Why there is no image-stabilized Canon 50mm lens?

  • Canon's 50mm prime lenses are all non-IS (Image Stabilization) for some reason. Considering the popularity of these range primes, shouldn't Canon be interested in shipping a new, optically improved IS version?

    The reason for asking this question is this: I take a lot of impromptu/adhoc shots. And I have noticed significant shake problems with EF 50mm f/1.4 (it is a gem for calculated, take-your-time shots though). As a noob who have tasted the smoothness of 70-200mm f/4L IS USM or a kit lens for that matter, I started wondering why not IS on a 50mm?

  • che

    che Correct answer

    10 years ago

    There are two main reason why there's little chance we're going to see 50mm IS lens in the near future:

    • 50mm lenses tend to be very simple and therefore cheap. Complicating its design with an image stabilizer group would push the price significantly higher, while the added benefit of IS wouldn't be that high at 50mm focal length.

    • If you want an expensive and light-hungry 50mm, there's already the huge lump of glass that is EF 50mm f/1.2L. There's not much point in having IS in such fast (and relatively wide) lenses.

    I've used a 35/1.4 with stabilization, and been *really* happy for it. Far from being pointless, it's actually *extremely* useful.

    Same as Jerry, I use my fastest lens (like the Canon 50mm f/1.4) in very low light (say, concerts) where I push my 5DMII as far as I can in terms of ISO and noise. At this point, shutter speed is the last parameter I can tweak, and I'm nowhere at a speed that would *not* benefit from IS. My suspicion on this question is that it would make the lens much bulkier, and 50mm lenses are traditionally supposed to be small/portable.

    Have you tried a monopod? It'll get you more time than IS will.

    Jerry: Which manufacturer makes a stabilized 35/1.4?

    @Jon.Griffen on a Pentax body, all lenses are stabilized; so you could either pick a Pentax-M, a Zeiss, or a Samyang/Rokinon lens. Or you could go with Sony body+lens.

    At the time of writing I'd have agreed with the answer (that we're unlikely to see a 50mm IS), but the recent 24, 28, 35mm IS primes, and Canon's continuing push in the DSLR-for-video market, make it seem likely Canon will be putting out more IS lenses of all varieties. If they do, it will definitely be bigger/heavier and more expensive than the older and very simple 50mm equivalents though.

    @Imre On a Pentax body pretty much *no* lenses are stabilized. Instead the sensor is stabilized. Lens based or sensor based IS both have their advantages and disadvantages, but one doesn't directly equate to the other.

    @MichaelClark Which differences do you find significant from photographer's perspective, at 35mm or 50mm focal length? I can't think of any.

    @Imre Precise and more permanent positioning of the sensor with reference to the lens mounting flange might be one. When even a 20µm difference in sensor alignment from one side to the other can be noticeable with fast lenses, sensor/lens alignment is critical.

    An f1.2 will often be used for handheld night photography, where every half stop you can coax out is valuable... If IS can gain you multiple stops of usable shutter speed, that is good. Also, if you can avoid NEEDING to use f1.2 or a similar extreme aperture, that is good: You are dodging coma issues.

    IS won't help with anything that moves, because with a 50 mm you can already shoot at 1/100 or 1/50 sec. If it doesn't move anyway, you may as well take the time to use a monopod. Why give up the small size and lightweight for something most people rarely need anyway?

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM