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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

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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.


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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Registered: May 26, 2006
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Feb 15, 2012 Recommend? no | Price paid: $950.00 | Rating: 2 

Pros: Nice to see and feel. Sharper at F1.2 then I thought.
Focus is terrible, at least the copy I tried. Only at f1.2 the focus was good.

I bought a copy second hand. Was bought new in 2007. Looks like new. I was surprised by the sharpness full open. Not as good as the 85 mm F1.2L but better then expected. Some CA but nothing to be worried about. When the lens focussed the right way nice sharp pictures, nice bokeh. A little sharper at f1.4 then my Sigma F1.4. At F1.6 sames results, where the Sigma focussed 10 times better! I tested on to camera's. A Canon 1D mark II and a Canon 5D mark II. The backfocus was terrible. I corrected it on my 5D, but when I toke photo's at F4.0 the backfocus came back. I went really crazy with all the bad focussed photo's and I could give the lens back. Pfff, Canon must has makes the lens better, I can simply not believe the newer lenses are the same.

Feb 15, 2012
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Registered: Oct 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3127
Review Date: Feb 14, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Great colors and contrast thoughout the aperture range. Usable shap at 1.2. About equal in sharpness with the 50 1.4 at 1.4 but with much more constast. Solid feel, like a baby 85L.
When comparing with the 85L it comes up short. On the other hand compared to other "normal" and wide primes it stacks up pretty well. Focus is adequately fast. Accuracy stumbles in flourcent light. Usually back focusing in this type of lighting.

Very nice lens. Really functions well except under flourecent lighting which seems to bring out the dreaded back focus.

More than solid build. Probably the best in canon's lineup. The feel and balance are perfect with a 5d.

Compared to the 50 1.4 it has more color and contrast. The sharpness is pretty much a draw which is not a bad thing since my 1.4 is very sharp.

Overall, as others have noted, the lens falls short of the 85L. But then again, what lens does not. The color and contrast at 1.2 is better than the 35L at 1.4 but it may not be sharper. Bokeh is all that you would expect.

Price is a tad high but pretty much in line with most L lenses. There are no bargains with a red ring around them.

Feb 14, 2012
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Registered: Jul 1, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 94
Review Date: Jan 14, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,360.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Solid, phenomenal colors, fantastic bokeh
Expensive, not as sharp as the 85L (should be!)

The first one I purchased from BH was a total dud. It wouldn't focus properly unless I used the outer focus points on my 5D Mark II. Sent it back and went to a local store and tested all 50Ls they had in stock and picked the best of that batch. It is awesome, I really like it. It feels ultra solid when you hold it. It produces some of the best colors I've seen from any lens (very comparable to the 85L). Contrast and saturation is about as good as it gets. Mine isn't razor sharp wide open the way my old 85L was but it is very usable, I wouldn't hasitate to shoot it wide open. Focus is reliable and accurate (obviously not all 50Ls are that way, but if you're set on getting one of these, find one that works well and you will be happy). I wanted a smaller, lighter, weather sealed 85L without the focus by wire, with internal focus and without the annoying rear flush element design in a little more versatile focal length - this is it. My 85L felt somehow fragile. The 50L feels like I can throw it against a brick wall, pick it up and start using it again. There's no focus shift that I can see on mine (and I looked for it, believe me) but again, the foes one I got from BH was a classic focus shifter and really severe at that (UZ10 date code) so no, the new date codes do not have the focus shift problem fixed - so you will have to search and find a good copy, there are out there. I think this is one lens I will keep for a very long time, glad I did not get discouraged but the first copy I received.

Jan 14, 2012
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Registered: Jan 10, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 81
Review Date: Dec 5, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,350.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Pretty decent focus speed given the amount of glass that's being moved. When focus is dead on, its quite dreamy Built like a tank
Wide open this lens is not for the pixel peepers but still quite acceptable (this being compared to the 85 1.2). Obviously the cost, its quite high for what it is but it is what it is.

Picked up this lens after the 85 1.2, loved the creamy bokeh on the 85 and figured ive always wanted to get the 50mm again so went all out and got the 50 1.2L. Its sorta hard to work with, but thats a known fact and seems it gets easier the more you use it. Overall though im quite happy with it, would only recommend to someone that either *needs* 1.2 or just has to have it (for whatever reason).

Dec 5, 2011
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Daniel Yee
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Registered: Jun 3, 2009
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 23, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: good IQ, nice balance on 1D3
not really sharp at f/1.2 but that's just splitting hairs

creamy bokeh, waaaay too creamy. wide open is not that sharp (as an L that is) but still acceptable. Sharpness creeps in at f/1.4 and above.

But heck why get this gem to use it stepped down? Sheesh!

Nov 23, 2011
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Registered: Feb 13, 2010
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 24
Review Date: Nov 13, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Functions in low light, robust, weatherproof, nice warm glow.
Bulky, heavy, pricey, a bit slow (with 5d mk2)

I had this lens for several months until I decided to sell all my Canon gear and switch to Nikon. This lens I liked a lot because it is so robust and gives such warm colors. It was somewhat less sharp than is possible I think. This can be corrected in post-processing.

If I start using Canons again this will be on my wanted list! 50mm fixed is a must have in my opinion and this is the most serious thing Canon has.

Nov 13, 2011
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Registered: Oct 7, 2011
Location: N/A
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 7, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00

Pros: Looks nice attached to body
Most everything else

Stupidly I purchased a second copy of this lens in hopes Canon has made improvements.
I was really hoping but no such luck.

How can anyone call this lens sharp when a zoom like the 70-200 2.8II is sharper ?

50L @ 2.8 vs 70-200 @ 2.8


Oct 7, 2011
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Peter Kirk
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Registered: Sep 25, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 309
Review Date: Sep 9, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great Bokeh, super sharp from 1.2 up, nice balance and size.
A tad costly, you get what you pay for.

I was hesitant in buying this lens because of mixed reviews. I guess the best way to determine if something is good or not is to actually try it for yourself.

I have absolutely no regrets in this purchase. It is an invaluable lens which performs flawlessly at all apertures.
My copy is about 11 months old and is pin sharp and does not display the "focus shift" phenomenon.

The color is beautiful and the focus is quiet and accurate (similar to the 85LII).

I highly recommend this lens for any serious photographer or artist.
5 STARS all the way.

Sep 9, 2011
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Registered: Aug 8, 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 9
Review Date: Aug 6, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: f/1.2 aperture, weather sealed (mostly), nice focus ring, build quality, bokeh (out of focus areas).... it just takes superb photos.
None really... see review.

When I first started taking my photography more serious I decided to buy a 5D Mark II (It just JUST come out in North America) and a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L, and a 27-70mm f/2.8 L. I was set. Or so I thought.

Eventually about a year ago, I realized I was bored of my big clunky zoom lenses, as nice as they were/are, I was just bored of them. I wanted low light abilities. I wanted crazy bokeh, I wanted quality that great primes can give you.

I sold my zooms and bought a 35L, 135L and a 45mm TS-E. I was happy, very happy. Soon I realized that there was no real middle ground for me, I shoot a lot of fine art portraits, and some weddings in the warmer months (that's Canada for you), I found that too often I was switching camera bodies because of another lens that felt very specialized. The 135L. It is such a nice lens, but it was very long, even on my 5D2.

So back to the 35L, well the 35L is sexy. But it's not really a portrait lens, not really anyway.

In comes the 50L. I borrowed it from a friend, and it blew me away. I didn't want to give it back.

A few weeks later, I bought the lens, I was so amazed at how dreamy and nice the lens was that I Just had to have it in my bag.

If you can nail the focus at f/1.2, it's pretty sharp, which is great. And let's be honest, you buy this sort of lens (like the 35L, 85L or 135L) to shoot a lot of stuff wide open.

I will echo what others have said, I think a lot of the bad press it got from people is what initially threw me off a year ago. I know three people who own this lens, besides myself, and they all have copies made after 2008, (Mine is late 2009), and they do not have any significant focus problems when stopped down from f/1.2, so I don't know what to say.

Yes I believe I've experienced this somewhat, but I also think that when shooting someones face, very close, at f/1.2, f/1.4, or f/1.6, getting focus perfectly on the eye/eye lash, is going to be very difficult no matter what, and possible people just believed it was a problem, or maybe in some cases that was what was happening, and in others... not so much. Who knows. I don't doubt there are/were problems.

I haven't had any real issues, and this is my #1 lens. I adore it.

Some of my favorite images have been shot with it. It sees what I do. The bokeh is killer, and the lens just feels like a very nice piece of gear.

Sorry for the big write up, but I figured my story would help those who might be looking at reviews trying to decide if this is the lens for them. This one is excellent on a Full Frame camera. It can do tight head shot portraits, full body, and still have dreamy bokeh/background blur, it's amazing for wedding/documentary style, and really great for portrait sessions and street stuff. One of Canon's ultimate "people photo" lenses.

Just the other week I shot an entire wedding on it, and was so impressed with the gem of a lens.

Try it out, make sure you're focusing techniques are up to the challenge of the razor thin DOF at f/1.2! This is one of Canon's best. GET IT.

Aug 6, 2011
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Registered: Mar 22, 2011
Location: Singapore
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 22, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: 1. Excellent build quality 2. Excellent image quality with beautiful bokeh wide open to sharpness when stopped down. The lens is paired with a 5DII and really does it all.

Mar 22, 2011
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Registered: Feb 20, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 454
Review Date: Mar 21, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Lightweight, dangerously sharp stopped down a bit, Alright sharpness wide open. Very useful focal length. Nice bokeh.
Could be sharper wide open.

The 50mm F1.2 is a great lens overall.

It's small, it's light, it fits well on a 1D body or 5D body.

When shot wide open it's decently sharp, it has a bit of veiling haze which makes the wide open performance seem a bit worse than it is by robbing it of a bit of contrast. When you stop it down though it soars.

Bokeh is pretty melty wide open and it's pleasing.

The focal length coupled with ultra wide aperture is just down right appealing, perfect focal length with the perfect aperture.

For a slightly quirky video review done by me and a few sample photos go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuA3pRHAjBA

Mar 21, 2011
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Registered: Feb 6, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 1036
Review Date: Mar 18, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,569.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Built quality, bokeh, clarity, 1.2

My most commonly used lens since I got it... Love the clarity and the bokeh

Mar 18, 2011
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Registered: Jul 2, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 107
Review Date: Mar 6, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: f/1.2, build quality and feel, great AF and image quality, beautiful bokeh, no problems whatsoever
So expensive!

I knew I wanted an upgrade from my 50 1.4, but I really didn't want to spend the money on this lens. I basically avoided using the 50 1.4 below 2.0 because it looked bad. I tried the sigma, focus was terrible, sent it back and got this. I must say, I have no regrets. I wouldn't say it's a $1500 lens, but the amount that I use it now vs. the 1.4 definitely justifies the cost for me. It pretty much shares the position of most used lens with my 35 1.4, which is really saying something for me. The image quality is amazing, although different than my other L lenses. It seems much more aimed at looking pretty than absolute sharpness, which I don't mind. Sometimes everything's a little soft, but not like how cheap lenses look soft. It's clearly in focus, but the fine details don't stab you at low apertures. Instead, the whole photo has a gorgeous, dreamy look that's unattainable with other lenses. It's the only kind of softness I've ever liked. Softness isn't really even the right word, it's hard to explain. But by 2.8 and up it easily gets into detail stabbing territory. Is it flawless? No, but my hunt for the 50 that suites me is over. (And it had better be at this cost!)

Mar 6, 2011
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Registered: Jan 13, 2011
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 22, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: colour rendition, bokeh, focus, build, f1.2, smoothness, balance, sharpness at wider aperture
would have preferred back focus to front focus mechanism, canon should quote minimum focus distance as higher or provide guidance in instructions

This lens is a pleasure to use and hold, like a fine watch.
I find it sharp at all apertures and focus is spot on.
The bokeh is super creamy, colour rendition and contrast are superb and flare control is outstanding.
All lenses focus shift to an extent but i am told you can see it on this lens between f1.8 to f4 at close to minimum focus distance. Perhaps Canon should just have said the minimum focus distance is 3 feet, as they did with the 85mm.
for me the lens really delivers. it is perfect for hand held indoors and portraits. also excellent for walk about and reportage. lastly it is excellent for landscape and architecture. it's on my 5Dii 90% of the time.

Jan 22, 2011
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Keith Broad
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Registered: Aug 14, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 122
Review Date: Jan 13, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: AF accuracy, light gathering ability, bokeh, contrast, colour, build
Weight, AF speed

I've been procrastinating about buying this lens for 3 years. The number of poor reviews for this lens kept me away. I compromised by getting an f1.4, which I've used for 2 years. I have a wedding to do today. We have heavy rain and dark skies. I decided yesterday that the 50L may help me take shots that have that special quality, despite the weather. So I took the plunge. I shopped around for an hour and knocked $700 off the RRP.

This morning I have tested the lens extensively using my 1DIII and 5D2. I have been focusing close and at middle distance, mostly at f1.2. I have also done some stopped down (f2) focusing at less than 4 feet. In all instances the focus has been accurate without any micro-adjustment or focus shift.

I have also been able to take some of the best portraits of my Boxer dog during his 7 years of life. This lens has me really excited. I feel like it is going to take me on a new voyage of photographic discovery.

Jan 13, 2011
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Registered: Dec 12, 2010
Location: Germany
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 17, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00

Pros: bookeh, construction-quality, weather-sealed
sharpness@1.2, price

I tested all three Canon 50mm lenses and this one is clearly the best. Yes, it is true, sharpness at f1.2 is disappointing and does in my humble opinion (I'm a professional wedding photographer) not match higher expectations of professional photographers. However, sharpness improves significantly at f1.4 and again at f2 but overall sharpness from corner to corner is not reached before 2.8. Of course, sharpness at 1.2 is NOT all blurred but absolutely sufficient for private portraits etc. However, in comparison to the 85mm 1.2 sharpness is disappointing.

Another con is the autofocus. While it is fast enough to focus quickly on non-moving subjects it is a real challenge to focus on moving subjects. Don't get me wrong, autofocus is not slow but in comparison to Canon's latest lenses like 70-200 f/2.8 II it leaves much to be desired!

Still, this is my favorite lens and much better than the 50mm f/1.4 , so why is that:

1) Its bokeh is far superior in comparison to the Canon 50mm 1.4, above all much smoother. Check out my webgallery as a reference (roughly 50% of the pictures were taken with 50mm, most between f1.4 and f2)


2) Colors and contrast of the 50mm f1.2 are much better than other 50mm lenses.
3) It is fully weather-sealed in combination with a front-filter. This becomes an important issue when traveling. I've recently used it in the Sahara desert and not a single grain of sand made it onto the sensor or onto the lens' inner elements. Check out some pictures:


4) Construction quality is perfect. The lens feels and handles very well.

Overall, I absolutely recommend this lens. It is for sure the best 50mm lens on the market and if you like the 50mm focal length this truly is a must-buy!

Dec 17, 2010
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
176 327821 Aug 27, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
81% of reviewers $1,415.73
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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