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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

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175 326963 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: 46į (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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Martin Rudolph
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Registered: Dec 10, 2007
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: solid built, Sharp, fast AF, very nice transition from sharpness to blur, great color
Cons:
Price, some AF-problems, focus problems if shooting distant objects, heavy

Itís a great lens. Iím very glad I bought it. It works well with my 5D. Itís far better than 50mm 1.4.

But it has some AF problems. I usually shoot 5 times the same object and usually 1 only of the shots is sharp. Thatís not a flattering rate. But shooting digital makes this not a major problem for me. And on the other hand: If itís sharp - its not just sharp, its razorsharp, its marvellous, itís magic, the blur in the background very pleasing, nice colors, and you canít get a comparable shot with the 50mm 1.4 (let alone the 1.8).

If shooting distant objects (3m or more) the focus problems are even bigger - at least with my copy. Even if stopped down it can be hard to get the focus on the right spot.

It is a wonderful lens in poor lighting conditions. Af still works (with the 5 to 1 rate of succesfully. With it I never have to use flash, not even when shooting a jazz band in a dark club.

I would certainly recommend it for everyone who needs a good portrait lens or has to work in conditions where light is poor.




Dec 10, 2007
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remixity
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Registered: Feb 21, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 28
Review Date: Dec 10, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 3 

Pros: 8-blade and f/1.2 wide circular aperture makes for great bokeh, great contrast and color, reassuringly solid build quality, relatively quick autofocus speed
Cons:
consistent backfocusing and focus drift

I tend not to harshly evaluate lenses, as I know that no lens will ever be perfect. However, this lens has been a very large disappointment for me (in addition to a waste of time and money). I heard plenty of talk about focus issues with this lens and how it's not much sharper than the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens. Still, I purchased it because I expected very good contrast and wide aperture effects (thin dof, pleasant bokeh).

I did experience the above characteristics, but the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens suffers from a design flaw: focus drift and backfocusing. The lack of a floating aspherical element means there will be depth of field aberrations when stopping the lens. That is, the depth of field will appear to shift back when narrowing the aperture.

I have evaluated four copies of the lens on two camera bodies (one old calibrated body and a relatively new body), and each copy exhibits backfocusing. Even after compensating for the backfocusing, the lens sharpness at the center of the image circle within the depth of field isn't too good. I compared it against the 50mm f/1.4 USM lens at f/1.4 and f/8. While the 50mm f/1.2L is the clear winner at f/8 in terms of contrast and sharpness, at f/1.4, the 50mm f/1.4 lens actually wins out in sharpness. I couldn't believe it so I exchanged the lens once in May. Same deal. When I decided to give the lens another chance in October, I was disappointed yet again.

People with a need for speed will buy the 50mm f/1.2L USM because of its strengths and in part due to a need for speed. But with severe issues in terms of the focusing and focus drift, I don't think any price, no matter how reasonable, can justify this lens' flaws. If you're looking for a great f/1.2 lens, the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM will do everything you ask of it. But as for the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, buyer beware.


Dec 10, 2007
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davidrwilliams
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Registered: Nov 15, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 443
Review Date: Nov 29, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros:
Cons:

Sorry for the repeated posts below. Please disregard second and third posts that follow.

Nov 29, 2007
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jackgtr34
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Registered: Nov 14, 2005
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 17
Review Date: Nov 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Superb contrast, excellent bokeh
Cons:
Price on the high side

Despite all negative comments on the backfocus issue, i went ahead and bought it. Sadly, my first copy backfocus was quite bad, but luckily an exchange with a newer production date code (UV06##) was good.

Highly recommended.





Nov 28, 2007
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davidrwilliams
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Registered: Nov 15, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 443
Review Date: Nov 27, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,259.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Superb optics and build.
Cons:
Less than satisfactory auto-focus.

This lens is like Jekyll and Hyde...

When it focuses on the subject, it's sharp, provides excellent contrast and beautiful bokeh. It's really well built and feels great on a 5D.

When it misses the focus on the subject ... which seems to be most of the time ... it's not sharp, and is intensely frustrating to use.

All 4 copies I've used demonstrate consistently inaccurate auto-focus with varying amounts of backfocus at all apertures - plus focus shift at f/2 - f/4 for close-in subject distances. My calibrated 5D which focuses just fine with 85/1.2L II, 100/2.8 USM Macro, 70-200/2.8L IS, etc...

I've tried everything I can think of to overcome this AF problem as the otherwise excellent optical and build qualities of this lens are hard to lose due to an AF problem. However, after hundreds of test images trying every possible combination of different focus points, servo vs one-shot, intentional front-focusing, etc., I've given up as I can't obtain consistently accurate AF.

Although manual focus can somewhat help to overcome the back-focus issue, manual focus still isn't accurate enough to shoot anywhere close to wide-open (even with an EE-S focus screen) and needing to focus manually means the lens can't keep up with my shooting requirements for this aperture and focal length.

Hopefully, others will find copies of this lens that don't have the general backfocus issue. After trying 4 copies that all perform identically, I'm giving up as I'm not prepared to pay this price for a lens that will not focus accurately.

With accurate AF this lens would be excellent, but with it's current AF performance, this lens is an intensely frustrating no-go for me.


Nov 27, 2007
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davidrwilliams
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Registered: Nov 15, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 443
Review Date: Nov 26, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Superb optics and build.
Cons:
Major AF problems.

This lens is like Jekyll and Hyde...

When it focuses on the subject, it's sharp, provides excellent contrast and beautiful bokeh. It's really well built and feels great on a 5D.

When it misses the focus on the subject ... which seems to be most of the time ... it's not sharp, and is intensely frustrating to use.

All 4 copies I've used demonstrate consistently inaccurate auto-focus with varying amounts of backfocus at all apertures - plus focus shift at f/2 - f/4 for close-in subject distances. My calibrated 5D focuses just fine with 85/1.2L II, 100/2.8 USM Macro, 70-200/2.8L IS, etc...

I've tried everything I can think of to overcome this AF problem as the otherwise excellent optical and build qualities of this lens are hard to lose due to an AF problem. However, after hundreds of test images trying every possible combination of different focus points, servo vs one-shot, intentional front-focusing, etc., I've given up as I can't obtain consistently accurate AF.

Although manual focus can somewhat help to overcome the back-focus issue, manual focus still isn't accurate enough to shoot anywhere close to wide-open (even with an EE-S focus screen) and the slow-down in MF vs AF means the lens can't keep up with my shooting requirements for this aperture and focal length.

Hopefully, others will find copies of this lens that don't have the general backfocus issue. After trying 4 copies that all perform identically, I'm giving up as I'm not prepared to pay this price for a lens that will not focus accurately.

With accurate AF this lens would be excellent, but with it's current AF performance, this lens is an intensely frustrating no-go for me. One word advice: beware.


Nov 26, 2007
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davidrwilliams
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Registered: Nov 15, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 443
Review Date: Nov 26, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Beautiful bokeh, very good contrast and sharpness wide open, excellent build.
Cons:
Major autofocus issues - consistent backfocus and focus-shift make this lens unusable for my general purpose use.

This lens is like Jekyll and Hyde...

When it focuses on the subject, it's sharp, provides excellent contrast and beautiful bokeh. It's really well built and feels great on a 5D.

When it misses the focus on the subject ... which seems to be most of the time ... it's not sharp, and is intensely frustrating to use.

All 4 copies I've used demonstrate consistently inaccurate auto-focus with varying amounts of backfocus at all apertures - plus focus shift at f/2 - f/4 for close-in subject distances. They were shot with my calibrated 5D which focuses just fine with 85/1.2L II, 100/2.8 USM Macro, 70-200/2.8L IS, etc...

I've tried everything I can think of to overcome this AF problem as the otherwise excellent optical and build qualities of this lens are hard to lose due to an AF problem. However, after hundreds of test images trying every possible combination of different focus points, servo vs one-shot, intentional front-focusing, etc., I've given up as I can't obtain consistently accurate AF.

Although manual focus can somewhat help to overcome the back-focus issue, manual focus still isn't accurate enough to shoot anywhere close to wide-open (even with an EE-S focus screen) and the slow-down in MF vs AF means the lens can't keep up with my shooting requirements for this aperture and focal length.

Hopefully, others will find copies of this lens that don't have the general backfocus issue. After trying 4 copies that all perform identically, I'm giving up as I'm not prepared to pay this price for a lens that will not focus accurately.

With accurate AF this lens would be excellent, but with it's current AF performance, this lens is an intensely frustrating no-go for me. One word advice: beware.


Nov 26, 2007
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2bruce
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Registered: May 18, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 280
Review Date: Nov 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,259.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: superb lens
Cons:
none

love the lens love the bokeh, love the colors, love the low light possibilities did is say love to much ! rent one and fall in love if you don't send it back also Canon has $100 off this lens now

Nov 15, 2007
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nickstills
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Registered: Nov 3, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 3, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Excellent build
Cons:
mis-focusing and too large, see below

I returned the lens because of repeatable mis-focusing/softness at about four feet, using an aperture of f2, that made purchase of the lens pointless. I have rated the lens at 7 but in truth I would not rate it at all-except as a paper weight(is that too mean?) Perhaps I was doing something wrong-but I don't think I was - I am a very experienced photographer. I may test a different 50mm 1.2 in the future. But should one have to do quality control on such expensive optics?
I find the 50mm 1.4 and the 85mm 1.8 superb lenses but I wish they had the build quality of the 1.2 lenses because they do let in dust between the elements-especially the 85mm 1.8. I know a bit of dust makes no difference but it is hardly a professional lens and colleagues are always remarking about my two dusty lenses, which is annoying!
I wish Canon would just make an L type 50mm 1.4 and also an L type 85mm 1.8/ or.4 lens. They would be much more practical than the 1.2's to many more people and would, I imagine, be the sharpest lenses on the planet.


Nov 3, 2007
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jlafontaine
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Registered: Dec 22, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 27, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Focus is spot on most of the time. Very sharp.
Cons:
Price!

I ordered it from BH Photo after I dropped my 50 1.4 on the floor. On my 5d the focus is dead on most of the time, but it does mis-focus from time to time, as did my 50 1.4 and my 85 1.8. Did the AF test with a ruler I printed from the web at 1.2, 1.4, 1.6, 2.8 and 5,6 and AF was accurate. My belief is that there was a design flaw with the first batch, and fixed for subsequent batches.

Would I recomend this lens? Well, I would recomend my copy of this lens.


Oct 27, 2007
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Matt Kerby
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Registered: Jun 9, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 511
Review Date: Oct 26, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,184.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Most everything
Cons:
Wish it was as sharp as my 35L wide open

This lens surprised me. i thought it would have the "focus shift" issues, it doesn't, I thought it might BF (both copies I rented did) It doesn't...This is a perfect 50mm lens for me. With fairly close focus and really shallow DOF (my kind of lens) On my 5d it makes a perfect walkaround lens. it isn't as sharp as my 35L wide open but by 1.4 it beats my 35L. Don't get me wrong, it is sharp and very usable at 1.2 just not as sharp. This lens is the low light king, it will literally focus in the dark. AF speed is somewhere between the 35L and the 85LmkII.
Love mine, will NEVER sell it for sure.


Oct 26, 2007
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Huib Nederhof
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Registered: Oct 17, 2007
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 2
Review Date: Oct 17, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: Build quality, F1.2
Cons:
Price!!!


Immediately after using the first time this lens (which I bought in Holland at KameraExpress) I saw that this isnít what I expected. I have 35L, 85LII and the 135L in combination with the 1DsII.
The lens still even have a lot of CA at f8. I went with the lens to service of Canon. After repairing it was a lot better but still much more CA then all other (zoom) lenses I have, including the cheap Sigma 50mm macro. You can see the CA at F1.2 but also at F8
I thing I have a very sample but after 2 weeks I am still waiting for a solution from the shop.


Oct 17, 2007
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jirok12944
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Registered: Nov 22, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 12, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: wide open performance, build, f1.2
Cons:
a bit pricey

85mm f1.2L was not an option for me, I've purchased 85mm f1.8 twice and sold both times, simple too narrow for me. I'm already happy owner of 35L (using on 5D and 1D) and was looking for something special on 5D for low light candid. And I found it Smile

99% of time I use 50L wide open. I do not see significant difference in focusing, 50L is a bit slower than other modern L lenses, but the keeper rate is high. I always use ST-E2 as AF assistant for low light and learned that keeper rate with it is very high and stable. Misses are only due to "operator-error" Smile

50L wide open is very similar to 35L and absolutely stunning!!!

1. I do not see any AF issues at any distance. Tested at minimal distance, at 1.5ft, at 2ft, at 3ft. All the same spot-on.
2. I do not see AF drifting/hunting more that any other lens in my arsenal (35L and 16-35L mkII). No hunting at all with ST-E2.
3. Wide open real-life photos show similar level of sharpness and contrast as 35L.
4. I've used 50mm f1.4 in past and remember high level of AF inconsistency wide open and low keeper rate as result (probably due to the AF design). 50mm f1.4 is difficult to use wider than f2 due to AF misses, contrast and sharpness.

IMHO half of the reviews here have done by people who simply don't know what is lens calibration... Smile


Oct 12, 2007
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Adam Woodyatt
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Registered: Apr 19, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 620
Review Date: Oct 9, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: DOF, sharpness.
Cons:
None yet

Upgraded from the 50 1.4 which I had been very happy with but you really do get what you pay for, the sharpness, DOF, bokeh is far better. I had read all the reviews and comments about back focus and was wary about this purchase but as it was a refurbished lens I figured any mechanical problems would have been corrected, but I honestly don't know if they have been as there were some focusing issues. Some shots using the outer AF focus points on a 5D may have been slightly out but the ones with the centre AF were pin sharp and much faster than I expected. I am very happy with this lens already and glad I upgraded.

Oct 9, 2007
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shaunknee
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Registered: Jan 2, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 10
Review Date: Oct 7, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

Pros: The best low light focusing lens I've ever used. Fantastic flare control. Beautiful build, size & weight.
Cons:
Well documented ďfocus driftĒ, horrible reviews making the 50L the Edsel of Lís

Well I have to admit that this lens was probably a bad decision for a few reasons. First let me say that in the field this lens performs very well. It easily focuses in near darkness, much better then my 35L. The auto focus on this lens is definitely a newer generation then any of my other Lís as it behaves much differently. Secondly the coatings on this lens control flare and coma again better then any lens Iíve ever used, significantly better then the 35L. The pictures seem much clearer with out the haze that the 50 1.4 is notorious for at wide apertures.

The focus drift is significant at 2.8. On my copy, with 5D, it extends from the closest focus distance to at least 6 feet. Shooting people, especially faces, never seemed to be affected. It showed up when shooting cars and other inanimate objects where a clearer references were in and out of focus.

In my opinion the biggest drawback to this lens are the endless bad reviews & tests. This is one lens that people are afraid of and this has a dramatic affect on the value of the lens. It is a terrible investment, probably the worst L lens you can invest in. Because of this I decided to return the lens to the dealer within the return time frame and was told that here in Canada, Canonís considers this lens a ďspecial orderĒ item and they will not return or exchange Ė period. I sent 2 polite emails to Canon and only the first was returned. I found this level of customer service very discouraging considering that in the past few years I have purchased a 350D, 30D, 5D, 70-200 2.8 IS, 35L, 24-105 etc etc.

Definitely rent this lens first to determine if the ďfocus shiftĒ affects your style. 85L quality pictures are easily found posted from other owners of the 50L so you could pick up a used copy pretty cheap and be very happy.


Oct 7, 2007
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menatwork
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Registered: Apr 26, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 7
Review Date: Sep 20, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,359.00 | Rating: 4 

Pros: Nice quality build. Feel very solid on your hand. Focus speed is fast. F1.2 is awesome.
Cons:
Back focus is a real issue on my 5D... Even when I use manual focus or stop down.

This is my first time posting here. I was very happy when I first opened the box and feel the lens on my hand. It is solid and feel heavy. I can't wait to try it out.

Once I the first few shots on my computer monitor, the disappointment immediately set in. All pictures were consistently out of focus. It doesn't matter at what apertures or how far I am from the subject or whether I'm AF or MF. It came out blurry. Instead it seems to focus on a few cm behind the subject.

Not sure if this is a problem only on my 5D or on other camera as well. I actually knew about this problem from research on this forum and other well know forum. This problem is well documented by many reviewers however I also read about some positive reports from some other users and I wanted to see for myself (I love this standard focal length). Oh boy how I was disappointed.

The lens has since returned to B&H Photo (it's a good thing they have very good return policy... no question ask within 14 days).

I would not recommend this lens until Canon fix the problem.

Just to put things into perspective, I am current have the 35L, 135L, 24-105L and the 100-400L.


Sep 20, 2007
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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
175 326963 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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