Cheap Lens VS Expensive Lens! – 50mm Portrait Shootout

Are you a photographer on a budget searching for the perfect lens to capture stunning portraits? Look no further! In this blog post, we will be conducting a shootout between a cheap 50mm lens and an expensive 50mm lens to determine which one offers the best value for your money. Lens choice is crucial when it comes to portrait photography, as it can greatly impact the image quality, depth of field, and overall aesthetic of your shots. By comparing the performance, build quality, and price of these lenses, we hope to help you make an informed decision and find the ideal lens for your portrait photography needs.

Cheap Lens VS Expensive Lens! – 50mm Portrait Shootout


What’s up guys? So, I’m here on location now with Anna and we’re gonna do a little portrait shoot today. I’ve got with me the Sigma 50mm 1.4, which is actually the most expensive lens that I own, coming in at just under a thousand US dollars. I’ve also got on the EOS our Right now the 50 millimeter 1.8, which is also a Canon lens, and this, as far as I know, is like the cheapest autofocus Canon lens that you can buy, and it’s just over a hundred US dollars. So, I’m gonna be putting these two lenses head-to-head and see how they perform against each other with Anna today. Should be a lot of fun. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Focus Speed and Accuracy

First up, focus speed and accuracy. I’m gonna have to give this one to the Canon 1.8 simply because this is a Canon lens. It’s been designed from the ground up to work seamlessly on Canon cameras and I think that really showed itself in this little test that I did. The Canon 1.8 did not miss a single photo. I just upgraded my EOS R to the new firmware which has greatly improved the face tracking, and this lens was amazing. It just did not miss at all. It was accurate and it was very, very fast. The other thing as well is that it’s silent. You can barely hear this when it’s focusing. That reason, it’s actually really good for video shooters as well. But having said that, the Sigma is super fast and very, very accurate. The Canon only just outperforms it.

Depth of Field

I like having the option to be able to really direct the viewer’s focus on one element in the photo, and for that reason, depth of field is one of the most important things that I look for in a lens. If you’ve been into photography and you’ve been learning for a while, you’ll probably already know this. But the smaller the number on the aperture for the lens, the shallower the depth of field you’re going to get. The Canon is a 1.8 and the Sigma is a 1.4. Now, the difference is actually not that great between 1.8 and 1.4. It’s about two-thirds of a stop of light. So, you’re almost getting double the amount of light through the lens with the Sigma than you are with the Canon. But in terms of depth of field, it’s a bit of a different story. Check out these two photos with the 1.8 and the 1.4, and you tell me if you can tell the difference.

Size and Weight

When it comes to size and weight, the Canon 50mm 1.8 is the winner. Just look at these two lenses. This is made of plastic, and this is made of metal and plastic. The Sigma 50mm 1.4 is the heaviest lens in my bag if you don’t count the lens that I’m filming on right now, which is the Sigma 20mm 1.4. But this is still a heavy lens. I’ve got to say, the 50mm, this thing is like you could barely even notice that you’re carrying it around with you. And for that reason, if I’m traveling and going overseas, this 50mm 1.8 is the one I’m going to be putting in my bag over the 1.4. It’s just so light and portable.


When it comes to sharpness, the more expensive option is actually better in my opinion. If you have a look at these two images side by side, you can see that the Sigma is more sharp than the Canon. To be honest, most of my work gets viewed online, so whether it’s on a website or on Instagram, that extra level of sharpness isn’t really required. But for those people who really, really love having the best possible image quality, the Sigma lens is the one that you want.


In conclusion, when people come to me and ask for a recommendation on a beginner lens for their Canon camera, I tell them that they can’t go past the 50mm 1.8. I think Canon has done a really great job in designing an affordable lens that also gives professional image quality and really, really fast and accurate autofocus. If you’re on a budget and you’re looking at upgrading from that kit lens, the 50mm 1.8 to me is an absolute no-brainer. However, if image quality is your top priority and you really want to have that extra two-thirds of a stop of light, the more expensive option might be right for you.

A shout out to Simon Kim who did all the behind-the-scenes footage for this video and also to Anna who was our model. I hope you guys enjoyed this video and learned something new. Thank you guys so much for all the support here on YouTube. I’ve got plenty more coming up, so stay tuned. Keep watching. I’m gonna leave another video right here, so make sure you click on it. Thank you guys once again, and I’ll catch you in the next one!

A boomerang like the make up further towards the camera.

FAQ – Cheap Lens VS Expensive Lens! – 50mm Portrait Shootout

1. What is the difference between a cheap lens and an expensive lens?

The main difference lies in the quality of materials, construction, and optical performance. Expensive lenses are typically made with premium materials, have better build quality, and offer superior image quality with less distortion, aberration, and vignetting compared to cheaper lenses.

2. Are cheap lenses suitable for portrait photography?

While cheap lenses can produce decent results, they often lack the sharpness, accuracy, and depth of field control desired in portrait photography. Expensive lenses, specifically those designed for portraiture, provide better bokeh (background blur), sharper details, and more flattering rendering of skin tones.

3. Can I get professional-looking portraits with a cheap lens?

Yes, it is possible to achieve professional-looking portraits using a cheap lens if you have the necessary skills and knowledge of lighting, composition, and post-processing techniques. However, an expensive lens specifically designed for portraits can make the process easier and deliver even better results.

4. Why do professional photographers invest in expensive lenses?

Professional photographers invest in expensive lenses because they require the highest level of image quality, reliability, and versatility for their work. Expensive lenses offer advanced features such as wider maximum apertures, better autofocus systems, weather sealing, and compatibility with professional camera bodies.

5. What are some advantages of a cheap lens?

Cheap lenses have their advantages, such as being more budget-friendly, lightweight, and often sufficient for general photography needs. They can be a good option for beginners or hobbyists who are exploring photography without the need for professional-level results.

6. How do I choose between a cheap lens and an expensive lens?

The choice between a cheap lens and an expensive lens depends on your specific needs, budget, and level of photography expertise. If you’re just starting out or on a limited budget, a cheap lens can be a good starting point. However, if you’re serious about photography or want to achieve higher quality results, investing in an expensive lens is advisable.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on your specific requirements, research, and personal preferences.

I hope you find useful my article Cheap Lens VS Expensive Lens! – 50mm Portrait Shootout, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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