simple comparison of Canon 50mm Lenses
 50mm f/1.8   VS.  f/1.4  VS.  f/1.2  VS.  f/2.5  Macro Lenses

Looking for simplicity and sharpness? There are 4 Canon 50mm lenses to choose from. This simplified 50mm lens comparison will help you decide if one of them is right for you. 

Canon 50mm portrait sampleTaken with Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens

These 50mm lenses give you a "normal" perspective on a full-sized sensor cameras and a medium telephoto equivalent of an 80mm lens on an APS-C camera (crop factor of 1.6x), like the Canon EOS 70D, 80D, 90D, and Canon t7i, t8i, SL2, SL3 cameras. Okay let's dive in to the comparison of these Canon lenses.

Here is a simple table comparing the four versions of the Canon 50mm lenses. Only the specs that matter most are included; price, weight, advantages, and disadvantages of each lens.


F/2.5 MACRO $200 (USED) 9.9 Ounces Bargain Priced
Close Focusing
Not that fast at F/2.5
Older Discontinued Model
F/1.8 II $125 5 Ounces Super Affordable
Good Maximum Aperture
Plastic. Limited Durability.
F/1.4 $400 10 Ounces Very Fast
Reasonably Priced
Not Close Focusing
F/1.2 $1400 19 Ounces Incredibly Fast.
Great Bokeh
Super Expensive

which Canon 50mm lens is best

Although these 4 different 50mm lenses all have the same focal length and angle of view, this comparison post will help you decide which is the best lens for you.

The Canon 50 f/1.8 II

Canon 50mm f1.8 II lensCanon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

This is the most popular and most affordable of this group of Canon lenses. The clear reason that this one 50mm lens outsells the other three combined is because of its super low price tag. 

First of all, it's the smallest, uses the least amount of glass and the mount is composed of plastic.  

The 50mm f1.8 II lens replaced the original f/1.8 lens in 1990.

You have to decide if this is a good direction to go or not. There have been a significant number of buyers who have had this lens literally fall apart after not much use. This is a great lens for beginners on a budget. 

With that said, it still has a high customer rating and outsells the other three 50mm lenses combined because it so so affordable. It is a great way to return to shooting with a prime lens at an entry price level. You do run a slight risk of getting an economy lens that might have durability issues even though the large majority of photographers have a great experience with this lens.  

If you are a more serious photographer, you might consider the Canon 50mm lens with the f1.4 maximum aperture and USM-Ultra Sonic Motor. This is the version of the Canon 50mm lens that I chose.

The Canon 50mm f/1.4

Canon 50mm f/1.4 lensCanon 50mm f/1.4 lens

The Canon f1.4 version of the 50mm focal length gives you an additional 1/3 stop of low light level shooting over the f/1.8 and more pleasing bokeh (pleasing out of focus background).  It's moderately priced and of high quality build.

It has superior smooth focusing over the f1.8 and has more aperture blades, 8 instead of 5 for the f1.8.  For Bokeh Geeks, this means even smoother, rounder out of focus highlights.

The Canon 50mm f1.4 USM also lets you do a quick auto-focus and then manually adjust (It's called Full-Time Manual Focus) without having to switch the lens to a manual focus setting. The Canon f1.4 investment is about 3 times that of the f/1.8 but is still quite reasonably priced for such a sharp lens. The f/1.4 is the choice I bought and love to use in low light environments.

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The Canon 50mm f/1.2L

Canon 50mm f/1.2 lensCanon 50mm f/1.2 lens

I categorize the f/1.2L version as one of the Canon specialty lenses.  It's for pro photographers with a healthy budget for the best lenses money can buy.

You gain only a fraction of an f-stop over the f/1.4 and you gain a lot of weight and size.  

It weighs more than twice as much as the Canon EF f/1.4 lens and costs about four times as much. It is only an appropriate buy for those Canon shooters that require or desire shooting at those very low light levels frequently or need the ultimate in shallow depth of field and bokeh capabilities.

The Canon 50mm Macro f2.8

Canon 50mm f2.5 macro lens

The Canon 50mm f2.5 Macro is the shortest macro lens that Canon offers. It's physically quite a bit longer than the other 50mm lenses.

The 50mm Macro doesn't don't get true 1:1 macro without an adapter, but it does get real close.

The magnification is not as good as if you fork out the extra money for a longer macro lens like the 60mm Canon f2.8 or the Canon EF 100mm f2.8.

Most macro photographers prefer to manually focus and an f2.5 lens isn't ultra bright for critical focusing.  It's minimum focusing distance is about 9 inches which is twice as close as the other three Canon 50mm lenses discussed in this article.

It's also of course the most affordable Canon macro lens you can own.  The biggest advantage of using  a lens like the macro f2.5 is that you have a good general purpose 50mm lens that doubles as an adequate "almost macro" lens still quite capable of shooting some great close-up photos.

what is a 50mm lens used for

These 50mm lenses are good for general purposes. They're all good for you to use as an introduction into the world of prime lens photography. They can be described as a good walk-around lens.

5 Benefits of Using a Canon 50mm lens

Canon 50mm f/1.4 sample imageAcadia Natural Seawall.
Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens
Exposure was 1/25 second at f/10, ISO=100.

Why buy one of the Canon 50mm lenses?  

  1. PERSPECTIVE. The 50mm focal length gives you a very similar perspective to the one you get naturally with the naked eye. Prime (non-zooming) lenses get you out of the lazy photographer mode of standing in one spot to compose your photo.
  2. FAST. They all have a nice maximum wide open aperture (f/stop number). This means they are great for low-light photography. You can shoot using natural light without flash in dark situations, nighttime photography.
  3. BOKEH. That's the pleasing quality of the intentionally out of focus background you want to get when you want your subject to stand out, to visually separate from the background. This is very desirable when you're shooting portraits. The f/1.8 gives you very good bokeh. The f/1.4 gives you great bokeh. The f/1.2 gives you outstanding bokeh.
  4. QUALITY. Because their lens designs are simpler than zoom lenses, it's easier for the designer to come up with optics in the 50mm lenses that give you crystal sharp, high quality images.
  5. SIZE AND WEIGHT. These Canon 50mm lenses are relatively small and light. That makes them easier to handle, carry, and perhaps you'll be more likely to shoot your Canon. The more you shoot, the more you improve, and the better your photos come out!


No matter where you decide to buy your 50mm Canon lens, Amazon is a great way to get the reviews and opinions from real everyday photographers like you who have purchased these lenses and given their opinions too.

You can get detailed opinions of hundreds of photographers on these lenses by visiting any one of the links below:

As an Amazon affiliate Canon Camera Geek receives a small commission from qualifying purchases, at NO added cost to you.

Because of the the common benefits on each of these lenses, I recommend you save your money and get the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. If you're looking for a 50mm lens for a Canon mirrorless camera, the RF 50mm lens is included on the prime lens list.   

Have a blast. Shoot your Canon! 

Author Bruce Lovelace
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Bruce Lovelace is the publisher of Canon Camera Geek. Read more about him on the About Page. He also publishes how to articles and camera gear reviews at the Photography Tips website.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram  and Flickr  Join the tribe of followers on YouTube. Bruce also runs photo workshops and provides 1 on 1 digital photography coaching.

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