For the Canon shooter on a budget the Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 might make a tempting choice. Launched in 2014, it garnered general positive things in digital camera reviews. Often being compared pretty near the Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 II (aka the Nifty 50) on which it is rumoured to based. Trouble is close clone it may be but Yongnuo left something out that means for film shooters you may wanna give this a swerve.
The trouble is this lens does not work with most film bodies.
For Clarity I am talking about the older version. Yongnuo have released a newer Mark II version and this may work better as we’ll see later. But the Mark I is still widely sold new and is the one I have.
Hang on you were pretty Positive about a Yongnuo 50mm before ?
Yup I was.
But that’s the Nikon F mount version (pretty much the same lens but for Nikon F mount AF-S). That does represent an interesting point being despite price increases being about 1/3 the cost of Nikon’s own 50/1.8 AF-S full frame lens.
And it works with both Nikon digital and film bodies that support AF-S although my F90x was wobbly in using it although my F70 and all other models are fine.
However with the Canon version, there are more than just one wobbly model here.
But it’s a copy of the Canon ?
Granted on so many level it is a near copy of the EF 50mm 1:1.8 II.
I own both and they are very similar to look at. They are both plastic and feel cheap. They also have plastic mount plates. But whilst the Yongnuo IMHO comes close to matching the Canon in optics, it has slightly less speedy performance. Worse still is the lens firmware. Yongnuo purportedly reverse engineered it but it doesn’t have the same lens/camera handshake as the original. Given that the Yonguno was launched in the digital era, that’s not suprising.
The original EF 50mm 1:1.8 II was launched in 1990 when digital was just a glint in Canon’s eyes. It has become known as the Nifty Fifty (or sometimes the Thrifty Fifty on account of it’s cost). A production run of quarter of a century followed. It was finally replace by the current EF 50mm 1:1.8 STM in 2015 as Canon’s budget 50mm prime.
The Yonguno launched just before and was keenly priced below Canon’s leneses. At the moment it has gone up in price to around £80 at time of typing compared to the STM lens £125. Historically the difference was much bigger (mines was ~£40 about 3 years ago).
The Mark II model has a metal mount plate and focus distance marks etched around the manual focus ring.
So what happens if you use it on an incompatible model ?
The issue isn’t obvious.
The lens and camera integrate well initially. You’re fooled into thinking all is okay – AF works and you can adjust aperture. But hit the shutter button and you get a mirror lock up. And weirdly, the camera wrongly indicates it has run out of battery juice by flashing the low battery light.
I suspect the firmware just has no way of displaying the actual screw up. The issue usually rights itself after a few seconds after tapping the shutter button. And all returns to normal until you try shooting again.
So will it work with my camera?
Depend on the Age
I haven’t been able to test it on all EOS film bodies ever made. But here are the ones I own that it works with
|IX (APS)||IX E||1996|
|300X||Rebel T2/Kiss 7||2004|
|3000V||Rebel K2/ Kiss Lite||2003|
I’d been assuming this was a pre v post 2000 thing. However the EOS 5 comes from over a decade earlier and is older than many cameras that don’t work with the YN50. It is a prosumer model however.
And the 1996 APS shooting IX interestingly works as well. I suspect as a flagship APS model it’s AF system was more advanced than some consumer models of the same era
And the models that don’t work
|500N||Rebel G/ New EOS Kiss||1996|
|IX 7 (APS)||IX Lite/IX 50||1998|
|300||Rebel 2000/Kiss III||1999|
Mike from Magma Image reported their Yongnuo worked fine with hisRebel Xs (EOS 500) but I certainly did not get the lens to work at all. Mike told me it may have been the newer Mark II lens he used but he can’t be sure now.
A few other sources describe the lens with other models
I appreciate there are huge gaps here. Most consumer bodies seem to be a no no before 2000. I haven’t had a EOS 3000 or 5000 to test but given mid range EOS 300 which arrived after them doesn’t work I’d wager they don’t
Sadly the EOS 300V and 3000N are the great unknowns here
I’d assume if the EOS 5 works with this, it is likely the EOS 3 and the professional 1N & 1V do but buyer beware, that’s just a hunch.
Finally the Cost argument
When I bought my YN50mm 2 years ago it arrived for just over £40GBP. Since then prices have crept up and if you want to buy it from Western sites like Amazon expect to pay just under double that (CEX now sell this lens second hand for more than I paid for it 😲).
Given that Canon themselves will sell you the EF 50mm 1:1.8 STM for just under £125GBP the cost difference is getting smaller. And the fact you can buy a good condition EF 50mm 1:1.8 II for about £60-70 from a reputable dealer amkes it no longer worth getting the copy for the mo unless money is tight and you must have a new lens (and your gear is largely digital) .