YongNuo 50mm f/1.8 Outdoor portraits and final review.

This lens is, as of this writing, pretty brand spanking new. There has been a lot of speculation on this lens. Is it just a Canon clone? (no) Is it any good? (yes) Is it worth getting? (Yep) – I wanted to finish up with an outdoor portrait session (my most comfortable testing scenario) to give my final judgment on this lens.

I had a little trouble setting up a shoot for this. Makeup artist called in sick, model had to fly to Ibiza, but after a couple weeks, I got the dream team together. I was able to book Halie Jaye with Envy Model Management, and Carly Ryan, a fantastic MUA I’ve been dying to work with. We got together this morning, and knocked it out of the park.

Woke up, and it was raining. This is terrible news when we wanted to shoot in the nearby mountains, in a spot with moderately low snow as it was, a little rain would have ruined the location. We met up, got makeup started, and then headed out, in the rain, to the mountain. It wasn’t until literally 2 minutes from the location that we hit an elevation that made snow possible. I couldn’t have dreamed for a better scenario.

Halie – Canon 60D – YongNuo 50mm f/1.8

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FIRST IMPRESSION

I’ve gone over a bit of this previously, but I hope that this review eventually becomes the main review for this lens, and not just part 4/4.  When I got this lens in I did indeed think to myself “wow, this looks just like the Canon 50/1.8 – however, after a little bit of elective surgery, I found out the internals were significantly different than the Canon.

All in all… It’s lightweight, plastic, and for all intents and purposes just as close to the Canon model as to make no difference. That having been said, since it’s a budget option of the Canon, being nearly indistinguishable is a strong point in its favor.

SHARPNESS

Just as with the Canon model, sharpness is a strong point. In my aesthetics test, the lens seems to have similar sharpness. There are opinions out there, but most agree that the YongNuo is sharper in general, but the Canon wins in microcontrast (which contributes to sharpness) Long story short, both are sharp lenses. They’re more than acceptable wide open, and quite sharp stopped down. I shoot fast lenses primarily wide open (to me that’s why they’re there) – so more than acceptable, and being quite on par with its Canon counterpart. Yet another point that makes this lens worthwhile.

Halie – Canon 60D – YongNuo 50mm f/1.8

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COLOR, CONTRAST, AND OTHER AESTHETICS

Honestly, there’s so much similar here that I can’t really make a judgement one way or another. The Yongnuo shares similar Chromatic Aberration when compared to the Canon, and both are about what you’d expect. Fairly pronounced in super contrast-heavy environments, and moderately controlled under general use. The effect is pretty much a non-issue once you get to about f/2.5. Flare seems to be similar, if not slightly better controlled than the Canon.

OUT OF FOCUS / BOKEH

This is one element where I think the YongNuo excels when compared to its Canon counterpart. The canon, having 5 aperture blades, exhibits oddly shaped bokeh, especially when stopped down past f/4. Having seven blades, this lens is a lot more rounded, and smoother throughout the aperture range.

One odd effect, as you can see in some of the images on this page, is that the out of focus areas are a bit… swirly. Especially consider the image below. Many lenses have a normal out of focus effect, where the orbs round out, and sometimes ovalize – but this lens tends to have an effect similar to the Helios-44 lens, where out of focus to the top and bottom tend to stretch side to side, those on the sides stretch up and down, leading to a somewhat circular “swirly” effect. And I for one love it.

Halie – Canon 60D – YongNuo 50mm f/1.8

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FINAL THOUGHTS

They’re still in the new-hype phase, so prices are jumping around wildly. When they do even out, and supplies are more readily available, it will trump the Canon as my number one, must have lens for a newbie on a budget. As it stands now, they’re rarely in stock on Amazon, though many can be found on eBay, averaging around $65 – which is pretty fantastic. I’d guess they’ll soon be regularly available at $59.99 from US retailers once stock builds up and hype drops.

Absolutely pick one up unless you already have a Canon 50mm.

This article has 6 comments

  1. Khoi Huynh Reply

    hi, I want to contact you regarding the reliability of the youngnuo 50mm lens. How durable it is compared to the canon 50mm f1.8 ?
    sorry if I bother you, I just can’t find contact link on your website.

  2. Brian Odell Reply

    I picked up this lens a few months ago, based on your initial impressions. I had the canon equivalent but it actually broke a few years ago. Pretty decent lens!

    I absolutely love your site, but couldn’t find any contact info for you. I have a question about lighting… I currently shoot with a Canon 70d and own a pair of Yongnuo 568EX ii speedlites. I’ve been searching high and low for some decent modifiers / diffusers to use off camera, indoors and outdoors with my speedlites. Softboxes, umbrellas, etc… but have came up empty handed on my research. Partly because there is just so much information out there. I want to get something that specifically meshes well with the power of my current speedlites. Right now, I’ve mostly been using them bare, bouncing, etc.

    Thank you!

  3. Ben M. Reply

    I wish their release schedule for Nikon lenses was not so far in the future. These look to be of impressive quality (for the price point) like most of Yongnuo’s products.

  4. Tommy Reply

    Do you think you could show how you edit your photos? I love the look and want to know what methods you do to achieve that look!

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