Yongnuo’s new 50mm f/1.4 lens keeps up with Canon at less than 2/3rds the price

Jun 21, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Yongnuo’s new 50mm f/1.4 lens keeps up with Canon at less than 2/3rds the price

Jun 21, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Yongnuo has been coming pretty thick and fast with lenses over the last couple of years. Sure, they’re generally copies of somebody else’s lens, but they’re cheap and, for the most part, seem to perform fairly well considering the price. Announced last month, the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.4, though, looks to be of their own design.

The first review of the new lens has now been posted to YouTube by Christopher Frost, and it appears to be pretty favourable. It not only keeps up, for the most part, with Canon’s 65% more expensive 50mm f/1.4 USM, but it even seems to beat it in some aspects.

YouTube video

As mentioned in the video, some magazines and website are referring to this as the “Yongnuo 50mm f/1.4 Mark II”. And while technically, it isn’t the first 50mm f/1.4 lens that Yongnuo have shown off, it is the first one they have released. One was rumoured back at the end of 2016. It looked like a straight up copy of the Canon and was never released. This new one appears to be a design unique to Yongnuo, and Yongnuo themselves are just calling it the “YN50mm f1.4”.

But how well does it perform? Well, that’s going to depend on how you typically choose to shoot with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. In some aspects, the Yongnuo beats the somewhat underwhelming Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM. In other aspects, though, not so much. But depending on how you shoot, those differences may or may not be an issue. And, remember, we are comparing a $199 lens against a $329 lens.

Christopher compared the two lenses on his Sony A7RII and Canon EOS M3 mirrorless cameras. And right out of the gate, if you’re a wedding photographer, this probably isn’t the lens for you. The autofocus motor is ridiculously loud. Far more so than the well used Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM Christopher tests it against.

But if sound is not of concern, it seems like a relatively good lens for the money. Wide open, the sharpness looks fairly similar to the Canon, but with much better contrast.

Once you head into the corners, though, the Yongnuo starts to lose a little of its sharpness, although keeps the contrast. It does seem to introduce quite a bit of chromatic aberration, though.

As the lenses stop down, the gaps between them start to close down on the corners, until you stop all the way down when diffraction starts to kick in a little more on the Yongnuo.

On the APS-C sized Canon EOS M3, the Yongnuo and Canon both have issues. Wide open, there is a lot of softness from both lenses, although the Canon seems slightly better wide open. Contrast is better on the Yongnuo, and both lenses show a fair amount of chromatic aberration. Stopping down to f/2 starts to clean things up a little.

Comparing it with the $329 Canon might seem a little unfair, however, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM is a notoriously bad lens. The only people I’ve ever seen recommend it are those who’ve never tried any other 50mm f/1.4 lenses. And, while the Yongnuo isn’t an overall better lens, it does seem to offer some benefit over the Canon in certain areas. I can’t imagine most people would notice a difference between images shot on one or the other. They’re both pretty bad.

Although Yongnuo hasn’t announced a Nikon version of this lens yet, Nikon shooters do have another option. Nikon’s own 50mm f/1.4G, although it is more expensive than the Yongnuo and even the Canon. But if you really want a quality 50mm f/1.4 lens for Canon or Nikon (or Sony) and are willing to spend the money to get it, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art is going to be your best bet.

Overall, for $199, it doesn’t appear to be that bad of a deal. Yeah, it has some issues, but it’s a $199 f/1.4 prime. You can’t really expect much at this price. But you’ll have to watch the video to see all of the side-by-side comparisons to determine for yourself to see if the Yongnuo 50mm f/1.4 can work for you.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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21 responses to “Yongnuo’s new 50mm f/1.4 lens keeps up with Canon at less than 2/3rds the price”

  1. Adam Santino Avatar
    Adam Santino

    Just as bad?

    1. Viggo Næss Avatar
      Viggo Næss

      Yeah, I was gonna say that… and a brand new lens keeping up with a 25 year old lens shouldn’t exactly be impossible ?

    2. Adam Santino Avatar
      Adam Santino

      Viggo Næss I have the Nikon version. Bought it because it was so cheap it was worth it to see what the quality level is. It’s decent, but not amazing. For the price, it’s well worth it as a starter kit for a new shooter.

    3. David Sargent Avatar
      David Sargent

      Adam Santino do you mean you have the 50 1.8 nikon version? Because I don’t think they have a nikon mount for the 1.4 yet

    4. Adam Santino Avatar
      Adam Santino

      David Sargent oh didn’t notice it was a 1.4. Yeah, f1.8.

    5. Henry Rodgers Avatar
      Henry Rodgers

      Nikon F mount does 1.4

  2. JC Gonzalez Avatar
    JC Gonzalez

    Nikkor 50mm >

  3. Motti Bembaron Avatar
    Motti Bembaron

    Waiting for the Nikon version. Niikon’s 50mm 1.4 is much more expensive than Canon’s and if YN can keep their Nikon version at the same price as the Canon’s they will have a serious advantage.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to Nikon, third parties products always comes much later.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      I’ve got the Nikon 50mm f/1.4D AF. No good if you’re using a Nikon DSLR that doesn’t have a built in AF motor, but it works very well on those that do (which is basically everything except the D3x00 & D5x00 series).

      On the used market, the 50mm f/1.4D is about the same as this Yongnuo lens is new (mine was about this, or a little under).

      1. Motti Bembaron Avatar
        Motti Bembaron

        True, the camera needs a motor but I use D750, D3, D300S so they all have it. It’s hard to find a used one, especially a good condition one. If the YN Nikon version is as good as the Canon version I would prefer it on the much more expensive Nikon.

        1. Kaouthia Avatar
          Kaouthia

          I haven’t found them that difficult to find. I picked a 50mm f/1.4D AF up last year that was absolutely mint for £140 in the UK. That’s about the same price that the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF normally sells for new in anywhere that has them left.

          1. Motti Bembaron Avatar
            Motti Bembaron

            I buy used only face to face transactions therefore my options are limited :-). I had the 1.4D and did not like the focus ring on the outside, I found myself touching it all the time. I traded it for the 1.8G. I personally do not find the little extra opening a difference maker, the 1.8 is a great lens

            I am happy to see other manufacturers starting to offer reasonably priced photography gear. From YN to Godox to Photix and more, we have now much more options. And it’s getting better all the time.

          2. Kaouthia Avatar
            Kaouthia

            My 50mm f/1.4D AF was a face-to-face transaction. :)

          3. Motti Bembaron Avatar
            Motti Bembaron

            Excellent. The best and safest way to buy second hand stuff.

  • bergstrom Avatar
    bergstrom

    wasn’t everyone flaming the sigma 50 1.4 for back focus issues?

  • ArkadiiShapoval Avatar
    ArkadiiShapoval

    I’ve used YN50/1.4 for Canon 2 month, it’s heavy lens :) my gallery with samples on 5d and 750d here https://500px.com/arkadiishapoval/galleries/yongnuo-50-1-4-5d

    1. TLysholm Avatar
      TLysholm

      Great images, @@ArkadiiShapoval:disqus. Thanks for sharing. Have you noticed anything with the lens that you think is worth considering? Any problems arising when editing the photos? Have you had to remove much green and purple fringing? How about the colors through it, does that need some tweaking in post?

      1. ArkadiiShapoval Avatar
        ArkadiiShapoval

        Colors aren’t bad, but CA and LoCas are significant.

        Once I partially unscrewed the front lens unit together with a CPL, after which I screwed the unit very tightly back and this confusion no longer repeated.

  • TLysholm Avatar
    TLysholm

    I’m adapting Canon lenses for my Sony A7III and I have Sony lenses too of course.

    I’m not a fan of Sony’s “nifty fifty”, because it’s not at all a “nifty fifty” like the Canon 1.8 version. I’ve had the Canon 50/1.8 II, but it didn’t do continuous AF well. Replaced it with the Canon 50/1.4 which worked very well in all aspects with the A7III … except for it’s rather poor performance wide open. Up until f3.2 actually where it starts to look really good. In particular, I just can’t live with it’s weird smearing of contrasting edges (they say “low contrast” but it’s much worse than just low contrast, in my opinion) and I had to get rid of it.

    I got the Sigma 50 Art, and that one is just awesome. Yeah yeah, it’s not beyond critique, but what a performer. I get wonderful images out of it. Regarding the “back focus issues” bergstrom is mentioning below, I wouldn’t know. It’s extremely accurate on my A7III.

    I just looked through @ArkadiiShapoval:disqus’s photos (below) and I immediately spotted the same “smearing”, as I hate with the Canon, on the banner photo (the “Little Red Riding Hood” image), and my heart sunk a bit, until I thought “Hmm … maybe that’s one of the two photos he says was taken with a 750D?”, checked the EXIF data, and sure enough, it was. On a crop sensor it does not perform nearly as well, just like the Canon 50/1.4 gets significantly worse on a crop sensor too. The rest of the images are very nice and sharp (I’m not looking specifically for the second crop sensor image, and where the first one jumped out at me, the second one hasn’t revealed itself in the same way yet), and I’m quite sure that once I get the Yongnuo version, I’m likely to sell the Sigma Art. I’m posting a portrait of my mom, shot with the Sigma on the A7III, for reference. I think ArkadiiShapoval’s images shows a very comparable image quality when viewed in these sizes online.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/23fba66d1e178400dd78b7a8b663bab1373e81fe3a1820dbe22c198dd3c97871.jpg

    1. ArkadiiShapoval Avatar
      ArkadiiShapoval

      Yes, 12 MP on FF 5D and 24 MP on APS-C 750D – very different things.
      I’ve made review of this lens, and there are links to original RAW or JPEG files, You can download and chek it out. Just use some online translation to English – http://radojuva.com/2018/09/yongnuo-lens-yn-50-mm-f-1-4-review/

  • Sean rai Avatar
    Sean rai

    Best budget lens , i really love it perfect bokeh and perfect work in low light it just AF mode is noisy