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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

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177 329746 Sep 4, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
80% of reviewers $1,408.53
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.35
6.97
8.7
ef50lusm

Specifications:
The EF 50mm f/1.2L USM is a peerless new standard lens featuring an ultra-large aperture for a narrow depth of field and soft background blur so loved by photographers everywhere. The EF 50mm f/1.2L USM is suitable for any shooting situation; its lens coating and construction are optimized to minimize the ghosting and flare that frequently occurs when lenses are used with digital cameras. This high-performance, weather-resistant lens delivers all the superb image resolution and contrast you expect in a Canon L Series Lens.

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Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 50mm f/1.2

Lens Construction: 8 elements in 6 groups

Diagonal Angle of View: 46° (with full-frame cameras)

Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time manual

Closest Focusing Distance: 1.48 ft. / 0.45m

Filter Size: 72mm

Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: 3.4 in. x 2.6 in./85.4mm x 65.5mm 19.2 oz./545g (lens only)


 


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shaunknee
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Registered: Jan 2, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 10
Review Date: Oct 7, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: The best low light focusing lens I've ever used. Fantastic flare control. Beautiful build, size & weight.
Cons:
Well documented “focus drift”, horrible reviews making the 50L the Edsel of L’s

Well I have to admit that this lens was probably a bad decision for a few reasons. First let me say that in the field this lens performs very well. It easily focuses in near darkness, much better then my 35L. The auto focus on this lens is definitely a newer generation then any of my other L’s as it behaves much differently. Secondly the coatings on this lens control flare and coma again better then any lens I’ve ever used, significantly better then the 35L. The pictures seem much clearer with out the haze that the 50 1.4 is notorious for at wide apertures.

The focus drift is significant at 2.8. On my copy, with 5D, it extends from the closest focus distance to at least 6 feet. Shooting people, especially faces, never seemed to be affected. It showed up when shooting cars and other inanimate objects where a clearer references were in and out of focus.

In my opinion the biggest drawback to this lens are the endless bad reviews & tests. This is one lens that people are afraid of and this has a dramatic affect on the value of the lens. It is a terrible investment, probably the worst L lens you can invest in. Because of this I decided to return the lens to the dealer within the return time frame and was told that here in Canada, Canon’s considers this lens a “special order” item and they will not return or exchange – period. I sent 2 polite emails to Canon and only the first was returned. I found this level of customer service very discouraging considering that in the past few years I have purchased a 350D, 30D, 5D, 70-200 2.8 IS, 35L, 24-105 etc etc.

Definitely rent this lens first to determine if the “focus shift” affects your style. 85L quality pictures are easily found posted from other owners of the 50L so you could pick up a used copy pretty cheap and be very happy.


Oct 7, 2007
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menatwork
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Registered: Apr 26, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 7
Review Date: Sep 20, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,359.00 | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Nice quality build. Feel very solid on your hand. Focus speed is fast. F1.2 is awesome.
Cons:
Back focus is a real issue on my 5D... Even when I use manual focus or stop down.

This is my first time posting here. I was very happy when I first opened the box and feel the lens on my hand. It is solid and feel heavy. I can't wait to try it out.

Once I the first few shots on my computer monitor, the disappointment immediately set in. All pictures were consistently out of focus. It doesn't matter at what apertures or how far I am from the subject or whether I'm AF or MF. It came out blurry. Instead it seems to focus on a few cm behind the subject.

Not sure if this is a problem only on my 5D or on other camera as well. I actually knew about this problem from research on this forum and other well know forum. This problem is well documented by many reviewers however I also read about some positive reports from some other users and I wanted to see for myself (I love this standard focal length). Oh boy how I was disappointed.

The lens has since returned to B&H Photo (it's a good thing they have very good return policy... no question ask within 14 days).

I would not recommend this lens until Canon fix the problem.

Just to put things into perspective, I am current have the 35L, 135L, 24-105L and the 100-400L.


Sep 20, 2007
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neridah
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Registered: Jul 16, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 970
Review Date: Sep 6, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build Quality - Buttery Bokeh - Sharpness/Contrast - Intuitive A/F speed...
Cons:
Definately overpriced for its focal range however is a specialty lens in low light therefore i highly recommend.

I have just sold my beloved 50 1.4 to upgrade to this one and have absolutely no regrets yes it is expensive however the extra F stop build quality and that Universally recognised Red Ring does make a substantial difference the general image quality at 1.8 upwards is similar to the 1.4 however in low light 1.2-1.4 this one really shines....Highly Recommended!

Sep 6, 2007
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sejanus
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Registered: Jan 16, 2003
Location: Australia
Posts: 1060
Review Date: Aug 26, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,496.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: great contrast and colour wide open. Excellent levels of sharpness. A good size physically, nice balanced and hefty - not like a normal 50mm.
Cons:
Fairly expensive for a 50mm

I was a bit apprehensive buying this lens. So many horror stories of AF issues that I deliberate over it for a long time.

Finally bit the bullet and was very relieved when my first pack of photos uploaded on the computer.

At f/1.2 they had superb contrast and colour, and the bokeh is absolutely superb especially when you are very close to the subject.

Sharpness levels are very reasonable at f/1.2 and pickup dramatically at f/2

It's definitely not as sharp at f/1.2 as say, the 85mm is - but still more than acceptable, particularly for weddings which is where I'll be using it.

Very happy I bought this lens now. Wish I'd bought it sooner.




Aug 26, 2007
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Srimal Nawana
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Registered: Jan 17, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 18, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build quality, ultra quiet, superb optical ability at all f stops. Great for weddings and portraits.
Cons:
Price.

Utterly magnificent lens. I have compared shots of a test picture to pics taken by the 135mm f 2 L and it is as at least as good even at f 2. F 1.2 is still of amazing optical quality. By f 2 it's unbelievably sharp. Gives you the option of a 50mm f 1.2 on a full frame camera and an 80mm f 1.2 on a crop sensor. It's like having two fantastic lenses!

Aug 18, 2007
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SerGASAN
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Registered: Jul 26, 2007
Location: Spain
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jul 27, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp wide open, very well build, fantastic bokeh
Cons:
price!!, backfocus fixed in local tecnic service (guaranty)



Jul 27, 2007
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dcsang
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Registered: Jan 20, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 613
Review Date: Jun 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Extremely sharp at f1.2 and only gets better further down. Bokeh is similar to the 85 L wide open but is easier to "handle" due to closer minimal focus distance and more allowable "play" within that distance at the wide open aperture. Perfect, imho, for head and shoulder portraits
Cons:
none so far

I've been using this lens on my 5D for the past month and each time I shoot it wide open I get stunning results.

The focusing is bang on and fast.
It's not nearly as big as I expected it to be for an F1.2 lens but I have to remember that it's still quite a bit bigger than the f1.4 version.

I'd easily recommend this lens to full frame users - I have yet to mount it on my 20D to determine what it's like but I would think it's equally impressive.


Dave


Jun 19, 2007
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Duncan Butcher
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Registered: May 12, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 15
Review Date: May 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Fantastic at f/1.2 and continues to get sharp through the range.Bokeh in my opinion is equal to the 85L and the 135L.Turns night into day.
Cons:
Price and the well documented backfocussing issue.Though its not that bad.

A really fantastic lens, especially on my 5D. The back-focussing issue at close range is well documented, but like anything on the net, WAYYYYYYYYY over-exaggerated. ( People love to whine about something.)Fantastic in low light and super sharp all the way through.I have found hits its sharpness peak around f/4.

Despite many people bad mouthing the 50mm as a portrait lens i've always loved it for that.Its my favourite lens.Would recommend to any experienced photographer. The f/1.2 produces such a shallow DOF it takes a little getting used too.At 1600 ISO on the 5D I can literally shoot in the dark!


May 28, 2007
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D.K. Owens
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Registered: May 6, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 18
Review Date: May 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,359.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Excellent bokeh; brilliant edge to edge sharpness. A lens to take anywhere and not be saddled by limitations of size or weight.
Cons:
Cost factor, but construction and results are worth the dollars!!!

After purchasing several "L" lenses, I wanted a prime lens that I thought would be on par with my 85mm f/1.2; I have not been dissapointed. This lens creates imaging that leaves all others in the dust.

I shot some pix of the full moon recently and I saw what appeared to be the planet Venus in the background of the full moon. Not only does this lens has blazing AF capabilities, but it gives you the impression that it literally sees in the dark.

If you want a super fast AF, great bokeh and maximum control, this lens is for you!

Portraits, close ups and landscapes come a runnin to this one. A real winner!!!


May 10, 2007
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splain2me
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Registered: Nov 20, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 27
Review Date: May 5, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Performs great in very low light - I imagine this is why most folks are interested in this lens. Beautiful bokeh.
Cons:
Backfocusing.

Only negative I saw with this lens: not sharp at f/1.2 within about 3 feet. After seeing this, subsequent testing determined it is definitely backfocusing. With a smaller aperture the mis-focusing is not obvious because of the increased DOF, but close shots, focused on the eye - were not sharp. Since that will be my primary use for this lens - low light, close in - this is no good for me.

A friend has the same lens and he's happy with it. We tried his lens on my 5D, and didn't see the problem.

Otherwise, great bokeh, wonderful performance in low-light situations. If not for the focus problem, I would love it - but I have returned the lens. I will either purchase elsewhere, or try the 85mm f/1.2.



May 5, 2007
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eoseosfan
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Registered: May 5, 2007
Location: N/A
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharp, high-contrast images even at F1.2
Cons:
Autofocus problems (see bellow).

Re the comments below regarding focus issues:
According to Japanese user web sites, this lens has the following problem with auto-focusing. Some users have complained to Canon. They have acknowledged this problem but claim it is a "design feature".

The spherical abberation of this lens when focused to close distances is apparently large (according to Canon, this is because this lens, unlike the 85 mm/F1.2, has no floating element). Due to this spherical abberation, the focus shifts at different aperature stops. So while autofocusing works perfectly at F1.2, the image goes out of focus when other aperature settings are used. The only way to fix this is to manually focus, WHILE stopping down using the preview button. There were speculations in these user web sites as to how this problem could be solved: either the lens design has to be changed to minimize the spherical abberation, or the lens focus algorithium has to be charged to compenstate for thsi focus shift depending on the F-setting.


May 5, 2007
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jdos2
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Registered: Aug 31, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: May 3, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Decent optical quality (fine quality images with good detail) Good flare control
Cons:
Price for the performance Focusing questions Canon's support infrastructure ("no focusing issues here")

I've taken several thousand pictures with this lens before coming to any firm-ish commentary, any firm-ish decisions.

The build quality is good, but not outstanding. The focusing ring has a disconnected feeling that is typical of anything else in the EF line of lenses- when compared to well dampened lenses. It doesn't squeak while focusing, unlike my 35mm f/1.4.

Optically it's good. In comparison to the 50mm f/1.4 it has much less veil flare which makes pictures taken at f/1.2. Images taken wide open have better detail and acutance; images appear sharper and with more detail. The edges are a bit loose, though, and coma is pretty obvious. All these cure themselves once the lens is stopped down a touch. The lens is good for images wide-open, when it hits focus.

Focus? On a 5D at near distances (think: across the table of a restaurant in low light!) the <i>system</i> becomes rather unreliable. Some pictures are sharp, some aren't- with a back-focus quite obvious. Easily repeatable. Canon, on the other hand, offers no solution, and denies anyone has ever called with the same complaint.
Focus (or mis-focus) is quite quick, and not notably different from the f/1.4.

Finally- just a word about the price. It's an expensive lens. You'll know if you need it by the aperture- if you need another 1/2 stop wide open, the only choice is this lens. That's really the bottom line. Canon isn't known for making outstanding "standard lenses" (their 50mm f/1.4 constantly tests worse than other Large Manufacturers, with corner sharpness and veil flare worse than most), and this one is only a step above that. Sadly, the focusing issue makes this lens even harder to rationalize if one likes to take pictures at close range and wide open, exactly where this lens is supposed to be used.
For $800 it is a great lens, a good value (though it would take $500 to be as great a value as the 50mm f/1.8!). For $1,000, less so. For $1,200 it's becoming quite hard to rationalize, and for $1,600, it's worse yet. Remember, for all that money, one is also buying a pixel or two of purple fringing, too. It's obvious on speculars, and it DOESN'T get better stopping down.

Time will tell if this lens is a classic. It doesn't have the immediate appeal of the 35mm f/1.4, which isn't really optically better but has a nicer (generally) drawing. It doesn't quite get to 85mm f/1.2 level either. It's a funky lens with a too-wide barrel in between Great Lenses.

I'll keep the lens. I like it more that the 50mm f/1.4: I like the flare qualities (including the greatly reduced veil), the included hood, the contrast, and the drawing. The lens is indeed a step above the f/1.4 for me, though the step is quite pricey.


---Canon review ends here---


Leica fans: This is no Summilux/Noctilux beater. Think: First version of the Summilux 50mm and you'll have an idea of what's going on here, except in a huge and bulky package that doesn't reliably focus closely on some bodies. I had better luck with the MP and Noc. Always.


May 3, 2007
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Hacker
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Registered: Feb 24, 2006
Location: Singapore
Posts: 98
Review Date: Apr 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Marginally aster tocusing than the 50 f/1.2, very good contrast, well controlled flare and robust build.
Cons:
Slight CA.

Overall a very capable lens. Some focusing issues if subject/object is near but compensated with good contrast, brilliant colors, and excelllent flare control.

Apr 19, 2007
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Wojtek Rychlik
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Registered: Apr 19, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Better than its predecessor 50mm f/1.0
Cons:
Problems with autofocus

It's one of the sharpest Canon L lenses that I've tested. Even at f/1.2 is very sharp on the edges (see the test on http://pikespeakphoto.com/canonlenstst2.html and click on appropriate links to see the actual photos), approaching maximum theoretical resolution on a full frame camera Canon 1Ds Mark II. The only disturbing thing is that autofocus misses about 2 inches from 4 feet (overshoots). I agree with others that the problem is less apparent with the distance, and it auto-focuses perfectly when the subject is far away. Vignetting and local distortions at the sides much less apparent than in it's larger f/1.0 predecessor, except that the barrel distortion is 2x larger (about 1.6%). If not this autofocus flaw (Canon technicians did not acknowledged about this general problem and recommended exchange!) I would not hesitate to rate it at 10. The actual optics quality even surpassed my expectations.



Apr 19, 2007
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Sierra Trekker
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Registered: Apr 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 227
Review Date: Apr 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Solid, size, fast, bokeh, versatility, pop etc.
Cons:
A bit pricey..........

I like this lens.......it is fast, accurate, the colors pop and it is well built. I haven't had any of those focusing problems that others have said they had......perhaps it is a body issue. The lens works great on my 1DsII without any effort but requires more patience with the 5D focusing system. I bought this lens because I wanted to get back to where I started in photography with a standard 50mm lens as my main stay zooming with my feet. It works for me.

Apr 12, 2007
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PhotoproX
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Registered: Apr 6, 2007
Location: Albania
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 6, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: + build quality + painterly bokeh at close distances
Cons:
- misfocus - softness - CA - value

This lens does have focusing issues on my 5D that Canon service was NOT able to fix.

Both the 50/1.4 and 50/1.8 (Mk.1) I had for a direct comparison were sharper and much less troubled by CA, even stopped down.

Wide open at 1.2 - and this is the aperture people buy this lens for - chromatic aberration is everywhere and whatever is in focus isnt sharp. No competition to other Ls like the 85/1.2 or 35/1.4 which are very good at their widest aperture.

I can not recommend this lens until Canon comes up with either a firmware fix or a Mk. II. If you want a fast standard lens better get the 50/1.4 or the wider 35/1.4.





Apr 6, 2007
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
177 329746 Sep 4, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
80% of reviewers $1,408.53
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.35
6.97
8.7
ef50lusm


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