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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

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81% of reviewers $1,399.44
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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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petr vokurek
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Registered: Apr 16, 2007
Location: Czech Republic
Posts: 129
Review Date: Apr 20, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: bokeh wide open, sharpness, relatively light and compact

As the reviewer bellow wrote this lens has been unfairly dismissed by many. Even I was rather apprehensive due to so many unfavourable reviews. However, I was able to test the lens in a shop in Viena and found no focus problems with it whatsoever. I was very possitively surprised by its sharpness wide open. So I took the risk and found a used one on e-bay and had it shipped from the USA. I was lucky because I got a perfect copy of the lens and all is as should be.

This lens has quickly become my favourite - and I already own practically the whole "league of the best" -1,4/24, 1,2/85II, 2/135, 2,8/70-200, 2/100...I increasingly find that I can do much more with just this lens than I originally thought. I am not saying it repaces any of my other lenses but they are definitelly used less often now. 50mm is such a nice lenght and the wide apperture adds yet another dimension. I can get better bokeh from this lens than from say the 70-200/2,8. The background is all there but transformed to something surreal. With a longer lens you pick less of the background and consequently it can look less interesting, even if it is nicelly out of focus. I now use it for weddings and outdoor portraits and think it is more practical than the 1,2/85mm. It is smaller, lighter and the shorter focal length and close focusing ability make it more practical.

Although I love the 1,2/85mm I have not used it since I got the 1,2/50mm...The sharpnes is practically the same + it has all the above mentioned advantages. Unlike the 1,2/85mm this lens can stay in the bag as a general purpose lens. I even like its design better- nothing goes out of it when close focusing and the front part is not loosely rotating like it is with the 1,2/85mm (not to mention that when you have it close focused and taken off the camera there´s no way of getting the protruding front bit back other than putting it back on the camera and focusing on infinity...)

The 1,2/50mm lens is a very special tool and is definitelly ment to be used wide open- this is where it excells and the results are spectacular. I practically never use it stopped down and so I haven´t seen any shift focus issues. It is sharp wide open even at infinity...which is of no use to me but it´s rather nice:-)

Highly recomended- get this and a couple of 2,8 zooms and that´s all you need. (at least for some time:-))

Some exaples found on my web page:

Apr 20, 2009
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James Wei
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Registered: Aug 12, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 35
Review Date: Mar 20, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $700.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Autofocus for f1.2!! Sharp and dead on accuracy, well built and good bokeh rendering
Shift focus, weight

This lens has been unfairly dismissed by many. I am a owner of almost every single 50mm focal length lens with f1.2 aperture. Canon 50mm f1.2 L is the best one I feel simply because it autofocuses!

It is sharp in the area of fucus. What is more is its ability to quickly autofocus on the point of interest. This is my main portrait lens for many commercial work.

The focus shift tends to happen between aperture f2 to f2.8 with focusing distance of 1 metre under low light. This is not an issue for me as this lens still gets me decent excellent images!

Here is my Canon 50mm f1.2 L lens gallery

This is the lens to use for the years to come

Mar 20, 2009
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Registered: Feb 24, 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 105
Review Date: Mar 2, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, bokeh, low light capability, color, contrast, compact, rugged

The only downside I listed is the price, but this is a cheap lens compared to a Noctilux, and it reminds me of my Noctilux at less than 1/4 the price. Expensive is relative. I might even say this lens has what I like about the Noctilux, and one-ups it with easier focus, auto focus, and I think the color is much more accurate.

I was reluctant to buy this lens. In fact it was the last purchase in my latest prime buying spree. I used to have the 50 f/1.4, and it was nice, but not up to the L prime image quality. Based on my initial research, the 50L was similar to the 50 f/1.4, so I was reluctant to drop $1400 on it. I must say though that after using the lens for a while, my fears were un-founded. It easily has an obvious IQ edge over the 1.4.

The back-focus problem is not really a big problem for most people. Many Leica lenses also lack a floating element to correct back focus, but it's easy to work around, and if you can deal with it, you are using the finest optics in the world. I feel the same way about the 50L. I tested and re-tested the issue and was surprised at how minor a problem it actually is. Learn what it is, test extensively, and work with that limitation in mind. Otherwise you are forcing yourself to use either the 35L or the 85L, or the 50 f/1.4. If you need a normal perspective, this is the best normal lens Canon makes. All you have to do is use the outer focus points and your problem is solved.

I gave the lens a 9 for build quality. The focus ring is a bit narrow for one that is so stiff. Also, I have been spoiled by the click-on hood of the 85 f/1.2L II. I wish the 50 had the same hood type. Minor issues. I might even gripe a bit that this lens is front-focusing. That means that every time you go from MFD to infinity, you are sucking air into the camera body. With air comes dust. Another minor issue.

I mentioned that this lens is compact. Again, relatively speaking it is. It's much smaller than the 85L, and it's quite a bit shorter than the 35L. I was surprised to find that the front element is small compared to the lens diameter. The 85 and 35 are bigger on the business end.

If you like to shoot in the dark, like smooth bokeh, and prefer to work in a normal focal length, this is the best option out there.

Mar 2, 2009
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Registered: Dec 21, 2005
Location: Belgium
Posts: 14
Review Date: Feb 11, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, Coulour, Contrast, Build Quality, Wheather Sealing, simply the most perfect 50mm lens on earth!

As you can see, the 50L 's aperture is HUGE!

The point I'd like to make clear is that this is not just a regular 50mm lens that's been built heavier - it's a very specialised lens that's actually very good at certain specialist applications - portraits being one of them.

When super-shallow DOF shooting is your thing, then the 85/1.2L and the 50/1.2L are undoubtedly "The Daddies" of the genre - tricky to learn, but hard to beat when used well.

At minimal shooting distance and at open aperture the depth-of-field will capture a single eyeball, and most of its eyelashes but beyond that the focus drops away, even the other eyeball or the tip of the nose will be out of focus - so that's a working area of focus of perhaps 1-1.5cm at most.

Frankly in those circumstances I simply turn off auto-focus and focus manually and the results are always stunning. Since a face consists of relatively smooth surfacing and very few hard lines, auto-focus has little to work with and will tend to get confused. However, it's hardly an inconvenience to have to focus manually while shooting a person at such close quarters - for me it's all simply part of the intimate process of portrait work.

That's my opinion about shooting with this extraordinary-glass.

Feb 11, 2009
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Registered: Jan 5, 2009
Location: Norway
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 7, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,350.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Fast, Build, IQ, Bokeh, AF, Color, Sharpness

First I have to say that seeing this lens receiving a score of 2 is almost surreal to me. This is in fact the lens that sits on my camera 85% of the time. In the street, for portraits, for almost everything, this lens have become my favorite.

It's sharp as a battle axe, got the build of a tank, colors renders very nice, AF is fast and accurate and the bokeh is just beutiful.

The focus issues mentioned in some of the reviews is something I've seen nothing of at all, however, at close range and wide open it is not an easylens to use. But then again, most people who gets their fingers on the wheel of a Ferrari will say the car is absolutely useless if they survive their first ride. I the hands of a skilled driver however, well.........
My lens anyway focuses very accurate - all the time and I just love the way it respond.

The price in Norway is ridiculous! Anywhere else it's high. But, if you want the best, sometimes you have to bleed. Generally, you get what you pay for.

Jan 7, 2009
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Registered: Nov 21, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 13
Review Date: Jan 7, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp lens.
Haven't experienced any issues!

I am not a professional photographer and I have only been doing photography for less than a year. I wanted a nice prime lens for portrait work. So I got the 50 1.2L despite its ridiculus price. I was about to have a heart attack when I added this lens to my shopping cart and pressed the order button, but I have no regret about getting this lens. I have not exprerienced any backfoucusing issues with this lens mounted on my 40D. It takes some practice to learn to shoot with this lens but the results are amazing. 50 1.2 is the sharpets lens that I own.


Jan 7, 2009
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Registered: Jul 19, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 81
Review Date: Jan 6, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Color and contrast are excellent. Sharpness is excellent, but not superb.
Wide open, sharpness is good, but no match against the 85L.

For years I was one of the the loudest critics of this lens and for good reason. The well known focus issues are indeed there and everyone should rightly chastize Canon for it. The omission of a floating rear element, no matter how much more it would have added to the price, is unforgivable. That being said, the lens is still usable as long as you remember the working distances/f-stops and employ the off center AF point. It's a lot to remember and I'm still "learning" this lens, but it is a good lens. I find the color and contrast to be so good, that it may just be the best of all my other L lenses. Build quality is everything you'd expect from and L lens. As is, the price is a little high. If you are willing to "learn" the lens, then it's a keeper, however knowing most don't have focus issues with their other lenses, I fully understand the lower rating of this lens.

Jan 6, 2009
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Chris Bennett
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Registered: Jul 30, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 6
Review Date: Dec 17, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Fast aperture. Good flare resistance. Good colour.
Random focusing. Mediocre performance wide open (sharpness, CA, fall-off). Price.

I won't add any details to the many posts about the complex focussing issues of this lens except to say that you shouldn't expect too much when trying to autofocus with this lens. I have calibrated it to my 1Ds MK III and 5DMK II bodies multiple times. The best hit rate I can get from either camera at wide apertures, (spot on focus) is about 60-70%. That is if I choose an optimal working distance. In my case I mostly need to use it between 1.5 and 2 meters. Use the lens at a different distance at your peril. This is very poor when compared to my MK 1 85mm f/1.2L. That lens design is about 20 years old and at nearly twice the focal length for the same maximum aperture, it's much more impressive, (a beautiful lens). You would think that Canon could have actually produced an equal or better lens in an easier to design focal length after 18 years or so.

Your other choice is the EF 50mm f/1.4. Unfortunately this lens isn't perfect either. It's focus accuracy was no better in my tests. It is not capable of being quite so sharp wide open (neither are really sharp), and it is prone to flare. Having said that, it is about 1/4 of the price, half the weight and its image quality is actually better when stopped down past about f5.6. This is a lens that every serious EOS photographer should consider. It's a bargain. I use both lenses but when I need a sharp 50mm and can get away without autofocus I put on my old Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Planar. The difference wide open is night and day. This is much sharper than the Canons, albeit warmer.

I think Canon should have done the right thing by its "L" series customers and recalled the EF 50mm f/1.2L to fix the focus issues. The same could have been said of its predecessor, the 50mm f/1.0L but that's a different story . . . .

Dec 17, 2008
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Don Merz
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Registered: Sep 6, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 23
Review Date: Dec 9, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,450.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Crisp, sharp images with excellewnt, well-defined color, bokeh at a level that is very useful for the portrait and wedding shooter
Occasional focus anomalies, but no worse that 135/F2 or 35F1.4

At some point, you have t get a grip. To log on here and see the 50/1.2 rated lower than the 50/1.4 is a surreal experience. I shoot weddings as part of a two man team. We have both of these lenses. The 1.2 blows away the 1.4 and we have practically had fights over which one of us gets to use the 1.2 lens. So lets set the record straight: The overall image quality, sharpness and color of an in-focus image taken with the 1.2 lens is much better than the same image taken with the 1.4 lens. The difference can EASILY be seen with the naked eye. Other reviewers have attacked the focusing oddities of this lens without acknowledging it's complete optical superiority over Canon's other 50mm lenses. That ain't right. Now, to the focusing issue. Yes, this lens is not always consistent in its autofocus response. A thoroughbred race horse is not easily ridden. But I have found it more than adequate for normal usage. If you're a sports shooter, this probably isn't your lens of choice. For weddings and portraits, this probably IS your lens of choice.

Dec 9, 2008
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Registered: Sep 18, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 294
Review Date: Dec 7, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: speed, build
freaking expensive

I paid a lot for this as I bought it locally, paid sales tax and list price, but every so often I do that to support my brick and mortar retailers, to whom I go in order to check out new products.
Anyway, the lens works just fine, as it should. There is a focus shift as amply described, it happens with other fast lenses, even ones from Leitz, and it really is no big deal. If you want to shoot macros, get a macro lens. This one is faster than the 1.4 or 1.8, focuses more precise than the 1.4, has USM, and produces very pleasing pics. I also have the 1.8, which is great for keeping in the car. They are similar at slower apertures, just like the 1.4 is.
Summary: The only reason NOT to get this one over the 1.4 is price Smile

Dec 7, 2008
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Registered: Feb 20, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 7108
Review Date: Oct 27, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, wonderful bokeh, good contrast, built well.
Very difficult to nail focus on non 1-series bodies. Slightly soft at near minimum focusing distance.

There has been a lot of commotion about this lens. I use it frequently for weddings and portraits and its absolutely wonderful. Sharpness, color fidelity, contrast, and bokeh are absolutely top notch. Its right up there with the best and every bit deserving of the "L" moniker.

Where this lens excels is at very large apertures. If you are stopping down between F2.8 to F4, a couple things will happen: you are getting practically no benefit over the 50/1.4, and you will probably experience a slight focus shift in the image when using the single focus point. If you are buying this lens for anything other than shooting between F1.2 and F2.0, then dont even bother. Save your money and get the F1.4 version.

I can absolutely verify that this lens' focusing has been *spot on* at any subject distance when using the outside focus points. The center AF point has a slight AF shift when stopped down. A few squeaky wheels make a mountain out of this molehill, but to each their own.

For a large aperture, high quality, professional 50mm, this lens is absolutely unrivaled. No Canon 50mm has ever been better. The shots I get out of this lens on the 5D are jaw dropping. Its "wow" factor is right up there with the 135/2 L and 300/2.8 L. Seriously.

One peculiar thing I have noticed about this lens is that optically it isnt quite as good near minimum focusing distance as it is farther away. Given a 5ft+ subject distance, this lens is very sharp at any aperture. Get closer than that and it gets a little soft wide open. Stopping down a touch (probably a good idea for depth of field) sharpens things up.

In short, this is a very difficult lens, but it is truly excellent at what it was meant to do.

Oct 27, 2008
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Registered: Sep 17, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 96
Review Date: Oct 20, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Bokeh, Colour, and Materials it made from.
Doesn’t auto focus properly at all, Has bad focus shift issues

I’ve given this lens a 5 because manually focusing it @ f/1.2 on a 5D with Ee-S screen is a fun, otherwise I’d rate it lower.

Regularly missing a money shot has now become depressing.

I’m going to replace it with a Sigma 50 f/1.4 HSM once the manual focus novelty wears off.

Don’t be under any illusion that Canon will have fully tested this lens and are aware of the issues regarding back focus & focus shift.

Shame on Canon . .

Oct 20, 2008
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Nick Nishizaka
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Registered: Nov 14, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1804
Review Date: Oct 15, 2008 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: Build. Color and Contrast. Bokeh. Weather sealed. IQ when AF is not misbehaving.
AF problems (i.e. Focus Shifting) when shooting within 4-5ft or so between the apertures of f2.0-f2.8, even up to f4 and f5.6.

The 50L can be a GREAT lens for those who typically shoot outside of 4-6ft. For those who shoot closer than that, it can be a nightmare.

While there seems to be copy variations, from my experience the issue of focus shift is due to the design, hence cannot be completely eliminated. On some copies the shift is small enough that it never goes beyond DoF limits, effectively hiding itself.

I have tried and/or viewed samples from copies from UU, UV, and UW date codes and there is absolutely no pattern to this problem. Buying a lens with a UW date code doesn't guarantee anything.

An easy way to test is to shoot something with a block of text, or perhaps a Canon lens box from 2-3 ft away between f1.2 and f4. Make sure you are at a 45 degree angle to the subject and focus on something with text on both sides. At 1.2, you'll find it a little soft, but focus in where it should be. It's not bad up to f1.8 or so. Once you get into the f2-f4 range you will see what you originally focused on is no longer in focus! This is different than a regular front/back focus issue and cannot be compensated for either via micro-adjustment or MF!

It's very real...but only reveals itself in specific situations. When you are far enough from the subject DoF basically hides this problem and the lens works great!

Also, make no mistake that a) Canon knows about this issue b) Has no fix for's a "design feature".

You can send in your lens 10 times and it will come back the same. You can send in your lens, your body, and all your other lenses...won't make a difference.

If you happen to have a copy with less shift than usual, then hang onto for dear life. You've got a great lens.

When things go right, it rivals the 85L in every way. Unfortunately for many, things don't go right too often.

Make sure you buy from a place with no-questions-asked return policy. Otherwise you are in for a potential headache!

Oct 15, 2008
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Registered: Oct 11, 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharpness, bokeh, colors
weight, lense flare

Great lense with lot of possibilities. It is the lense, most of my wedding pictures are made with this lense. It is a good allround prime lense. Not too wide so you can make portraits. Wide enough to catch the milleu of a person.
It is heavy, but the quality is it worth.
Have a look at <a href="" title="Kiel-Fotograf" target="_blank"></a> all photos where made with the lense.(except the dog)
Dont think on buying a cheaper lense if you build on quality. I tried all 50mm lense from 1.2 to 1.8. The bokeh is best...

Olaf Bathke

Oct 11, 2008
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Registered: Jun 16, 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 228
Review Date: Oct 4, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Bokeh, colour & contrast, build quality, AF

I've waited a few months to write this review giving the lens some time on my 5D. I'm really impressed. It's on my camera 90% of the time, and serves fantastic for portraits and a general walkaround.

I love the bokeh this beauty chimes out, it's stunning. The lens isn't terribly sharp wide open, but it's not particularly soft either and hardly matters since everything goes through post-processing now anyway. There has been quite a learning curve for me shooting at such wide apertures.

I shoot all over with this lens, including at the 'problematic' distances and haven't had any issues with focus shift. It's not something I've been shooting to find, so I haven't been bothered with it.

If you enjoy the perspective of 50mm, you will love this lens!

Oct 4, 2008
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Registered: Sep 18, 2008
Location: Australia
Posts: 2
Review Date: Sep 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

Pros: Red ring.
Sharpness, focus accuracy.

Not sharp enough to justify the price. I returned this lens to B&H, forfeited my international shipping and GST, but it was not as sharp at f/2 as the nifty-fifty (canon 50mm f/1.8), at one tenth of the price. What a shame - will I ever find a really nice 50mm lens?

Sep 25, 2008
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
182 354695 Jan 11, 2017
Recommended By Average Price
81% of reviewers $1,399.44
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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