At $169, the inexpensive Kamlan 50mm f1.1 from Sainsonic could be an option for those wanting to get into fast prime territory.
Chinese manufacturer Sainsonic may not be the first name that pops to mind when you think of fast prime lenses. Nevertheless, there is an interesting little find among their catalogue of general consumer electronics. The Kamlan 50mm f1.1 lens is a very affordable, fully-manual lens for crop-sensor cameras with Sony E-Mount or Canon EOS-M.
Sainsonic Kamlan 50mm f1.1
The focal length of 50mm is a popular choice for beginner shooters wanting to expand from their kit lens as its design makes it possible to produce relatively fast glass at low cost, and thus allows shooters to get into shallow-depth–of-field, portrait and low-light territory for little money. There are various models of the “Nifty Fifty” available from various manufacturers for between $100-$200 — such as the popular Canon 50mm f1.8 STM — but nothing really as fast as f1.1, making this a particularly attractive offer.
A Good Alternative for Video?
The Kamlan 50mm f1.1 is a fully manual lens, so it doesn’t offer Autofocus like the models from more established brands like Canon or Sony. However, for video use — where manual focus is often preferred — this may not be a deal breaker. In addition, the lens features a de-clicked aperture ring for smooth iris adjustment, another feature that may make it an even more attractive alternative for video users and, what’s more, the body even seems to feature focus and iris gears. There is, however, no description of this feature on the official website, so we can’t confirm that they are standard-sized for use with regular follow focus units. Like some other 50mm lenses, the Kamlan offers a a 52mm filter thread.
Five groups of five elements make up for a very simple optical design that even benefits from multi-coating. However, precisely due to its low price of $169 I would guess that the Kimlan 50mm f1.1 could suffer from imperfections in image quality. Lack of contrast, a presence of chromatic aberration and vignetting, and softness wide open could perhaps be evident so, although the lens promises to be a viable option in the fast prime market, be aware that it may not be up to par with the brand-name alternatives.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for a lens with fully-manual aperture and focus control that will allow you to get very shallow depth of field and an aperture more than wide enough to shoot in low light, the Kamlan 50mm f1.1 may be the way to go. Bear in mind, a 50mm focal length on a crop-sensor camera is closer to a 75mm full-frame equivalent, so just about creeping up to telephoto territory.
The Kamlan 50mm f1.1 is available worldwide from Amazon from the links below for $169 and ships from China. It is currently available in Sony E-Mount and Canon EOS-M.