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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

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179 330749 Nov 16, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
80% of reviewers $1,406.27
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.35
6.96
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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Sierra Trekker
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Registered: Apr 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 245
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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kaop
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Registered: Sep 24, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 66
Review Date: Apr 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,449.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: -Excellent focal length on FF -Build quality, but not as nice as the 85L
Cons:
-Poor value -Front element prone to dust. Require filters



Apr 2, 2007
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Lioncub
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Registered: Mar 19, 2007
Location: China
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 19, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: bokeh, color, contrast, sharpness wide open, build quality, aperture blades
Cons:
cost, autofocus

I've put this lens with a 400D/Rebel XTi to a test in a flower exhibition. With beautiful bokeh, exceptional contrast and color, sharpness wide open and flare control, it really proves itself a professional grade lens. Or the other way round, the CMOS sensor of the 400D/Rebel XTi is quite demanding on good optics.

Autofocus problems have been encountered on some photos if the subject is quite near the focus on your previous photo taken. The reason may be due to moving large amounts of glass at the front end of this lens and the shallow DOF. With a result the lens' slower focusing speed cannot keep sync with the faster focusing system of the camera.

Though the best razor sharpness is between f/2 to f/2.8, you would probably use the f/1.2 and f/1.4 of this lens most often. Until now, it is the best portrait lens available for the 1.6x FOVCF camera bodies.


Mar 19, 2007
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lord_malone
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Registered: Oct 9, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 496
Review Date: Feb 18, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: All pros previously listed
Cons:
AF backfocus problem confirmed

This is a follow-up to my previous review of this lens.

I initially stated that I had no focusing issues with my copy, but must now join the ranks of those who do. Without getting into too much detail, I will say that the lens does have focusing problems at a focusing distance of approx. 1.5 to 3 meters (give or take). This lends to the popular belief that the lens is optically inferior (not as sharp) as the 50 1.8 or the 50 1.4. The backfocusing is readily apparent on 5D and 1D series bodies, all of which have a more complex focusing system. It has been shown that bodies that don't have advanced focusing systems like the Rebel XT, the lens focus is spot on. You can read the entire evolution of this here...

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/467828

I would still rate this lens a 10 based on optical performance alone. When manually focused, it has proven to be optically superior to its less expensive brothers. However, the autofocus miscommunication with certain bodies seems to be the Achilles' heal of this otherwise fine lens. I'm keeping hope alive that Canon will resolve this with a firmware update.


Feb 18, 2007
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_ea_
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Registered: Apr 30, 2005
Location: Slovakia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1.60 | Rating: 9 

Pros: bully build, fast AF, new lens, tack sharp and f/1.2
Cons:
aberration, price

Exceptional lens, excellent build - bully tough, but not too heavy. AF is fast, comparable to 35mm f/1.4 but some hunting appears at night or very low light. Circular aperture creates beautiful bokeh blur. Moderate green aberration is present at f/1.2 on bright edges. Surprisingly sharp at f/1.2 and tack sharp at f/2.
Lens for a lifetime.


Feb 13, 2007
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Triple
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Registered: Jan 5, 2005
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 21, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp from 1,6 and up, good and very usable from 1,2, great AF speed and accuracy, smooth focusring, colours/contrast and bokeh, belongs between the 35/85/135 L range.
Cons:
Another L that makes you wanna buy more red rings :-)

It was a lot of money to upgrade from a 50mm 1,4 but the colours and bokeh are stunning.
Also this is the only 50mm from Canon were its a pleasure to use the focusring.
This lens is gonna be a lot om my body because its very versatile, the lack of zoom is small if you see whats possible with the fast aperture!


Jan 21, 2007
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pcmur
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Registered: Mar 9, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 12
Review Date: Jan 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: The color and bokeh are excellent. Wide open can get that hairline focus for fine art, fashion and product photography.
Cons:
Price is steep.

After shooting in low indoor lighting wide open, am pleased enough to justify the costly purchase. The color and bokeh of this lens, and selective focus possibilities are wonderful. The 50L does belong in Canon's best lineup of lenses...the 85L, 135L and 70-200 2.8L.

Jan 5, 2007
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3ABX03
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Registered: Dec 26, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Jan 5, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Build quality is amassing,
Cons:
None so fur

Fantastic lense. If you have money just get it. You will not be disappointed
http://www.pbase.com/image/72634829


Jan 5, 2007
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matsuib
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Registered: Dec 8, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1335
Review Date: Jan 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Bokeh, color, contrast, sharpness (generally), autofocus reliability.
Cons:
Need a filter to weather seal; not as sharp as my 85 1.2, cost, cost, cost.


I really think this is a lens that takes a bit getting used to, and so I may be premature writing a review a few hundred shots and a few weeks into my ownership of it.

A lot of attention has been paid to sharpness and cost -- my experience with sharpness is that it's not quite as sharp as my 85 (not surprising, but a person could wish, can't they). But it's more than usable at 1.2, and I get more keepers at 1.2 and 1.4 than I do with my 35L at 1.4. For portrait shots, eye lashes and discrete eye wrinkles are very visible wide or near wide open.

In addition, the color and constrast produced by the lens are among the best I have seen. While post processing can make up for this, it certainly makes my life easier.

Finally, I've not had any focusing problems. The focusing is pretty quick, and near lightening when compared to my mk I 85L. Even wide open, it's been very accurate on a 5D.


Jan 2, 2007
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SoundHound
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Registered: Jan 14, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 5325
Review Date: Dec 30, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Finally a lens to match the quality of my 35, 85 and 135 Ls.
Cons:
New issue cost.

After one evening of shooting 200+ images (at F2.0 and below) I trust this lens-I have learned not to trust my 50mm F1.4 under the same conditions.

Dec 30, 2006
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alfarmer
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Registered: Aug 15, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2053
Review Date: Dec 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,499.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: f/1.2, "L" build quality, bokeh, contrast & color, sharp at f/1.2, size & weight, internal zoom
Cons:
Cost, sharpness, AF consistency/accuracy

Taken completely out of any other context and evaluated on its own, this is a very nice lens and one I would recommend. For many, myself included, the 50mm focal length is very useful for many things and the speed of an f/1.2 lens is likewise handy. Add to that the great build quality of this lens and the (IMHO) nice size & weight considering what's built into it, and the new 50L really shines. Users of existing Canon 50mm lenses will appreciate the much nicer bokeh and internal-zoom construction as well.

The only issues I've had are a problematic AF/MF switch, which seems to have gone away but leaves me worried, and sub-optimal sharpness and AF consistency/accuracy. The cost is no small barrier either, and when one considers the context of other Canon lenses it brings into question the value proposition of this new 50L.

For example, the 50mm f/1.8 costs an infinitesimal FRACTION of the 50L and comes with plenty of optical quality (sharpness, AF). It's clearly lacking in the bokeh & build quality departments, though, and those things certainly have value. Those issues are addressed with the moderately-price 50mm f/1.4, which also provides more speed. The f/1.4 still has build issues, however, such as the cheap-feeling MF ring and lens extention during focusing.

While the 50L is sharp wide open and this is probably very important to most potential buyers, it actually seems to lose sharpness between about f/1.8 and f/2.8 -- at least my copy does. Moreover, the AF accuracy/consistency doesn't seem to compare well with the f/1.4 version. I simply got more consistently-successful results with the latter.

Another factor in the value equation is Canon's own track record and how that affects one's expectations. Most people would expect the 50L to perform on the same level as the 35L and 85L, for example, but that was certainly not my experience. Therefore one simply must question Canon's rationale at this price point.

So the bottom line is what you've already heard several times -- this is a great lens to buy if the following things are important to you:

* The 50mm focal range at ultra-wide aperture
* Having the best contrast & color
* Internal zooming
* Build quality
* Bokeh

It would not, IMHO, be a good investment for those happy with their 50mm f/1.4 lenses. If they already work well for you, I'm not convinced the new 50L offers you enough improvements to justify the steep price increase.


Dec 27, 2006
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lord_malone
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Registered: Oct 9, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 496
Review Date: Dec 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ultra-fast F/1.2, L build and quality, all attributes (colors, contrast, background blur) in the same league as the 35L, 85L and 135L, sharp througout aperture range, circular aperture, fast AF.
Cons:
Cost.

This is an excerpt from my initial impressions posted on POTN. Rather than retype all that mumbo jumbo here, I just quoted myself...

"Though I shouldn't have to explain, I'll outline my reasons for wanting this lens. One, I love the focal range on the 1.3x crop. The 35L worked beautifully for me on the 1.6x bodies, but I found it to be just a tad too wide for my taste when I made the leap to FF and then eventually to the 1D series. Besides, I pretty much have the wide end covered with the 16-35L. In a nutshell, I just wanted a fast prime that filled the gap in my line-up, that was somewhat close to "normal" FOV range, but could also deliver as portrait lens. I know full well that I could have easily settled for the cheaper 1.8 and 1.4 versions at a fraction of the cost, but I wanted L quality. I wanted a lens that is built to last and could withstand punishment if the need were ever to arise. I wanted a lens that I didn't have to worry about crapping out on me at a critical moment. I wanted it to be as fast as possible, considering that I plan to do plenty of shooting in very challenging lighting situations that I can't or will not use a flash for. But most of all, I wanted a lens that would cook me pancakes in the morning. Canon delivered. Those who are still riding the fence on whether or not it's a worthy investment, you have to ask yourself if you really need this or want this? What do you want from this lens the current 50 1.8 or 1.4 can't offer you? Are you willing to pay the premium cost to have those advantages? From what I can gather, people would be all over this lens if the price were right! But it's not, and therein lies the dilemma.

First off, I didn't experience any of the reported issues with back-focusing, front-focusing, sideways-focusing, upside-down focusing, etc... When I place my selected focus point on the designated point of the subject, the camera still finds its target and locks on. I ran it through the back-focusing quick check and found that there were no problems. If there was a focusing issue, it was due to my own error. There was an instance when I switched the lens to MF to shoot a WB card and forgot to place the AF/MF selector switch back to AF. I quickly realized this and corrected my rookie mistake. Bottom line, no issues with back-focusing.

I found the AF speed to be fast. Not faster than the speed of light like some expected, but more than adequate for me. Compared to my old 85L, the AF speed is noticeably quicker and I really don't understand what all the fuss is about with that. The USM is pushing a little more weight in glass than its 50 1.4 and 1.8 siblings, so comparing the AF speed to either of those should be considered a plus, not a minus IMO.

Background blur is comparable to any of the primes in the Holy Trinity, and is exactly what you would expect from a super fast L prime with a circular aperture. "Smooth", "Creamy" and "Buttery" are the adjectives that immediately come to mind. Consistent color and contrast throughout the aperture range, sharp images, no visible vignetting, and pretty good CA control pretty much sums up the optical quality of the glass. The CA that I've seen is no worse or better than what I was seeing with my old 85L that everyone seems to hold in the highest regard. To scrutinize this lens for that inherent lens flaw is just absurd."

To sum everything up, this is a damn fine lens. If you can justify spending your hard earn dollars on this lens, go for it. I consider it a godsend for the 1.6x users looking for a 85L quality portrait lens. If not, the 50 1.4 and 1.8 versions are by no means lacking in optical quality, and will suffice for 95% of the 50mm shooters out there. This lens fills the niche between my bread and butter 16-35L and 70-200L IS lenses nicely. Great for general photography, low light shooting and portraits. This lens is aimed at the serious amateur with deep pockets (not me) or the serious-as-sh!t pros with deep pockets (not me). This lens deserves to be regarded in the same respect as the Holy Trinity of Canon primes which include the 35L, 85L, 135L. Overall, I think Canon has a winner on their hands. If the price dropped down to the point that would attract "mere mortals" (me), I'm sure there would be nothing but praises being sung about this lens.


Dec 23, 2006
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KFG1
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Registered: Apr 13, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2321
Review Date: Dec 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,599.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great IQ, Great build, Accurate AF in low light, Sharp @ 1.2,
Cons:
None - I'm happy with it.

I'm very happy with the real world shots that this lenses produces. It has much better AF in low light then the 50 /1.4, doesn't hunt for the subject, very accurate. I do think this lense may do the real world shot better then it tests on charts, box sides etc. Finally a 50mm that can make those magic shots. Highly Recommended!

Dec 18, 2006
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mbailey
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Registered: Apr 12, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 333
Review Date: Dec 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,443.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp even at low f numbers. Excellent construction. Fast and accurate focus. Awesome bokeh
Cons:
May miss focus at very short range (extensively discussed) Definitely into "diminishing returns" area of cost.

Iam very pleased with this lens. Like others I have compared with my 50f1.4 finding that the 50f1.2 is sharper than the 1.4 in the f range equal to and below 2 which is were I most need it. Above f2 I cant really tell any difference in center sharpness but the 50L still has an advantage in color/contrast imo.
I plan to use the lens for portraits. Since it is a little wider than the 85L, I can get full body shots or family sized groups easier in typical sized locations. Its exactly what I wanted but many will find its cost hard to justify since it is such a niche product.


Dec 18, 2006
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Photon
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Registered: Jan 18, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 10141
Review Date: Dec 11, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,599.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: High contrast and resolution across the frame (even at wide apertures), beautiful bokeh, consistent AF, flawless build quality and feel.
Cons:
Price, moderate AF speed.

After head to head testing against my 50/1.4, a bit of real world shooting, and comparison with my other L primes (24, 35, 85Mk2, 135), I'm ready to consider this lens a trusted part of my Canon arsenal. I've checked it out with the 1Ds and 1DMk2. Here are my basic findings:

Using the center AF point and a high contrast target at about 1.5 meters (~5 feet), the focus was dead on. Wide open, the images were sharp at center and pretty far toward the corners. Using an off-center focusing point, the focus was not as accurate. That could be a concern for vertical portraits, but in practice I found that the inaccuracy in AF was not as great as the difficulty of keeping an exactly stable distance to the subject when doing a hand held, close range portrait. In other words, don't rock if you expect to keep the paper thin DOF on the eyes at f/1.2! Working with this lens in that manner is much like using the 85L.

Autofocus is not quite as fast as the 50/1.4, though more consistent, and even quiter. It is about the same speed as the 35L, definitely faster than the 85LMk2, noticeably slower than the 85/1.8.

One minor nit about the AF: I find that at distances of 2 feet and under, the lens back-focuses slightly on either body. Minor, because when I'm that close, I'm going to stop down and/or use manual focus. At portrait distances, AF is acccurate and adequately fast for that use.

There is vignetting at f/1.2, which I consider no shortcoming at that aperture. The exposure in the central part of the frame is close to a half stop greater than that with the 50/1.4 wide open. That is, if (as some have complained) the 50L is not quite a true f/1.2 (I'm not equipped to measure the f/ ratio, as opposed to light transmission), it is at least faster than the 1.4 lens by an appropriate margin.

From an aesthetic standpoint, I love what I'm seeing in out-of-focus backgrounds. Bokeh is not a quantitative measure of "how blurry are the OOF areas", or "how perfectly round are the OOF highlights". Rather, it's a judgment about how prettily things are rendered. To borrow a phrase from Michael Reichmann, I like the way this lens "draws", both in focus and out. It is definitely priced on the high end of its worth, but since I only get fussier about images as I get older, I think I will be glad that I have it, especially when I can forget what I paid for it!


Dec 11, 2006
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
179 330749 Nov 16, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
80% of reviewers $1,406.27
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.35
6.96
8.7
ef50lusm


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