REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
CanonEF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens
 
4.8

(based on 897 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (748)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (125)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (11)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (7)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (6)

97%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Strong construction (616)
  • Nice bokeh (589)
  • Fast / accurate auto-focus (558)
  • Durable (516)
  • Consistent output (450)

Cons

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

Best Uses

  • Low light (639)
  • Weddings (548)
  • Night photography (394)
  • Video (211)
  • Landscape/scenery (203)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Pro photographer (323), Semi-pro photographer (248), Photo enthusiast (154), Casual photographer (36), Professional (26)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (672), Yes (19)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Idiosyncratic, frustrating, brilliant!

This really is an interesting lens. I've gone from hating it to loving it over a few short days. It's hugely idiosyncratic, and in that sense, much of the criticism that it has...Read complete review

This really is an interesting lens. I've gone from hating it to loving it over a few short days. It's hugely idiosyncratic, and in that sense, much of the criticism that it has received on web forums, blogs and reviews is largely correct. However, when you get to know the lens, it really is very capable and offers a unique perspective on the world.

It's heavy and does not have IS, and therefore, you will get some blur if you don't use flash below around 1/30 sec. Also, there is definitely a flaw in the focus algorithms, but only when shooting faces and focusing on eyes. Under controlled conditions, shooting a mm scaled ruler, it hits focus accurately 100% of the time. Shooting portraits, I hit around 65 to 70% success. This is quite acceptable given the incredibly narrow depth of field at f1.2. It definitely does back focus on some occasions, but not often enough to be a problem, and given the narrow slither of focus available wide open, it probably wouldn't show up any missfocus at anything much above f2.8 where the zone of focus is a bit wider.

How sharp is it - razor sharp from f1.2 up. Sharpness improves up to f1.6, and then reaches a peak at around f2.2. However, I shoot at f1.2 whenever I can as results are simply brilliant. So, this is a bit of a love me hate me lens. It is definitely not worth the money, and unless you are wealthy or a true bona fide professional earning your money through social photography (not so many of them left now), I'd think twice before parting with your money. However, if you are in this category, or a keen amateur portrait photographer, you won't regret buying this lens - just be prepared to accept it does have some foibles. It is limited to 50 or 80mm equivalence on FF or APS-C cameras, and you might miss your zoom, but when you nail a shot with this lens, nothing can compare to it. The 80mm f1.2 is too large and heavy and the electric focusing all conspire to put the 50mm ahead (cheaper too). I like this lens on a crop frame camera best as the 80mm perspective is particularly flattering. I remember when in film days of the 1980s we were all told to throw our 'useless' 50mm lenses away and buy zooms - how things change!

I was tainted by all the bad press about this lens, but I'm glad I got it. The reviews I read made me paranoid, and I was pixel peeping every image for sharpness - I guess you all will too after spending this much money. I read one review that said the lens caused strange yellow banding patterning on most frames some of the time. Imagine my thoughts when this happened to me on the second day I had it - I was ready to throw the lens in the bin (well return it). But ha - I learnt that at fast shutter speeds (due to large aperture), older style fluorescent lighting causes this patterning. Motto - don't believe half the rubbish you read on blogs! My advice is to buy this lens, it'll give you great pleasure and inject a new perspective to your photography. My view is that this is a sharp, brilliant lens, but a truly idiosyncratic one - a bit like many creative geniuses. But don't buy on a whim or a must have premise, buy if you are in need of the narrow depth of field and unique images that this trait confers Enjoy, and I hope this review dispels some of the misinformation and confusion that exists out there, and particularly with prospective buyers.

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 897 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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4.0

Great lens for a full frame camera

By NM

from New York, NY

Verified Buyer

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

This lens perfectly compliments my arsenal of portrait lenses (Sigma 35 mm Art and 85 mm f/1.4). The narrowest depth of field is usually unusable in portraits, but has its place for other subjects. I pair this lens with my 5D mk3.

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5.0

Love this lens!

By Sarah Pogo

from Chicago

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

This has quickly become my favorite lens. It is truely amazing. The focus is superb, the quality of images makes this lens worth the money. One downfall is that it's heavy. But the quality of the images you'll get make it worth it. I didn't think there would be such a huge difference between the 1.4 and the 1.2 but there is, you will notice it right away. I would highly recommend this lens.

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5.0

Wow!

By happyme3

from San Diego, California

Verified Buyer

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

I've never been impressed with the 50mm lenses that were part of the camera bundle, so I put off buying this for a long time. What a great all around lenses with great artistic abilities because of speed of this lense! Glad I invested in this one!! :)

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5.0

Super Crisp

By Gary

from Brooklyn, New York

Verified Buyer

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

I wanted to get a lens that was sharp that also forced me to look at images in a different way without having to rely on zoom. this was the perfect lens. It does a nice job overall. I was use to always having a zoom lens but this lens makes you have to think more and figure out how to best get your shot. This is a plus for me in that it keeps photography exciting. I would definitely recommend this lens as a part of a photographer's arsenal.

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5.0

BEST LENS

By Holly K

from Redding, CA

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
    • Weddings/Events

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

    This is my favorite lens ever! I love the photojournalist style it gives. The bokeh is creamy and beautiful. If i could have one lens only, this would be it!

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    Beautiful portrait lens

    By Sonya

    from Idaho

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

    The large aperture opening makes for a very beautiful background it nature and portrait photography! Highly recommend.

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    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    My new favorite lens

    By TNT

    from Chicago

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

    Great lens. Great bokeh - really makes the subject pop. Needed microadjustments.

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    (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    My Addiction

    By Harry

    from USA

    About Me Pro Photographer

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Easily Interchangeable

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Wildlife Photos

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

      Brought it from B&H over a year ago. Previously I had the 1.4 which I trade with B&H I cant believed 98% is on my Mark II Most of my shoots are in fashion usually my lights partners are my 2 600ex-rt's for me most cases single unit is enough. The 1.2 has opens up a totally new world in creativity . I love everything about it , color retentions, skin textures sharpness and the amazing Speedo of AF has been a true addiction. My suggestion this lenses not for everyone This lenses on 1.2 is precise = 0 tolerance learning curve here is a must which can result beyond dream. Personally have no shoot issues with 1.2 max 2.0 If this lenses fit your style go with or rent one Don't let fake reviews effect you.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      5.0

      Excellent !!!!

      By Michael

      from Puerto Rico

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

      The piece of glass every photographer must have!!!! Excellent!!!

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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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        (4 of 4 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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        (3 of 3 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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        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

         
        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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