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Canon 50mm f1.8 STM : Initial Impressions

Note: This is not a review per se, no scientific tests performed. I have just penned down a few impressions based on my 2 days with the lens.

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Like most them out there, I started my prime journey with the plastic fantasic/nifty fifty and some of my best pictures from crop days came from this lens. As I moved on to a Full Frame, I sort of settled with the 35-85mm prime lens combination and it has never let me down. But to be frank, I found the 35mm Sigma ART to be a little bulky for everyday use, also a little wide, and the 85mm was a little to long for my style of work. I had almost settled in for the 40mm Pancake when I heard about the STM 50mm.

Fast forward, and I have one on my 6D and it will probably be the most used lens henceforth. Having used the older version, here are some observations

IMPROVEMENTS:
#With a 7 bladed aperture, the bokeh has gotten a little pleasing.
#Autofocus performance is noticeably better.
#Not a huge improvement in Build Quality, but the metal mount and better plastic do help.
#Focus motor is not completely silent, but hardly audible.
#Noticeably sharp at the centre of the lens wide open.

QUIRKS:
#The focus ring needs some getting used to incase you like to manually focus.
#The nested barrel of the lens protrudes similar to the old lens. The outer barrel has groove for hood, I think it would be better to have one.
#Full time manual is active only when the shutter is half pressed.
#49mm filter thread is a little odd, atleast for me. Need to buy step up adapters.

Here is a comparo of overall picture quality at different apertures

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As you can notice, there is ample vignetting and corner softness wide open, but improves when stopped down.
Overall impression, not bad for the price, and definitely an improvement over the old lens. I personally feel it will replace its dated f/1.4 brother in a lot of photographers bags. It is tiny and performs better than the old version and costs pretty much the same, what’s not to like. I bet the lens will be a dream for video work, but sadly I don’t have a body which can make good use of STM technology.

 

Here are a few sample shots to end the article, all straight from the camera. Minor crops and exposure corrected. Will be updating better pictures over the weekend when I find enough time to take this lens out for a photowalk. For now, these should suffice I think. The first picture should give you an idea about the heptagonal bokeh at f/6.3

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