Filmmaking: Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 is a must-buy for EOS R5/R6, R and RP owners (C70 too!)

The new Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 prime lens is a sure fire hit and continues the legacy of the famous focal length into the mirrorless era.

It’s called The Nifty Fifty for a reason.

Canon’s iconic 50mm lens has been a mainstay for generations. And the storyline continues.

Over the past few years Canon has pushed assertively — and successfully — into the mirrorless camera space with a myriad of new models across a variety of price points. In addition to camera bodies such as the EOS R, entry RP and newer EOS R5 and R6, Canon has also adopted a new mount for mirrorless called RF. (meantime older Canon DSLRs continue to use the venerable EF mount).

The Nifty Fifty Crew

The Nifty Fifty Crew. Canon EOS 80D DSLR (l) and Canon EOS R5 mirrorless (r).

While the push into mirrorless by Canon has been mostly lauded, especially with the launch this year of the top end R5 and its sibling the R6, there’s been a bit of a sore point when it comes to the RF mount:

The prices of RF lenses are… oh-so-very expensive.

So if you plan to invest in the Canon mirrorless and native RF mount system brace yourself for some sticker shock. For example (in USD):

  • Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM $2,299
  • Canon RF RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM $2,699
  • Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM $2,999
  • Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM $2,699

For working professionals this is just the cost of doing business. For the rest of us, who aren’t paid for gigs the entry fee into RF native glass can be sobering.

Still, keep in mind the above mentioned lenses are from the “L” line — ones featuring the iconic red ring. Those have always been on the pricier side, mostly too with the EF/EF-S mount.

Regardless, I have a reasonably priced lens pick that any RF owner should consider.

That is the aforementioned Nifty Fifty or the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens.

At only $199 you can’t deny the bang for the buck when it comes to the 50mm “entry” level lens. I’ve owned the original EF, then its successor, and used it on a T2i, 60D, and then 70D and 80D. The 50mm was a nice option when shooting video when you wanted to really ratchet up the bokeh and cinema look in the early days of DSLR. This even when there was no focus peaking or any other filmmaking tools in Canon DSLRs. Patience though was rewarded with gorgeous video footage that didn’t look at all video-ish.

Canon EOS R5 with Canon RF 50mm f/1.8

Light.
Wood.

Like in the past, Canon has two versions of its 50mm. An entry level model at $199 and a step up version at $2,299. You gain an extra stop of light for $2,100 more dollars and, no doubt, I’m guessing (because I don’t own one) less distortion at the edges and an overall sharper image. Yet, for far less money the f/1.8 version is pretty awesome in my experience. Plus, don’t forget you get the STM motor which means auto-focus is very quiet and smooth. Ideal for video shooters.

Icing on the cake with the $199 50mm is the configurable control ring. You can set that however you like, so you can control things like shutter speed, exposure comp, and ISO (or traditional focus) right from the lens itself. That’s definitely convenient.

Even users of the new Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera (which looks amazing) should toss one of these lenses into their kits. Wedding shooters especially will be able to capture some beautiful and distinctive insert shots (along with, say, an 85mm).

The good news for us who have dipped our toe into the RF pond — soon to be an ocean it seems — is there’s at least one affordable and compact native RF mount option that won’t compel a re-mortgage.

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That lens along with the RF to EF/EF-S adapter which enables you to use all your existing glass means there’s a viable way to enjoy the fantastic new and modern mirrorless body styles that Canon is bringing in a flurry to market.

The Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 is available now. Retail price is $199 USD.

Highly recommended.

(Adobe Lightroom users: note that the profile for the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8 is not yet available)

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