May 12, 2015

New Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens is a More Video-Focused Version of the Cheapest Prime in Their Lineup

Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM Lens
Canon's low-cost 50mm lens just got an update with some refinements aimed at those shooting video.

The new 50mm f/1.8 isn't exactly groundbreaking, but it's looking like a more solid option that is still a bargain at $125. The first big difference between this model and the old one is the fact that the autofocus motor has STM technology, which is designed to give smoother autofocus during video. It also has a wider and better-placed focus ring, and more blades on the iris (7 vs. 5), which should make the out-of-focus areas smoother.

Canon has also managed to shrink the minimum focusing distance down to 14 inches. And to top it off, its physical size is just a tad smaller, which also means they've changed the front filter size to 49mm, though the lens mount is now metal to go along with this mostly plastic lens. Judging by the MTF comparison, image sharpness is about the same in most places as the previous lens, but that's more or less to be expected considering the price

Here's a look at the differences between the 50mm STM and the previous version (courtesy of B&H):

While it's often called the nifty fifty, once you get it on APS-C (or Super 35mm) sized sensors, it's a lot less exciting as the resulting image doesn't look nearly as wide as on a full-frame camera. The biggest change that was really necessary if you want to do any manual focusing is the placement and size of the focus ring, which now looks wider and isn't crammed at the front of the lens. It's still not going to be as nice as using a real cinema lens or an old manual focus prime, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. Either way, it's still a fantastically useful lens considering its small size, low weight (though this model is an ounce heavier), and inexpensive price. 

The 50mm will be shipping later this month, and is available for pre-order right now.       

Your Comment

35 Comments

Is this worth purchasing instead of the previous Canon nifty-fifty if Video Autofocus isn't a thing for me? Do the added blades make a significant difference? I would be using this in conjuncture with a Metabones on my GH4.

May 12, 2015 at 3:14PM

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John Haas
Cinematographer
770

If you don't need auto-focus, I would suggest looking at an old Nikon or Pentax 50mm 1.4.

May 12, 2015 at 4:45PM

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I'd say wait and see what people say about the lens first, if you already have their previous 50mm. Since it's pretty much got the same features with a metal bayonet and a different focusing motor, until you know the quality of the image you'll end up with, I'd hold off.

May 12, 2015 at 5:11PM

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Anne Le Sauvage
Ethusiastic amateur editor
171

The wider focus ring is a significant improvement. The original 50 is (practically) impossible to use with follow focus, due to the tiny focus ring.

May 14, 2015 at 1:58PM, Edited May 14, 1:58PM

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The only STM lens I have is the 22mm on my EOS-M, and it's pretty terrible for any sort of focus pulling, since the ring just tells the lens what to do electronically, with a delay, and no hard stops. I guess I'll hold onto my old school 50 1.8

May 12, 2015 at 3:48PM

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Same with most m43 lenses, unfortunately

May 14, 2015 at 11:51PM

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Dan Horne
128

Come on Canon! The upgrade is nice, but can't you include Image Stabilization? If you want to help the video community out, this is one thing we would all pay extra for.

May 12, 2015 at 4:26PM

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Just to tell you, I'm pretty sure that it's still 6 elements in 5 groups. I think I read it on DIYPhotography.

I'm probably going to get it regardless because mine met a nasty end last year, and it'll be good for a trip I'm taking in September.

May 12, 2015 at 5:02PM, Edited May 12, 5:12PM

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Anne Le Sauvage
Ethusiastic amateur editor
171

"While it's often called the nifty fifty, once you get it on APS-C (or Super 35mm) sized sensors, it's a lot less exciting as the focal length is a bit more telephoto."

Come one Joe...seeing stuff like this on this site really frustrates me. First off Joe you know better. The APS-C sensor might affect the angle of view but it by no means makes this lens any more or less telephoto than 50mm. A 50mm is a 50mm no matter the sensor size (16mm,35mm,70mm, m4/3, APSC, full frame). The angle of view might change but not the focal length. The angle of view you'll get with this lens on an APSC DSLR is basically the same angle of view you'd get with any 50mm on an Alexa, or MX sensor RED, or a 35mm motion film camera. Its 2015 guys. This whole crop factor misinformation needs to stop. It is poor info in blogs like this that started it in the first place. Blogs like this need to be the ones to fix it.

May 12, 2015 at 5:45PM, Edited May 12, 5:45PM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
440

But it does need saying that the angle of view (since it is a full frame lens) is closer to the angle of view of an 80mm (or thereabouts). It would be very annoying to plan a shot and find you can't get it because it's too tight. There are many peole who think this lens will give them an equivalent angle of view that the 50mm has on the full frame. The difference is pretty large. It's the use of the phrase "focal length" that's inaccurate.

May 12, 2015 at 7:11PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

May 12, 2015 at 10:32PM

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Robert Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker's Process
4285

Pretty sure he was fully aware of all the info in that link...kinda insulting. The fact remains, before 5 years ago, motion picture "films" were always shot on one of two formats, 35mm and 16mm. Each with larger super equivalents, that used a larger gate, to allow more of the film to be exposed to light. Why do we keep arguing photography crops, did this become nophotoschool? In the motion picture film world this 50mm would be a 50mm. A 25 would be a 50 equivalent on a 16mm sensor.

May 13, 2015 at 7:49AM

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Not once does that guy talk about field of view and I repeat till I'm sick in the face that field of view matters when you're shooting drama or even doc. Forget the sensor sensor size. It's about what the lens can give you (apart from quality) in it's field of view. I have a nice set of Zeiss Contax from 25mm up to 85mm. When in a tight spot and shooting S35 I have to move to other lenses to get good wides. Why? Because the 25mm only gives me an equivalent field of view of a 40mm. Not good enough.

May 13, 2015 at 11:42AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

The 25mm is not a 40mn. Its still a 25mm. Are you ever planning on shooting with something besides a 5D?

If youre on set with an Alexa and a set of cooke s4 minis are you going to refer to the 25 as a 40?! Are you going to compare every camera to the angle of view to a dslr instead of the angle of view of nearly every movie for the past 100 years?

May 13, 2015 at 12:12PM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
440

I did not say a 25mm is a 40mm. I said a 25mm Zeiss Contax lens that's designed for a full frame camera gives me a field of view that roughly around the field of view of a 40mm from a lens that's been designed for S35. Of course I am going to refer to the 25mm as a 25mm. But no way with the Zeiss Contax 25mm on a S35 sized gate am I going to have a wide field of view. What's difficult to understand about that? You seem to be stuck on thinking about the camera, the 5D. It's not about that, it's about lenses that are designed for full frame going on APSC or S35 cameras. I'm not arguing for renaming the focal length of the lens! Sheesh! Just bringing awareness to how it affects the frame in terms of field of view with certain lenses. Got it?

May 13, 2015 at 10:09PM, Edited May 13, 10:18PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

There is no difference between an apsc lens and a full frame lens except the size of the rear element. They dont adjust the angle of for an apsc lens. It's literally just cheaper because the rear element is smaller.

May 14, 2015 at 2:20AM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
440

"Of course, despite the fact that APS-C is the closest size to what cinema is traditionally shot with, the Canon 5D's massive popularity in the late 2000s had some interesting effects. For one, it sewed into the collective consciousness of a new wave of DSLR filmmakers the idea that full frame is the standard frame size for all cinema applications. Instead of viewing APS-C cameras as the modern equivalent to motion picture 35mm film (at least in terms of frame size), DSLR filmmakers starting comparing everything to full frame. All of the sudden, APS-C cameras had a 1.6x crop factor, and that was inherently a bad thing."

Robert im not sure if your post was in agreement with mine or not but everything you said in that article seems to support what i said. I think this site needs to run that article in full before any other article about lenses in the future. Because of this site and cinema5D etc etc there is a whole generation who thinks 35mm full frame is the standard for motion image capture and joe's comments above arent helping solve the problem.

Just look at the post above mine where the poster is using the term "full frame lens" as if that has an effect on focal length instead of realizing that the only thing that makes a full frame lens different from an apsc lens is its rear element is larger to cover a larger sensor. And also ive shot a lot of 35mm and 16mm and fully understand the difference between an academy aperture gate and a super gate. But that doesnt mean a 50mm is an 80mm on an Arri 435 or a panavision millenium. When you are shooting super16 no one is walking around saying "that 25mm is actually an 80mm because of the crop factor".

May 13, 2015 at 12:05PM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
440

You're still stuck on this idea that some people are arguing that there is a change in the focal length (well maybe some are but that's wrong). I'm talking about what kind of field of view you're getting. And yet everybody yattering about a 50mm still being a 50mm. Yes, I know that! Shift a bit and tell me that the FOV is the same when whacking old FF lenses on your Alexa, F55 etc as when you you slap it on a FF camera? No, it's not.

I'm shooting in a small room with a S35 camera, as an AC you going to hand me the Zeiss Contax 25mm or a my PL Prime 25mm when I ask for a lens that gets me at least half the room in the frame?

May 13, 2015 at 10:32PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

you just don't get it...there is nothing I can do for you. You've been lost forever and ruined by the misinformation on the Internet.

May 14, 2015 at 2:24AM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
440

Answer the last question. Which lens gives me the widest field of view?

May 14, 2015 at 5:19AM, Edited May 14, 5:20AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

Ok, last thing I'm going to say. If you wont listen to me then listen to Matthew Duclos, one of the best lens technicians out there.

https://matthewduclos.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/a-50-is-a-50-is-a-50/

Note his sentence in the first paragraph "The only thing that changes when using a 35mm FF lens on a Super35/APS-C sensor is the field of view (FOV) or the angle of view." This is all I have been saying. If you don't get that then you haven't been paying attention and to be honest for an AC to argue this really surprises me. Know the difference in FOV between these different lenses. You really, really should.

May 14, 2015 at 5:49AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

Here's a thought, for sake of argument why don't we make a rule on NFS where we don't reply anything about crop factor. =) hehe~

May 14, 2015 at 2:35PM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1197

once again the lens isn't changing anything. The film size or sensor size is changing that is what is affecting the field of view. Its the sensor not the lens. Get a m4/3 camera. take a full frame 50mm lens. Put it on. Now take a APSC 50mm. Put it on. Same angle of view. Now take a M4/3 lens. Put it on. Same angle of view. Nothing is changing here because a 50 is a 50 is a 50 as Matt says in your link. The only thing that will effect your angle of view is sensor size.

May 14, 2015 at 5:56PM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
440

This idea that a fifty is a fifty is all about the fact that the depth of field of a lens is the same for all sensor sizes. But the angle of view which is the apparent change of magnification will change wildly. This is what Jonathon is referring to. The question he posed to you is important. This idea that the rear element is the only difference means everything since that element changes the size of the image at the focal plane. That changes everything if you're concerned about the field of view. But the depth of field will not change.

May 14, 2015 at 9:10PM, Edited May 14, 9:14PM

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When I’m choosing a lens, I don’t care what the focal length is, I care what the field of view is. The focal length means nothing to me except that it represents what field of view I’m going to get, and that depends on what sensor I’m pairing it with.

The problem is that most people have learned what field of view a lens will give them based on what a 35mm film camera would give you. So people visualize a 50mm lens giving them the crop factor that a 50mm lens has on a 35mm frame. Therefore, camera companies started marketing their lenses with “35mm equivalent” measurements based on what focal length would give you the equivalent field of view on a 35mm sensor. Since people care what field of view the lens they’re buying gives them, this seems to work. The problem is now there are dozens of different sensor sizes, and we really should be marketing lenses based on their field of view, not their focal length. But then that wouldn’t work for lenses that work with multiple sensors.

What’s frustrating about what you’re saying is that it sounds like you’re saying field of view shouldn’t matter, we should be concerned about the focal length of a lens. But people use focal length measurements to figure out the field of view. No one really cares if a lens is 50mm or 80mm, they care if it gives them the field of view of a 50mm lens on a 35mm-sized sensor or the field of view of an 80mm lens on a 35mm-sized sensor.

May 16, 2015 at 3:02PM, Edited May 16, 3:26PM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
992

First off. As an AC the lens that I'm going to hand you is the one you call for. It isn't the AC's job to make lens decisions. If you want me to do that I'm going to need a rate bump and it better same my name on the slate because I'm the DP.

Now...

The answer is which ever lens has the widest focal length will give you the widest field of view. The question you aren't asking and should is actually which format gives me the largest field of view because that is actually what gives a 25mm on a 7D a tighter FOV than on a 5D.
On the same sized sensor they both give you the same field of view. Its the larger sensor that gives you the larger field of view on a full frame lens. If you put an APSC lens on a full frame camera it vignettes right? Well it does that because the rear element isn't big enough to cover the sensor. They do this because its cheaper and apsc was considered the "prosumer" level camera for hobbyists. But if you took the opening on the back of an APSC lens off and took the opening on the back of a full frame lens off you'd find they give you the exact same angle of view. its the smaller sensor that creates the smaller angle of view. This is why you can use full frame lenses on APSC cameras. You think the super 16 set of zeiss super speeds isn't the same as the 35mm set? They are identical except the rear element is smaller and cheaper on the 16mm version. I'm assuming you are self taught and came up through DSLRs so you don't understand the full frame sized acquisition for motion photography was never a thing (except vista vision) before the 5D. A lens is a lens. A 25mm is a 25mm on all formats. What makes the angle of view change isn't the lens. The smaller sensor or smaller film negative is what makes the angle of view smaller. Do you understand that? The only difference between a Full Frame lens, an APSC lens, a M4/3 lens, etc etc is the size of the rear element to cover a smaller sensor. An M4/3 lens doesn't need all that extra glass on the back because its sensor is so much smaller than full frame but other than that its the exact same 25mm as any other 25mm. If you could somehow open up the back of an APSC lens or change the back with a full frame lens you'd notice no difference. Please got to film school, do some tests, do some research. You are confused and misinformed and perpetuating false information.

May 14, 2015 at 5:52PM, Edited May 14, 6:03PM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
440

The situation of an AC handing me a lens is meant to illustrate something, Jerome. Nothing more.

May 14, 2015 at 6:52PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

So just for clarity to which you can reply yes or no, you're suggesting a FF lens of 25mm is going to have the same field of view as a 25mm PL S35 lens when they both go on a S35 gate/sensor? Is that right?

May 14, 2015 at 6:55PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

Yes.

And I'm not suggesting it. It's just the way it is. Re-read your own link to the Matt Duclose article. He is saying exactly what I'm saying.

Try it yourself. Grab a Red with an MX sensor (a lot of PL glass won't cover the bigger than s35 dragon sensor at full 6k.) with a pl and canon mount. Grab a canon mount full frame 25mm lens and a zeiss super speed 25mm (mk1,2,or 3). Put on the ff canon lens and take a still image. Switch mounts and put on the PL lens. Take a still image. Put the two side by side and you will have the same angle of view give or take...there can be very slight differences between lens manufacturers but it is marginal.

May 15, 2015 at 1:28PM, Edited May 15, 1:47PM

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Jerome Stolly
1st. Assistant Camera
440

Yes

May 20, 2015 at 10:14AM

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Willard
Director of Photography
154

Amen, brother. I'm so tired of people referencing "full frame" as if that were the norm. It is not. 35mm motion picture has been the norm for 100 years.

So when people picture what a 50mm lens is, they need to be picturing something a little telephoto...the 35mm lens is the most "normal" focal length lens.

May 21, 2015 at 5:56AM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2207

The main feature of the Canon STM lenses is that they are very quiet when autofocusing, so you can record clean audio while the AF of your C100 Mk2 is tracking your subject's face.

The drawback is that they are "focus-by-wire" lense so there are no hard-stops with manual focusing, and repeatable focus points may have to be set electronically.

May 12, 2015 at 6:47PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32120

Doco's yes, probably...with some caveats. Drama no. Music videos no. Commercials no. Old lenses are better, budget wise as much as quality and control.

May 12, 2015 at 7:13PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1434

groundbreaking considering the price - no one can really compete with that. incredibly cheap for the quality you get. I used the older version of this on action shoots and for more risky shots and I just broke my old version of it shooting on an incredibly steep grade in big bend national park. I will definitely be buying this new version.

May 13, 2015 at 12:47PM

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Not sure how this is more video orientated? Most videographers would manually focus a prime lens and no manual iris ring?
for me - they're the main 2 things that would make the lens more video orientated... a proper manual focus (not focus by wire) and manual iris with no stops (not electronic focus)
Still if you are on a tight budget you can't argue with the price..

May 14, 2015 at 6:30PM

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