Once upon a time the 50 mm lens was THE standard camera lens and was THE optical benchmark by which manufacturers were judged and compared. Although the basic lens focus has now shifted (at least at the low to mid amateur level) to zooms – you can still benefit from years of research and development that went into designing the 50 mm lens and this here lens may be the best lens, dollar for dollar, that you can ever buy. The question is can you afford not to own this lens?
Years of development have brought us a lens that has a fast aperture of 1.8 – far faster than any consumer zoom lens – and that is sharp as a filed tack. Be forewarned about the sharpness . . . if you are taking pictures of people, this lens is unyielding in its sharpness and may well surprise you and your subjects whose every blemish is captured. The lens has a fabulously shallow depth of field if you want to use the 1.8 aperture to blow out a background. This lens is also ridiculously inexpensive. It is not USM – so it is a little loud. It does not have a moving focus scale. For the money though – this is heaven.
As to the build quality – yes, it is plastic. No, it’s not built like the Rock of Gibraltar. If you are going to give this lens extensive use as your everyday lens and you shoot a lot, it may not hold up all that well as one reviewer suggests. However, I’ve now had this lens and used it fairly regularly (although not as the primary lens) for about 8 years and it is still in great condition. In my mind, spend the $$ on this first before you go and drop $330 on the 50mm 1.4 USM lens and I think you’ll find it gets the job done nicely and that the extra $250 on the 1.4 may not be worth the difference in build (major difference), speed (minor difference) and image quality (minor difference).