Long have I been a subscriber to the theory that those new to the digital single lens reflex arena should start their lens collection with one, relatively inexpensive piece of glass, the f/1.8 variation of the 50mm prime, in either a Canon or Nikon mount, depending on the users choice of camera brand.
As a Canon user there are two different relatively affordable variations of the standard 50mm prime lens. An f/1.8 and f/1.4 version. The f/1.8 variation is the lightest and the cheapest ($79 USD) of all three, it’s the perfect piece of glass to introduce an individual to primes lenses. I’ve owned this lens in the past and thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of inability to zoom. Owning the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 forced me to use my eye to its full creative ability.
Second in the line is the slightly heavier, and relatively more expensive ($329 USD) f/1.4 version of the 50mm lens. Advantages of this lens include a far more superior build quality, faster focusing, full time manual focus ability, and a larger aperture opening. I now own this Canon 50mm lens due to its advantages over its cheaper counterpart.
Also available is the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. This is the only 50mm prime lens in Canon’s line which features the “L” tag, as a luxury series lens. It features the most superior build quality of all Canon 50mm primes, and is one of two lenses in the Canon EF mount lineup which will open to f/1.2 (the other being the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 USM) – allowing in a significant amount of light.