 means it allows light to freely flow into the camera more easily than your 18-55mm lens which has f/3.5. When I say wide aperture think of it as a tap which fills a mug with water, with the tap totally open (unscrewed top) more water flows into the mug, filling it faster, and if the tap was not opened fully, less water would flow which takes more time to fill the mug. With lens its the same, the more wider the aperture more light flows in on the sensor allowing your snap to be well light faster which means faster exposure. During dim light conditions in your standard 18-55mm lens you will notice that either the snaps come blurred when you set them on AV mode, or too dark when you set them on TV mode and select 1/30 sec with flash turned off. With this 50mm lens you will be able to capture the image with far less pains.
3. Fast lens
As mentioned above as it allows more light to fall in with its wide aperture, you need less exposure which means your images come sharper.
3. Good Depth of Field / Good portrait lens
Every wondered how some professionals get those amazing portraits with the background so blurred and the eyes so sharp well with this lens it’s very easy. With a very wide aperture of f/1.8 it offers very good depth of field, i.e. the point of focus will be sharp and the background foreground will be blurred. This is just the thing required for good portrait lens.
4. Small and Light weight
The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is the lightest lens you can buy from canon, That’s because it’s entirely build of plastics, except for the glass lens, even the lens mounts are plastic. It has no fancy stuff, being a fixed 50mm lens means you cannot zoom etc so no such construction in the body.
Yeah right, now let’s come down to costs, it costs less than $100 (INR: 5,000). This is the cheapest lens canon has to offer.
This lens obviously has some issues, which I don’t think much about, but am jotting it down anyways.
1. Poor Bokeh
Having on 5 aperture blades, means that the out of focus elements of the image are low on quality, instead of getting eg round bokeh, you get pentagonal shaped ones, which is not really an issue for me.
2. Cheap construction
As informed earlier the body is all plastic, and that too the cheap kind. When you hold it you don’t feel too confidant about it. And if it falls from even a short distance, it will break open with its parts flying all around (it has happened to me).
3. Slow focusing
It’s not the best for fast moving objects, as the focus is slow, but in good light conditions it should be fine. It really has never been too much of an issue for me.
In the end, the good features of this lens far outweighs its issues, this is a must have lens for all, I highly recommend this.
The image on the left is of my friend Anuja clicked using the 50mm lens. In the dim light conditions, it managed to click the atmosphere in a very nice way, without the need of flash (Flash ruins the mood of the light). Notice the blurred background, and the sharp eyes.
50mm, f/1.8, ISO: 800, 1/40 sec