Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens Review: 25 years later, the ‘nifty fifty’ receives much-needed updates


posted Monday, August 3, 2015 at 11:56 AM EST


Ahh, the venerable "nifty fifty." This inexpensive, lightweight prime lens has had a spot in most photographers' cameras bags at one time or another. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens is one of the most popular options, with the original debuting all the way back in 1987. The "version II" revision, introduced some 25 years ago in 1990, gained the nickname "plastic fantastic" by some due to its all-plastic barrel and plastic lens mount. 

Now, with the 50mm f/1.8 STM, Canon's given this inexpensive full-frame-format prime lens an overhaul with their fast and quiet STM (stepping motor) autofocus system and also re-introduced a metal lens mount at long last. The earlier 50mm f/1.8 II lens displayed severely soft corners on both APS-C and full-frame cameras. Thankfully, this updated model improves sharpness significantly overall, though there's still some corner softness wide-open. For all the details, though, from our in-depth look this new lens, including image quality analysis as well as build quality characteristics and autofocus performance, head over to SLRgear for our Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM review!

Similar to the previous model, the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM comes in at a very affordable price point around $125, and like before, a lens hood is not included, but the optional ES-68 hood is available for approximately $27. Now in stock, check out Amazon, B&H or Adorama for more info on ordering this lens. Buying this lens, or any other item, at one of these trusted affiliates helps support this site and keeps the reviews coming!

In the meantime, check out some sample photos below shot by our lens technician Rob Murray using our Canon 1Ds Mark III test camera. You can view more sample photos, plus download the full-resolution files, over at our Flickr page.

f/1.8, 1/4000s, ISO 100, +0.3EV
f/1.8, 1/400s, ISO 1250
f/5.6, 1/400s, ISO 100, +0.3EV

Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Review