Lens review

Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II

21 January 2015
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The resolution (in terms of the MTF50 function) test of the Canon EF 1.8/50II was based on RAW files from the Canon EOS 5D Mk III. In the case of that reflex camera the decency level is situated near 30-32 lpmm and the best fixed focal lenses can reach 44-47 lpmm.

Let’s check how the tested lens compares here. Its performance in the frame centre, on the edge of the APS-C sensor and on the edge of full frame, depending on aperture values, is presented in the picture you see below.

Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II - Image resolution

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The performance in the frame centre can be only praised. It’s true that the maximum relative aperture comes a little short of the decency level but the gap is really slight. On stopping down the MTFs increase swiftly, by f/2.0 the image is already useful and by f/4.0 you get an excellent result of 46 lpmm. Not bad for a simple construction consisting of just 6 elements.

While the simple construction managed to take proper care of the frame centre, keeping good resolution across the detector proved to be too difficult. On the edge of the APS-C sensor the lens must be stopped down to f/2.8 in order to produce images of decent quality. On the edge of full frame, in order to get a similar result, you have to employ the f/4.0 aperture. The maximum values possible aren’t impressive either – stopping down the lens to f/8-11 on the very edge of full frame you can get MTFs reaching 33-34 lpmm at the most.

Despite a weaker performance on the edge of the frame our assessment of the resolution of the cheap Canon 1.8/50 is very positive. For such a simple construction it fares exceedingly well in the frame centre and is an excellent tool for all amateurs who want to feel the difference between a good “prime” and the kit 18-55 mm lens.

At the end of this chapter we traditionally present crops taken from photos of our resolution testing chart which were saved as JPEG files along with RAW files used for the analysis above.

Canon 5D MkIII, JPEG, f/1.8
Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II - Image resolution
Canon 5D MkIII, JPEG, f/4.0
Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II - Image resolution