Yongnuo has released a clone of the popular Canon 50mm f/1.8 EF mount lens and is selling it at a ridiculously low price! Still, as with most things you get what your pay for, is this lens right for you?
In late 2014 Yongnuo, manufacturer of Jim's favorite manual speedlite flash for both Canon and Nikon cameras, announced the release of their first lens – a clone of the wildly popular Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF mount prime lens. In fact, as you look at the lens on the outside you would be hard pressed to determine which was the Canon and which was the Yongnuo. However, according to the first (fairly short) review of the lens I have seen published by Jay Levitt over at Petapixel, the lens is pretty different on the inside:
[Jay] can confirm, having repaired a dozen or so Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lenses, that the internals have significant differences. There are some similarities in the glass elements, but the overall construction is quite different
While Jay made it clear at the beginning of his review that he is not a low light shooter, where lenses like this very fast prime really shine, as he put it through the paces at a holiday event he actually didn't notice a big difference while using the lens:
My thoughts? I had one camera in the bag, and one in my hand, and I’d switch between the two off and on as I went. The biggest surprise was: I had no idea which I was shooting at any given time. For AF speed, noise, accuracy, etc, I noticed nothing different between the two at any time.
As the hobbyist editor here at improvephotography.com, I am always on the lookout for products that give me the best bang for the buck. I'd love to have all the best gear at my disposal, but budget constraints mean a lot of it is going to have to wait. I aim to write about things that I think make a lot of sense to slowly grow your photography capabilities whether gear, software, or training on a pretty limited budget.
So, does this Yongnuo lens get the stamp of approval from me? I have to say I am a Canon shooter and a HUGE fan of the “nifty fifty” lens from Canon that Yongnuo has cloned here. In fact, you should check out this article all about why it is I think a fast 50mm prime lens should be the second thing a beginner should buy. However, I haven't personally put the Yongnuo model through the paces so I can't say for sure.
The Canon model is only about $125, which is extremely cheap for a lens – especially one that has such a dramatic improvement in quality over the kit lens that comes with a Canon camera. The Yongnuo version of the lens is only $40! So, I think I would agree with the Jay as he wrote in the final part of his review:
I would stress the word “might” for now until we see some more reviews done and/or someone here at improvephotography.com can get their hands on one. In the meantime, if you just got a Canon DSLR this holiday season, seems like this could be a great way to get a head start on your journey down the path toward seeing how good it is to have a really fast lens (a lens that is capable of aperture of 2.8 or in this case 1.8). Trust me, it opens up a whole new world.