Canon’s RF 50mm f/1.8 lens is a nifty fifty with a very appropriate $199 price tag

Tips & Techniques

Well, Canon did it. They actually released a full-frame mirrorless lens designed for entry level users with a cost comparable to its DSLR counterpoint. Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Coming in at a measly $199, this is quite possibly the cheapest full-frame mirrorless lens on the market for any system that actually comes from a camera manufacturer.

The lack of inexpensive lenses to attract newer or lower budget users into the full-frame mirrorless market (especially when there are full-frame cameras under $1K) has been one of the biggest complaints about all the new systems that have come out over the last couple of years. Panasonic just started to address that a little more with their new 85mm f/1.8 for L mount and now Canon seems to be doing so as well.

The new Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens is a breath of fresh air in a world of overpriced (vs their DSLR equivalent) lenses. It’s a basic bare-bones essential that’s been a staple of many photographers for decades, and arguably the one that most people believe camera manufacturers should develop for their new systems first. Well, now RF mount users have their wish.

Focal Length 50mm
Maximum Aperture f/1.8
Minimum Aperture f/22
Lens Mount Canon RF
Format Compatibility Full-Frame
Angle of View 46°
Maximum Magnification 0.25x
Minimum Focus Distance 30cm
Optical Design 6 Elements in 5 Groups
Diaphragm Blades 7, rounded
Focus Type Autofocus
Image Stabilization No
Filter Size 43 mm (Front)
Dimensions (ø x L) 69x40mm
Weight 160g

It is a “normal” length prime lens for full-frame, offering what popular belief is the standard field of view most equivalent to human vision on a full-frame camera. Regardless of how you feel about that particular debate, it is an extremely popular focal length for full-frame. It was with DSLRs and it was with 35mm film before them. It offers a decidedly average f/1.8 maximum aperture, which is decent enough in low light and offers a shallow, controlled depth of field.

It features just a single ring, which can be configured to adjust a variety of exposure settings. There’s also a switch on the body of the lens allowing you to switch it between focus and aperture control, which is rather handy.

It will be interesting to see how this lens really compares, both to the rest of the much more expensive RF lens lineup as well as its EF counterpart. Will it reflect the level of quality that users have come to expect from more expensive full-frame mirrorless lenses? Or will it be as bad and much-loved as most other 50mm f/1.8 lenses throughout history?

Well, I suppose we’ll only find that out once it starts getting into the hands of users and we can see what they’re creating with it. But I still think it’s probably a lens that every Canon RF mount shooter should buy, whether they think they need it or not (but I think everybody with a full-frame camera of any system should own a 50mm for it).

The Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is available to pre-order now for a mere $199 and begins shipping on December 4th.

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