A Look at Three Generations of Canon Nifty Fifty Lenses

The 50mm f/1.8 lens, often dubbed the "nifty fifty," is a cornerstone in a photographer's growth, celebrated for its versatility and natural field of view. Its popularity stems from its ability to closely mimic the human eye's perspective, its wide aperture, and its affordable price. This fun video takes a look at three generations of Canon's nifty fifty lenses.

Coming to you from Prickly Pear Camera, this video takes a look at three versions of Canon's EF 50mm f/1.8 lens, tracing its evolution from the vintage 1987 model to the modern STM version. Each variant of the lens brings unique features and improvements. The comparison showcases how the lens' build quality and optical performance have evolved over time. 

The video also touches upon the practical applications of these lenses in photography, from portraits to everyday shooting. It emphasizes the STM version's advancements, like its quiet and fast autofocus, making it especially suited for video work. A further improvement is the STM version's seven rounded aperture blades, which create a more pleasing bokeh compared to its predecessors. The evolution from the metal mount of the vintage lens to the more compact and lightweight design of the STM lens shows Canon's evolving construction. The nifty is a lens just about every photographer should try at some point in their growth. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

Log in or register to post comments

Can we get a look at the generation(s!?) of 50 mm 1.4? :/

I wish somebody would talk about this. Make an article, make a complaint, make a ramp, make something. There's enough articles about why Cannon wants to protect its market share, but they literally don't have this lens. There's nothing to protect. Quite literally every single other OEM has a 1.4 50. For RF we don't even have that option. At all.

Just so we can get that conversation started. If nobody pesters canon about this immense huge oversight then they'll never budge.

Canon does a lot of stupid stuff and a lot of good stuff, but holy hell this is the one area that is unarguable. Somebody in the company absolutely hates 50 mm middle grounds. It's either 2000 or 200.


I have--and still use--the Mark I lens that I originally bought with an Elan in the late 80s.

Why do you write at the end of the article that "we are waiting for an RF version"? The RF 50mm f/1.8 STM is available since 2020 (see https://www.usa.canon.com/shop/p/rf50mm-f1-8-stm ). It's the same as the EF version, just with an RF mount.
Or am I missing something?

Right you are! I had a different lens in mind when I wrote that. Thank you!

No, it is not the same. It is different in construction. Focuses slightly faster and closer too. It is basically a better lens.

had few of them, you get what you pay for :)