Nikon 50mm F/1.8 E Series Pancake Lens


I originally picked up this Nikon 50mm F/1.8 E Series Pancake lens for use with the new Sony NEX-7, but I thought I would remind others that are just starting out in DSLR video, that these very inexpensive lenses can be used with your Canon DSLR cameras as well.


One of the first lenses most people suggest to others (if they are strapped on budget) is the Canon 50mm F/1.8 (found here). It's a fast and sharp prime lens that runs around $120 dollars, and the images will blow away the basic 18-55mm kit lens. The main complaint on this lens is the plastic build quality. If you don't require the autofocus feature, you can shop for older manual lenses which are better built with a smoother focus ring for video.


Lately i've been seeing a trend with inflating prices on older lenses. I'm constantly being outbid on many of the faster (vintage) prime lenses. Today, there are more mirrorless type cameras that can use these lenses, and more lens adapters available to mate the older Minolta, Pentax, Nikon, Canon, etc. lenses. If you have any collected from an old stash, keep them close. They have more value today, than they did just a few years ago.

Canon 5D Mark II + Nikon 50mm F/1.8 E Series Lens

If you're just starting out, these Nikon 50mm F/1.8 pancake lenses may not be the sharpest of older manual lenses, but I like the compact size, wide aperture, and the out of focus backgrounds. You can find many of them still for under $75 dollars (click here).

find-price-button Nikon 50mm F/1.8 E Series Manual Aperture Manual Focus Lens

find-price-button Nikon Lens to Canon EOS Adapter

18 thoughts on “Nikon 50mm F/1.8 E Series Pancake Lens

  1. Erik

    I have a Nikon E series 50mm 1.8 with a cheap adapter from eBay, but when I mount it on my canon t2i the aperture ring is stuck so I cant change it. Anybody know why? I also have a Nikon E series 28mm 2.8 wich is working just fine..

  2. Richard

    Also check out old Helios lenses. Theyre russian made leica clones that give an interesting bokeh. around 50 bucks on ebay

  3. vespas

    Nikon E Series lenses *are* F mount lenses, in particular they are the economy version of the MF AI-S (automatic indexing shutter). Only non-AI (pre 1977) lenses will not mount on these adapters.

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @arsen - This article is about mounting this E Series Pancake lens to Canon EOS and I have tested it on all the Canon cameras. Works fine.

  5. arsen

    i think there is some misunderstanding here, you can't mount Nikon E lens to EOS, there are no adapters for this mount, only for F

  6. Aries

    DO NOT use cheap adapters. They are always too snug or too loose. I have 4 or 5 $10 ebay adapters and they're all useless unless I don't plan on changing focus during the footage. One got stuck and I didn't think I'd ever get it off.

    I bought the Fotodiox Pro and the lens doesn't move at all while changing focus. The cheap ones will cause the scene to shake a tiny bit at the beginning of the focus movement and ruin the shot. Not so bad with a wide shot but with a 85mm lens, it looks like an earthquake.

    I have a Nikon 50mm 1.2 for my 7D. My favorite lens.

  7. Emm

    Post author

    @Jayrog - You can use an adapter, but you won't be able to control the aperture (it's electronic). There is a company designing an adapter that will be able to control the aperture through the camera, but that will run about $300 bucks and are currently out of stock.

  8. Emm

    Post author

    @Ben - The glass on older lenses were made and coated differently. This can change the contrast, saturation, sharpness, and even light transmission. Especially the cheaper ones like this Nikon 50mm, it won't compare to more expensive lenses.

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @mad - I don't think the quality is as nice as the 50mm F/1.4, but the focus ring is much smoother than the Canon.

  10. Matthew

    You can't go wrong with the vintage Pentax and Olympus lenses for image quality, construction and handling. I love my OM 24mm 2.8 and SMC-M 50mm 1.4. The prices are getting less than worth it though. I would like to try an MIR 24, but nice copies sell for more than I want to spend.

  11. Andrew

    I adore and shoot exclusively on Nikon AI primes...mostly bc of price, not snobbery.

    when i got my 60D as a gift, it was the body only and at the time all i wanted was the Rokinon 35mm 1.4. But it was $500, so instead i got a nikon 50mm f2 on ebay for $50 and it was love at first sight. I've yet to see a sharper, more "cinematic" 50mm under $500.

    Now, six months later, I've assembled an entire prime kit of AI lenses (with EOS adapters) for under the cost of ONE rokinon 35mm.

    Shane Hurlburt recommends Nikon AI and Leica R's OVER canon L glass (for video) and I can see why.

    It takes some hunting and research, but i HIGHLY recommend Nikon AI's for budget filmmaking.

    A great resource for learning about nikon AI's is ken rockwell's site:

    the (surprisingly) best AI lenses are:
    28mm f2.8 AI-s
    50mm f2 AI (actually sharper than f1.4 AI)
    85mm f1.4 (sharpest 85 nikon has ever made)
    80-200mm f4 (according to rockwell, sharpest manual telephoto nikon has ever made)

    the 13mm & 15mm are hard to find and more expensive but worth it if you want wide angles on a crop sensor.

  12. I have to chime in and agree. I have been using this lens for over 2 years and just used it today on some corporate interviews in a low light office and works super great.

  13. Sean

    Old manual Nikkors are absolutely fantastic! I bought a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AI-S for $50 off Craigslist, and it's really amazing. In terms of build (it's metal) and IQ, old manual primes are much better than the cheap lenses and kit lenses manufacturers are pumping out these days.

  14. Paul

    oops I forgot to add the prices... I believe anywhere from $20-$40 a piece and the P/K adapters are about $10 each

  15. Paul

    Another few great lenses are the P/K mount 50mm f2 (came with the k1000 as a kit lens) and 28mm P/K Tokina or Vivitar

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