Monday, October 15, 2012

An Afternoon with the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 Mark I

Picked up a used Canon T2i (550D) for Dillon, for another slight upgrade from the XSi.  It's ridiculous how cheap used digital SLRs have become.  I wonder if it even makes sense to buy new cameras at all, as lower end digital SLRs retain their value at about 30% of the original price.  Before getting rid of the XSi, I thought I would use it a bit, as my Canon lenses have not been getting much love lately.  I shot with the 100mm f2.8L macro the other day, so today I used the EF 50mm f1.8 Mark I, the metal mount version.

Although the 50mm f1.8 Mark I uses a lot of plastic, its built is much better than the Plastic Fantastic (version II).  I owned version II for a while, before upgraded to the 50mm f1.4.  Both versions of the 50mm f1.8 focuses very noisily, if you are used to the silent USM lenses, but the Mark I feels more like a lens than a toy.  Both lenses are optically similar, but version II has newer lens coating.  I actually prefer Mark I which I think is sharper at the corner in large apertures.  Overall, it's a nice little lens that despite the age, performs really well.  If you don't care about the 2/3 of a stop slower, there is little advantage to upgrade to the 50mm f1.4 USM.

A note on the XSi body.  Though it's a Rebel, the focus is very quick and quite accurate, very similar to the Canon 30D I had.  However, the file shows its age compared to the Sony NEX-5N.  Even at low ISO, the Sony images are cleaner.  But, it's better than the T2i.  Yes, the older XSi has better low ISO image quality the newer T2i. A shame, really.

Startled Birds - Canon Rebel XSi & EF 50mm f1.8 Mark I @ f2.8. Click for larger.

Playground - Canon Rebel XSi & EF 50mm f1.8 Mark I @ f2.8. Click for larger.

Cyclist - Canon Rebel XSi & EF 50mm f1.8 Mark I @ f1.8. 

Bridgepoint Hospital in Distance - Canon Rebel XSi & EF 50mm f1.8 @ f4.0


  1. The Mk I is also supposed to be excellent for Infrared.

    1. Good to know, thank! Perhaps I should try it on my IR 20D.

  2. its a lovely lens and once you get used to it not performing in the same way on APS as it does on FF it can give some great results.

    glad to see you're having fun with it too

    1. I do like it, much more so than the 50mm f1.8 Version II, but I am sure it's better on a full frame body. The last time I used it on the 1Ds, it produced very nice natural looking pictures. I miss the colour of the 1Ds.