First and foremost a hands-on comparison of the lens itself – how does it fare against the Canon 35mm f/2 – there will be more image-based comparisons to come.
While discontinued and a few decades old, the Canon still costs more than double the YongNuo (YN 35mm runs $125 from YN themselves on Amazon, the Canon 35mm f/2 tends to be around $250 used) – note, when not sold directly from YN, it’ll have the same hype that the 50 had when it first came out and 200% overpriced, the two I bought were $125)
I will not be comparing it against the Canon 35mm f/2 IS like others might, as a budget lens, the IS simply isn’t really considered a competitor at this time, in my opinion.
The yongnuo is taller and wider, yet at the same time, about 20% lighter (155g vs 192g). The plastic feels a bit thinner compared to the Canon, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Light as it is, it still feels solid – something between a Canon 50/1.8 II and a Canon 50/1.4 feel-wise.
It is lacking a distance scale (something I honestly don’t think too many people, outside of particular niches like IR) get much use out of. The manual focus ring is placed in front, rather than in the middle, which some may not like, but it spins smoothly, and is larger than some front focusing rings that are often complained about (Canon 50/1.8 II for example) and more rubberized for a nice grip. The front element sticks out a little more than the Canon does, about half an inch or so.
All in all, nice yet unremarkable. Not amazing, but nothing really to complain about.
It’s a rather loud screwy sounding motor, but many lenses in this generation were (since this lens seems to mimic early 90’s, expired patent tech). The Canon is noisy as well, but a softer, higher pitched noise vs the deeper whirring of the YongNuo. In practical testing, the YongNuo seemed to catch focus faster than its Canon counterpart across all test cameras (5D, 50D, and T5)
Below is a video of the autofocus, showing speed and noise. Tested on a Canon 50D which has a pretty reliable AF system. Shot with a white sheet in front with nothing to catch on to showcase speed from min to max. Filmed with a Canon G11, audio recorded with a Tascam DR-100.
The YongNuo 50/1.8 had a few concerns about draining battery and live view autofocus that I wanted to test out and see if those same issues crept up. I only have a sample size of 2 (ordered from 2 vendors) so it’s not definitive, but it’s at least some input on the matters.
There are stories of the YongNuo 50/1.8 draining a camera’s battery, even when powered off. I have had one copy on a Canon T5, and the other on a 5D coming up on 72 hours now. They’ve both been put through maybe 100 shots since then, and still show full battery. I’ll keep an eye out and see if anyone brings the issue up, but it seems like these may not have the same problem.
The autofocus in video has improved since the YongNuo 50/1.8. With that lens, the autofocus would hunt, but fail to catch. In this, it’s slower than the Canon, but it works somewhat. It will zip close pretty quickly, but then takes a handful of zips back and forth to finally catch, about 2 seconds worth. I am of a mind that thinks autofocus in video (aside from STM and touchscreen, that’s a cool feature) is fairly useless. Manual focus with peaking, follow focus, etc are the better method while in live view.
OVERALL FIRST IMPRESSION
If the image tests come out nice, it will be a pretty damn nice lens. The few shots I’ve taken with it so far showcase nice color and contrast, and sharp at f/2 so I am very optimistic, and really excited to get out there and shoot this weekend.
Image comparisons coming soon (techy aesthetics, in studio, and on location likely – another three tests in the coming weeks)