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Canon EF 50mm f/1.0L USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
23 339463 Feb 23, 2022
Recommended By Average Price
91% of reviewers $2,796.15
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.74
6.88
9.0
ef50mmf_10l_1_

Specifications:
The world’s fastest interchangeable SLR lens with a super large maximum aperture. It has two aspherical lens elements and four elements with a high refractive index. Outstanding delineation with minimal flare even at the maximum aperture. This lens ushers you to a new avenue of photographic possibilities. A dream lens in the AF age.


 


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Teelambert
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Registered: Feb 18, 2021
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Feb 23, 2022 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,900.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Absolutely amazing at f/1. Awesome images that no lens can beat.
Cons:
Heavy Heavy and Heavy.

An absolute beast of a lens. One of our favorites and honestly if you can snag this lens at a great price, do it! It is heavy and honestly makes me a little scared to use, but if you want the best and willing to bring it out, we highly recommend!

Feb 23, 2022
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scott_scheetz
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Registered: Oct 31, 2012
Location: United States
Posts: 130
Review Date: Jul 8, 2020 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Brilliantly sharp, excellent contrast, f1.0!!, build quality
Cons:
Weight & size, slow AF compared to other USM lenses.

This is truly a one of a kind lens. Incredibly fast aperture at f/1.0 with AF. There's nothing else like it. There's a general consensus that this lens is super soft, and that's just not true. It is very sharp wide open but you have an incredibly small depth of field to work with. It is super easy for the subject to fall out of focus either by the subject or photographer moving slightly. My copy focuses very consistently on my 1D-C, but needed a +19 focus adjustment for it to be accurate. I didn't seem to have that issue when I used it on my older 1DSII which uses a different focus system.

Focusing is reliable and fast enough for general use, but it is much slower than your average USM AF. Focusing speed is about the same as the 85L II. Thankfully there is a focus limiter switch on the 50L that would have been a very welcome addition to the 85L. Full-time manual focus override is possible like other USM lenses. The main difference being the manual focus is driven by the AF motor (focus by wire) instead of a direct connection with the lens. It is very consistent in it's feel and response and makes manual focusing fairly pleasant compared to other focus by wire systems.

In addition to very good sharpness wide open, this lens has a very high contrast wide open, but is susceptible to flare. The flare pattern is very unique on this lens and is part of what gives it a very special rendering to the images it produces. Both the sharpness and contrast improve when stopped down.

The build quality is excellent. Very reminiscent of the 85L which it shares many parts with. The 85L is just ever so slightly longer whereas the 50L is slightly heavier.

Well, words only can say so much. Here are some sample photos:


https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/50083062623/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/50069376747/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/49914125756/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/49986060947/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0 - crazy sharp with lots of detail)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/49720941356/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/49702565111/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/49720402993/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0 - Lots of detail and beautiful bokeh)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/49721255297/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/50058759336/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.0 - showcasing the unique flare)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/50083889482/ (1DC, 50L @ f/1.4)



Album with all the photos taken with this lens:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/scottscheetz/albums/72157713638890738


The biggest turnoff for this lens is it's price. Due to it's rarity and extreme aperture it still fetches quite a high price on the used market. Parts and repair options are also limited on this lens, so be careful with it! I don't think Canon services this lens anymore, and even if they did you would have to salvage parts from another copy of this lens. All that aside, if you like handheld shooting in low light, bokeh, and crazy subject isolation capabilities, this is the lens for you!


Jul 8, 2020
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peterstrong
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Registered: Dec 21, 2016
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 21, 2016 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: f1.0, build quality, image quality, colour rendition, low-light AF
Cons:

The lens becomes a diva if you open it up more than f/2.0. It can yield
stunningly sharp images and utterly smooth backgrounds wide open.

But if you don't pay attention to the scene you can get ugly
ghosting at highlight edges mixed with lateral ca and purple
fringeing which you cannot automaticaly fix in post because
it can be more than 20 pixels wide!

But more often than not this behaviour does not show. You can get
very crisp eye and hair detail at f/1.0 if you manage to nail focus. A
slight bump in contrast or clarity puts you in the ballpark even when
pixel peeping a 21MP file at 100% magnification. When you go down
to f2.0 everything becomes tack sharp and contrasty, CA's are also
very much absent in real world images.


Dec 21, 2016
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Mutual
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Registered: Oct 14, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 11
Review Date: Nov 9, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Unique capabilities.
Cons:
Very heavy.

Some years ago I saw an ad for Canon body which came with a '50mm lens.' The price for the body was fair market value ($800), so I went to take a look. The '50mm lens' turned out to be the 50mm f1.0L Series, which I later sold here on Fred Miranda for $3,000 (there were people fighting over it at that price - in 2006).

The lens was in literally mint condition, but that caused me to be almost afraid to actually use it, due to it's value...which led to eventually selling it.


Nov 9, 2013
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Spy-Glass
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Registered: Dec 21, 2005
Location: Belgium
Posts: 14
Review Date: Jun 9, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: f1.0, build quality, image quality, colour rendition, low-light AF
Cons:
price

This is why i love Canon!

Extreme in every way.

It's not an ordinary lens because f/1.0 pushes
your AF-system and your focusing technique to it's limits.

For spot-on AF results you REALLY need to calibrate your lens and body their AF-system for accuracy!

The rumors you can read about this lens is soft; are from people who don't calibrate their gear or cannot handle it's extreme thin DOF.

Flares easy but i like the recognizable lens-flares. They add some magic to your images when shooting against bright lights.

This lens is heaven to me!



Jun 9, 2013
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mouzhik
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Registered: Mar 31, 2010
Location: France
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 17, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: colour rendition, sharpness and saturation, bokeh, IQ, max aperture
Cons:
weight, challenging to master

using this lens on a 5D Mark II me too, I totally agree with Fr3d: wide open, this lens is a diva, but really a great one..;-)

it's quite sharp even quite open and after f/2.0 it's tack sharp and crispy.

here you can see some pictures taken with this lens, mostly wide open:

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjpK4Szb

and this one with no proceeding (SOOC = Straight Out Of the Camera):

http://flic.kr/p/7nAdz1

I am happy with this lens!..;-)

Highly recommended!



Jan 17, 2013
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mttran
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Registered: Nov 3, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 8616
Review Date: Jan 1, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: It's a perfect 10 from me. Nothing less than 85L1/2. Extremely sharp lens from f1.0 and up way up.
Cons:
Jan 1, 2013
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Fr3d
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Registered: Nov 28, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 306
Review Date: Feb 7, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: A wonderful lens that ...
Cons:
... challenges you to master it.

I am using this lens on a 5D Mark II, here are my observations:

The lens becomes a diva if you open it up more than f/2.0. It can yield
stunningly sharp images and utterly smooth backgrounds wide open.

But if you don't pay attention to the scene you can get ugly
ghosting at highlight edges mixed with lateral ca and purple
fringeing which you cannot automaticaly fix in post because
it can be more than 20 pixels wide!

But more often than not this behaviour does not show. You can get
very crisp eye and hair detail at f/1.0 if you manage to nail focus. A
slight bump in contrast or clarity puts you in the ballpark even when
pixel peeping a 21MP file at 100% magnification. When you go down
to f2.0 everything becomes tack sharp and contrasty, CA's are also
very much absent in real world images.

The other thing that surprised me is just how sharp the lens becomes
when stopping down. It rivals the plastic fantastic at f/5.6 and that
is saying alot.

The only caveat is that the lens performs less good at greater subject
distances. Things become muddy if they are 20 or 30 meters/yards
away from the camera and are shot wide open. At f2.0 or 2.8 things
are starting to become crisp again after f/5.6 or f/8.0 no further
improvent can be detected as it is already pin sharp.

All in all I am very happy with the lens and can only recommend it.
The fact that the lens has such strong characteristics (some would
say personality) just makes me appreciate it even more. It is a great
lens to have and a callengeing tool to master. Highly recommended!




Feb 7, 2011
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fraga
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Registered: Sep 10, 2005
Location: Portugal
Posts: 2332
Review Date: Aug 1, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,000.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Max aperture, build quality, image quality, sharpness
Cons:
slow AF, price

Very good image quality.
My copy is very, very sharp even wide open. While I haven't done any direct comparisons yet, it is my believe it is nearly or as sharp as my 85L II.
Great colours and contrast, as long as you don't shoot with it in the direction of the sun. If you do, it will flare badly and contrast will go down the drain. In some occasions (portraits), it can be a desired effect, though.

DOF is very thin and getting the shot focused exactly where you want can be troublesome, even using the 7d's spot AF.

However, since it's a 50mm lens, background blur is not as evident despite the very large aperture and razor thin DOF. I have portraits taken with my 500mm f4IS that have more background blur than the 50mm 1.0 wide open, yet DOF is larger (most of the face in focus).

The bokeh can be very nervous under certain circumstances.
And in some occasions, the background will have a swirling look to it, giving the appearance of circular motion.
I love when this happens, since it gives a very distinctive look to the pic. It's the lens unique signature.
Wouldn't want it in every pic, though... :D

It's hard to use it wide open outside. Since it lets in so much light, you will go over the 1/8000 SS limit very easily, even at iso 100.

All in all, a fantastic lens.
My only complaints would be the price and the sluggish AF.
At least it's faster than the 85L II!

Highly recommended if you can get a sharp copy (unfortunately it seems there aren't many...)


Aug 1, 2010
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G. Thomas
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Registered: Feb 5, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 982
Review Date: Jan 13, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Nice colors, saturation, and sharpness. Oh yes... the f/1.0!
Cons:
Slow AF (like the 85L), bokeh can look weird sometimes

Although relegated to museum status by most, this lens can work wonders if you use it correctly. My copy is pretty sharp in the center wide open, and increases in sharpness until about f/2. After that, I can't really tell a difference. Vignetting is there, but nothing troublesome unless you're taking landscape shots. Of course, why would you with this lens? It's definitely an available light lens meant for portraiture and art. The colors and saturation in available low lighting is very nice which, in addition to the f/1.0 bokeh gives it a distinctive look. For the most part, the bokeh is nice and creamy. Out of focus higlights in the background can have the concentric ring, onion pattern sometimes. It isn't a huge deal for me, but if you're looking for it you'll find it. It's a pretty heavy lens with a slow AF, much like the 85L. It has the focus by wire thing, meaning even manual focus is slightly sluggish (again, like the 85L). Overall, I think it's a fantastic lens to use. So much so, I'm going to buy back the one I sold!

Jan 13, 2010
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dancam
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Registered: Nov 13, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 1638
Review Date: Jun 12, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $3,650.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Amazing bokeh and excellent IQ. A real low light monster.
Cons:
The price and very slow AF

The 50 f/1.0 is nothing short of amazing. This lens has a very distinctive look and the images that it generates are absolute magic. My copy is supprisingly sharp wide open and improves slightly when stopped down. It has very noticeable vignetting wide open to about f/2. It will also flare easily into the sun or other bright points of light. These to qualities where actually something I was looking for so I don't consider them negatives. The lens delivers a timeless, flattering look to portraits. The 50 1.0L pairs nicely to the 5D2 which makes the combo useable in almost near darkness and also gives the ability to correct for the vignetting if so desired. The only real negative of this lens for me is the slow AF. Don't use this lens for chasing toddlers or sports action. The size, weight, and design/build is almost identical to the 85L. The price is worth every penny if this on your list.

Jun 12, 2009
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eraneran70
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Registered: Apr 16, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 16, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,900.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: great bouque, works perfectly with at night shots with the automatic iso just set the speed and let them work. I love the soft focus for portraits. Give me chance to photograph in area have never was able before.
Cons:
Heavy to carry around, slow on the auto focus, has a fringe

I am have a great experience with the lance. I knew about the disadvatage when I have purchased it, but for my need this is an amazing improvement shooting in night seen at speed of 1/125 or 1/200 and let the iso be varied is unbelievable. I can capture people in the street like never before.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eraneran/3429189461/in/set-72157615790104914/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eraneran/3418705589/in/set-72157615790104914/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eraneran/3387081026/in/set-72157615790104914/

Portraits are extremely soft and so touching that I am re-finding the bouque glory all over again.

Eran


Apr 16, 2009
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Gaonan
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Registered: Feb 23, 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,200.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: low light ability and can be handy to use in broad range of condition.
Cons:
Not shape with f1.0 due to very shallow DOF.

bought it used at a image show recently. Heard a lot about poor IQ but want to check it out personally. It is very difficult to use with wide open f1.0 due to very shallow DOF. I took some pictures during the show, the images were pleasing but not sharp. Eyes were sharp but ears were not sharp. But when use with f1.2 or higher aperture, it is as good as other 50mm lenses. Because of its beautiful bokeh, I believe that it can prouce beatiful pictures in certain condition or special effects.
The following picture taken with this lens with 1dmkIIn:
http://www.photosig.com/go/photos/view?id=2263893




Dec 8, 2008
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Mimoso
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Registered: May 20, 2005
Location: Portugal
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 20, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros:
Cons:

I just saw some amazing daylight and indoor shots from this lens on Jessica Claire's Blog: http://www.jessicaclaire.net/index.cfm?postID=263

Even though they're highly processed, the overall quality, especialy those in daylight (one of the main negative issues that critics often point to this lens), is simply amazing!



Feb 20, 2008
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pookipichu
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Registered: Jul 13, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1910
Review Date: Feb 6, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $4,000.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Widest aperture available for 35mm, bokeh, color, build quality, accurate focus
Cons:
Price, heavy.

Cons - The lens is incredibly expensive in new condition. Rather large and heavy for a 50mm lens. Focus speed is slightly faster than 85mm f/1.2L mk II, in other words, slow. Lens flares easily when shooting into the sun. Barrel distortion evident.

Pros - 1.0 is amazing. Shooting in near darkness, capturing the otherwise uncapturable. The colors are beautifully rendered in tones and saturation. Build quality is excellent, and focus is accurate, snapping with confidence.

Mixed - Lens is not as sharp as the 85mm 1.2Ls, but sharper or sharp as the 50mm 1.2 in the samples I owned/tested. Lens vignettes HEAVILY in many lighting conditions, beautiful for vintage photos/portraits, but easily can annoy those who don't like vignetting. Very low contrast, which I love, but if you like snappy photos/jpeg out of camera, well you might need to turn up the contrast settings.



Feb 6, 2008
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M Annaratone
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Registered: Apr 14, 2007
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 14, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Substantial vignetting (in line with that of the Noctilux, qualitatively speaking) at f/1.0 and even at f/1.4, but that was to be expected. Resolution at full aperture and whereabouts is sufficient at best. This too is not surprising. Significant barrel distortion, and that was a real surprise to me. Lastly, the unfortunate habit of Canon to design heavy and bulky lenses (the Noctilux is half of the Canon 50/1.0: is this because of the AF?). Someone should explain the rationale to me, I just don't get it.

Any 1.0 lens has a ton of appeal, and indeed there are situations where the extremely shallow depth of field becomes a creative tool in the hands of the photographer. But my take is that the 50/1.0 is by now a somewhat old design and the new 50/1.2 a much, much better use of one's money. For collectors of exotic pieces of glass --- and Canon's 50/1.0 is undoubtedly a milestone in 35mm lens design --- the story is of course different.




Apr 14, 2007
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.0L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
23 339463 Feb 23, 2022
Recommended By Average Price
91% of reviewers $2,796.15
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.74
6.88
9.0
ef50mmf_10l_1_


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