Comparing my two Canon lens.

I have done tons of videos in my office, some with my zoom and others with my prime lens.  Over time I have noticed that the prime looks sharper than the zoom.

But I wanted to do a side by side comparison to see if I was right.

I wish I had a little more light in the office when I did this but I think for a quick test it came out alright.

For this test I took off all my normal post processing effects, like Vegas sharpening.

I think the 50mm prime looks slightly sharper, what do you think?

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom Test

Canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens

Canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens Test

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom

Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom Test 2

Canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens

Canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens Test 2


  • Would be interesting to see results of a test chart shot to see which lens looks sharper. Or shoot a dead object. The lil 50mm ain’t bad though!

  • Do you ever shoot at larger aperture with prime lenses?
    I thought one the advantages of using the prime lenses is the ability to control DOF, but if you’re shooting at f/4 and smaller, I really see no real benefit of using a prime over your zoom.

    I think shooting at larger apertures will have shallower DOF, which means you’ll have less room to move around, but your video will look better at like f/2 and lower ISO.

    I don’t know. Just my opinion.

  • Hi Dave,
    I have both of the lenses you mentioned and here is what I have found in my tests.

    Sweet spot at around f/8.
    Larger apertures (3.5-5-6) get soft

    50mm 1.8:
    Sharp after 2.8
    Soft at 1.8 with bad bokeh

    A great way to test these lenses is with a test chart. If you do not have one, any type of sheet with small text works well. Use live view (10x) magnification and look at the edges of the text. You will see the difference clearly.

    Take care.

  • @dave. even without the test chart, you can see the sharpness difference by looking at the heat slots on your monitor. the prime lens is much sharper in your screen captures than the zoom

  • Hello Dave,

    50 1.8 Prime Lens is well known for its good quality/price.

    I have a question : what is your post process under Sony Vegas about sharpening only, please ?


  • @James the reason I shot at that aperture and it was slightly underexposed is i wanted to compare both lens at the same settings. That was the lowest aperture I could achieve with the zoom lens for that focal distance.

    @Laurent P if I get a chance today I can make a video on that.

  • I have the 50 f/1.8 II as well as the kit lens that comes with the T2i. Anytime I can I use the 50 because it always has produced better results for me in terms of sharpness. And who doesn’t love the depth of field you get from a 1.8 aperture.

    Its hard to tell but on my monitor the zoom lens looks sharper on your wide shot. That could also be caused by a shift in the light. It looks like the light in the prime shot shifted a bit.

  • Dave , Prime lenses are the lenses for video, No Canon zoom does it well , Canon prime do great
    including of course the 50 1.8 , The problem with Zooms is that give you moire .
    The option in Zoom is Carl Zeiss which are designed for video, and there is a new line with Canon
    mount .
    A bit expensive but sell the house and could buy 3 or 4, ( Just a joke ).

  • Hi Dave, can’t decide between Canon EF 28-135mm IS USM and Canon EF 18-135mm IS.
    At one side with 18-135 I will get a wider view, but will loose on Ultra Sonic USM. I need the lens for reportage shooting. Will USM give much faster auto-focus when shooting video with Canon 550D?

  • Hi,
    I am just a hobby photographer having 18-55mm kit lens and Canon 550D DSLR. I am about to buy Canon 50mm f1.8 Mark II lens. I want to ask where else can i use this 50mm lens other that portrait photography. Is it any good for Landscapes or Flower photography too?