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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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Peter Kirk
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Registered: Sep 25, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 312
Review Date: Sep 9, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 6 

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.

The lens suffers from focus shift quite a bit...frustrating

The color is good but the focus is always a tad off..even after microadjustment

Too much CA at open aperture

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

Mar 21, 2011
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Registered: Feb 6, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 1057
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: 115
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: 124
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

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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Registered: Dec 9, 2009
Location: Poland
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 25, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 


If I wanted to evaluate this lens as a whole, it probably would be at level 5 - 6 points, because of the fact that I would have to take to assess a total of seven lenses. So many copies have already tested together for the last 3 years. All the previous six lenses were characterized by all possible technical flaws, has repeatedly been reported in the pages of this forum and elsewhere on the Internet, i.e, backfocus, frontfocus, shift problems, etc..
But the last one, the 7 copy of this lens tested by me deserves the scores 10 points, because it is simply perfect in every way. The quality of images regardless of the distance is ideal, any error in focusing, sharpness comparable at the f/1.2 - f/1.4 with the EF 85mm/f.1.2L USM II and EF 35 mm/ f1.4L USM, which I also use for 3 years on FF.
Compared to the EF USM 50mm/f1.4 (which I used more than 3 years) in the apertures of f/1.4 - f/2.2, the f/1.2 version is definitely sharper.
In summary, a really wonderful lens (just a pity that you have to test as many as 7 copies to get one good), a brilliant bokeh, excellent design, excellent optical properties (excellent sharpness at f1.2 - F.2.2).

Really recommend !!!
Sample pictures on the page

Oct 25, 2010
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Registered: Aug 15, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 45
Review Date: Oct 18, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: nice bokeh, amazing aperture 1.2. L lens build quality. Sharp and great color.
price. corner is soft (i think few people will care, it is not a wide angle lens at all.)

Got this lens several days ago. Found not a few negative reviews of this lens, generally say, it is a really nice build "L" lens besides the price of it.

I didn't find any focus shift problems on my 5D till now.My lens code starts with UVXXXX. But it is kindly hard to focus during dim light situation.

From flickr's users, some of them said that if focus distance less than 4 feet, the focus have a big trouble when you are using the center point focus. I'm lucky, I don't have this issues. LOL~

Besides the price, it is much better than 50 1.4 USM. The sharpness is all depend on your focus skill.

Canon 50mm f1.2 is the unique autofocus lens in the world( never think about the former 50 1.0L of canono, it looks like a monster...), for this point, what else could I say.

Oct 18, 2010
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[ X ]

Registered: Oct 26, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 140
Review Date: Sep 18, 2010 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Amazing clarity

I have previously left a lenghy post on this lens. I thought it wise to just cover the points that a major UK Pro Canon service agent told me. Every pro camera that is supplied has it's sensors responsible for focusing, factory set and pointing at a pre designated area of the screen, hopefully close to the centre. However, in many cases these are just a few percentages out. When using normal lenses from say F1.8 upwards you would not notice any difference. However, on a lens with F1.2 that has such a deffined DOF you will then become aware of the this problem with the sensors. The lens itself is also specific to a point and two different manufaturers making F1.2 lenses may also have a variation.You can have Canon reset the sensors to point directly at the centre of the screen, or if you like in the middle of the centre red square.
I have used both the 50mm 1.2 and the 85mm 1.2 extensively and have had no issues what so ever other than human error where i may have moved just after foscusing and got a blurred picture. Despite Canon charging way to much, I feel these two lenses are the best I have ever used and I have been lucky enough to have a wide range of L Lenses. Forgive the spelling I can't find my glasses!

Sep 18, 2010
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Registered: Sep 17, 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Sep 18, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: effect of narrow DOF combined with OOF bokeh, sharpness @large f's (if focussed correctly), overall build quality (weather sealing)
plastic filter thread & hood mount, some OOF CA, a bit pricey for a "normal"

after much debating due to the many negative reviews I decided to "bite the bullet" & buy one of these, coz I love the challenge of “normal” focal length on FF (5Dii) but hate the f1.4 version I had up to now. I was lucky to be able to choose the best one out of 3 copies (all UY code)

the razor thin DOF / sharpness @large apertures & the beautiful bokeh of this glass give pictures a unique, dreamy, 3 dimensional look which is absolutely amazing !

would like to share my experiences on the 2 hot topics I’ve read about so much here: “focus accuracy & -shift”:

I really needed to (re)learn how to focus with this lens: you gotta be extremely careful where to place the focus point (normally using the central one): I only get correct focus consistently if the highest contrast within the coverage of the focus point is also the part I want to have sharp in the picture. before realizing this I was “randomly” getting “back” or “front” focus shots !

I only experienced only slight focus shift, but it remains within the increasing DOF (when stopping down w/o refocusing)

concluding, I can only highly recommend this lens but you will need to work hard for top results ;-) !

PS: all three copies I tried out had the same focus behavior, only one needed +1 micro adjustment & there was a slight variation in sharpness between them (only visible in direct comparison)

Sep 18, 2010
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michael valeri
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Registered: Nov 28, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 28
Review Date: Sep 10, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,099.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Colour rendition, Contrast, Build quality & Bokeh to die for ; )
OMG the Price ha ha!!!

Well you have all the read the negative reviews & just like you I was put off. I bought a sigma 50mm f1.4 & for the price it was good, however it seemed to focus shift at times. So I exchanged it within 14 days & bit the bullet to give the canon 50mm f1.2L a try. Everything seemed just that little bit better, focus, colour rendition, contrast & smoooooth bokeh.
I have tested it & mine is perfect straight out the box (I'll have to buy a lottery ticket ha ha) Anyway back to the good stuff. At 1.2 mine sharp & very useable, I would say its the best 50mm out there from 1.2 -2.8 hands down. The quality of the images this baby can capture, will make you fall in love with 50 focal range all over again. It has a very unique quality about it, goes with being an "L" series I guess, so in the end you'll cry hard at your empty wallet & live to take life one photograph at a time.

Buy it & have fun ; )

Sep 10, 2010
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Registered: Sep 5, 2010
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Sep 6, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,490.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: sharpness, bokeh rendetion, colour

I am happy with the result given by this lens.

After considering and trying the 50mm/f1.4 one for cheaper price, I think this lens worth the price. Build quality, AF speed and rendetion is just many times as great compared to the cheaper one.

My build code is UY and I didn't experience any shift focus issue.

Sep 6, 2010
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Registered: Sep 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 208
Review Date: Jun 13, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Bokeh, contrast, overall look of the pictures taken with this lens. Lightweight, general purpose, low light, all around lens.
Not as sharp as my 85 1.2 II at 1.2, but pretty close.

I am on my second copy of this lens, because that is how much I like this focal length and the results this lens gives me. I park my 85 1.2 II in the bag and choose this lens 90% of the time. I just bought a newer UY version and sold my UW version, taking a gamble there would be an improvement after two years, and I am glad I did. Not that the UW was the worst, just that it was always lacking some sharpness. I tried two copies when I bought the UW and both were the same, but when I brought the UY home I couldn't believe my eyes, huge difference in sharpness. Also the UW was never a good match with my 1DsMKIII, with a microfocus adjust of -20, I never felt comfortable. The UY is zero adjustment, and the sharpness is a very noticeable improvement. People love or hate this lens, and my only recommendation would be go out and shoot your subject matter with it before you believe all the negativity surrounding this lens. Judge for yourself.

Jun 13, 2010
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
182 354039 Jan 11, 2017
Recommended By Average Price
81% of reviewers $1,399.44
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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