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Ambassadors Programme

Ambassador

Jeff Ascough

Jun12

The Nifty Fifty

By Jeff Ascough, Friday June 12, 2015
Wedding guests in the hotel bar just before the ceremony starts. The small image size can't really do justice to the subtlety of light and shadow captured by the new lens. Taken on a Canon EOS 6D with an EF50mm f/1.8 STM lens; the exposure was 1/160sec at f/5.6, ISO 3200.

Wedding guests in the hotel bar just before the ceremony starts. The small image size can't really do justice to the subtlety of light and shadow captured by the new lens. Taken on a Canon EOS 6D with an EF50mm f/1.8 STM lens; the exposure was 1/160sec at f/5.6, ISO 3200. © Sarah Ascough

I’m a sucker for a decent 50mm lens. I own four of them in different incarnations, but my absolute favourite is a beat-up Canon EF50mm f/1.2L USM which I bought in 2006. That lens has been such a big part of my career and even though it has been occasionally cast aside as I have tried other things, I always seem to come back to it.

When the new EF50mm f/1.8 STM became available I bought one as a backup for my main lens. However, my wife Sarah immediately took it, mounted it on her Canon EOS 6D and told me I wasn’t getting it back! This past weekend was the first time she was able to use the lens at a wedding and I’m pleased to say it passed with flying colours.

I did have five minutes to play with the lens, but Sarah was the one that really put it through its paces. She was impressed with the way it focused quickly and accurately in all light conditions and looking at all of the images she took, there isn’t a single shot out-of-focus. The size and weight were a big plus; she often works really closely to people and is always conscious of having a big lens on her camera. The fast aperture gave her a lot of flexibility in low light.

The build quality looks to be very good given its price, but don’t expect L-series lens standards. Having said that, I was quite surprised at how nicely made it was and while I personally wouldn’t feel confident in using this lens in a war zone, I don’t think the average wedding is going to cause it too many problems. I also loved its size and weight and had no problems with the handling or focus during the few minutes I got to try it.

Dropping the images into Adobe Lightroom you can immediately see that the lens is very good optically. It is sharp at all apertures but in a very analogue way; it doesn’t have the harshness that many of the latest budget lenses seem to exhibit. A lot of today’s new lenses feel to me as though the manufacturers have added unsharp masking to the optics, but that isn’t the case here. The out-of-focus areas are rendered really nicely and the lens handles flare really well.

I really like this lens. The weight and size make it a real joy to use around people and while it won’t ever replace my old 50mm f/1.2L I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to use it as a main lens on a wedding if I had to. Sarah is very slightly built, and while the 50mm f/1.2L is just too heavy for her, this lens seems to be a perfect fit.

Bridal preparations. This was shot with my normal Canon EF50mm f/1.2L lens. The new 50mm f/1.8 STM images sit very easily alongside those from their more expensive cousin. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF50mm f/1.2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/200sec at f/4, ISO 800.

Bridal preparations. This was shot with my normal Canon EF50mm f/1.2L lens. The new 50mm f/1.8 STM images sit very easily alongside those from their more expensive cousin. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with an EF50mm f/1.2L USM lens; the exposure was 1/200sec at f/4, ISO 800. © Jeff Ascough