Hey guys. Today we’re going to compare two lenses, the Canon EF 50mm f1.8, and the Canon RF 50mm f1.8. We’re going to go over the differences between the two lenses, figure out who should buy them, and who should look at an alternative.
If you look at the names, you’ll quickly realise that they’re basically the same lens, except that the RF version is newer, and takes advantage of the new RF mounting system. The question is though, does this give it an advantage over the older, EF version? Also, what’s the whole ‘nifty fifty’ thing all about?
Let’s jump in, and find out.
Aperture & Focal Length
In This Article
When it comes to focal length and aperture, both these lenses are identical. They both have a fixed focal length of 50mm, and open as wide as f1.8.
For those of you who regularly watch my channel, you’ll know that a fixed focal length has the advantage of producing sharper images, compared to a variable aperture lens, or zoom lens.
Also, the fact that the aperture opens up to f1.8 allows you to use the lens in lower light conditions. Normally, if you used a kit lens like the Canon 18-55mm, you’d be limited by the fact that its aperture can only open to f3.5, or f5.6 if you’re zoomed all the way in.
If you’re confused, when it comes to aperture, the lower the number is, the wider the opening is. As a result, the lower the number, the more light is allowed to reach the sensor, thus you’ll be able to shoot in low light conditions. Doing this allows you to avoid having to adjust your shutter speed or ISO, and thus escaping unwanted motion blur, or noisy shadows.
Before we move on, I’d like to point out that I’ve reviewed the Canon 18-55mm lens on my YouTube channel, along with quite a few other Canon lenses.
And now, let’s have a look at the physical size of these two lenses.
Size & Build
The first thing you’ll notice about both versions of this lens is just how small and toy-like they look. When testing these lenses out recently, I used a Canon R5 body, and they both looked hilariously small on it.
Even though I had to use an adaptor for the EF version of the lens, it still looked quite funny on the R5 body.
In terms of build quality, even though I’d have to say both feel relatively solid, the newer RF version feels somewhat more premium in the hand.
In terms of physical size, both of these lenses weigh around 160 grams, and measure around 1.5″ in length, or nearly 4cm.
Regardless of your opinion of their diminutive size, I’d like to point out that there are actually quite a few instances where a smaller lens would be more suitable. For example, if you’re doing street photography, you ideally want your setup to be as small as possible. Therefore, a lens like this would actually come in handy.
Also, the fact that it’s a 50mm lens will also allow you to shoot from a bit more of a distance, thus allowing you to be a bit more inconspicuous.
Now that we’ve covered the physical aspect of the lens, let’s dive deep into the more abstract notion of whether these two marvels of engineering take comparably good photos.
Much like most lenses, these tend to be sharper in the centre, whilst allowing for a bit of vignetting in the corners. I personally don’t mind that, as when I shoot portraits, which is what I mostly do, my models tend to be in the centre of the image.
Also, I find the vignetting tends to lend my images more depth, and thus I don’t even bother trying to remove it. When it comes to such a subjective notion, it’s really up to you to decide what you prefer.
As a quick side note, because the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 has the RF mount, as long as you use it on a camera body with built-in image stabilisation, you’ll actually be able to benefit from that, despite the fact that the lens itself does not have IS.
From what I understand, this is because of the fact that the RF mount allows for more communication between the camera body and lens, thus allowing you to achieve in-body stabilisation.
A question some might have is whether this lens is good for vlogging. Due to the fact that it has a focal length of 50mm, that makes it rather zoomed in. That means that if you turn it around, and film yourself, you’ll probably get a close-up of your nose, as opposed to your head, and shoulders.
What about for YouTube? Is this lens good for content creators? If you intend to sit down when shooting videos, or have someone else hold the camera, absolutely. The focal length will make you look natural, and the wide aperture will allow in more light, thus enabling you to film in even less than ideal lighting conditions.
If you intend to film yourself with it, bear in mind the issue discussed a bit earlier, and make sure you have enough room, so that enough of you is in frame.
When closely inspecting the body of these two lenses, you’ll notice that they both have the usual manual focus ring, and they are both equipped with AF/MF buttons.
Now, in terms of longevity, both these lenses need to be handled with care, as neither of them have weather sealing. I personally purchase a Sigma ceramic filter for all of the lenses that I keep long term, as I’d rather break a less expensive filter, as opposed to smashing the glass element of the lens.
In conclusion, which lens should you buy? Should you actually buy either?
First off, I want to point out that both of these lenses are fantastic for not only beginners, but intermediate photographers as well.
They both take fantastic images, and when used with a camera with built-in image stabilisation, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 actually becomes a decent video lens as well.
This is incredibly useful, because as the ‘nifty fifty’ moniker implies, these lenses are very versatile, and useful in a whole host of situations. You can use them not only for portraits, or landscapes, but also for product photography, street photography, and much more.
The 50mm focal length allows for versatility, which is a desirable attribute for a budget lens to have.
So, which one should you buy?
If you have an older camera, and mostly want to do photography, I’d say just buy the EF version. Upgrading to RF can be quite expensive, so if you’re just starting out, or doing this as a hobby, it might not be worth the investment.
If you have a camera with an RF mount, and you already have the older EF model, assuming you mostly want to do photos, I’d recommend just getting the adaptor. That way, even though you’re missing on the extra image stabilisation, you’ll be able to use your older EF lenses, without having to spend too much money.
If you do want to do video, and you have an RF camera with in-body image stabilisation, then I’d recommend getting the RF version of the lens. You’ll be able to shoot smooth footage, and take great photos at the same time, in low light conditions.
Thank you for reading my comparison review between the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 vs RF 50mm f1.8. I invite you to have a look at some of my other articles. We have something for everyone, whether you’re interested in audio, or cameras and lenses. Alternatively, if you prefer video reviews, feel free to have a look at my YouTube channel.
Down below you will find all of the items I talked about in this article.