The Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 may not be a bargain if you use EOS film cameras

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.

Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8N on a Nikon F65
Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8N on a Nikon F65

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.

Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 and the Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 II
Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 and the Canon EF 50mm 1:1.8 II. Almost two peas from the same pod but not quite.

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.

Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 on a EOS 100. Not wise !
All looks fine with the Yongnuo YN50mm on this EOS 100. Focuses correctly and setting exposure as you would imagine but….

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.

Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 on a EOS 100. When shutter depresses the camera locks up
But press to take the shot and the mirror locks and you get a flashing low battery error (this is a fresh battery BTW)

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.

Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 on a EOS 100. Repressing shutter lightly will unlock the camera
Wait a second or two and tap the shutter and the camera comes back to life. For now..

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

EOSAKAYEAR LAUNCHED
5A2/A2e1992
IX (APS)IX E1996
300XRebel T2/Kiss 72004
3000VRebel K2/ Kiss Lite2003
Works with Yongnuo

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.

Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 on EOS 3000V
The YN50mm is happy with the last of the Canon bodies like the EOS 30, 33, 300X and the 3000V (pictured here)

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

EOSAKAYEAR LAUNCHED
1000FRebel S1990
100Elan1991
EF-M/1991
500Rebel XS/Kiss1993
500NRebel G/ New EOS Kiss1996
IX 7 (APS)IX Lite/IX 501998
300Rebel 2000/Kiss III1999
Do not work with Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8

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

650/1987NODPReview Forum
50Elan II/551995NOReddit
30/33Elan 7/7e EOS72000YESReddit

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) .


Other sources

For reviews of the lens check out ePhotozine, PetaPixel and LensTip.com. These are all digital based reviews but I think that helps give you a fuller flavour.

4 thoughts on “The Yongnuo YN50mm F1.8 may not be a bargain if you use EOS film cameras”

  1. My Nikon version does not work properly on my F601’s or indeed on my FM2, so it sits there largely unused, bit of a shame really! It works somewhat, when adapted to my m4/3.

    1. The Nikon version uses AF-S autofocus with the focus motor being in the lens not camera body. The F-601 predated the launch of this and lacks the connectors to allow it to focus the lens (on paper you should be able to manually focus and use it but it is 3rd party).

      The lens won’t work on manual focus cameras (except on paper the F-601m and the F-501) as the aperture is controlled electronically (,it is a so called G lens) But then again nor would any Nikon AF G lens that lacked an aperture control ring.

      The F-601 doesn’t full support G class lenses so I think you can only use this in program and shutter priority modes but without AF if it works

      The Nikon AF 50mm 1:1.8D can still be found new (just watch out for fakes) for relatively little. It has an aperture ring and will work flawlessly with both bodies

  2. I put a Yongnuo 35/2.0 on a Nikon F80s and it stopped working altogether… Probably shortcircuited a fuse :-/ It works well on my D700 though, nice lens.

  3. I think the Yongnuo 35mm F2 lens is worth considering and is possibly a more interesting prospect for Canon shoters. It works very well and is considerably cheaper than the Canon version , which is not as common second hand as the 50mm lenses. It does seem to have the same compatibility profile as the 50mm , so as long as you know about it , you won’t be disappointed. In fact it is a very useful lens , being about 53mm eqivalent on a APS sensor.

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