By March 20, 2009

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II dSLR lens review

When it comes to taking photos, I’m a simple man. I like taking pictures of my dogs, and of my friends. I also take pictures of my motorcycles and the products I review for Gibberish. I have an original Canon Digital Rebel (200D), and while I never got around to really mastering the ins and outs of the camera, I’ve had to learn a bit to take some of the pictures I like to take. For example, most of my people and dog pictures are taking in low light conditions. I try to take pictures of my dogs while they are playing, but as soon as I get too close they get more interested in me than in each other.

My friend Bond recently picked up a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens for himself and his wife. He brought it to work, and I thoroughly evaluated it according to strict photo-scientific protocols. What I really meant to type was “I wheeled around in my office chair, upside down, cackling like a maniac while snapping pictures.”

I was intrigued, because the lens is sort of built to take good pictures in low light conditions. It is a “prime” lens, which means it has no zoom — potentially a problem for taking dog shots without being noticed. But the price was right ($93 shipped from Amazon.com), so I bought one. I belong to Amazon Prime, so the lens arrived two days later. A prime via Prime? Good omen, for sure.

I already knew that the lens body was plastic, so I was not surprised by the featherweight of the EF 50mm f/1.8. I offset this somewhat with my Quantaray bounce flash, but the lens is much lighter than either of my other two lenses. I rousted the dogs a bit, and then proceeded to snap away.

Granted, I still have a lot to learn about how to properly use this lens, but I’ve enjoyed it so far. I like that it focuses quickly, and I can take decent pictures in the ambient light of my living room and kitchen.

Check this one out of Porter:
http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/5840-2/IMG_8379.JPG

The lens takes really clear snaps … the problem is the subjects have to be fairly still, otherwise things come out blurry. I am pretty sure this is my fault, and perhaps Bond or Donut can give me some tips on how to shoot better pictures. Sometimes I know the shot is going to be off, but sometimes the pictures look good on my camera’s LCD screen but turn out to be just a tiny bit blurry.

Like this one:
http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/5848-2/IMG_8222.JPG

It looked just fine in the screen, but as you can tell … fuzzy like a Porter bear.

Sometimes, though, the blur effect is nifty:
http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/5860-2/IMG_8289.JPG

As Bond pointed out to me, most people buy this lens to take a “vignette,” or picture with the background / edges blurred out. Look at this picture of Stilts for a minor example:
http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/5862-2/IMG_8300.JPG

My focal point was the coffee mug. The shot gets progressively more blurred out as you radiate away from the mug. Look at his glasses, by the time the arm reaches his ear things are fuzzy. Stilt’s hair is even more out of focus, and by the time you see the drapes things are way out.

All in all, I think the lens is definitely worth the money. If anything, it’s prompted me to take more pictures. I’d forgotten how much fun it is.

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4 Comments on "Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II dSLR lens review"

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  1. fishsprout says:

    HAHA. Nice gloves he has on there. :)

  2. Gremlin says:

    The basics of focus:
    Shooting wide open reduces the depth of field, causing burring the farther from the depth of focus. You can take good pictures of even really ugly girls by focusing on the eyes and shooting wide open to blur any…distractions.

    For really sharp photos shoot with the aperture necked down. You’ll have to push your film speed way up to shoot low light because the exposure time will be longer.

  3. bc says:

    The dog photo is blurry not because of any feature of the lens, but because there’s not enough light, and the shutter speed is too slow. If you tried to take the same pic with your other lens, it would be even *more* blurry.

  4. bws12r says:

    If you used a higher ISO, say ISO800 or even 1600, you could increase the shutter speed so you can shoot in low light.

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