The 50mm f/1.8 lens, or as we call it, the ‘Nifty Fifty,’ is one of the most widely used lenses in the market. This is usually the first lens a modern digital camera owner desires to purchase after the kit lenses.
The reasons why this is the most popular lens are fairly simple – the first being affordability, and the second, the ability to produce pleasing bokeh.
In terms of affordability, the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens is ideally the cheapest Nifty Fifty. Priced at less than US$50, this is less than half of the Canon variant and works on APS-C as well as full-frame cameras.
However, the Yongnuo lens for Nikon costs around US$70 as it includes the focus motor. I recently bought one for my Canon 5D Mark iii, so I thought of sharing my views about this lens.
Build quality and ergonomics
The Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens looks exactly like the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (discontinued version). The plastic used in the Yongnuo lens feels a bit cheaper though. Surprisingly, the rubber grip is smooth, and the ‘AF and MF’ switch is similar to Canon.
The construction of the lens consists of 6 elements in 5 groups and has 7 diaphragm blades – the same as the Canon variant. This Yongnuo lens is light to carry as it weighs only 120g – 40g lighter than its competitor. Overall the lens looks and feels good at this price point.
Focus speed and accuracy
I have been using this for almost a month now, during the day as well as night time. The focus speed is a bit slow as the lens hunts for focus, especially in low light conditions. If you are shooting stationary subjects, then it is fine, but if you want to nail the focus swiftly, then you might be disappointed.
Though the focus speed is not that fast, the accuracy is fairly good. It takes time to focus but when it does the focus is accurate. I would not recommend this lens for video shooters as it messes a lot with the focus. However, if you are a hobbyist and casually shoot portraits or still objects, this lens can do the job.
Sharpness and Image Quality
Before clicking photos using the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8, I had much less expectation from this lens. To my surprise, this lens produced amazing sharpness and image quality. I did not compare it side by side with its competitor lens, but I am sure it is on par with it.
The few image samples that you see are all shot at an event during the sunset/evening time. The images are tad sharp, and the colors also look natural. I had done a test on vignetting performance, and at f/4 it was almost gone. This lens worked for me when I was shooting stationary subjects as well as when shooting performing artists at an event.
For me, the bokeh shape was a bit unpleasant at f/1.8, and I’m not sure exactly why. I used this lens at f/2.8 and achieved sharp and crisp images with minimum vignetting and shallow depth of field effect.
This lens by Yongnuo is for someone who has just started with photography or has a tight budget but still wants to achieve the f/1.8 look at 50mm. The focus speed is something that might irritate you, but once it focuses the image quality is quite impressive. I would suggest this lens to someone who shoots still subjects or portraits without much movement. If you are a wedding, event or a professional portrait photographer, you might be disappointed.
Have you used this lens? What are your thoughts?