Thursday, April 7, 2011

"This Lens Will Change Your Life!..."

Well, at least that is what I read on some of the online forums I frequent. I'm talking, of course, about the Canon 50mm f/1.8 ii lens I recently purchased.

I had wanted to save up the money for the f/1.4 version that featured a metal body and more user-friendly focus ring or even the Canon 35mm f/2.0 (Which is actually a 50mm equivalent on my crop-sensor camera, but don't get me started), but after going on a recent photo outing with a friend I was really growing tired of shooting with my kit lens. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice starter lens, especially if you are new to photography/DSLR Video. However, I was getting to a point where I would rather punch myself in the face than try to shoot video with it. Having cut my DSLR teeth on older models, I just have it drilled into my head that the last thing you jack with to get a proper exposure is your ISO setting. So, every time I had to crank my ISO up to 1600 to shoot video, it was like being forced to listen to 1kHz tone. Needless to say, it was having adverse effects on my mental wellbeing.

When it arrived in the mail I was not very impressed. I knew it would have a plastic body, but it just felt like a toy. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to go ahead and shoot with it or if I needed to add a couple AAA batteries and wait for it to spin and light up. It was at this point that I believe buyers remorse kicked in and I disappointedly shoved it into my camera bag.

Later that afternoon, my wife and I decided to take the kids outside and enjoy the nice weather. I was initially going to wait for an open weekend to do some test shooting, but I finally talked myself into trying it out anyway. Turns out the joke was on me. After all my complaining about build and cosmetics, i had failed to withhold judgment until all the evidence had been presented, so I get to wear the 'Stupid' hat for the rest of the day.

Turns out the image quality is great. Like I discussed with a photog friend, it's just one of those things that you see and understand. It's like knowing what good Photoshop work looks like. I can tell you what bad Photoshop work looks like and what's bad about it, but good work... you just know it when you see it. I could go into things like bokeh and focus falloff, but trust me, there's good stuff going on inside all that plastic. I've posted a few of the test shots below, (please note that they are straight off the camera from an impromptu shoot, so don't expect prize winning stuff.)

As far as video goes, when I first switched over to movie mode all I got was a blank white screen. I sat there staring at it almost dumbfounded for a few seconds. Then, the hamster in my brain jumped back on the wheel and I realized I had too much light. I'd never seen it before on my camera. I actually had to dial down my aperture and ISO to STOP light from coming in. I like to think my reaction was very adult and professional in nature upon discovering this. But seriously, it was nice to finally have something more open than a f/3.5 aperture and would allow me to shoot without worrying about noise from high ISO.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are still issues that will take time to either learn to work around or just get used to, but I can already tell the benefits are going to outweigh the costs. It may not be the, "Life changing" lens that it was hyped up to be, but it's definitely a step up...


  1. It's the devil cat! glad to see you are out shooting though.