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Canon Officially Announces New 50mm F/1.8 STM

By Anthony Thurston on May 11th 2015

Hot on the heels of last week’s image leak, Canon announced today their new 50mm F/1.8 STM.


The new ‘Nifty Fifty’ has been upgraded in many ways from its predecessor and surprisingly, Canon has kept the price point almost exactly the same. The list of improvements is long, starting with the new STM motor for better and quieter AF performance in both stills and video modes. In addition to that, Canon has moved the focus ring back off the very front of the lens, which should make the lens slightly better for manual focus.

Also of note to portrait and bokeh lovers, the new 50mm F/1.8 STM  features a seven bladed circular aperture, a huge upgrade from the 5 bladed non-circular aperture from the previous model. This will help render a more pleasing out of focus area and a better overall bokeh.

Canon 50mm F/1.8 STM Highlights

  • Canon STM gear type stepping motor technology provides quiet autofocusing to support Canon’s EOS Movie Servo AF function
  • Improved exterior design (focus ring placement)
  • New metal mount for stability and ruggedness
  • Super Spectra Coating for minimized ghosting and flaring
  • Circular seven-blade aperture
  • 14-inch minimum focusing distance
  • 0.21x maximum magnification


Overall, this looks to be a great update over the currently available 50mm F/1.8 model. I don’t think anyone would argue that the ‘Plastic Fantastic’ was in need of a makeover. What surprised me though, was that Canon kept the price the same. I easily could have imagined this creeping up over the $200 mark, especially with all that rumor talk of the lens possibly replacing both the 50mm F/1.4 and the 50mm F/1.8.

For $125, this is a pretty great deal and with major build quality and image quality (based on MTF charts, we will see in our review) improvements over the current model, this seems almost like a no-brainer for every Canon shooter.

You can pre-order the lens now over on B&H for just $125. Canon has said that the lens should begin shipping at the end of this month, so you won’t have to wait too long to get it either.

What are your thoughts on this new Canon 50mm F/1.8 STM? Are you also surprised that Canon was able to make so many improvements while keeping the price point the same? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Doug Davis

    Wow thats great. I really don’t like the focus ring at the front so i’m glad they made a change. And for the same price? Why not?!

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  2. adam sanford

    Pretty major update, folks:

    From Canon’s Chuck Westfall: “Yes, the optics of the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM are the same as the original EF 50mm f/1.8 and EF 50mm f/1.8 II.”

    So there’s a lot of new in *how* they take the pictures (STM, rounded blades, +2 blades, f/22, max mag increase), but the *how well* of this lens should be the same as the 50 f/1.8 II. That is disappointing.

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    • Paul Tucker

      Not sure I agree. I see what you’re saying, but with the new motor (which is a whole lot faster than their old motors – and the old USMs, for that matter), better lens coatings, new aperture blades, this should be a significant step up.

      I understand the glass elements are the same, but with all the updates described above, we should see excellent results – considering the price point. It’s $125… we should be thankful the elements aren’t plastic. ;)

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  3. Kevin Cucci

    Kudos to Canon for this move. I’m not paticularly fond of the 50mm focal length as I tend to shoot 35/85 but I am going to pick one up just to throw in the pelican as a backup. For 125 bucks. It’s definitely worth it if I am in need one day. Bravo

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  4. Nelson Tan

    The improvement in minimum focus distance is most welcomed!

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  5. Michael Shea

    So there is no Image Stabilization correct? Wanting it for photo and video.

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    • adam sanford

      No IS. At least for standard primes, IS is reserved for a higher price point.

      Expect the middle-level 50 f/nooneknows IS USM to be your go to for IS, but that lens will autofocus far better for stills than video.

      To my knowledge, Canon has never sold an IS + STM + prime lens.

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  6. Tim Buerck

    Finally, now if they can just make a sensor the delivers the details.

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  7. Paul Tucker

    Pretty sure I need to get rid of my 50mm 1.4, like right now. This looks genuinely fantastic – and the image samples I’ve seen have been absolutely stellar in from a bokeh and DOF perspective – good sharpness, too!

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    • adam sanford

      Paul, I am sitting on my old 50 1.4 until the next higher grade 50 prime is released, the 50 “f/nooneknows” IS USM. For me, the principal reason is focus *speed* and feature set. Even the crappy micro-USM in the old 50 1.4 will acquire/hunt/lock faster than this new STM lens will.

      That said, from a purely IQ perspective, this new STM lens should outperform both the 50 1.4 and the 50 f/1.8 II that it is replacing. It’s a steal price-wise.

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    • Derek Schwartz

      Adam makes a good points about the new lens beating the 1.4…but that’s also not saying a lot IMO. My experience, which may be different than others’, was a really soft focus with my 1.4. Ended up selling it shortly after I got it. Of course, I’m now using an adapted Nikkor Ai 55/1.2 lens on my 7D…

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    • adam sanford

      So many folks use 50 primes principally to slam them wide open, and yes, Derek, the 50 1.4 is not a winner there. But from f/2 or so onwards (where I typically live with primes), that 50 1.4 is even sharper than the 50L. All things considered, incl. IQ, size and weight, feature set, etc., that ancient 50 1.4 still remains the best option for my particular needs.

      This new 50 1.8 STM will undoubtedly take better pictures *if I don’t miss them b/c of focus speed*. That’s a dealbreaker clause for me, so I’ll wait for a proper do everything 50 that isn’t as big as a 24-70 zoom [cough Sigma]. Canon will eventually get there.

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    • Paul Tucker

      I imagine the existing 1.4 will out-perform this at edge-sharpness, but to be honest, my 1.4 can only reliably shoot at 2.8 anyway with good sharpness. I can get close-ups of individuals at 2.0 or 2.2, but even that is sketchy at times – and the edge sharpness is poor. The 1.2L on the other hand (granted, entirely different price point) allows for sharp portraits even in the 1.4-1.8 range.

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  8. Eric Mazzone


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  9. Paddy McDougall

    Looks like a great update and great that canon kept the price range. Look forward to hands on review, however, I don’t doubt that one will end up in my kit.

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  10. adam sanford

    So glad Canon got this one out of the way.

    Now give us what we REALLY want! –>

    The pent up demand for a proper 9 out of 10 in everything 50 prime that isn’t a pickle jar is huge.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      ha! no kidding. Im just over here enjoying my FD 50mm F/1.2L stabilized on my A7 II. But for all you real Canon shooters, almost a complete refresh of the 50mm lineup was/is needed. This is a great first step.

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    • Kim Farrelly

      ‘Real Canon shooters’, you know what that implies Anthony.

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  11. Thomas Horton

    That looks like a nice useful lens. Good job Canon.

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