Canon EF 50 1.2L
On full frame cameras, e.g., EOS
5D II or EOS 1V, the 46 degree coverage
of the 50mm lens is equivalent to the sweet
lens," refers to the
venerable 50mm prime lens.
The natural perspective of this optic makes it easy to
City View • EOS 5D & EF 1.2L USM@F1.2 • Low situations are a forte of the 50 1.2L
One of the main reasons
to own a 50mm lens is for available light photography. At
F1.2, 1.4 or 1.8 you
can use a hand holdable shutter
speed to take pictures unobtrusively in low light. The fast
aperture also makes for bright viewfinders, a useful feature
if you shoot in
dark conditions. Fast
optics tend to have smooth
(background blur). The soft whirl of an out of focus background makes your subject pop. Finally, a compelling
reason to use a 50mm lens is size. Even
primes are so small and light you'll hardly
notice it in
Canon EF 50
1.2L USM • Killer
for low light
shooters & yuppie puppies
1.2L USM, Not So Normal "Normal Lens"
January 2007, the EF 50
1.2L USM is
an impressive feat of engineering:
ultra fast aperture of F1.2,
ring-type USM, beefy construction and weather resistant seals.
It replaces the legendary EF 50 1.0L USM (available used
Fountain at Ala Moana • EOS
5D, EF 50 1.2L USM@F1.2 • Bokeh ma heart...
a normal lens, it's on
the heavy side,
590g, but still petite and light compared to pro zooms.
It feels solid
and reassuring in the hand. Build
quality is first
plastics than L series telephotos. The
black speckled finish is handsome and
attention grabbing off-white of
Canon's super telephotos.
has the same degree of sealing as the EF24-70 2.8L
USM and EF 24-105 4L IS USM: gaskets on the
lens mount, under switches, and behind the
ring. To complete weather sealing,
Canon requires the use of a filter.
Like other L optics,
Canon includes a hood (twist-on), storage
bag and manual in a dozen languages.
Chinatown Gate • EOS
5D, EF 50 1.2L USM@F8. Heck, it even works as a normal lens!
USM (Ultrasonic Motor) achieves focus by driving the
AF is reasonably fast
and sure-footed on my EOS 3, 5D II and
7D bodies. For
example, it's faster
and more reliable than my EF 50
1.4 USM but not as fast or reliable
as my EF 24-105 4L IS USM. I suspect the razor thin
depth of field (DOF) makes AF more
challenging compared to slower aperture optics. Accurate
focus with narrow DOF requires precise and
of AF sensors on subjects.
For best results you need to control AF and not
let the camera select AF points for you.
landscapes and well lit situations rarely present
AF problems. However, shooting
at close focus (e.g., 1 meter) in low light is sometimes problematic for 5D outer
AF points. Thus, it is best to use the center AF point
for these situations.
Fortunately the 5D center
point is very reliable
50D and 7D
as they have all cross-type AF sensors. Oddly the outer points of my 5D Mark II, with a similar AF array to the 5D, is a little better than the 5D in low light (tweaked algorithms?). I suspect older cameras
with single axis outer AF sensors (10D, 20D, 30D & Rebels) will
also be iffy under
similar conditions. High end AF systems
with all cross sensors work best with this lens.
The front element does
not rotate and the barrel does not expand or
However, the front element group does move slightly within the
barrel during AF. Of course, being an USM lens, it is silent during AF.
Ginger at Ali'iolani Hale 5D & EF 50 1.2L USM@F5.6 • Natural perspective corresponding to the sweet spot of the human eye.
It has FTM (Full Time
Manual Focus), allowing you to manually focus without switching
out of AF mode. The focus ring is large, smooth turning
and covered with ribbed rubber.
It's not as silky as a manual Nikkor but above average
for an AF lens. If
you prefocus manually, the distance window in meters and feet
is extremely useful. It also sports a
DOF scale although spacing is too tight for critical use. Although
not a macro lens, it focuses close enough for head shots and
has been some concern on internet forums with back-focusing problems
at 1 meter or less between F2 and 4. Some folks claim back-focusing
is inherent to the design (no floating element). I was not able to duplicate
these problems and close focus with the center AF point of my
5D was generally accurate, albeit a little less sure-footed than my EF 17-40 4L USM and 24-105 4L IS USM. Nevertheless,
I have reasonably accurate focus below a meter while stopped down or wide
open. Perhaps all my cameras are defective and causing the lens to focus correctly.
Aliiolani Hale • Honolulu • EOS
5D, EF 50 1.2L USM@F2.8. No problem focusing on the ginger blossom from a couple feet away.
operation requires a small movement of the front element group
within the barrel. The air
space between element group and barrel is a potential
point of entry for dust and water. Hence Canon requires a
filter size makes for expensive filters, and is at odds with
the 77mm size used for many L optics.
Judging from the small diameter of the
front element, Canon
could have designed this lens with a smaller filter size
(58mm?). I assume
the extra space around the front element allows
of a deeper hood and thicker filters.
manual recommends removing the hood while
a polarizing filter. If you have long fingers
it's not difficult to rotate
the filter with hood intact.
say this is the sharpest 50mm prime I have used.
That honor goes to the EF 50 2.5 CM. However the EF 50 1.2L USM
is damn fine.
It is sharp and contrasty from wide open
all the way to F16 (smallest aperture).
And, yes, it whips my old EF 50 1.4 USM and EF 50
1.8 senseless in terms of sharpness, contrast and bokeh
at any aperture larger than F5.6. F1.4 on my EF 50 1.4 USM was terrible--utterly
useless. The EF 50 1.2L USM is very good wide open but contrast and sharpness
a notch at F1.4 and 1.8.
Our Lady of Peace • Honolulu, USA • EOS
5D and EF 50 1.2L USM@F1.2
Our Lady of Peace Pixel Level Detail • Honolulu, USA • EOS
5D and EF 50 1.2L USM.
The contrast and snap of this lens
is apparent even through the viewfinder. Compared
to a zoom the optical design is simple,
with 6 groups and 8 elements,
although it sports an aspherical
is well controlled and,
unlike most zooms, I've had no flare problems with
sunsets or bright lights in the frame.
all large aperture primes there is some light
fall-off when used wide
down a little and it's gone or reduced considerably.
I rarely noticed light
fall-off even at F1.2 save white
wall tests. However, DPP 3.6 and Aperture are very good at auto correcting light
it bothers you.
you shoot with a APS-C body, e.g., Rebel, 40D or 50D,
light fall-off is a moot point as 40% of the image circle is
A lot of people will buy this lens mainly
for the creamy smooth bokeh. The use of an 8-blade
diaphragm maintains a circular shaped aperture even when stopped
course, the melting of background shapes
and hues is strongest at F1.2, but is still prominent and
pleasant stopped down to F2.8 or even F4 if your subject is
close and well separated from the background. At F1.2 the images take on a quasi painterly quality due to reduced contrast, a slight glowing quality and the ultra smooth bokeh.
Leaves II • EOS
5D, EF 50 1.2L USM@F1.2 • Razor thin depth of field & bokeh
deluxe at F1.2.
Leaves II • Pixel
level detail. The arrow points to the point of focus. DOF
is only about 1mm deep!
is so shallow at F1.2 focus must be absolutely perfect. Even
a few millimeters renders the image useless. It took me
weeks to get used to precisely picking the point of AF. I
had to disable auto AF point selection for most subjects except
at infinity focus.
Like wide angle lenses, objects nearer
in the frame, i.e., within a couple feet, appear slightly exaggerated
in size. For example, full or upper body images look natural.
But step closer for a head and shoulders portrait and
the nearest facial feature--e.g.,
nose or chin--may appear unflatteringly broad
and flat. The above mentioned is why the 50mm optic is generally
not regarded as a portrait lens on full
frame cameras. Instead it shows off your subject
best when you step back a little and show it within the context of
its surroundings. Such is both the strength and weakness of the 50mm
Honolulu Harbor View • EOS 5D & EF 1.2L USM@F2.8
the big daddy-o of normal primes.
It's exceedingly well made, sharp at all apertures, contrasty
and exhibits ultra smooth 'n creamy bokeh. I
love the normal perspective,
AF, sharpness and feel of this lens. It balances perfectly
on my EOS
3, 5D II and 7D.
the EF 50 1.2L USM during Spring 2008 and rarely remove
it from my 5D. It's the ultimate walkaround for
full frame cameras and I love the
ready for any light potential of the F1.2 aperture. I
didn't like it nearly as much on my 50D and 7D.
On a crop camera the view is too tight for walkaround. However,
I'm sure most wedding and portrait shooters will find the EF
50 1.2L USM a great portrait lens for crop cameras.
This is not a lens
for everybody. It is for the shooter whom
places extreme value on fast aperture, smooth bokeh and durability.
photographers can be served well
by the far less expensive EF 50 2.5 CM, 50 1.8 or 50 1.4 USM.
for hardcore available
bokeh lovers and the well-heeled.
for zoom lovers and those with
a feeble credit
Fern Glow • EOS
5D, EF 50 1.2L USM@F5.6
taken with the EF 50 1.2L USM (click
Lens EF50mm F1.2L USM Instruction
Canon, 2006 (CT1-7567-001).
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1/10/2009 • 10/24/2011
by Peter Kun Frary All Rights Reserved