Can You Spot the Difference Between a $50 Lens and a $1,300 one?

It's often easy to forget just how good cheap lenses are in the real world.

It's pretty common for us as photographers/filmmakers to get caught up in lens sharpness tests and MTF charts, when really, what matters is how a lens performs in the real world. YC Imaging has done us all a great service in reminding us that a cheap $50 Yongnuo lens is still a pretty dang good piece of kit when used correctly if you can't afford the $1,300 Canon 50mm f/1.2L

In the video, YC Imaging provides a series of photos and videos for us to scrutinize in order to guess which lens is the more expensive one? While I don't want to spoil the video here, I will say that I got it right. Am I gloating? A little bit. But I found that the video autofocus test gave it away the most. 

One thing that a more expensive lens can give you, other than a sharper image, is the feel. A professional lens looks and feels more professional. They are more likely to be weather-sealed and generally have a better resale value as well. A cheap lens is always cheap, the same way that an expensive lens is always expensive.

How do you think the lenses stacked up to each other? Did you guess correctly?

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8 Comments

Adriano Brigante's picture

Easy. First image, the slightly swirly bokeh is a dead giveaway.

PS: I love vintage and/or "imperfect" lenses.

Keith Meinhold's picture

Being it was video, I never expected it to be so obvious. I think the side-by-side comparison actually made the difference stand out. However the difference between the two lenses are not as dramatic as the difference in price.

Motti Bembaron's picture

There are some little differences but since most of us (at least I do) will post edit every photo, the differences after the edit would be how you processed it.

I do use a 50mm yougnuo lens for my Nikon. Bottom line, if you known what you are doing, one can end up with some killer sharp shots like I have. Bought the 35mm for a friend also and we both have been rocking it.

Surprised you can get the raw materials for $50

Timothy Gasper's picture

Nice comparison. A bit obvious which is which, but the Youngnuo looks good for a $50 lens. Bokeh at wide open ID's the Canon right away and in video comparison, video tracking and focus ID's the same. If bokeh and tracking weren't a concern for a shooter, ie landscape photos or sometimes architecture, then good results can be had very cheaply with the Youngnuo. Thank you sir.

Lens "A" is the Canon

Connie Kurtew's picture

A is canon for sure