Buyers Guides |Best 50mm lenses in 2022

The Buyers guide to...Best 50mm lenses in 2022

The best 50mm lenses are small, fast, lightweight and a necessary addition to any photographer's kit bag. These are the top options for your camera

Fujifilm Fujinon XF50mm f1.0 R WR review
Buyers Guide

The best 50mm lenses for your camera depend on what mount your camera uses but also what you plan to shoot. A ‘nifty fifty’, as they’re often called, provides a focal length that mostly equates to what the human eye can see. For this reason, 50mm lenses are typically used as portrait lenses or for street photography.

But a 50mm prime lens also provides different effects depending on your camera’s sensor. If you shoot with a full-frame camera, for instance, your 50mm lens will provide a natural perspective.

Put the same lens on a camera with an APS-C sensor and you’ll have an effective focal length of 75mm (or 80mm on Canon bodies). Micro Four Thirds users will find that a 50mm lens provides the equivalent of a 100mm focal length.

What is a 50mm lens good for?

As we said above, 50mm lenses are much-loved by portrait photographers. Their typical combination of speed and a wide aperture means you can create nice shallow depth of field effects and attractive bokeh.

For this reason, lens makers often have a number of 50mm options within their range. Canon, for instance offers f/1.2 and f/1.8 in its RF range, as does Nikon in its Nikkor Z series.

The best 50mm lenses are also small and light. A 24-70mm zoom lens is another popular optic. It’s hugely versatile, but it’s also typically twice the size of a nifty fifty.

A 50mm is also great because it gets you close enough to your subject but also forces you to move. It’s a great lens to learn photography with. It forces you to get creative with your compositions.

What’s more, the best 50mm lenses are also typically affordable. You can often find a fast 50mm lens in your mount for a relatively modest price tag.

The best 50mm lenses you can buy today

Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM

Specification

  • Lens type: Full-frame standard prime
  • Announced: 4th November 2020
  • Mount: Canon RF
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Weather-sealed: No

The RF 50mm F1.8 STM has been completely redesigned since the EF 50mm f/1.8 and has a higher optical standard. The new construction features PMo aspherical lenses for improved image quality and Super Spectra Coating technology, for reduced ghosting, flare, and aberration.

It uses an STM focusing motor, which helps to keep the price down, and although quiet it will be audible when used during video shots using the camera’s on-board mic.

A popular focal length, the RF 50mm F1.8 STM captures an angle of view close to our eyes, while the large aperture enables lenty of control over depth of field.

The RF 50mm F1.8 STM has a minimum focusing distance of 0.3m, which is 5cm shorter than the current EF 50mm f/1.8.

Price when reviewed
£220
€249.99
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Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S review

Specification

  • Product type: Wide-angle lens
  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Format: Full-frame (FX)
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 12 elements in 9 groups (including 2 ED elements, 2 aspherical elements, and elements with Nano Crystal Coat)
  • Coatings: Nano Crystal Coat
  • Focusing system: Internal focusing system
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.4m
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 62mm
  • Weight: 415g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 76 x 86.5mm

The Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S (aka the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S) is constructed from 12 elements in 9 groups. This includes 2 ED elements and 2 aspherical along with elements that have Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coating.

Perhaps not surprising given the size of the Z mount, the Z 50mm f/1.8 S is larger than then average 50mm lens. It measures 86.5 mm from the camera lens mount flange and has a maximum diameter of 76mm. However, it accepts 62mm filters.

Although it’s quite a large lens for its focal length, the Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S seems quite at home on the Z 7 and Z 6. It has weather-sealing to match the camera and it feels well-balanced with the large grip on the camera.

The large maximum aperture also helps the camera’s autofocus system and it gets most subjects sharp very quickly. That makes the manual focus ring largely redundant and perfect for adjusting exposure compensation (or aperture if you prefer).

The best results overall are produced within an aperture range of around f/4 to f/11, but actually, the full range produces superb results. Details look super-sharp and there’s no need to worry about distortion, chromatic aberration or flare.

You can find the Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.8 S at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£519
$596
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For

  • Large maximum aperture
  • Excellent detail

Against

  • Large for its focal length

Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S

Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S

Specification

  • Product type: Wide-angle zoom lens
  • Mount: Nikon Z
  • Format: Full-frame (FX)
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.2
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 17 elements in 15 groups (including 2 ED elements, 3 aspherical elements, and elements with Nano Crystal and ARNEO coats)
  • Coatings: Nano Crystal Coat, ARNEO coat
  • Focusing system: Internal autfocusing
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.45 from the focal plane
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.15x
  • Stabilisation: Yes
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 82mm
  • Weight: 1090g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 89.5 x 150mm

The Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S is the first f/1.2 prime lens in Nikon’s Z range, and while it doesn’t come cheap, it walks the walk. This bright, full-frame lens redefines the ‘nifty fifty’ with a fast aperture that makes it viable in extreme low-light conditions and offers photographers complete control over depth of field.

Inside its optical construction comprises 17 elements in 15 groups, of which two are ED glass elements and three are aspherical elements. Nikon has also added its anti-reflective Nano Crystal Coat and ARNEO coatings to help combat ghosting and flare. Nikon has also weather-sealed the lens barrel and mount.

Yes, it’s large. Larger than Nikon’s Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8, in fact, but it delivers incredible sharpness.

You can find the Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£2229
$2675
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For

  • Extraordinarily fast f/1.2 aperture
  • Weatherproof
  • Incredible sharpness

Against

  • This type of lens doesn't come cheap
  • It's large

Sony FE 50mm F1.8

Sony FE 50mm F1.8

Specification

  • Product type: Short telephoto lens
  • Mount: E-mount
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 6 elements in 5 groups
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.45m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.14x
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 7
  • Filter size: 49mm
  • Weight: 186g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 68.6 x 59.5mm

Sony’s bargain FE 50mm F1.8 weighs only 186g and is extremely portable. Its large f/1.8 aperture and seven-blade circular aperture allow you to create beautiful background bokeh that make your subjects really stand out.

Inside, a DC motor drive helps the lens focus quickly and precisely. That combined with the fast aperture enables the FE 50mm F1.8 to perform superbly in low light.

Images are sharp throughout. The lens’s aspherical element helps minimise distortion, and the metal mount provides a reassuring build quality.

The Sony FE 50mm F1.8 is a solid all-rounder and perfect for shooting environmental portraiture.

You can buy the Sony FE 50mm F1.8 at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£159
$249
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For

  • Excellent performance in low light
  • Wonderful bokeh

Against

  • No stabilisation

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM

Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM

Specification

  • Product type: Standard prime lens
  • Announced: 16th March 2021
  • Mount: Sony FE
  • Format: 35mm full frame
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.2
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 14 elements in 10 groups with three Sony XA (extreme aspherical) elements
  • Coatings: Fluorine-coated front element, Nano AR Coating II
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.4m
  • Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.17x
  • Stabilisation: Body integrated
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 11
  • Filter size: 72mm
  • Weight: 778g
  • Diameter x length: 87 x 108mm / 3 1/2 x 43/8 inches

Designed for Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, the FE 50mm f/1.2 GM is a first-rate lens that’s designed to get the most out of a high-resolution full-frame sensor such as the one found in the Sony A7 R IV.

With a maximum aperture of f/1.2, it enables very limited depth of field for selective focus images and fast shutter speeds with low ISO settings in poor lighting, making it attractive for portraits and wedding photography or video.

The 11-blade circular aperture is newly designed for smooth bokeh while the optical construction is fine-tuned to minimise spherical aberration.

For high detail resolution across the frame even at f/1.2, the FE 50mm F1.2 GM has three XA (extreme aspherical) elements. Sony’s Nano AR Coating II has also been applied to minimize internal reflections so that flare and ghosting are kept at bay.

Four XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors enable fast focusing and tracking for stills or 4K video with human Eye AF. In addition, the lens’s floating focus mechanism, which is controlled by a dedicated lens drive algorithm, ensures high resolution across the focus range.

The closest focusing distance is 40cm.

Designed for professional use with ease of control, the FE 50mm F1.2 GM has a Linear Response MF (Manual Focus) system, an aperture ring with a click on/off switch plus a focus mode switch and two customisable focus hold buttons.

Happily, for those who don’t mind shooting in bad weather, it’s sealed against dust and moisture. Its also has a fluorine coating on the front element to protect it from fingerprints, dust, water and oil.

The FE 50mm F1.2 GM is available to order from Wex Photo Video in the UK and B&H Photo Video and Adorama in the USA.

Price when reviewed
£2100
$1998 / €2300
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For

  • Incredible detail resolution
  • Huge maximum aperture
  • Dust and moisture resistant

Against

  • High price
  • Focus ring not customisable
  • Noticeable vignetting at f/1.2

Panasonic LUMIX G 42.5mm f/1.7 Asph. Power OIS

Panasonic LUMIX G 42.5mm f/1.7 Asph. Power OIS

Specification

  • Product type: Short telephoto lens
  • Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Format: Micro Four Thirds
  • Focal length: 42.5mm (35mm camera equivalent 85mm)
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.7
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 10 elements in 8 groups (1 aspherical lens)
  • Coatings: None
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.31m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.2x
  • Stabilisation: Yes (POWER O.I.S.)
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 7
  • Filter size: 37mm
  • Weight: 130g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 55mm x 50mm

Panasonic’s LUMIX G 42.5mm f/1.7 Asph. Power OIS is a small, lightweight (just 130g) lens that fits in your pocket yet packs a powerful punch. Its fast f/1.7 aperture means you have plenty of control over shallow depth of field effects, making it ideal for portraiture.

It also boasts Optical Image Stablization built-in to the lens, which you can enable via a switch on the lens barrel. This compensates for camera movements and helps you achieve sharper images in low light. In use, the lens incredibly sharp from its maximum aperture, and distortion and fringing are also well controlled.

What’s more, this lens won’t break the bank. At just over £300 / $300, it’s an absolute bargain.

You can buy the Panasonic LUMIX G 42.5mm f/1.7 Asph. Power OIS at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£319
$347.99
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For

  • Excellent in low light
  • Optical Image Stabilisation built into the lens

Against

  • Plastic build

Fujifilm Fujinon XF50mm f1.0 R WR

Specification

  • Product type: Lens
  • Announced: 3rd September 2020
  • Mount: Fujifilm X
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Effective focal length: 76mm
  • Angle of view : 31.7 degrees
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.0
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 12 elements in 9 groups, includes 1 aspherical element and 2 ED elements
  • Diaphragm blades: 9
  • Minimum focus distance (from focal plane): 0.7m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.08x
  • Filter size: 77mm
  • Dimensions (diameter x length): 87 x 103.5mm
  • Weight: 845g

Fujifilm has made the Fujinon XF50mm f1.0 R WR to sell. It’s not going to be on everyone’s shopping list, but it’s not designed to be just for collectors or the super-rich either. At £1,499/€1599/$1499 (don’t forget that the US price excludes tax), it’s within reach of many enthusiast and professional photographers and it’s very unlikely that they will be disappointed with the quality of the results they get from it.

It’s a lovely lens to use and it produces delightful results with plenty of sharp detail at the plane of focus and very attractive bokeh.

Price when reviewed
£1499
$1499 / €1599

For

  • Huge maximum aperture
  • Realistic price
  • Great build quality

Against

  • Large for a 50mm lens (but it has large aperture)
  • Chromatic aberration can be an issue with strongly backlit subjects

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8

Specification

  • Product type: Short telephoto lens
  • Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Format: Micro Four Thirds
  • Focal length: 45mm (35mm camera equivalent 90mm)
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.2
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 9 elements in 8 groups
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.5m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.11x
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 7
  • Filter size: 37mm
  • Weight: 116g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 46mm x 37mm

Another 90mm equivalent in Olympus’s M.Zuiko range, the 45mm f/1.8 is very modestly priced and offers a large aperture that provides very pleasing bokeh effects in your portraits.

An MSC (Movie & Still Compatible) mechanism delivers fast and smooth AF performance that is silent and accurate. To achieve this, Olympus developed a metallic shaft and feed screw to move the focusing lens, rather than a gear, which is typically the cause of focusing noise.

Combine all this with its ultra-lightweight design and small dimensions, and it’s the ideal budget portrait lens to keep in your kit bag.

You can buy the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£249
$399
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For

  • Large aperture of f/1.8
  • High-speed AF with low noise
  • Very affordable

Against

  • Plastic build

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO

Specification

  • Product type: Short telephoto lens
  • Mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Format: Micro Four Thirds
  • Focal length: 45mm (35mm camera equivalent 90mm)
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.2
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Construction: 14 elements 10 groups
  • Coatings: Z Coating Nano technology
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.5m
  • Maximum magnification: 0.1x
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 62mm
  • Weight: 410g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 70mm x 84.9mm

The 90mm equivalent M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO is a medium telephoto lens aimed at professionals and again Olympus has placed the lens elements to allow for a more lightweight design and keep aberrations at bay.

The M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2 PRO has a closest focusing distance of 50cm and a maximum image magnification of 0.1x.

Design-wise, Olympus has placed the focusing ring at the front of the lens to make focusing easier. And an MF Clutch mechanism allows photographers to instantly switch between auto and manual focusing mode by pulling the focusing ring towards them.

You can buy the Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£1199
$1299
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For

  • Ultra-wide aperture
  • Very fast AF

Against

  • No stabilisation

Panasonic Lumix S 50mm F1.8

Panasonic Lumix S 50mm f1.8

Specification

  • Product type: Standard prime lens
  • Mount: L-mount
  • Format: Full-frame
  • Focal length: 50mm
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/22
  • Construction: 9 elements in 8 groups 3 aspherical, 1 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) and 1 UHR (Ultra-High Refractive Index) lens elements
  • Minimum focus distance: 0.45m / 1.48ft
  • Maximum magnification: 0.14x
  • Stabilisation: No
  • Number of diaphragm blades: 9
  • Filter size: 67mm
  • Weight: 300g
  • Diameter x length (extension from lens mount): 73.6 x 82mm

Panasonic’s Lumix S 50mm F1.8 lens has the L mount which means it’s designed for use on the company’s full-frame S series cameras such as the Lumix S1, Lumix S1R and Lumix S5. It’s a significantly smaller, lighter and more affordable alternative to the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4.

The Lumix S 50mm F1.8 is comprised of nine elements in eight groups including 3 aspherical elements, 1 ED (extra-low dispersion) element and 1 UHR (ultra-high refractive index) element. There’s also a 9-blade iris to deliver attractive bokeh.

At 300g (excluding the caps and lens hood) and 82mm in length, the Lumix S 50mm F1.8 lens matches well with Panasonic’s full-frame cameras. It’s also sealed to make it dust- and splash-resistant and can operate at temperatures down to -10C or up to 40°C.

At £429, the Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 is attractively priced and well-suited to a wide range of photographic subjects including portraits, landscapes and street.

Price when reviewed
£429
$600
Check current price

For

  • Nice size and weight for full-frame
  • Weather-resistant design
  • Smaller, lighter and more affordable than the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f1.4

Against

  • No stabilisation
  • Chromatic aberration can be an issue
  • Manual focusing recommended with close subjects
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