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The Best 50mm Prime Lenses You Can Buy Right Now

If you're looking for the best 50mm prime lens, then this list of over 40 lenses is for you. A 50mm lens, also known as the "Nifty Fifty", is an essential piece of kit for many photographers but if you don't currently own one, here's our top 50mm lens picks to help you with your next purchase.

|  Sony XF 35mm f/1.4 R in Interchangeable Lenses
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Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S


The 50mm prime lens is a piece of kit your camera bag shouldn't be without. Why? 50mm prime lenses, offer excellent performance in low light, they're great for capturing portraits and offer a view that's similar to that of the human eye. Also on the 'plus point' list is the 50mm's ability to produce an extremely shallow depth of field which ensures all focus falls on your subject and you can also disguise unflattering backgrounds. Combine these points with the fact that they're, generally, reasonably priced, and you have a lens you can't ignore. 

When generally comparing primes with zooms, zoom lenses may be practical, offer multiple focal lengths in one lens and are great for travelling but they don't tend to be as fast as primes, bokeh isn't as pleasing and they're rather bulky.

There are plenty of 50mm lenses currently available, both from third-party lens manufacturers as well as well-known camera brands, and ePHOTOzine has reviewed a fair few of them. So many, in fact, that it's well worth taking a look at our review section or the Equipment Database if you already have a specific 50mm lens in mind and just want to see how it scored. For everyone else, we've put together a top list of 50mm lenses to help you make an informed choice on what your next purchase should be. 

Over 40 'nifty fifty' lenses are listed and we've taken their performance, features, how they handle and cost into account when reviewing and compiling the list. 

Nb. We've included 35mm lenses that can be used on APS-C cameras for a 52.5mm equivalent (Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Pentax), and 56mm equivalent (Canon), plus 25mm lenses for 50mm equivalent on Micro Four Thirds cameras. These lenses are also ones we've reviewed so if you're wondering why your favourite optic isn't on the list, it's probably because we've not taken a look at it yet. 



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5 Star Lenses: Editor's Choice


Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4 FF 

Tokina Opera 50mm F1,4 On Nikon D810

The Tokina Opera 50mm f/1.4 FF lens is designed for Nikon and Canon DSLRs, and offers excellent sharpness, smooth bokeh and fast, silent and accurate auto-focus performance. The lens is weather and dust resistant, and as well as offering high levels of sharpness, it also offers low levels of chromatic aberration and minimal distortion.

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HD Pentax-D FA* 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW

Hd Pentax D Fa 50mm F1,4 Front Oblique View

The Pentax-D FA* 50mm f/1.4 SDM AW is made for Pentax DSLRs, and covers full-frame and APS-C sensors. The lens delivers excellent levels of sharpness, from wide-open aperture, with very well controlled chromatic aberration. There is virtually no distortion, and smooth bokeh and background blur. The weather-sealing makes it a great combination for weather-sealed Pentax DSLRs.

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Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE 

Samyang 35mm F2,8 Vertical View

The 35mm FE lens from Samyang can be used on E-Mount (APS-C) cameras and it gives you an equivalent angle of view of 52.5mm. 

The technical quality of this lens is excellent, the AF is fast and accurate and the results look punchy with superb colour rendition. In terms of value, it's hard to argue with such a modestly priced lens when it performs so well. Weather resistance would be nice, as would full-time manual focus in AF mode, but apart from that the lens pretty much hits the spot. It is certainly an excellent match for the Sony mirrorless range for which it has been designed.

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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR 

Fuji Xf 35mm F2 Front Three Quarter View
The Fujifilm Fujinon XF 35mm f/2 R WR lens gives a 52.5mm equivalent angle of view when used on Fujifilm X Mount cameras. It's an ideal standard lens that features weather-resistant coatings, a high-quality finish and great handling. Plus, you get a very even and impressive performance.

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Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S 

Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S


All 50mm lenses tend to be pretty good, so differences will be in terms of construction quality, longevity, and the absolute performance at the top grade of lens making. Photographers do buy the highest quality lenses at sometimes very high prices indeed, but they also have a need for the specific subtlety that they extract for their particular style; the character of the lens.

The Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S has plenty of performance and plenty of character to justify its price. Editor's Choice.

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Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro 

Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 Macro

The Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 gives a superb performance, excellent handling and a light, compact form factor all sum up this excellent macro lens. There are no bad macro lenses, but this one pushes the envelope out a little further and excels.

In summary, the Nikon Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 is a very welcome addition to the Nikon Z series repertoire and a definite Editor's Choice.

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4.5 Star Lenses: Highly Recommended


Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX 

Nikon Dx 35mm 1 8 G
When used on Nikon F-Mount APS-C cameras, the Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8 G DX lens gives a 52.5mm angle of view equivalent.

This lens is a bit of a bargain for DX users looking for a compact high-quality lens for low light shooting, or to isolate a subject by exploiting the shallow depth of field. The optical quality is excellent for a lens at this price point, and that coupled with the good build quality and lightweight should mean this lens finds its way into many a Nikon users' kit bag.

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Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro  

Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro

It has bulk, it has the features, it has a high price... but, did we say it has the features? In other words, another of those situations where the feature set and quality are not in question but the price will limit the market to those who really need this as a working tool. It would be very nice indeed to own, but it does need to pay its way, as well as needing a high degree of photographic skill to get the best out of its potential.

Given the need and the cash, the photographer will certainly not be disappointed in the results from the Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro lens.

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Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA  

Zeiss Planar 50mm F1 4 Lens (1)

The Sony Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA adds to the high-end full-frame FE mount arsenal but with, what might be considered by some as, an eye-watering asking price, you may be wondering why it's taken our number 1 spot. Well, the simple answer is the extraordinary results the lens produces. In terms of sharpness, it is difficult to see how any improvement could be reasonably made and CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very much under control, especially at the centre. In fact, centrally, figures are as close to zero as could possibly be expected from any lens.

The bokeh of the lens is very smooth, and in the various bokeh shots we captured in our review, you can see the almost perfectly circular aperture. The lens, which is dust and moisture resistant, is also built to a very high standard,

The overall “character” of the lens is crisp and clean and it will suit a very wide variety of subjects and this is exactly what a “standard lens” should be. Yes, the price is on the high side but if it can be afforded, the lens should offer many years of excellent service.

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens  

Sigma 50mm F1 4 DG Art (4)

This 50mm Sigma Art lens offers a fast aperture and will fit Canon, Nikon, Sony and Sigma SLR cameras. It's another premium optic, hence the higher asking price but its performance does justify the cost (if you can afford it). Build quality is excellent but it's not as compact and light as some other 50mm lenses available. 

Sharpness is excellent in fact, we'd be happy to call it even 'outstanding' across the frame.  Chromatic aberrations are virtually non-existent and even when shooting into the light, contrast remains good and flare is virtually non-existent. Out of focus areas are rendered buttery-smooth making images that are incredibly pleasing to the eye.

On paper, seeing this lens simply as another 50mm f/1.4 lens, the £850 asking price does seem a little steep. With the performance this lens delivers taken into account it makes much more sense, representing very good value for money. Similar optics offering good performance have asking prices over £1000 so you can really see what a saving you get with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens. 

Overall, with this lens, Sigma has created a lens which performs well in terms of sharpness and other optical attributes, for a fairly reasonable price.

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Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC 

Samyang 35mm Lens

The Samyang 35mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC can be used on both FF and APS-C cameras and it's available in almost every mount (Canon, Four Thirds, Fujifilm X, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon, Pentax, NX, Sony A and Sony E). On APS-C cameras, the lens gives you a 52.5mm angle of view equivalent but you do have to use manual focus when using the lens which won't be something everyone likes.

If you're looking for a sharp, moderate wide-angle with a fast aperture and can live with focusing manually, you need to look no further.

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SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL 


Giving 52.5mm equivalent on Pentax K-Mount APS-C cameras, the SMC Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL lens is a good place for photographers to start, before decisions are made as to whether wider or longer lenses are needed. Overall, the Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.4 AL lens offers a very high level of optical quality for a very reasonable price.

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Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE 

Samyang Af 35mm F1,4 Fe Front Oblique View

This full-frame lens can be used on E-Mount (APS-C) cameras for a 52.5mm equivalent angle of view. 

The Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4 FE lens is a very attractive proposition for those seeking a fast 35mm lens. The quality is uniformly excellent and the price much lower than the marque alternatives. All in all, the lens is excellent value for money.

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Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8 ED 

Olympus M Zuiko 25mm F1 8 Lens (10)

This standard Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8 ED lens for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system cameras provides an angle of view equivalent to a 50mm lens used on a 35mm format camera and sports a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture. 

It is certainly capable of producing excellent quality images, with sharpness being excellent in the centre of the frame from maximum aperture. It's well built, lightweight and reasonably compact. 

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Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS 

Sony Nex 35mm F1 8 Lens 6

A prime lens that provides an angle of view equivalent to a 52.5mm lens on a 35mm camera and sports a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, optical image stabilisation and a lightweight, compact design.

Although it seems this lens carries a bit of a premium price, the performance it delivers probably makes it worth it, for those who require it. Sharpness is very good from maximum aperture, and can even be considered as outstanding as the lens is stopped down.

Other optical anomalies, such as CAs, falloff and distortion are also kept well in check, plus the lightweight and compact dimensions of the lens should make this an ideal addition to any serious NEX camera owners kit bag. The addition of optical stabilisation can only enhance the appeal of the Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS.

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Samyang 35mm f/1.2 ED AS UMC CS 

Samyang 35mm F1,2 Front Oblique View
The Samyang 35mm f/1.2 ED AS UMC CS is for both APS-C and MFT formats, this being a "35mm equivalent" of around 50mm and 70mm respectively. 

It is yet another cracking lens from Samyang, offering fantastic performance at a very reasonable price. The manual focusing is much easier than many ultra-bright lenses and is possibly more accurate at f/1.2 than some AF systems might be capable of. There really is little to fault with this design and will be a tempting proposition for many mirrorless users.

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Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 DI VC USD 

Tamron SP 35mm F1 8 VS USD (2)

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD full-frame lens can be used on both FF and APS-C cameras - available in Canon, Nikon and Sony mount on APS-C cameras - which gives a 52.5mm equivalent angle of view. 

This lens offers premium features, such as weather sealing, silent autofocus and Vibration Compensation, which will make it an interesting alternative to other similar lenses. It is certainly capable of delivering excellent quality images, with high sharpness in the centre of the frame. Whether those extra features are worth the extra expense to you will depend largely on how you use the lens. For example, travellers may find the Vibration Compensation and weather sealing invaluable to them.

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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens  

Nikon 50mm F1 8g Fx

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G comes in at under £180 and optical-wise, it's superb. For the price, it offers outstanding quality, handles well and the build quality is excellent. 

The clarity in the central portion of the frame is very good and as with most lenses, stopping down the aperture increases this optics performance across the frame and by f/2 the lens produces images with good sharpness from edge-to-edge. When shooting into the light, the simple optical design ensures this lens maintain good contrast and is resistant to flare in all but the most extreme of conditions. Falloff can be quite pronounced as too can be barrel distortion but this is easily fixed in image editing software and you might like the fact that the corners of the frame are 2.5 stops darker than the image centre.

Out of focus areas are rendered smoothly thanks to the rounded aperture blades and the compact size and lightweight makes this lens an ideal travel companion. 

Overall, it's optically superb, offers outstanding quality and is available for a really great price. 

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Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 PRO 

Olympus 25mm F1,2 Front Oblique View

This 25mm f/1.2 lens for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras is equivalent to a 50mm f/1.2 “standard” lens in 35mm-format terms.

 It is a very fine lens in its own right, with excellent sharpness that borders on outstanding, low CA, no flare and a very pleasing bokeh. Add to that the low light potential and we have a very attractive proposition indeed.

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HD Pentax-DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited 

HD Pentax DA 35mm Macro Limited (4)

The HD PENTAX-DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited compact macro lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 52.5mm lens on a 35mm format when mounted on a Pentax Digital SLR. It's built well, handles well and produces stunningly sharp images from maximum aperture. Given the performance this lens delivers, the price is a small ask. Even those not specifically looking for a macro optic will be pleased with how this lens performs.

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Fujifilm Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R 

Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 R

This standard lens for the Fujifilm X-Pro1 interchangeable lens camera provides a field of view equivalent to a 51mm lens on a 35mm camera and sports a bright f/1.4 maximum aperture.

With this lenses ability to deliver extremely sharp images, it should win many fans amongst users of this camera system. The build and handling are about right for the price. Add in this optic's ability to take images you could almost cut yourself on, and you have a winner here. 

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Samyang XP 50mm f/1.2 

Samyang XP 50mm f/1.2

There is very little difference in brightness between a f/1.4 and f/1.2 lens. The wider aperture also means more difficulty in focusing, but only because the point of focus is so fine. In reality, if used carefully with magnifying aids then it is highly accurate. The Samyang XP 50mm f/1.2 lens is also very bulky and very heavy, certainly quite huge compared to a conventional 50mm f/1.4.

However, the price is reasonable and the standard is very high, so there are clear benefits for those for whom the difference is significant. In any event, the performance is exemplary.

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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G  

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G is an oldie but a goodie and should not disappoint even the most discerning photographers. Performance throughout the aperture range is very good to outstanding and even if focusing speed is a little slow, it's still well worth considering. The lens is built well and its lightweight design make it a great lens for holidays or a city shoot. 

As for performance, even wide open at f/1.4 this new 50mm lens produces images with very good resolution in the centre of the image and good sharpness towards the edges. Peak performance across the frame can be achieved between f/5.6 and f/8, where the sharpness is outstanding across the frame.

Chromatic aberrations are kept to low enough levels that they shouldn't pose any issues and the slight amount of barrel distortion is quite common for wide-aperture lenses like this one. Bokeh is pleasing and the lens captures portraits beautifully. 

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Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro  

Sony 50mm FE Macro (3)

The Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro lens is a universally useful optic and the ability to continue to focus right down to life size is very appealing indeed. 

Sharpness at the centre is simply excellent at all apertures and CA (Chromatic Aberration) is highly corrected at the centre, approaching zero. The coatings are effective and even without a provided lens hood, the front element is recessed enough to avoid any signs of flare.  

Despite only having 7 diaphragm blades, the bokeh is still very pleasing. It is not as ultra-smooth perhaps as lenses specifically designed with bokeh in mind, but it is very satisfactory.

Overall, the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 macro lens is an excellent performer and a pleasure to use.

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Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE  

Samyang 50mm F1,4 Top View

The Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 is a high-quality lens, with excellent sharpness, that's available at a competitive price. 

With excellent sharpness throughout, low CA, low distortion and excellent manufacturing quality, it's a 50mm lens you can't really ignore. Sharpness can simply be described as excellent and CA is very well controlled. There is -0.948% barrel distortion, which is typical for a fast 50mm lens, but overall, the lens produces very pleasantly sharp images, with a smooth bokeh that shows well throughout the aperture range.

Size-wise, it's a little on the bulky side but this is a small price to pay for an optic that can deliver such beautiful results.

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Canon RF 50mm F/1.8 STM 

Canon RF 50mm F/1.8 STM

The standard 50mm lens, long neglected, has more recently seen a resurgence in popularity. It is easy to see why - relatively low cost, fast, bright maximum apertures, fast focusing, the lens that can be taken anywhere no matter how low the lighting and the one that delivers the goods.

Although, ideally, it would have been good to have weather resistance and the lens hood included as standard, let's not be churlish as the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens remains excellent value for money and performs very well overall. To many zoom orientated photographers the fast 50mm can be something of a revelation.

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4-Star Lenses: Recommended


Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH  

Lumix 25mm F1,7 Front Three Quarter View

The Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 for Micro Four Thirds is the equivalent of the 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.7 lenses that for decades were considered the standard lenses for 35mm film cameras.

Much of the performance of this lens is exemplary, especially considering the modest cost. The only real drawback is the susceptibility to flare, which is very evident in shots taken into the light. If this can be accepted then the lens is, without doubt, an excellent proposition.

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Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G  

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G


The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G lens gives an angle of view equivalent to 52.5mm when used on a Nikon APS-C sensor camera and those looking for a wide-angle lens with a fast maximum aperture could do a lot worse than this 35mm f/1.4 from Nikon. Sharpness levels in the centre are extremely high from maximum aperture, it's well built and focuses fast. 

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SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4  

Pentax 50mm F1,4 Oblique Front View

The SMC Pentax-FA 50mm f/1.4 is a robust, high-quality standard lens for Pentax DSLRs that's currently available for a reasonable £339. 

Images captured by the lens are bright, contrasty and have plenty of punch, plus there is an almost total resistance to flare, even with the sun just on the edge of the image area. The colour balance of all Pentax lenses is excellent and this one is no exception with it producing colours that can be described as slightly warm but very much natural. 

Sharpness starts off quite soft at f/1.4 peaks at f/5.6. The edges also start off soft at f/1.4 and f/2 and again, performance peaks at f/5.6. Distortion is respectable and CA is controlled well. 

The conclusion is that this lens can compete with the latest high-quality full-frame lenses as an equal. It's also robust, well-made and all-in-all, is an unobtrusive addition to any camera kit.

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM 


Sigma's 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM is physically larger and noticeably heavier than equivalent lenses but don't let this put you off at it's well built and feels like it can take a bit of use and abuse. As for performance, this optic proved itself capable of producing fantastic sharpness, especially in the centre of the image. Those after a technically perfect lens may be slightly disappointed with the performance towards the edges, but for portraiture at wide apertures, the high levels of centre sharpness should produce great results.

When shooting wide open images are reasonably sharp across the frame and CA levels are low enough to not cause concern. Barrel distortion is often present on wide-aperture prime lenses like this and even though it is slightly present, again, it's not really much to worry about and can be corrected in image editing software. 

The sharpness in the centre is this lens' strong point, so if you tend to shoot at wide apertures this could be the lens for you. Pentax users after a bright 50mm should certainly consider this lens when looking at purchasing a 50mm for their kit bag as the price point (£322.80) makes it a worthy contender. 

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Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH  

Leica DG Summilux 1:1.4/25 ASPH

This 25mm lens has a bright f/1.4 maximum aperture, internal focusing, Nano Surface lens coatings to reduce ghosting and flare and it offers the same field of view that a standard 50mm lens would do on a 35mm camera.

Micro Four Thirds camera owners after the classic field of view offered by a standard lens will not be disappointed by the optical performance of this lens. It is a very sharp, contrasty optic, worthy of the Leica branding applied.

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Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM  

Canon 35mm F1,4 Oblique Front View

The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II USM lens gives a 56mm equivalent angle of view when used on a Canon APS-C sensor camera and there is no doubt that the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II USM is a very pleasant lens to use and has a very attractive “character” to the images, that indefinable look. This is aided by its high contrast that gives a crisp appearance to images.

This is concentrated on the centre without a doubt, the edges lagging behind, but the fine detail is very good indeed at the centre of the field. The edges are a little disappointing, as is the relatively poor flare control. Overall, a very good lens, not a perfect one, but an excellent, reliable choice for Canon users.

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Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Version II  

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm F0 95 Mft Type2 Black (5)

The Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Version II becomes a 50mm lens on Micro Four Thirds cameras. 

Those shooting videos will appreciate the option for a step-less aperture and everyone will enjoy the fast maximum aperture and ability to isolate a subject from their surroundings with shallow depth of field.

This sample also appears to offer improvements in sharpness and contrast over the copy of the first version we tested some time ago. Whether this is down to natural variation between lens samples, or improvements to the optical construction is difficult to say at this point, without having a few of each lens version to test and compare. The sample tested was more than usable at f/0.95, so long as care is taken to ensure accurate focus. Overall, this is an interesting lens, that should win over many fans.

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Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZA SSM  

SAL Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZA SSM

Lenses bearing the Carl Zeiss name tend to be luxury items and carry a luxury price tag as a result and the Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZA SSM is no different with a cool £1488.33 sat against its name. 

At maximum aperture, sharpness in the centre of the frame is good, but the clarity recorded towards the edges of the frame is a little disappointing. Stopping down the aperture improves performance across the frame with clarity reaching good levels by f/2.8. Peak sharpness across the frame is achieved at f/5.6. Chromatic aberrations are higher than you might expect but falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is fairly typical for a lens with such a fast maximum aperture. 

The lens does have excellent weather resistance and its overall build quality is worthy of the Carl Zeiss name. In fact, the materials it is constructed from mean the overall size and weight are a good match for compact SLR and SLT bodies and overall image quality is impressive. 

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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM 

Canon EF 50mm F1 8 STM (4)

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens is a bargain at just over £100 and when it was announced, was a welcomed update for the popular and inexpensive standard 50mm f/1.8 EF lens

Sharpness is very good in the centre at maximum aperture and stopping down produces even better results across the frame. Contrast holds up well when shooting into the light and there is no issue with flare. Distortion is detected but easily corrected and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the aperture stopped down to f/5.6 or beyond.

Even though this lens costs more than its predecessor, it still represents great value due to the high levels of sharpness it produces. The improved build quality is welcome too and should win over many fans as a result.

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SLR-Magic 35mm T1.4 Cine Mark II  

SLR Magic 35mm T0 95 Hyperprime Cine (8)

The SLR Magic 35mm T/1.4 Cine Mark II gets a 52.5mm equivalent angle of view when used on Sony E mount and Fujifilm X-Mount cameras (it's also available in Micro Four Thirds, but is equivalent to 70mm).

Although this lens is sold as a special effects lens due to the softness towards the edges of the frame seen at fast apertures, it is a competent performer, delivering excellent sharpness in the centre of the frame from maximum aperture. Although this lens is geared toward those shooting video with their camera, it is equally at home for still photography and is priced reasonably when compared to the competition.

Overall, the SLR Magic 35mm T/1.4 Cine Mark II lens offers excellent sharpness for a fair price. 

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Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM 

Canon Ef 35mm F2 Is Usm Lens (1)

This full-frame lens can be used on APS-C Canon DSLRs so the 35mm lens becomes 56mm equivalent.

With this lens, Canon has produced something that performs very well indeed, but then you would expect that for the asking price. It may be questionable whether or not having image stabilisation available at this focal length really is a killer feature, as it will really only be of use for photographing static subjects unless motion blur is required for creative effect.

With alternatives that have a faster maximum aperture being available for the same, or slightly more money, it does make it difficult to see the value in this lens. If the price drops as supply of the lens settles down, then it will make more sense in Canon's lens lineup.

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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM 

Canon Ef 50mm F1 2 Prime Lens Large

We go from £100 up to £1040.14 with this offering from Canon. For just over £1000, you get a lens that features a super-bright f/1.2 maximum aperture and silent ultrasonic focusing all wrapped up in a professional-grade weather-sealed body. 

Sharpness is good from maximum aperture in the centre of the frame, but the performance towards the edges isn't in the same league, unfortunately. If your intended use requires good centre sharpness, and the ability to reduce the depth of field to the minimum, not much else comes close. However, if you're after superb edge-to-edge clarity, and low distortion for general purpose use or more critical applications, such as copy stand work, then this lens may not be for you.

Those who are considering the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM as an option will be happy to hear that the bright maximum aperture allows the depth of field to be reduced creatively, isolating your subjects from the background, which this lens renders incredibly smoothly. 

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Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG 

Sigma Lens 50 f/2.8 Macro Large 1500

The Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro lens offers a basic introduction to macro photography, with none of the bells and whistles such as silent focusing or image stabilisation, at a budget price of £185.51 (Nikon fit) and £219.99 (Canon fit). 

When shot wide open, this lens produces images with fairly good sharpness in the centre and the quality towards the edges isn't far behind. As the lens is stopped down, the quality improves and peak quality across the frame is achieved at f/8, where the resolution in the centre is outstanding, and the performance towards the edges is very good. 

Chromatic aberrations are kept within acceptable levels and the falloff of illumination towards the corners is reasonably well controlled. There are no problems with flare either and the images we captured with it showed no loss of contrast. 

Overall, this 50mm macro from Sigma is a very capable lens for the price and should make a good introduction to macro photography, especially for those on a budget.

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Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro  

EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro

Canon's 50mm f/2.5 macro lens offers a compact, lightweight half life-size macro option for EF and EF-S cameras. The build quality is excellent, with much of the barrel being constructed from high-grade plastics and the lens mount from metal and it balances well. 

Optically this lens is excellent, producing sharp images with low levels of chromatic aberrations and distortion. Out of focus areas have a good quality to them, contrast holds up well, even when shooting into the light and sharpness is excellent across the frame when stopped down.

Being priced at around £230 makes this an excellent value choice, so long as you don't require life-size magnification for which an optional life-size converter will be required.

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Pentax SMC P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro  

Pentax 50mm Macro 2 8 (4)

The Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro cannot be faulted for its level of image quality but the design is a little antiquated. Having said that, considering the performance delivered by this lens, it appears to be quite a bargain for the asking price of around £320. Stopping down to f/8 results in outstanding sharpness across the frame, CA is well controlled and falloff of illumination is handled well. A virtually indistinguishable amount of barrel distortion is present in images taken with this lens and it is very resistant to flare with contrast levels remaining consistent. 

Optically, it is very difficult to fault this lens, as the performance it delivers is excellent in every respect. Unfortunately, the design of the lens and the way it handles and feels a little dated but if you can overlook this, you've got yourself a great lens for capturing images with. 

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Meike 25mm f/0.95 Micro Four Thirds  

MEIKE 25mm F0 95 MFT Lens (2)


The MEIKE 25mm f/0.95 MFT lens becomes 50mm on Micro Four Thirds but the fact that it's a manual focus lens won't be to everyone's taste. However, if we are prepared to live with that then we end up with a very desirable lens. It is sharp, albeit not at the edges until f/2, in the centre outstandingly sharp, there is no trace of flare, CA is well under control and the price very reasonable for what we are getting. We can add to that the creative possibilities for stills and movies of that f/0.95 aperture and it makes a good case for giving the Meike 25mm f/0.95 serious consideration.

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Even More, Buying Advice

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20 Mar 2018 6:29PM
I can't argue with the results, especially as I have all three Pentax 50mm lenses on the list. They are very special.
But, to be honest, most 50mm lenses are very special, the classic focal length (albeit longer for APS-C and M43). Optically they are fairly simple, even the new large Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and Pentax DFA* offerings, which are HUGE!

But don't worry, there is a 50 for any budget, from brand new, to classic MF ones.
Indeed, one of my favourites on the K-1, is from the 70's, a Pentacon 50mm F1.8.

I think I come across as a bit of a 50mm fan.....Grin
petebfrance 9 3.1k France
23 Jun 2018 9:18PM
Odd - I expected to see this one here, Pentax smc da 50 f1.7 as it is 4* as oversight or was there a reason for missing it out?

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