July 19, 2016

Why You Should Buy the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Chris Lavigne

Creative

I’m just gonna go ahead and say it. I think every video producer should own a 50mm lens. If you don’t already have one, you should consider picking up the $125 Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM lens for 3 reasons:

1. Image quality

Fixed lenses like the 50mm are typically sharper than zoom or traditional kit lenses that will come with your DSLR camera.

2. Wide aperture

Compared to a kit lens that might have a maximum aperture of around 3.5 or 5.6, the 50mm has a really wide maximum aperture of f/1.8. This means it’ll be great shooting in lower-light situations and will create cinematic shallow depth of field.

3. Price

For the money, you can’t get more bang for your buck. Because this lens is so simple and contains so few lens elements, the manufacturing price is lower, making for a killer bargain.

Updates on the original lens

The new 50mm STM is a replacement for the original ’nifty-fifty,’ a plastic 50mm f/1.8 lens that sold for around $100. The new 50mm received some welcome updates to make it a truly awesome addition to a video producer’s camera bag:

  • New focus ring for smooth manual focus
  • Updated STM stepping motor for smooth autofocus
  • Improved minimum focusing distance at just over 1 foot
  • Updated aperture blades for prettier bokeh
  • Metal mount for added durability

Applications

Different lenses have their strengths and weaknesses, and we’ve found that the 50mm STM lens works well for:

"Talking head" interview shots

Although we use a 35mm lens for shooting on "The Wistia Screen," the 50mm will help you create crisp images and a pleasant bokeh effect (the area of the background that is out of focus).

Interesting b-roll angles

Shooting with a fixed lens forces you to move your body instead of just zoom in and out, helping you find new perspectives in your video.

Shooting in low-light situations

If you’re shooting indoors or at night, the wide aperture of a 50mm is almost a must-have.

Capturing lifestyle travel footage

I bring this lightweight lens on almost every vacation I go on, because it packs well and takes gorgeous portraits.


If you’re curious what types of shots you can get with this lens, take a gander at this silent loop that we shot in the Wistia office:

While the lens did receive an upgrade from it’s plastic predecessor, it retained a crazy-low price point of $125, making it the perfect entry-level prime/fixed lens. This "nifty fifty" might just become one of your favorite lenses, so give it a try!

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