A 50mm f1.8 prime lens or “nifty fifty” as they are affectionately known is a lens all photographers should own, and up until recently if you used a Nikon camera the option was the AF-S 50mm f1.8, and if you used a Canon camera the option was the EF 50mm f1.8. Times have changed and there is a new kid on the block, and this is the Yongnuo YN 50mm f1.8.
Before jumping in to the detail here is a quick run down of this lens’ key features:-
Focal Length – Full frame/APS-C:- 50mm/80mm/ Aperture:- 1.8 - 22/Min focus:- 17.7”/ Dimensions:- 3.15” x 3.27”/ Weight:- 4.2oz/ Image stabilization:- No/ Price (approx.) $USD/£ GBP:- $58.00/£40.00
Looking at the specs you will see a very close resemblance to the Canon 50mm f1.8 prime lens (another nifty fifty I have owned for several years) and I can vouch the two lenses are very similar. In fact, if you scratch the Canon and Yongnuo branding off the respective lenses it would be impossible to tell them apart.
The first thing you will notice about the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 lens is the build quality, which in all honesty is pretty poor. Being made from plastic this lens feels more like a child’s toy than a serious photography lens, but the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens is constructed in exactly the same way. Whilst the build quality may not be that great it is adequate and it is a lens that will last, providing you look after it and treat it with a bit of respect of course. Don’t let the build quality of the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 put you off buying one because you will find the (much more expensive) Canon and Nikon banded 50mm lenses are just as toy-like.
The auto focus is slow and clunky. This is not a problem if you are photographing subjects that will sit still and pose but if you are photographing fast moving subjects you are going to struggle. The slow auto focus isn’t unique to the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 lens and the Canon and Nikon 50mm lenses suffer the same problem. It’s just a characteristic of the 50mm f1.8 lens that you have to deal with.
The image quality of the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 is the same as the Canon 50mm f1.8, and what I have read the same as the Nikon 50mm f1.8. Use this lens wide open, i.e. at f1.8 and it is a little soft. That said, there are times when a slightly soft focus makes for a more pleasing photos. If you stop this lens down the sharpness increases and the image quality does improve. I have seen many people commenting the image quality of the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 is not as good as the Canon 50mm f1.8, and this always surprises me. In my experience the image quality is identical to the naked eye and it is impossible to tell the two apart. If you go pixel peeping on the computer (and who does that in the real world?) there is still no difference in image quality. I can only think the Canon 50mm f1.8 users are trying to use “superior” as a reason to justify spending a lot more money and buying the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens, or maybe they are just die hard Canon fans who don’t want to admit the two lenses capture the images of the same quality.
As you can see the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 is cheap, and I mean really cheap and when you consider it is the same as the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens in every way ( I can categorically confirm this) it is easy to see the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 is by far the better value lens.
If I were looking to buy a 50mm f1.8 lens for my Canon I would go for the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 without a second thought, and the Canon 50mm f1.8 wouldn’t make the short list. I am a Yongnuo convert, and the 50mm f1.8 lens is one I highly recommend.
If you are the sort of photographer who will only shoot Nikon or Canon lenses (there are many people out there and it’s no bad thing) the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 lens is probably not for you and no matter how much I bang on about the savings you are unlikely to try the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 lens. If you don’t mind shooting third party lenses and want to get the biggest bang for the buck without sacrificing image quality the Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 lens is the lens for you.
If you want to see some of the photos Yongnuo 50mm f1.8 users have captured you may want to take a look at this Flickr Group photo pool.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.