A Closer Look at the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens with Key Image Quality Information

Yesterday, Canon celebrated the 25 year anniversary of the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens by announcing the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens. Many have long been waiting for a new 50mm lens from Canon, and that the lens appeared to be a significant upgrade while retaining essentially the same ultra-small size/weight and the same ultra-low $125.00 USD price tag definitely produced smiles.

Then, "Juck" commented below the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens announcement post that the STM's "MTF chart is identical to the mk II version". At the same time, I was re-sizing and overlaying the STM and II MTF charts in Photoshop and trying to determine if I downloaded one of the wrong charts. The charts were sized differently, but they were showing the same line plots.

I of course could not mentally rest without knowing what was going on, so I asked. In answer to my "Does the new 50mm STM contain the same optics design as the 50mm f/1.8 II?" question, Canon U.S.A.'s extremely knowledgeable Chuck Westfall responded:

"Yes, the optics of the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM are the same as the original EF 50mm f/1.8 and EF 50mm f/1.8 II."

Am I disappointed? Yes. I of course want all new lenses to be optically better than the prior version.

Is using the same optical design in the new lens a bad decision on Canon's part? No, not necessarily. People loved the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens, otherwise known as the "Nifty Fifty", because of the decent prime-grade image quality it delivered at a really low price tag – the lowest of all Canon lenses.

The 50mm f/1.8 II left many other upgrades wanting and the 50mm f/1.8 STM addresses many. Here is a list of some differences between these lenses:

  • 7 rounded aperture blades vs. 5 non-rounded (no more pentagonal bokeh)
  • Metal lens mount vs. plastic
  • A much improved manual focus ring
  • STM vs. Micro Motor (should be faster and much quieter)
  • FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing
  • 13.8" (350mm) MFD (Minimum Focus Distance) vs. 17.7" (450mm)
  • 0.21x MM (Maximum Magnification) vs. 0.15x
  • 49mm vs. 52mm filter size (though not really an advantage from my perspective)
  • Narrower f/22 aperture available vs. f/16

While more difficult to specify aside from the metal lens mount, I have to expect the 25-year-newer lens to have better build quality (my original 50mm f/1.8 II broke in half for an unknown reason).

The 50mm f/1.8 is very popular today, and with this list of upgrades coming for the same price, the 50 f/1.8 STM is certain to be at least as popular.

B&H is accepting Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens preorders with shipments expected to start Thu, May 21.

Posted: 5/12/2015 12:32:24 PM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Posted to: Canon News    Category: Camera Gear Review News
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