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The Best 50mm Lenses for Canon in 2021

Ahh, the good old nifty-fifty–such a classic lens! The 50mm prime is a quintessential piece of equipment every photographer should own at least once in their lifetime. And, today we’re looking at the best 50mm for Canon mount cameras:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Bestseller
Wide f/1.8 aperture, Continuous AF for movies, Great for portraits, action, and nighttime photography;
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Canon Our Pick
Very sharp at F1.4, Pro level all-around performer, Fast and accurate focus;
Canon 50mm f/1.2L USM Also Great
Fastest and widest aperture 50mm lens from Canon.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
A good budget pick for Canon full frame cameras.
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Canon Mount
Creates sharp images with high contrast, Large Aperture, Very affordable;
Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE
Very sharp lens, Manual focus design, Weather-resistant construction;
Yongnuo YN50mm f/1.4
Faster than the f/1.8 lens. Value for money.
Yongnuo YN50 f/1.8
A Great third party option: Fast aperture. Value for money.

If you’re a Nikon shooter, don’t worry, just check our post on the best Nikon 50mm lenses.

1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

The 50mm f/1.8 is a neat little package for the budget photographer. At under $150 it is the cheapest EF lens that you could buy right now.

Aside from its great quality, one of the biggest advantages of the lens is the STM auto-focusing motor. This is one of the first lenses to have this particular AF motor. The STM technology is geared to work in tandem with Canon’s dual pixel CMOS auto-focusing. That makes this a great choice for shooting video.

Related Post: STM vs USM Lenses – What’s the Difference?

In terms of build quality and weather sealing, this is not the finest. It’s primarily made of plastic, with only the lens mount made up of metal. The overall weight is under 1-pound. Which, consequently, should be a giveaway of the build quality.

The 50mm f/1.8 STM contains 6 elements arranged in 5 groups. There’s no image stabilization on the lens. The lens diaphragm is made of 7 rounded diaphragm blades, which, to be honest, is good enough. We pick this as the best 50mm for Canon on a budget.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
  • 50 millimeter focal length and maximum aperture of f/1.8
  • Great for portraits, action, and nighttime photography; Angle of view (horizontal, vertical, diagonal): 40º, 27º,46º
  • Minimum focusing distance of 1.15 feet (0.35 meter) and a maximum magnification of 0.21x
  • Stepping motor (STM) delivers near silent, continuous move Servo AF for movies and smooth AF for stills
  • 80 millimetre effective focal length on APS C cameras, 50 millimetre on full frame cameras. Lens construction: 6 elements in...

2. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

After much deliberations, we decided upon the best 50mm for Canon. The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens!

This Sigma gives the Carl Zeiss Milvus (listed below) a run for its money.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Some words on the build quality of the lens. Seriously, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM A is a well-built lens. It is made out of thermally stable composite material. The dimensions of the lens stay the same regardless of the temperature in which it operates.

It consists of a total of 13 elements arranged in 8 groups. This includes three special low dispersion elements. Consists of 9 rounded aperture blades that form the nice rounded aperture diaphragm. At 815 grams it is a shade under the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE.

The lens has a ring-type auto-focusing mechanism. Plus, full-time manual focusing override.

Sigma’s Art series lenses have always inspired and excited us. The 50mm f/1.4 is no different. As a matter of fact, it beats the smaller sibling to the best lens for Canon EF mount.

Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM Lens for Canon
  • 50mm focal length
  • 75mm equivalent focal length on APS-C cameras, 80mm equivalent focal length on Canon APS-C cameras
  • F1.4 maximum aperture; F16 minimum
  • Ring-type ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing
  • 77mm filters.Angle of View (35mm):46.8°

3. Canon 50mm f/1.2L USM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras - Fixed
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

The fastest, the widest aperture 50mm lens in the Canon stable, the Canon 50mm f/1.2L USM is a fantastic lens to work with. Sure it is pricey. It is pricier than even some of the telephoto lenses that Canon makes. But at the end of the day, you get a wide-open aperture of f/1.2.

There is, however, a catch in all these. The wide-open aperture of f/1.2 can also give you a lot of problems when nailing focus. The slightest bit of hand movement, or your body leaning forward or backward at the precise moment you push the shutter release, can cause image blur.

Notwithstanding, if you can manage shooting with such wide aperture lenses you would love the quality of bokeh produced by the massive wide aperture and the 8 rounded aperture blades.

Construction of the lens includes a total of 8 elements arranged in 6 groups. It includes one aspherical element. Additionally, the lens also has a Super Spectra coating to ensure the suppression of ghosting and flares in poor lighting conditions.

Size-wise the lens dwarfs the likes of the 50mm f/1.8 STM. It is heavier too. And that brings us to the build quality of the lens. This lens comes with weather sealing. It is not going to be affected by the vagaries of Mother Nature. A little bit of drizzle or a little bit of snow, nothing will impact the lens.

Our Pick
Best 50mm for Canon

Fast aperture. Superb image quality.

4. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras,...
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Standard and Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Canon has a less expensive 50mm prime. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. That one is significantly cheaper than the f/1.2 L USM that we just read about. But just being one-third stop slower doesn’t make it a deal-breaker. On the contrary, we feel that if you don’t need an f/1.2 lens then there is no point in spending an obscene amount of money.

The EF 50mm f/1.4 USM is a simple construction. It consists of 7 elements arranged in 6 groups. The lens features a Gaussian optics design. It includes two high refractive index elements. These elements are responsible for the suppression of spherical aberrations and other distortions. Super Spectra coating has also been used for suppressing lens flare and ghosting increasing overall contrast and color rendition in the final images.

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The aperture diaphragm is composed of eight rounded blades. The quality of the bokeh is surprisingly good. One of the primary reasons you would want to use a fast prime is so that you can use the maximum aperture to produce wild background blur. Completely obliterating the background and thereby bringing the subject into prominence in the image.

This technique also helps you when the background isn’t necessarily interesting and adds nothing to the entire composition. Normally, you wouldn’t want to completely blur out a background if it is half-interesting. Slightly out of focus, yes. But completely blurred out, no.

Best Budget Pick
Best Budget Pick for your Canon Full-frame

Excellent aperture. Value for money. Great image quality.

5. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Canon Mount

The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM is great auto-focus lens for those of you who want a lens with an AF motor.

Plus, you have full-time manual focusing override. Full-time manual focusing override allows you the advantage to tweak the focus manually. This is even when auto-focusing mode is engaged.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
Sigma art lenses are an affordable way to get an art lens.

Let’s take a look at the construction of the lens.

The lens is composed of 8 elements arranged in 6 groups. This includes 1 aspherical element. The 9 rounded diaphragm blades create a beautiful round aperture opening.

The front element of the lens is quite large. Not surprising since the lens uses a 77mm filter thread. For a 50mm prime, this is quite big.

This is one of the lighter constructions on this list. Weighing just 1.1 pounds, it’s at par with some of the other lenses on our list of best 50mm for Canon mount cameras.

But the build quality is not at par. Unfortunately, this is not a weather-sealed construction.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
  • Large Aperature, standard prime lens, has superior peripheral brightness and corrects the sagittal coma fare
  • Standard lens with large maximum aperture of F1.4.
  • Creates sharp images with high contrast and ensures superior peripheral brightness
  • Incorporates molded glass aspherical lens, perfectly correcting coma aberration and creating superior image quality.
  • Super multi-layer lens coating reduces flare and ghosting.

6. Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE

Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50 ZE, Camera mount: Canon EF-Mount (ZE) | Nikon F-Mount (ZF.2)
Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE. The lens has a sleek profile and is built tough.

Let me start off by saying, this Zeiss lens is designed like a tank. The lens has a total of 10 elements arranged in 8 groups. All of which are perfectly protected by the lens’ completely weather sealed design.

Something to keep in mind, however, is this is a manual focus lens. That means no auto-focus, which could be a deal breaker for some.

Distortion is very minimal if any. If you shoot charts inside a studio you would see a slight amount of barrel distortion. But that’s negligible and easily corrected in post-production.

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On the flip side, you do can exactly the same thing with the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 that you could do with the Zeiss Milvus. And at a cheaper price and a less bulkiness to boot.

For many photographers, the lack of auto-focusing is the end of discussion. There are plenty of photography moments where you need accurate fast focus lock. Moments where there is no time to dilly-dolly with a manual focusing ring. This is where the Zeiss Milvus narrowly misses out on the crown of the best 50mm for Canon.

Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50 ZE, Camera mount: Canon EF-Mount (ZE) | Nikon F-Mount (ZF.2)
  • creative still and video photography through precise manual focusing: zeiss milvus lenses feature a large rotation angle...
  • future-proof solution for high-resolution camera systems: the excellent image performance of the zeiss milvus lenses is...
  • excellent imagery, even in difficult light conditions: all lenses features zeiss t antireflective coating. in addition, all...
  • stable image performance over the entire focusing range: state-of-the-art camera systems and high-resolution digital image...
  • durability and protection against the elements: the all-metal housing has special seals for protection against dust and...

7. Yongnuo YN50 f/1.8

YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8 Lens Large Aperture Auto Focus Lens for Canon EF Mount EOS...
YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8 Lens

Yongnuo makes some decent photo accessories including continuous lighting, triggers, flashes, and lenses. The Yongnuo YN50 comes with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. It is quite a fast lens. In even reasonable quantity light you can use it to produce beautiful background blur. You can completely obliterate the background, thereby bringing the subject into prominence.

Nighttime photography with such wide aperture lenses is very easy. They capture several stops of additional light when compared to similar kit lenses. That allows you to use faster Shutter Speed and capture sharper images in any kind of lighting situation.

This particular lens is a rather simple construction. It consists of only 6 elements arranged in 5 groups. There is a multi-coated glass element that ensures that the lens is able to counter flares and ghosting when shooting with the sun lower at the horizon.

The aperture diaphragm is composed of a total of seven aperture blades. The quality of the bokeh is decent but not comparable to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM.

Great Third-party Pick
Great third party option

Fast aperture. Value for money.

8. Yongnuo YN50mm f/1.4

YONGNUO Standard Prime Lens YN50mm F1.4 AF/MF 0.45M Lens for Canon DSLR Camera
YONGNUO Standard Prime Lens YN50mm F1.4 AF/MF 0.45M Lens

Yongnuo also has a f/1.4 lens for the Canon EF mount. This is a slightly more expensive lens. Costing almost three times the price that you pay for the f/1.8 lens. But you also get one-third additional light when shooting. So if that additional one-third light is absolutely important for you, go for it by all means.

If that additional light is something that you can manage using a slightly higher ISO number or using the exposure sliders in your favorite photo editing software then there is no reason to pay extra.

Let’s talk about the construction of the lens and the composite elements. The lens has a total of 9 elements arranged in 7 groups.

The construction of the lens includes four ultra-high refractive index elements. These elements ensure that the lens is not plagued by distortions and aberrations too much.

Additionally, a multi-layer coating has also been used. This takes care of lens flares and ghosting. Especially when working in difficult lighting situations.

Aperture diaphragm is composed of seven blades. Bokeh quality is nice but we still prefer the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L that we listed here.

Excellent Choice
Fast aperture

Faster than the f/1.8 lens. Value for money.

Conclusion – Which one is “the Best”?

A 50mm lens is the standard prime for 35mm format cameras. This versatile piece of optics delivers when it comes to shooting every day, street, events, and family photos. Choosing the best 50mm for Canon shouldn’t be too difficult as all the lenses we’ve listed here are outstanding.

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First, just establish your budget and narrow down your choices that way. Then decide on what’s important to you.

  • Is it build tough enough for your usage habits?
  • Do you need autofocus and so forth?

Before long, you’ll have chosen the perfect lens to add to your collection.

Did we miss one? Let us know what your favorite 50mm for Canon lens is in the comments below!

Author

  • Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. He loves to test and review new photography gear. He has been writing about cameras and lenses for over 10 years now. You can consider him as your "master guide" here at PhotoWorkout.


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