REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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

(based on 891 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (743)

  • 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 (322), Semi-pro photographer (248), Photo enthusiast (154), Casual photographer (36), Professional (26)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (671), 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 891 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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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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(2 of 2 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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      (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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      (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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              (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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