The Canon 50mm EF 1.8 was the lens that made me get into photography. At just € 120,- it’s still one of the best lenses you can buy for the EF system. 50mm is still one of my favorite focal lengths, but I moved to the Canon R6 which meant it only went on there with the EF/RF adapter. Then Canon announced the 50mm 1.8 RF and I simply had to test it.
I mainly want to test it because there are so little reviews of this lens, so here is a quick summary. Mind you, I am not a pro reviewer but it should give you more than a preview.
First of, at € 230,- it’s € 110,- more expensive than the EF lens. Canon says it’s more than just a mount replacement though. After getting over the price bump you will notice it’s very similar in both size and weight.
Where the lenses differ are in the thread size, dept off the glass element, the focus/control ring and button layout.
The RF version is lacking the AF/MF button for switching to manual and it gets a new button which switches the control ring from focus to control ring mode.
Like all RF glass the controle ring is programmable. It can be used for things like adjusting exposure compensation, shutter speed, aperture or ISO. I haven’t gotten used to the ring yet, but I might when more glass gets the option to use it.
The inclusion of a new PMo aspherical lens should helps to reduce chromatic aberration. It’s something the old lens suffered with. Additionally, the combination of the lens shape and Super Spectra Coating should minimize ghosting and flaring.
A little bit closer
Finally you can get a little closer with the RF version because the minimal focus distance is just 0.30m.
Putting it all to the test
I’ve shot some test images with the 50mm RF 1.8, the 50 EF RF 1.8 – the latest 2015 updated version- and the 85mm EF 1.8. I’ve added the 85mm to show you want the out of focus parts and bokeh of the image looks. The 85mm also has a lot off issues with purple fringing, another reason to include the lens in the test set. The order is 85mm EF, 50mm EF, 50mm RF every time.
First off I have turned the lenses to their closest focus distance and shot three test images and shot them at f1.8.
I love the round balls of the 85mm and you only see some cats eye shapes in the corner.
You can hardly see any difference between the 50mm RF and the 50mm EF in terms of the bokeh. Both are rather round at the center but they quickly become cats eyes when you go off center. I do feel the RF crops in a little less. I see an extra fold on the left side of the curtains which I don’t see on the EF image.
If you zoom in to the images you will see a color fringing difference. It is marginal but noticeable.
Now, let’s bring some retro phones into the images. The 85mm has the best Bokeh again but you do see the first signs of purpose fringing for the 85mm. The 50mm RF and EF show no difference except for the crop we noticed before.
Now let’s try to shoot something with more contrast. This is where the 85mm falls apart. The purple fringe hurts you eyes. The 50mm EF does somewhat better, but the RF is the clear winner here.
Upgrade? You don’t have to
If you have a 50mm 1.8 EF, should you upgrade? No under good conditions you won’t see any difference between the EF and RF version. Especially after editing in Lightroom the difference is marginal to non existent.
New to Canon?
Are you new to the Canon R lens system and have you just bought your first RP, R5 or R6? Then the 50mm is the perfect prime to add to your new body. It’s rather expensive compared to the 50mm EF but as long as Canon does not open it system up to 3rd parties like Sigma and Tamron they can pretty much charge whatever they want.
Yes you could buy the EF/RF adapter + the EF version of the lens for the same price, but you would add 130g extra weight and +-2cm in size to the camera lens combo, which is a shame. In high contrast situations the 50mm RP just performs better as well, so I think that makes the RF version the better buy.
Update Christopher Frost is one of the best lens reviewers and he has just reviewed the lens. A must watch if you are considering buying it. Heads up: he is not blown away either.