If you shoot Canon and you’re on the market for a 50mm prime, you’re in luck. Canon users are spoiled for choice with no fewer than four such lenses available today, sadly there are just two worth considering.

The first is the venerable, fantastic plastic EF 50mm F1.8 STM. The nifty fifty got a much-needed update back in 2015 when Canon added a smoother STM stepping motor and significantly improved the lenses build quality with the addition of a metal lens mount.

Unfortunately, the optics, while now fully multicoated haven’t changed in more than 25 years. It’s not a bad design and it renders rather nice, sharp images — at least in the center of the frame where it matters. Plus for the price, it’s really quite hard to complain.

The second is Canon’s new RF 50mm F1.2 USM, which launched alongside the Canon EOS R in 2018. The lens was a massive improvement over the painfully soft EF 50mm F1.2 of yesteryear. However, all that sharpness comes at a price, an eye-watering $2,300, and it can only be used on Canon’s new mirrorless cameras.

Canon, it’s time for a niftier fifty, and I don’t mean something that will cost me both my kidneys. I suggest you start with updating the EF 50mm F1.4.

An RF 50mm Goldilocks?

The upmarket EF 50mm F1.4 USM may be still kicking around, but the lens is just crying out for an EF refresh and an RF treatment.

The current 50mm F1.4, while a third of a stop faster than the nifty fifty, doesn’t perform nearly as well optically and its USM autofocus motor is not only slower than Canon’s new STM motors, it’s also a whole lot louder. All that would be forgivable but the lens also retails for about three times the cost.

That said, I still think there is a place for a 50mm F1.4 in Canons line up, and I would love to see an RF 50mm F1.4 with image stabilization — similar to Canon’s excellent RF 35mm STM —  at some point. And while it’s a longshot, a weather-sealed model would undoubtedly become the preferred prime for many professional photographers.

Just give me a niftier fifty already

While I have to say Canon’s official EF to RF adapter works flawlessly with their 50mm F1.8 STM, I can’t wait to see what an RF version looks like.

The good news is, Canon News spotted a patent for such a lens back in October; sadly it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a substantially improved optical formula just yet.

Canon RF 50mm F1.8
Patent for a 50mm F.18 RF-mount nifty fifty filed back in October.

The patent filing depicts a slim prime lens with seven elements in two groups. For reference, that’s one more element than the EF model. However, I suspect the added element may only be there because of the RF mount’s reduced flange distance.

Whatever the case, I’d be seriously disappointed to find out Canon had simply re-engineered the current nifty fifty to include an integrated adapter the same way Sony did with their FE 50mm F1.8.

While some have speculated that we might see an image-stabilized version of the lens, I somehow doubt it.

I also suspect that an RF nifty fifty probably won’t be as cheap as the EF model, especially if it does end up sporting a new optical formula. If I had to guess, the lens will likely retail for between $249 and $399, and its release will likely be timed around the launch of an “affordable” EOS-R camera.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

  • Do you think it’s time Canon revamped their line of 50mm primes?
  • What would you like to see in an RF-mount nifty fifty?
  • Do you think we’ll get an image-stabilized 50mm from Canon anytime soon?
  • What do you think the next RF-mount lens will be?

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