50mm f1.4 USM lens VERSUS 50mm f1.2L USM

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by tony_black|1, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. There is a huge price difference between these lenses.
    In terms of sharpness do you guys think there is a huge difference also?
    Any examples appreciated..
  2. If you compare all the L primes to the non L's the price difference is substantial ( 35 2.0 to 35 1.4L, 85 1.8 to 85 1.2L etc ) There is more to a lens then sharpness. Check out some reviews to learn more about each one.
  3. I only care about the sharpness. The rest I am ok with it. I can work on photoshop for contrast, tonal value etc.
  4. You can sharpen in post as well. There are mechanical differences ( elements, coating, focus motor etc ) along with being faster and better built. Compare in the review links I posted.
    IMHO, If your just looking for sharper I say don't bother.
  5. "I only care about the sharpness"
    Of the 1.8, 1.4 and 1.2 I believe the 1.8 is the sharpest, and by far the cheapest. About the only thing these 3 lens have in common is their focal length. Check out the above links, the dig. pic. in particular. Here's another, comparing and testing the 1.2 and 1.4:
    I have a 1.4 and am happy with it. It's relatively compact, decent sharpness, so-so build.
  6. As an owner of a Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 lens (and I do use it on my Canons as well as on my old film Nikons), I can tell you that there is one reason for getting an f/1.2 lens -- and that is to have the speed of an f/1.2 lens, even if it is only a little bit of an edge in low light.
    As good as modern f/1.2 lenses (50mm or 85mm) are, they are unlikely to be "sharper" in general terms than the only slightly slower f/1.4 lenses. In turn, it is easier to design an all-round performer with an f/1.8 aperture, although I don't think that more objective reviews like those of Photozone.de support that the ancient 50mm EF f/1.8 is actually better on a 35mm sensor than the f/1.4, which is a little newer. although both have their roots back in designs for the old FD and earlier Canon mounts.
    I'm perfectly happy with my f/1.8, however, and it would take some real pixel peeping to mark huge differences in the 50mm lenses, except that only the full power of modern computer lens designing makes it possible for the f/1.2 lenses to even compete in this market. They are like a singing dog-- you don't complain that it doesn't sing well, the trick is that it sings at all.
  7. Basically, if you have the cash get the 50L. If not the 1.4 is a good #2 to it.
    The L is better built, weather sealed and get's to 1.2. Plus it looks very nice!
    I have the 50L and I'm very happy with it. It took some getting used to but I'd say 95% of my OOF shots are down to me and dealing with the narrow DOF. Once you get the hang of centre-point focus on the eyes you are good to go.
  8. The main difference in sharpness is going to be at the edge of the picture on a full frame camera. On a Rebel or XXD body there is very little difference between the 1.4 and 1.8. I have not used the 1.2 but the main problem with any large aperture lens is corner sharpness. The 1.2 uses a aspherical lens to correct for this. The 1.4 and 1.8 don't have this.
    I have tested the 1.8 for taking pictures of stars at night on my 5D and the stars were badly distorted at 1.8 iin the corners. I briefly considered the 1.4 but I was expecting better build quality for the price and the Bokeh (out of focus areas of the image) on it was significantly different based on the reviews I looked at. The 1.2 was just too expensive.
    I settled on the Sigma 50mm 1.4. Like the 1.2 it also has a aspherical lens and it has very good bokeh. When used at night there is minimal distortion of the stars at 1.4, almost none at 1.8, and no distortion at F2. Build quality is also excellent for about $100 dollars more than the Canon 1.4. Comes with a very nice nylon case and hood. www.dpreview.com has very good reviews of the Canon 1.8 and 1.4 and Sigma 1.4. They don't have a review of the 1.2.
  9. I currently own the EF 50 1.2L and 50 2.5 CM. I've owned 3 copies of the 50 1.8 and one 50 1.4 USM. Among the 50s, the EF 50 2.5 CM is by far the sharpest and best corrected for distortion. In fact, at F 2.5 it is sharper than any of the other 50s stopped down to F2.5. The next sharpest is the 50 1.2L. It beat my 50 1.8 and 50 1.4 at F1.8 and 1.4 respectively and it better than both down to F4. At F5.6 there is little difference in sharpness between the 50s. However, the 50 1.4 has terrible barrel distortion below 2 meters and the 50 1.8 is almost as bad. Both my 50 1.8 and 50 1.4 suffered an odd optical aberration at wide open aperture whereas points of light looked like little comets...
    All these 50s have poor low light AF compared to a good zoom like the EF 24-105 4L. I don't know why but perhaps the shallow DOF has something to do with it. However the EF 50 1.2L has the best AF among the 50s and really should considering the use of ring USM and the beefy price.
    Most people, me included, don't buy the 50 1.2L for sharpness. We buy it for the beautiful out of focus background and to use F1.2. I rarely stop down more than F2.8.
  10. I have the 50/1.4 and had been thinking of the 1.2L. With my 50/1.4 I used to have a B+W clear filter on it. The best thing I ever did was to remove the filter off the lens, that improved shots shot at f4.0 and faster. My 50/1.4 shot wide open with that filter was a disaster. I think I'll be happy with the 50/1.4 now; it's the 35/1.4L that I want...
  11. Most people, me included, don't buy the 50 1.2L for sharpness. We buy it for the beautiful out of focus background and to use F1.2. I rarely stop down more than F2.8.​
    That seems to be the consensus from what I have read. The 50mm L seems not to be an ultra high performance lens like the 85mm or 135mm or even the 35mm. The 50mm 1.4 is a good lens at f2.8 and smaller- very typical fast lens performance, let it be said. The 50mm L has the bokeh and the depth of field effects that set it apart from the others, as well as the quality of finish and AF.
  12. If you need max sharpness, get a macro lens.
    If you want a 1.4 or faster lens, get the Contax 50/1.4 Planar (+adapter) if manual focus and stop-down metering isn't an issue.
    Between the Canon 50/1.4 and the 50L, the 1.4 is sharper if you get a good sample. I compared three 50Ls to my one, old 50/1.4 and the 50/1.4 was sharper from 1.4-2.8. I didn't compare any further down the aperture range. But, i ended up with the Sigma 50/1.4. Sharpness from the Sigma is about even with the Canon 50/1.4, and the bokeh is better. The Sigma also doesn't have (as much of) the 'halation' effect with white/highlight areas from 1.4-2, so the results are cleaner looking, even if the Canon might have a 2% sharpness advantage.
    In general, though, the L lenses are great. The 35L is definitely better than the 35/2. The 85/1.2L is amazing, even at 1.2 (but i've never compared it to the 85/1.8).
    If you really only need sharpness, and don't need to use it wide open, why not get the 50/1.8? It's sharp. Bokeh is not as good (smooth) as the 50/1.4, but it can be nice/interesting anyway.
  13. I find the 50L pretty sharp from 1.6-1.8, and the bokeh at 1.2 is something you can't get from any other Canon 50.
    I think people have to realise that the 50L is a niche lens and you should really research your needs and expectations before buying any lens.
    The 50L meets my needs and expectations but it might not meet others with somewhat unrealistic ones.
    My 2 cents.
  14. My opinion is that the f/1.2 kicks over the f/1.8 in almost every imaginable way. In fact the f/1.2 even kicks over a lot of more expensive glass.
  15. I agree with Puppy Face on the 50mm 2.5 CM. It has a great edge to edge sharpness that is unexpected for such an inexpensive lens. But then again it seems like all macros have excellent sharpness.
  16. The 50/1.4 is supremely sharp by f/4 and is great at f/2.8 and still really, really good at f/2.0. At f/1.4 it is noticeably lower in contrast, so I almost always shoot at f/2.0. Tests show that the 50/1.2 does much better at f/1.4, and aside from weather-sealing and other mechanical advantages, that's the reason to get it. I just like the look of the 50/1.4 at f/2.0-2.8, and I've never felt like it was lacking in sharpness at those settings.
  17. The 50/1.2L is the lens you want, if you often shoot wide open (or near that) ... if you mainly shoot at f/2 or behind that, there is no big difference anymore between the f/1.4 and the f/1.2 version.
    Mechanically its a different story. The 50/1.2 is robust, solid, a pleasure to use, but a bit on the heavy side. The 50/1.4 is small, a bit fragile (especially the AF mechanism can easily be damaged from bumps on the front ... that's why it is always a good idea to use this lens with its lensshade) and the overall feeling isn't as "good" as with the 50/1.2.
    Interestingly ... the 50/1.4 focusses FASTER than the 50/1.2 in good light. Things change in lowlight, where the 1.2 is more reliable.
    I used a 50/1.4 for three years, before I upgraded to a 50/1.2L ... I bought this lens used, and got it considerably cheaper than the new price. Was it worth it? Well, yes for me.
  18. Well, if all the OP cares about is sharpness, then the advantages of the L lens will be lost on him.
  19. Well, if all the OP cares about is sharpness, then the advantages of the L lens will be lost on him.
  20. "In terms of sharpness do you guys think there is a huge difference also?"
    No. The huge difference is in build quality.
  21. Chris Clarke said in part:
    "Basically, if you have the cash get the 50L. If not the 1.4 is a good #2 to it."
    Mmm, I still wouldn't get it. It's just too dang big for my tastes. I would spend more if they'd upgrade the 1.4 quality, maybe make an L version.
  22. thank you guys. i will go with the f 1.4 .
    this is my overall conclusion after reading your comments.
  23. Good choice I believe. I tested the 1.4 and the 1.8 alongside and the 1.4 was sharper at all apertures and had significantly better AF hit rate than the 1.8.
  24. Mendel, it feels really nice on the 5D2. Not big at all. I'm not a fan of overly big kit, that's why I sold my 24-70.
    The 50L just feels so right on the 5D. Just my view and it is each to his own.
    I'm not making money with my kit and that's why I have the 25-105 over the 24-70 and the 70-200 F4 IS over the 70-200 2.8 IS.
    I like light!

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