Canon Announces EF 50mm f/1.8 STM: Goodbye Plastic Fantastic

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Canon has announced an all new 50mm f/1.8 lens, the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens. The previous generation, the 50mm f/1.8 II, was a favourite for many to get into as a cheap, large aperture lens. Its claim to fame was in its price, as it was usually anywhere from a quarter to a third cheaper than comparable Nikon or Minolta or Pentax.  Not surprising, given its all-plastic construction, and a very very noisy internal focus motor.

The new lens is going to change all that: The STM version has the silent and swift stepper motor, which means it will be good for video use as well, in particular with the Dual Pixel AF cameras, and the lens mount is now metal. There aperture diaphragm now uses seven blades, so the old pentagram bokeh at moderately stopped down apertures should be gone too.

At US$130, it is a bit pricier than the last generation, but I think the improvements will be well worth it, if you ask me. I could never stand the high-pitched motor of the 50/1.8 II, and the amount of slop and play in the plastic construction didn’t help my perception of it.

The new lens will ship sometime this month.

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Sony Tries to Make Good Lenses: Sony Zeiss E 16-70mm f/4 and E 18-105mm f/4 G Lens, Also Paints E 50mm f/1.8 in Black

One of the main problems with the NEX system is, simply put, horrible horrible lenses. Check any decently done Imatest bench of the E mount lenses. Or heck, just test them yourself, pitting them against your favourite lenses. They remind me of the infamous Nikon 43-86mm lens. It’s 2013, yet some of the quality of the lenses reminds me of 1973.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS

Sony clearly are listening, so they have have come up with a pair of lenses to address that. The first is the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS. Mouthful of a name, but the Zeiss name, even if it is Sony-made, should ensure some quality. The only good NEX lens is another Zeiss, the 24mm f/1.8, so this should bode well. Of course, the downside is that the Zeiss name means it is going to be more expensive: Expect it to arrive in September for US$1000. More if you’re in Europe. Eep.

Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS

The next lens is the E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS lens. As this is a G lens, there is also an implied sense of quality. As the name implies, this will be a power zoom lens, making it suitable for video work. Arrives in December for US$600.

Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS

Finally Sony is releasing the E 50mm f/1.8 OSS in black. This trend of “silver-first” lenses is a bit annoying, I have to say. Arrives in September for US$300.

Of course, it still doesn’t solve the other problem of honking huge lenses on tiny bodies.

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