The Nifty/Thrifty 50 - the disposable lens?
I think the 50(mm lens) is an extremely good discipline lens; it requires you to see in a more refined way, not just tighter. - William Albert
Canon's 50mm f1.8 II is probably the worst kept lens secret
around. With a street price of $75, legendary sharpness and
fast f1.8 optics you cannot get more bang for your buck. It
is both the lightest and cheapest EF lens available from Canon; in
fact, it is light to a fault. Everything apart from the
optics seems to be made from cheap plastic (including the lens mount).
Picking up the lens alone feels like a cheap toy.
When you put it on you camera it's as if there's nothing
The plastic fantastic doesn't have a focus scale, or full time
manual focus - with its tiny manual focus ring it's hard to focus
manually even in the best of situations. It doesn't have a
USM focusing mechanism but the old fashioned micro-motor. In
use, the AF is a little noisy and buzzy and not particularly fast.
Compared to the previous, mark 1, version, the build quality is
horrible but this might just be deliberate. Rumor has it that Canon
could not sell many copies of the more up-market 50mm f1.4 because
photographers were already satisfied with the f1.8, so they made the
Mark II less attractive. Certainly, if you hold a mark I and
II in your hands you will see where this rumor comes from.
What the two lenses share, however, are the same optics.
No zoom lens that I own or have used can quite match the
sharpness of the 50mm f1.8. Of course, being a prime lens the
50 is not as flexible as a zoom but, if you're prepared to move your
feet, it is very useful. On a crop fact DSLR it is the
equivalent of about an 80mm lens which makes a great portrait lens.
I also use it in low light situations where I don't want to
have to use flash. Crank up the ISO a bit and mount the 50mm
on your Digital Rebel and you can shoot in most party or group
situations with the added advantage that the combined weight of this
rig is not much more than a point and shoot.
I would not recommend the nifty fifty as your only lens,
although I have heard beginners starting out this way. I
would recommend it to anyone, especially those on a budget, as an early
purchase though - it's so light you may forget that you're carrying it,
but when you do remember you will find it very useful. The
build quality may be awful but the optics are fantastic. If
it breaks after a couple of years you can throw it away and replace it
without any regrets.