Are We Witnessing the Gradual Demise of the Nifty Fifty?


Once I moved from Canon to my Sony a7 III late final yr, the primary lens I ordered was a nifty fifty: an inexpensive, extremely light-weight, comparatively quick 50mm prime lens that’s good for portraits, landscapes, and just about all the things in between. Provided that this reasonably priced lens is so universally beloved and has such an essential position, why does its future look so bleak?

Sony’s full-frame nifty fifty is just not good: autofocus is nowhere close to as snappy as costlier counterparts such because the Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8, not as sharp, and the spherochromatism (blue and pink fringes) could be fairly intense. Nevertheless, this can be a ludicrously reasonably priced and light-weight lens. Even at its common value of $249 it’s low cost, and this can be a lens that often sees beneficiant reductions. Any complaints concerning efficiency need to preserve this in thoughts, and I’ve been happy with the outcomes I’ve achieved from it during the last 11 months.

The nifty fifty has a particular place on the planet of images, providing a typical discipline of view in, due to a quirk of physics, a really small kind issue. Previously, producers have taken benefit of the benefit of design, swapping out steel for plastic and producing finances, autofocus lenses which have deliciously vast apertures whereas retaining first rate sharpness. For these studying images, it’s a superb selection when upgrading from a equipment lens for one thing that offers you succulent topic separation and much-vaunted bokeh.

In addition to the wallet-friendly value, a nifty fifty can usually ship acceptably sharp outcomes, and the dimensions and weight makes it splendidly handy. A lighter lens is extra more likely to get thrown in your bag, is extra suited as a walk-around possibility, doesn’t make your digicam really feel prefer it’s attempting to twist your hand from off the tip of your arm, and is much less intrusive when shoved into somebody’s face. I journey quick and lightweight, and having a lot bokeh in such a pleasant format is a godsend.

Taking pictures in Belgrade with on the Sony FE 50mm f/1.eight

I’d argue that no different lenses provide such stable efficiency for thus little cash. There’s good purpose that Fstoppers’ Evan Kane described his Canon nifty fifty as the lens that never lets him down, and the outcomes converse for themselves.

A Veritable Array of DSLR Choices

Nikon and Canon DSLR shooters are spoilt for selection in the case of nifty fifties. Each have OEM 50mm primes which are alarmingly low cost: the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM is a mere $125, and Nikon affords a selection of two nifties, each at very low costs. And if f/1.eight isn’t quick sufficient, Rokinon/Samyang has an f/1.four for each mount that’s out there for lots lower than $400 if you happen to don’t thoughts foregoing autofocus, and that is with out mentioning the plethora of different handbook focus nifties out there.

As reasonably priced lenses go, the dimensions, value, and outcomes appear somewhat ridiculous when in comparison with greater, meatier lenses with their climate sealing, ultra-fast focusing, and limitless parts. Just a few years in the past, Yongnuo determined to make issues much more nonsensical by introducing Canon and Nikon mount nifties that chopped the value of the OEM variations in half. Impressed by the Canon 50mm f/1.eight STM, the compromises are plentiful: the steel bayonet was ditched rather than plastic, and sharpness was largely ignored to the purpose that you just puzzled if you happen to’d forgotten to peel the protecting movie from the rear factor after taking it out of the field.

The Yongnuo YN 50mm f/1.eight is a enjoyable lens, nonetheless. At a paltry $53 for the Canon model, your expectations ought to be low, and be assured: you’re getting what you pay for. Nevertheless, in case you have an inexpensive, entry-level Canon DSLR and want bokeh-tastic photos to be used on social media, you’d be arduous pushed to discover a cheaper possibility (until you already personal an costly telephone with a number of cameras, after all). This isn’t a critical device, however luckily, in the case of photos, Instagram is just not a critical platform. Go nuts.

So, Sony?

So DSLR customers have a veritable smorgasbord of nifties, and Sony launched its FE nifty in 2016, three years after the looks of its first full-frame mirrorless digicam. As a method of drawing new customers to its digicam our bodies, Sony most likely knew that an reasonably priced 50mm lens would make its a7 cameras far more interesting. Sony’s advertising and marketing sang about mirrorless being smaller, and this was a lens that really made this track make sense. Certain, these ditching Canon might adapt their previous glass, however the MC-11 by itself is definitely virtually twice heavier than the Sony 50mm f/1.eight, undermining the idea that the nifty is meant to be tiny and weigh subsequent to nothing.

All of this makes Nikon and Canon’s lack of nifty fifties for his or her mirrorless cameras a thriller — the gaping void in RF glass specifically. Nikon’s method for pushing out its new mirrorless cameras has been to provide comparatively reasonably priced prosumer glass and balancing that considerably lackluster lineup with one laughably costly lens that’s the precise reverse of what folks need. Whereas the nifty fifty is often light-weight, reasonably priced, consists of autofocus, and could be present in each excessive avenue retailer, the NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S is unwieldy, handbook focus, unfeasibly priced, and seemingly unavailable.

Regardless of this, Nikon does come shut with its NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S, a lens that was $600 when launched and has now dropped to lower than $500. This isn’t fairly nifty fifty territory, nonetheless, and on condition that third celebration glass takes its time to succeed in Nikon cameras, it’d nonetheless be a few years earlier than a finances 50mm emerges.

For Canon, an RF nifty fifty is just not even on the radar. In distinction to Nikon’s mirrorless glass, Canon has opted for premium lenses at premium costs, making its less-than-premium our bodies really feel a bit underwhelming at this stage. Provided that the RP is now lower than a grand, wouldn’t it make sense to have $250 50mm walk-around lens that ties in with the digicam’s affordability and makes probably the most of its diminutive dimension? Once more, after all, you may adapt the EF nifty, however when nifties are about light-weight comfort, including dimension and weight with an adapter appears incongruous. Possibly I like nifty fifties an excessive amount of but when I have been in Canon’s advertising and marketing division, I’d need a sharp, quick, reasonably priced 50mm to provide R and RP shooters one thing enjoyable to make use of as an on a regular basis lens, and provides budget-conscious first-time full-frame patrons a bit of equipment that makes the Canon line really feel barely extra accessible.

Because it stands, that lens doesn’t exist and nor will it any time quickly. I’m positive the 50mm RF f/1.2L is a really astonishing piece of glass, however at two grand, few will ever discover out. Hopefully that is the place third celebration producers will come to the fore, and whereas Sigma has signaled its intentions (it is mentioned to be saying its plans for RF glass early subsequent yr), I doubt it has any intention of making one thing small and light-weight, given its propensity for producing doorstops.

There’s a a lot stronger chance that Rokinon/Samyang has one thing up its sleeve. The South Korean firm launched the primary third celebration RF lenses, cranking out the 14mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.4 earlier this yr (additionally out there for Nikon Z), and adopted that up lately with the announcement of the primary third celebration RF autofocus lens: the AF 14mm f/2.8 RF.

Canon’s mirrorless autofocus is at the moment present process some fast adjustments due to firmware updates and it’s now down to 3rd celebration producers to maintain up. It is going to be fascinating to see some assessments of eye autofocus on the EOS R utilizing Rokinon/Samyang’s forthcoming lens. If Rokinon/Samyang has the expertise dialed in, then the producer undoubtedly looks as if one of the best candidate for producing a nifty fifty, and the AF 45mm f/1.8 for Sony is likely to be a sign of its intentions. Till then, a handbook focus model from darkish horse Meike is obtainable: the MK-50mm f/1.7.

No matter who will get there first, the times of the actually finances nifty fifty is likely to be over for Canon and Nikon mirrorless homeowners. Z and RF glass comes at a premium — the latter significantly — and clients might need to be very affected person earlier than an OEM nifty turns into viable for both of the Japanese heavyweights to the purpose that it could by no means occur. Panasonic S1 homeowners most likely should not maintain their breath both: Leica is extra more likely to launch a smoothie maker than a light-weight lens, and as for Sigma, see the banana above. The closest you may get is a 45mm f/2.8 for greater than $500.

I wonder if — until you personal a Sony — the OEM nifty fifty would possibly actually be a factor of the previous. What are your ideas? Are Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic lacking a trick right here by not making their mirrorless our bodies extra interesting to fanatics with restricted funds? Or is my love of the nifty fifty coloring my opinion on what producers ought to be giving us? Let me know within the feedback.