by Alex W.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this lens at Pergear's request. However, they did not ask me for any preferential treatment and all thoughts in this review are my own.
I'm a bit of a prime lens fanatic. There are just so many benefits to prime lenses, and my absolute favourite prime lens has always been the hallowed nifty-fifty.
So, when Pergear got in touch with me and asked if I'd like to review their 50mm offering I jumped at the chance. I'm always on the lookout for cheap prime lenses that pack a punch when it comes to performance.
But, at just shy of $80 ($65 on sale at the time of writing) how would the Pergear stack up?
The first thing to note is that this is a fully manual lens. That means no electronics of any description connect the lens to the camera, which obviously means an absence of autofocus.
It's available in Sony E-Mount, Fujifilm X-Mount and Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras. All, or at least the vast majority, of these cameras feature focus peaking as well, making the use of manual focus lenses much easier.
Apart from that it's all business as usual for a 50mm prime lens. The Pergear 50mm has a wide maximum aperture of f/1.8 with a minimum aperture of f/16, the aperture consists of 10 diaphragm blades and there's a Multi-MC Layer Coating on the glass to reduce flare and ghosting.
I'll hold my hands up and admit that I wasn't expecting an awful lot from the Pergear 50mm f/1.8 in terms of aesthetics and build quality.
What I was expecting is a fragile, plastic construction found in most kit lenses these days. I was pleasantly surprised.
The Pergear 50mm boasts an all-metal construction and feels sturdy and well made in the hand. Admittedly all this metal does add to the weight (221 grams, to be precise), but it certainly doesn't feel bulky in any way and I'd take this over a plastic body all day long.
As far as the aesthetics are concerned there's not much to complain about. Pergear have gone for simplicity in this department, opting for an all-black coating apart from the clear white printings of the focus distance markers and the aperture.
It also arrives in a pleasing black and purple protective lens pouch, which is a nice touch.
Now we get on to the most important aspect of a lens - how does it perform?
From a usability standpoint it was a surprise just how much of a pleasure the Pergear 50mm was to use.
The focus ring has a nice level of resistance without being difficult to rotate. The aperture ring, unlike most lenses, doesn't have defined stops, instead rotating freely throughout the range and relying on the aperture markers to determine what aperture you're actually shooting at.
I'm not sure I particularly like that lack of defined apertures and I have to admit I do enjoy the satisfying click of changing apertures, but it doesn't hinder performance in any way and likely comes down to personal preference.
I'll keep the chattering to a minimum here and let some images do the talking.
My first outing with the Pergear 50mm f/1.8 was a blustery dawn shoot at a nearby tarn, where I compared it with my Fujifilm 35mm f/2.
I mounted on my Fujifilm X-T2 and started firing away.
It stood up to the test well, delivering sharp images and accurate colour rendition of the landscape. There was an unfortunate lack of direct light so I couldn't test how well the Multi-MC Layer Coating dealt with flare and ghosting, but it was a very solid first test.
I was hoping to get out into nature a few more times with the 50mm, but alas a lack of time and conditions stopped me doing so.
Instead, I hoarded myself away in my office-come-studio in the evening to pursue another growing photography passion of mine: LEGO photography.
LEGO photography, and more specifically LEGO Star Wars photography, is something I picked up during lockdown in the spring and has become something of an obsession ever since. It's the perfect lockdown photography pastime, and it is actually a very good test of a lens's capabilities.
My style of high-contrast, dark LEGO images means the lens has to deal with low-light situations, close focusing and direct light hitting the lens.
Once again, the Pergear 50mm handled all this very well indeed. I was originally planning to just take a few test shots and switch to a more familiar lens, but instead it remained attached to my Fujifilm X-T2 all night as I played around with difference scenes.
We've already touched upon the attractive price point of the Pergear 50mm f/1.8.
The $80 price tag on Pergear's website is similar to an older Nikon or Canon nifty fifty, but these cheap prime lenses aren't readily available on mirrorless.
The Fujinon XF 50mm f/2 WR, for example, costs over five times as much as the Pergear. Sony users have it slightly better with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 costing in the region of $200, but it's still a huge difference. Olympus's and Panasonic's offering in the Micro 4/3 lens market is similarly expensive.
Albeit these first-party lenses are excellent performers and include key features such as autofocus and image stabilization, but if you're looking for a cheap and cheerful nifty fifty and like the idea of a manual focus lens the Pergear has very few disadvantages.
For the budget conscious photographer looking for great image quality and unconcerned by the lack of bells and whistles, the Pergear 50mm f/1.8 is a fantastic option.
The build quality, performance and image quality are all excellent for the rock-bottom price point.
About Alex W.
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.
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