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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

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175 326722 Jul 15, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
81% of reviewers $1,415.73
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.39
7.04
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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archiegonzalez
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Registered: Jul 20, 2009
Location: Philippines
Posts: 3
Review Date: Jan 3, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Bokeh, contrast
Cons:
None so far.

Either the newer batches are much better made or it's a perfect match for the 5D Mark II. I recently fell in love with Canon L prime lenses. I got the 24LII, the 35L, the 85LII and the 135L.

I have been going back and forth in purchasing this lens due to the reviews and all bad rep it's been getting over the web. However, after not getting satisfied by the 50 f/1.8, 2 copies of the 50 f/1.4 and the Sigma 50 f/1.4, I decided to try this out since I really love the 50 mm perspective but the lenses I tried didn't quite cut it.

I didn't have any problem since day one. Very sharp, no focus shift, everything is spot on. I highly recommend this lens.


Jan 3, 2010
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Steve Frank
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Registered: Aug 2, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Dec 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality is unique, low light capability, great bokeh, great build quality
Cons:
none

I have used this lens for a year now and it is my most used lens. At any give wedding I take around 60% to 70% of my shots with it. As with all of my lenses, I do MA on my 5DII and 50D. It was necessary to learn how to use this lens because of shallow dof. Once I learned how to use it I have had no focus problems. The way I shoot at weddings, the focus shift has not been a problem. I have shot with 50 1.4 and 50 1.8, the color contrast and bokeh of this lens is far superior to those. It has a look that is unique and beautiful.

Dec 19, 2009
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wimg
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Registered: May 8, 2006
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 143
Review Date: Dec 6, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Bokeh, both in fore- and background, F/1.2, flare resistance - there is nothing better than this lens out there -, great at macro with extensione tube(s), excellent low light lens, very accurate AF, essentially a specialty lens which doubles as a FF standard lens.
Cons:
Price :), occasional missed shot on 40D and 5D Classic, potentially perseverance required to get a good specimen. Slightly soft corners at F/1.2.

When I got into low light photography with a vengeance, a few years ago, I went for an 85 F/1.8 and 28 F/1.8 first. This because I couldn't find a great 50 F/1.4, for close to MFD shots at F/1.4 to F/2. After testing about 30 different 50 mm lenses, I went for a 50 F/1.8 Mk I, for the time being. No 50 F/1.4 of any brand, MF alt or Canon, was IMO good at F/1.4 to F/2.8, especially not when close to MFD.

I also tested 3 different 50Ls in that period, and didn't like the problems with these lenses when focusing close, from MFD to about 1.5 - 1.8 m, at apertures from F/1.4 to F/2.5. However, everything in the area within DoF, looked really incredible, unlike any other lens I had seen. I knew I had to find a "good one".

A year later I had tested another two, both of which showed some "standard" backfocus, one of about 4 cm at all distances and apertures, the other of about 2 cm. That was the one I ended up buying. Another few months went by, and by then I couldn't stand the backfocus anymore, both on 40D and 5D. So off it went, to Canon. It eventually came back, a little better, only about 1 cm of backfocus left, which did get lost in DoF at distances further away and smaller apertures.

Testing my other fast lenses I found that all of them had some backfocus, and none of the slower ones had. Off to Canon again, with 40D, 5D and a bunch of fast primes. They were all fixed, including the 50L. I did notice the occasional problem with the 50L, where the AF would miss a shot completely, more so on 40D than on 5D. Regardless, SOOC the pics were stunning. BTW, the focus shift of this lens is about 1/6 of DoF maximum, at F/2, less below and above, not present from about F/2.5 anymore. Note that my 85L II has approximately 1/4 DoF of focus shift at F/2. Also note that this is both within AF parameters for fast lenses with F/2.8 AF point according to Canon specs Smile.

Next came the 5D II. And in the 8 months of shooting the 5D II, the 50L has easily become my most used lens on this camera. This combo really sings. No more missed shots either, except for obvious user error Smile.

Fast focusing, very accurate, in the lowest of lights, great at macro, landscapes, portraits, party, street, it has become my #1 go to lens.

Very highly recommended, even though it may need some perseverance to get a good specimen. It is fully worth it IMO.


Dec 6, 2009
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Haken
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Registered: Oct 23, 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 17
Review Date: Nov 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Bokeh, 50 focal length, build, 1.2
Cons:
none

Just got this lens after a few weeks of returning the 35L.
I find that My style of shooting suits a 50mm focal length more. This lens is just dreamy at 1.2 although DOF is very thin as many of you already know. I have no issues with focus shift on my 5DII. To me it seems sharp wide open and very sharp once you step down to 2. I tried the Sigma 1.4 and decided I would pay the extra $1000 for Canon quality and "L"uxury. My first copy of the Sigma I tried at the store had focus issue and wb issue. This is definitely the Bentley of 50mm. This lens stays on my camera 90% of the time.


Nov 28, 2009
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24-70
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Registered: Nov 19, 2008
Location: N/A
Posts: 25
Review Date: Nov 28, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed, Bokeh, Contrast, Color, Weather sealing
Cons:
Cost, Sharpness

As with others, I debated on this lens due to numerous negative reports concerning focusing issues. My worries were unjustified, at least with my copy. Focusing is dead on using my 5D at any distance and does not seem to vary between shots. As is my habit with the 85II, I always use the central focusing point for wide open shots and have not had a problem yet. It does back focus slightly (but much less than my 24-70) at close distances on my 1DII, but again it is consistent.

In pixel peeping at short distances shots of a printed page, it is a little soft, improving up to about f 2.0. However, in real world photography I find it very sharp and use it at 1.2 where ever possible.

Highly rated. I think it complements the 85 and 135 nicely for a combination of fast lenses. Take the plunge!





Nov 28, 2009
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Kliff
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Registered: Nov 24, 2009
Location: N/A
Posts: 1
Review Date: Nov 24, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 2 

Pros: Image quality (if you can focus) pleasant bokeh, fast aperture
Cons:
Focus shift phenomenon, CA, overpriced

Stay away from this lens. More than two years, people reporting about focusing problems of this lens, and Canon do nothing to solve this "Focus shift" phenomenon, and still selling this lens for crazy price.

I'm was satisfied of the results, only when using live view manual focusing with designated aperture, but it is stupid to pay these money, for AF lens which you can not use auto focus.


Nov 24, 2009
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borderlight
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Registered: Dec 6, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 1746
Review Date: Sep 25, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,599.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp @ f1.2, well made, great bokeh, low-light shooting without flash.
Cons:
Subtantial weight for a 50mm, DOF awareness

This lens silences all the concerns of Canon's other 50's. The f1.2L is wonderfully made... exudes confidence, and features USM, better flare control, beautiful bokeh, and precision manual focus control. It's quick, quiet, and does the job in low-light. Indoors this lens can be used with candle light (FF @ f1.2 w/1600 ISO).

I think this lens is a slight modification of the one first released in Dec. 2006. I believe Canon quietly corrected any back-focus issues the following year just as they did with the 24-105 f4L IS (flare) when it was first introduced. I found no problems with AF or back-focus on this version when tested on a tripod. Luckily we didn't have to go through a "II" version and a subsequent price increase to correct this mistake.

The f1.2L becomes a project until you get used to using razor-thin DOF. There isn't much room for operator error as I found out. Using the multiple focus points on the 5D seemed to make matters worse. I recommend using only the center focus point. I tested the f1.2L against the 50 f2.5 compact macro and found that the macro has a slight edge (@100% crop) when both are focused accurately, but macro, or super close-up photography is not the strength of the f1.2L, although it's not half bad when pushing the limits of the DOF scale.

The big concern with this 50mm seems to be the price. Yeah, I balked at it too, but there really is no quality, alternative f1.2 that works effectively with the Canon system. Sure, you can hook up a Sigma or an old Olympus manual version, but they all have their drawbacks in the focus/metering department, and none of them are all that great until stopped down a bit.

Can you do without this lens? Absolutely. The f1.4 version @ f2 is fine and probably fulfills the needs of most photographers ...and it will save you lots of money. I chose the 50 f1.2 because I like the quickness of shooting without flash. I am tired of waisting time setting up speedlites on brackets or lightstands for mundane subject matter...like family shots at Christmas. :-) The f1.2L is the closest thing to freedom from all that.






Sep 25, 2009
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njomany
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Registered: Sep 23, 2009
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Sep 23, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Very sharp, reasonable weight, f/1.2
Cons:
Price

When I first bought this lens I was disappointed with the result. It seems there's some backfocus. It was until I play around with AF microadjustment then I never look back. This lens is now mounted on my 5D Mark II about 90% of the time.

For you guys who are experiencing soft or backfocus, visit http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/cameras/1ds3_af_micoadjustment.html


Sep 23, 2009
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Haring
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Registered: Sep 11, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 2
Review Date: Sep 11, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: image quality
Cons:
price and focusing

I used this lens for low light photography. I sold it. I don't regret.

Nowadays I use 35mmL along with a 85mmL. Theses are much better. The 35mmL is even better on a crop frame body, I am not kidding.

Focusing is not as good as the 35mm L. I had a lot of blurry images.

You can see a few pictures in the portfolio for the engagements section:
www.haringphotography.com


Buy the 35mm L.


Sep 11, 2009
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minty1
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Registered: Aug 9, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 27, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,199.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, Fast, Bokeh
Cons:
Price but then you get what you pay for

Well this lense blows my 24-70mm away for sharpness. I put this on my 1ds mkIII and was blown with the image I got. I think this will be my prime for weddings its so good. I know many people got the lense with a back focus issue but mines fine and I would really recommend this lense to anybody. I,m sure this will make me money!

Aug 27, 2009
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ginalind
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Registered: Aug 22, 2009
Location: Norway
Posts: 0
Review Date: Aug 22, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,300.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Image quality; colour, sharpness
Cons:
Price

I was very sceptical when I purchased it, after reading all the bad reviews.

Being a happy amateur, it did take some time learning to use it (and I still have my fair share of misses), but the "hits" are just beautiful pictures.

The 50L "creates" light, the pictures have more vivid colours than what's there in real life, and the pictures are tack sharp from around f/1.8.

I have not noticed any backfocus issues on my 5D.

For me personally this focal length is perfect for most situations. Paired with my 135L, I feel equipped for everything.

It's well built, but not too big and heavy.

The price in my country is... too high. Despite that, I don't regret upgrading from the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4.

The 50L helps me to be a better photographer. I love it!


Aug 22, 2009
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schizom
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Registered: Aug 19, 2009
Location: Austria
Posts: 6
Review Date: Aug 19, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: speed, bokeh, build quality
Cons:
none so far

i purchased this lens only recently, and after an afternoon-long testing on my 5d for immediatly viewable results i put the 50 f/1.2 on my eos 1v - and that is where it will stay for a long time now. this just is a wonderful lens and works perfectly in combination with the 1v. forget about the canon/sigma 50 f/1.4... none of the above work as smoothly and precisely as the 1.2; to me (besides the 35 f/1.4) it is is the perfect working tool, especially for my street and night shots.
if you have any doubts about this lens, erase them by just grabbing one and starting shooting.


Aug 19, 2009
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h4y4sh1
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Registered: Aug 10, 2005
Location: Indonesia
Posts: 28
Review Date: Aug 2, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Bokeh, build, sharpness
Cons:
Price, Focus shift ( easily correctable)

The Bokeh is really smooth. Wide open the sharpness is less than that of the 85L, but it's comparable to my 35L.
A little bit of pp in photoshop will fix it though
Shooting at MWD wide open is really hard with this lens, since, the DOF is really thin.
The focus shift issue is there, if you use the centre AF point. But since, I almost always use the outer AF point, It's not a big deal for me.
If you use the centre AF point often, you might be disapointed with this lens.



Aug 2, 2009
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Derek Stanton
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Registered: Mar 3, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Jul 24, 2009 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,399.00

Pros: Build quality. Speed (aperture). Bokeh. Good/Reasonable sharpness at 1.2, but ONLY if you can calibrate it with your specific camera.
Cons:
AF speed. Size/weight. Cost. I have no idea if it will work with my film cameras, as they can't be optimized/calibrated to this lens. Inconsistent focus. Either good at near range OR infinity, but probably not both.

"Too much ignorant bad hype about this lens.
Probably initial copies from Canon were more problematic, as I've tested 3 copies in 8 months before ending up with this one, which was significantly better than all others. I would be reluctant to buy it if I didn't have MF adjustment on my camera."

The "bad hype" is not "ignorant." It's actually pretty well-informed. And, you're contradicting yourself by then admitting early copies might have been more problematic and that you had to try 3-4 copies to get one that worked. That's not the mark of a successful product.

There seem to be a few different reasons why there's so much conflicting information/ratings/reviews on this lens.
Maybe early performance was different.
There IS significant sample variation.
Later Canon bodies have lens calibration features that enable the lens to work more closely to spec.
There is sample variation, as well, in the 50/1.4, with which most people compare the 50L

None of those factors has anything to do with "ignorance." They're simply sets of conditions that affect individual consumers.

So, my 'review?' I'm not going to post a review, as i've only today received this lens. My comments, however, are related to my current experience versus the experience i had when i tried three different copies upon the lens' release.

I bought the 50L about a month after it was introduced. My camera at that time was the 5D (v.1). The first lens just plain was awful on that camera. I returned it, and tried two others. The second performed exactly the same as the first. Neither could focus accurately at 1.2 - 1.4. Can't remember if it was a front- or back-focusing issue. The third lens, though, finally DID focus accurately. Problem was, it was still softer than my old 50/1.4 Canon. I returned the third lens, as well. Just couldn't justify that kind of cost for a lens that was 'crippled' as far as sharpness was concerned, versus the older, cheaper lens i already owned. So, that was that.

At the beginning of 2009, i bought the 5DMkII.

I subsequently bought the Sigma 50/1.4. I wanted better bokeh than the Canon 50/1.4 and better performance from 1.4-2. The Canon suffers from halation effects wide open. The Sigma was pretty good, but i also had to try two samples to get a good one, and even then, it was only optimal after i dialed in the lens calibration feature. The Sigma was about as sharp as my trusted Canon 50/1.4, but with markedly better bokeh.

But, i began seeing 'nice' images from Canon 50Ls, and thought i should try again, now that i could calibrate the camera+lens combo. I hoped that feature would get the lens to work well, and/or that later-manufactured products had been somehow 'fixed.' So, having set up the 50L with the 5D2, i'm keeping the 50L. It's still not perfect. It seems you can only optimize it at either near or infinity.... Since i want to use it for 'people,' i've calibrated it that way, but the lens is still not as good (consistently) at infinity as the other two 50s. With that, i can deal.

What kind of 'rating' is valid for this thing? I don't really feel it's fair to assess it that way. Anyone saying it's a 9 or 10 lens, but also acknowledging the issues isn't really being objective. A rating that high suggests there can be nothing better. A low rating may be accurate for That Particular Reviewer with His Particular Equipment, but is it an accurate assessment of This Particular Item?

I have no overall rating. It really depends on YOU. For me, only time will tell if it's worth the price difference over the Sigma.
Build quality rating is 8-9. The manual focus ring could be better, compared to old manual focus lenses, but compared to AF lenses, it's pretty nice.
Re: Price - well, again, against what are we comparing it? I just paid $1150 for a manual focus Voigtlander 50mm f1.1. The Canon has AF, but is (slightly) slower. I suppose the price makes sense. But, i also have a Nikkor 50/1.2 AI-S, which i bought new for about $700. Same speed, but also without AF. I'll not complain about the 50L's price, but i wish it were closer to $1250. With that, i'd have felt much better about it.


Jul 24, 2009
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nazdravanul
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Registered: Jul 1, 2008
Location: Romania
Posts: 170
Review Date: Jul 14, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Amazing colors/contrast, extraordinary look of OOF areas, excellent build, practicality.
Cons:
A little soft from 1.2 to 1.8.

The focus shift (visible mostly at MFD between 2.8 and 4) is there but you have to learn to deal with it. A lot of other 50s and various other lenses have it. It's nothing extraordinary. It's a design trade off for that incredible look of the OOF areas. It is so much better than the 85 and even a little better than the 135 in that department, for my taste. Only the 200 2 IS creates more spectacular background blur , for me Smile.
It is a lot easier to handhold and focus in poor light than the 85 L. I prefer it's colors/contrast to the 35 L, and also I prefer it for close portraits in tight/crowded spaces.
I just wish it was sharper between 1.2 and 1.6 (1.8), even though I will not hesitate to shoot it there, if needed.
Too much ignorant bad hype about this lens.
Probably initial copies from Canon were more problematic, as I've tested 3 copies in 8 months before ending up with this one, which was significantly better than all others. I would be reluctant to buy it if I didn't have MF adjustment on my camera Smile. Well, after discovering this feature on my late 1d3 I will not buy another AF camera without it, as it makes all my AF lenses look so much better Smile.


Jul 14, 2009
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Bosman
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Registered: Sep 7, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 25
Review Date: Jul 13, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,374.95 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Bought it love it yum! Great color and contrast, fast focus, the answer to my 85 F1.2 woes.
Cons:
not negative but wish the lens cap was like the 85mm F1.2's

Still working on the confidence at F1.2 but will see about micro calibration on the Mark 3 when it gets back from Mack Camera Repair for a dead sensor. too bad the 5d doesn't have micro adjustment. That is one reason to buy Canon cameras after 2008-2009.

Jul 13, 2009
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
175 326722 Jul 15, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
81% of reviewers $1,415.73
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.39
7.04
8.7
ef50lusm


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