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CanonEF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens
 
4.8

(based on 888 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (740)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (124)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (11)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (7)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (6)

97%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Strong construction (615)
  • Nice bokeh (588)
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (557)
  • Durable (515)
  • Consistent output (449)

Cons

  • Heavy (192)
  • Slow focus (69)
  • Blurry focus (28)
  • Pricey but worth it (17)
  • Pricey / poor value (12)

Best Uses

  • Low light (638)
  • Weddings (547)
  • Night photography (394)
  • Video (211)
  • Landscape/scenery (203)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Pro photographer (321), Semi-pro photographer (248), Photo enthusiast (154), Casual photographer (36), Professional (26)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (670), Yes (19)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Stunning Lens With Some Caveats

This is a fantastic lens that delivers truly stunning detail in urban night scenes at f/2.8 and smaller aperture settings. Otherwise, at wider apertures, I would use it mostly for portraits because...Read complete review

This is a fantastic lens that delivers truly stunning detail in urban night scenes at f/2.8 and smaller aperture settings. Otherwise, at wider apertures, I would use it mostly for portraits because it seems to have focus issues.

In 2011, I bought this lens from B&H and took it on a three month tour of north and eastern France, mostly Paris. One night I was shooting the Eiffel Tower from the popular Trocadero plaza. I made the huge mistake of trusting the focus on manual and automatic at the widest aperture settings without carefully checking that focus under strong magnification. That was a bit tragic given that the moon was full and moving behind the tower for hours, clouds cracking with awesome lines and hues of blue and grey. It was April in Paris. I did my shooting on a tripod using a shutter cable on my Canon 5D Mark II DSLR. As always, I was shooting in raw at full rez. I shot hundreds of these Eiffel images that night. All the ones using this lens at widest apertures came out horribly soft focused, meaning they would not make marketable enlargements but would otherwise look good for web pages or small prints. Unfortunately I also made an embarrassing blunder. I realized that I had failed to remove a lens filter, something that can probably contribute to bad focus in night scenes. So that might explain why even the f/2.5 shots were blurry. But further experience would show that the filter mistake was not the primary culprit.

Testing: After the journey, I did some night test shots using the 50mm f/1.2 lens, on a diagonal view of a half block of buildings lit mostly by side-street city lamps. I used both manual and automatic focus, mirror lockup, better tripod and no lens filter on the lens. I found that the lens just does not seem to focus reasonably in average urban night shots at f/1.2 no matter what I do. All of my f/1.2 test shots were unacceptably blurry. At that full wide aperture it's good for portrait bokeh but not urban night scenes except maybe close-ups. At f/2 the focus problem was not as bad but it was still unacceptable. The depth of field was very narrow as expected. But even the sweet spot was out of focus. At f/2.8 however, the focus was very crisp through the entire depth of field. And those images registered with stunning quality even upon extreme magnification. Too bad I was not aware of all this on that April, 2011 night back in Paris.

The issue of soft focus at wide aperture might be solvable by doing a technical camera focus calibration specifically for this lens (see your camera user manual). But I tend to doubt it given that my experience with the focus issue does not seem uncommon. And those calibrations are usually unnecessary.

Based on my personal testing, I think the lens is still a truly fantastic prime if you don't mind using the widest aperture settings mostly for portrait work and not for urban night scenes. But again, the f2.8 night shots are beyond astonishing. At this writing, I'm planning my second three month Paris photo journey very soon. I plan to haul this heavy lens among five others even though I can get 50mm on my 24-70, f/2.8 zoom. I believe the 50mm prime delivers on great glass performance although there is an expected weight penalty to carry. If not for the awful tower focus problem at wide apertures and less than perfect night focus even on my f/2 test later, I'd be giving it my top rating. Nevertheless, I still love it and treasure it especially for urban night scenes and portraits.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

A Necessary evil

I shoot a wide variety of subject matter for my work and, because I exclusively use full frame Canon bodies and always try to use prime lenses, a 50mm is almost mandatory.Read complete review

I shoot a wide variety of subject matter for my work and, because I exclusively use full frame Canon bodies and always try to use prime lenses, a 50mm is almost mandatory.

I have owned the EF 50mm f1.4 for years and it is a really good lens. Unfortunately, it is not a truely great one as it flares, focuses erratically and suffers from chromatic aberration, amongst other things.

I assumed the 50mm f1.2L would have to be much better because it is much heavier, many times the price and only a third of a stop faster. I was wrong. For examle, compared to my Mk. I 85mm f1.2, (which it is in the same "family" as) it is very poor. The later 50mm f1.2 should have built on this 20 year old design but it went backwards.

In some ways it is better than the EF 50mm f1.4. It has less flare and it is sharper to about f4 but it still has chromatic aberration, it is only acceptably sharp in the centre and it really suffers with back focussing and erratic focussing problems. I have paid Canon several times to try and get this lens to focus reliably, ( and had it done under warranty too). I have now given up and and accepted the best compromise after many hours of micro-adjustment with my camera bodies. I just shoot a lot of frames wherever possible. If I can get away with it I manually focus with live view or, even better, use my old Zeiss f1.4 plannar. In all I have 9 L series lenses and this has been the only truly troublesome one. My colleges are having similar problems with them. I would be o.k. about it if this didn't cost almost as much as the last car I could afford.

Australian photographers are rarely rich but, like other professionals, we get in trouble if we don't produce sharp photos. If you need the best compromise to do your job and they pay you well enough, this might be it but, otherwise, get the 50mm f1.4. It is a fraction of the price and, in in many ways it is the better lens. Now, why did I sell mine? . . . Better get another one.

Reviewed by 888 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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5.0

A beautiful piece of glass

By catchlightcanada

from Ontario

About Me Pro Photographer

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Consistent Output
  • Durable
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
  • Nice Bokeh
  • Strong Construction

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Indoors/Low Light
    • Landscape/Scenery
    • Weddings/Events

    Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

    This lens is not cheap, and it took a lot of time, consideration and research before purchasing it, but it definitely is living up to high expectations. I do have the canon f1.4, which is already a sweet lens, but this one is definitely a big step up. It is a solid, substantial lens, very responsive, and beautifully precise. I kind of wish I'd just bought this and my f2.8 70-200 mm canon lens in the first place. My camera and those two lenses are close to the perfect kit.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    A MUST have!

    By Michael V

    from Chicago

    Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

    I think the 50mm f/1.2 should the first prime any serious Canon photographer buys. I know there are heated debates online whether this lens is worth the premium compared to the other Canon 50's. In my experience, this lens renders different regardless of what f-stop you use. I have shot with the f/1.2 and with the f/1.4, and the quality is different. The colors are slightly warmer and definitely richer. If you need a 1.2, then there's no question you need this lens. However, if you need a quality 50mm with amazing image quality, then you still need this lens.

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    5.0

    Love my new lense

    By Kevin Tran

    from New Jersey

    Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

    Just got the lense and fall in love with it. Perfect for low light shooting.

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    (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Long awaited

    By Powboyz

    from Denver

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Pros

    • Durable
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Nice Bokeh
    • Rugged
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • Heavy

    Best Uses

    • Indoors/Low Light
    • Night Photography
    • Weddings/Events

    Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

    Well went back and forth for 2 years on this lens. Bought the 1.4 sold it...bought the Sigma sold it....finally sold off 2 L zooms to buy this. Worth it! Yes you better practice with it and figuring out what comes in focus and what does not is a little frustrating. But when you get that one picture that just has the 1.2 magic it was all worth it.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Use 90% Of The Time

    By MaddieP

    from Southcentral Kentucky

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Durable
    • Easily Interchangeable
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Nice Bokeh
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • Blurry Focus
    • Heavy

    Best Uses

    • Indoors/Low Light
    • Video
    • Weddings/Events

    Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

    I got my first job at 17 in order to save up and buy this specific lens. I saved every cent I made for 6 months to buy this lens, and it was the best thing I ever did. Now 21, this lens has been my go to since the day I unpackaged it from the box. It is a bit heavier than any of my other lenses, but the weight just adds to the stability. When adding this lens and the battery pack to my camera (I shoot with a 5D Mark III) I just use it an added excuse not to go to the gym because holding all of this up, shooting events for hours at a time tones up your arms pretty well. The 1.2 aperture is heaven on earth for dropping out the backgrounds completely although it can be tricky at times finding that exact sweet spot, as you must be very, very precise and exact, which holds its own beauty. This lens is very fast, and shooting in low light without having to sacrifice too much ISO is just another added benefit. To anyone that wants to really bump up their photography, this lens is an incredible and essential investment.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    Always a favorite!

    By Morgan

    from Atlanta, GA

    About Me Pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Consistent Output
    • Durable
    • Easily Interchangeable
    • Fast / accurate auto-focus
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • Heavy

    Best Uses

    • Indoors/Low Light
    • Weddings/Events
    • Wildlife Photos

    Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

    I keep this lens on my camera 75% of the time! It always is consistent for me, and translates what my eye sees so well.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    As good as you can get, until they come up with MkII

    By LBSteve

    from Chicago

    About Me Photo Enthusiast

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Consistent Output
    • Durable
    • Nice Bokeh
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

    • Heavy

    Best Uses

    • Indoors/Low Light
    • Night Photography
    • Video

    Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

    Lens is well built, extremely good resolution. All things other reviewers have phrased.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    4.0

    Great!

    By caromcco

    from Portland, OR

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

        Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

        Amazing lens...it's hard to beat this standard of glass. It is my go to lens for video!

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        (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Awesome!!!

        By Jin

        from Chicago

        Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

        This is awesome lens. Needless to say best lens ever.

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        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        5.0

        Best prime ever

        By seal

        from Los Altos CA

        About Me Pro Photographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Consistent Output
        • Easily Interchangeable
        • Fast / accurate auto-focus
        • Lightweight
        • Nice Bokeh

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Indoors/Low Light
          • Landscape/Scenery
          • Night Photography
          • Video
          • Weddings/Events

          Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

          It's definitely the best prime lens Canon have released.
          Fast, pin sharp, million-dollar-bokeh, easy to handle and beautiful.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          5.0

          Excellent

          By RD

          from Pennsylvania

          About Me Pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Durable
          • Fast / accurate auto-focus
          • Nice Bokeh

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Indoors/Low Light
            • Weddings/Events

            Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

            Just recently got this lens and it is well worth the money! Excellent bokeh and easily my got to lens for any kind of portrait or wedding work. Results are awesome.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            The Perfect Lens

            By JMC

            from Waco, Texas

            About Me Pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Consistent Output
            • Durable
            • Easily Interchangeable
            • Fast / accurate auto-focus
            • Nice Bokeh
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Indoors/Low Light
              • Portraits
              • Weddings/Events

              Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

              I use the 50mm for portraits, weddings, and in low light situations. It performs phenomenally and is my favorite lens out of an array of Canon lenses. I would buy this lens over and over... Purchasing new is also worth the extra hundred bucks vs getting it used. It made my whole set up feel brand new. No complaints at all, I love it!

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Great everyday lens for my 5D Mark iii

              By RGMaguire

              from Spokane, WA

              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Nice Bokeh
              • Rugged

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

                  "Everyday" meaning my camera is always with me when I go to work, so this lens can find use inside, outside, for headshot, landscapers, etc. This is a curious partner with my 24-105mm f4, which is, I think, the perfect everyday lens if composition is the main driver. If I resolve to make light my main driver, then I find my new 50mm F1.2 is the perfect everyday lens. Make sense?
                  The build quality is beefy, as with my other L lens, and I was a little surprised at how small it was compared to the image I had created in my mind given all the feedback I have read (the 'grapefruit'). I am thinking when paired with a rather large 5d it seems smaller than if it gets paired with a smaller body.
                  I am really intrigued by the shallow depth of field I can now use. I have a 70-200m f2.8, which is plenty shallow, but this 1.2 is so over-the-top shallow to me that I am getting into some other strange kind of photography. It's not macro or some familiar form, it's just 'shallow' if that makes sense. It has certainly expanded possibilities for me in composition that I had not really grasped before. I note that of the lenses I have, this one needed the most micro adjustments. I use FoCal to tune thins up, and the sweet spot for this guy ended up at -14. If you are looking to add a prime and some creative spark to your bag, this could be a lens to consider.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  5.0

                  When you need it, you need it !

                  By Drew_p_1

                  from Philadelphia

                  About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Consistent Output
                  • Durable
                  • Easily Interchangeable
                  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                  • Rugged
                  • Strong Construction

                  Cons

                  • Heavy

                  Best Uses

                  • Indoors/Low Light
                  • Night Photography
                  • Weddings/Events

                  Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

                  I needed a low light lens. And I did not want cheap, and something that had limits, or surprises. 50mm works for me. 85mm maybe better for portrait work.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  5.0

                  Best

                  By Hilly

                  from New York City, NY

                  About Me Photography Student

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                  • Lightweight
                  • Nice Bokeh

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

                      Only lens you need.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Beautiful photos

                      By Ernie

                      from Houston, TX

                      About Me Photo Enthusiast

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Consistent Output
                      • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                      • Nice Bokeh
                      • Rugged
                      • Strong Construction

                      Cons

                      • Cost
                      • Heavy

                      Best Uses

                      • Children
                      • Indoors/Low Light
                      • Weddings/Events

                      Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

                      Purchased the f/1.2 to take pictures of our granddaughter and it was well worth the money. She is in constant motion so I need a fast lens to capture her expressions and this less on my 5D MK III performed perfect. What a great Christmas present to myself.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (2 of 8 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      EF 50mm F/1.2

                      By F 1.2

                      from Alpine Forest Arizona

                      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                      Pros

                      • Durable
                      • Easily Interchangeable
                      • Rugged
                      • Strong Construction

                      Cons

                      • Heavy

                      Best Uses

                      • Indoors/Low Light
                      • Night Photography
                      • Video
                      • Weddings/Events

                      Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

                      I've been shooting this lens for about 4 months. Candid and Natural light, and LOW light. It's low light and shallow depth of field are just are in your hands. I was shooting a rabbi with very low ambient light and some candle light. It costs too much but thats how inspirationally passionate and magical gear is.

                      I shot dozens of faces well lit, only in candle light of the menorah .... magic, beauty, reality, simplicity, presence,

                      You can shoot when no one else can. And cause your viewer to gloss over what you are not saying in the image and jaw drop on your subject. This lens will never leave my armentarium.... I came looking for more outrageous envelope pushers that have it's integrity.

                      but I am an old school, old man looking for more like this one.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      5.0

                      Beautiful bokah

                      By Rosebud

                      from Ashland, oregon

                      Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

                      This lens is my absolute favorite. It used to be the canon 79-200 2.8 l usm til I had shoulder surgery. It's simply to heavy for me. Now I can have that beautiful small depth of field and not have to be so far from my subject. Fabulous glass.

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                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Worth the fight

                      By Blard

                      from Mexico City

                      About Me Photo Enthusiast

                      Pros

                      • Lovely Colour
                      • Nice Bokeh
                      • Strong Construction

                      Cons

                      • Heavy
                      • Slow Focus

                      Best Uses

                      • Indoors/Low Light
                      • Macro Photography
                      • Night Photography
                      • Weddings/Events

                      Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

                      I've owned this lens for a year now, time for a review. Like others have mentioned this lens requires some work. When everything comes together though the results are stunning.
                      I shoot in auto without a hassle in good light, switching to manual in low light. If I am using the LCD screen (7D) the autofocus hunts for quite some time. Understandable with such a low DOF. I shoot at 1.2 much of the time... that's why I bought a 1.2!
                      The thing that impressed me the most was the quality of the light. For me this lens has a magical warmth to it that I just love.
                      Because of that I suffer the weight, the frustrating times of misfocusing or asking my subjects to hang on a bit longer, and having to use the two legged zoom.
                      I recommend this lens for patient people who like a bit of magic now and then.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      Worth every Penny but not for amateurs

                      By Kobi

                      from Kansas City

                      Comments about Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens:

                      This lens is a must have if you are shooting professional portraits / weddings/ engagements / events - I actually have rented it twice now - and used it to shoot my own wedding - Crazy yea I'd never suggest tht to anyone- but it was a small private affair - I put it on my 5D Markll and never took it off all weekend. My images are incredible.
                      For me this lens is a must have and I will use it again and again and again.

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