Canon 50mm - 1.2L vs. 1.4

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by julie_a., Nov 8, 2012.

  1. Feelings on whether the 1.2 is worth the extra money? I can afford it, but I don't want to waste money if the difference doesn't warrant it.
    Thoughts?
     
  2. Julie, the 50/1.4 L actually has lower resolution than the 50/1.4. Check out photozone's respective reviews. So, really, the only reason to get the more expensive prime is if you absolutely need f/1.2.
    For me, the 85/1.2 L is definitely worth its price differential over the 85/1.8, but that of the 50/1.2 L over the 50/1.4 is not - which explains why I still have my 50/1.4.
     
  3. I can speak for the 1.4, and can truly say it is probably my favourite lens, in among a range of mostly L lenses. It is such good value for money. I've used the 1.2 before - very briefly - and the only difference I noticed (aside from the wider aperture & heavier weight) was that it possibly focussed faster & more accurately.
     
  4. I can speak for the 1.4, and can truly say it is probably my favourite lens, in among a range of mostly L lenses. It is such good value for money. I've used the 1.2 before - very briefly - and the only difference I noticed (aside from the wider aperture & heavier weight) was that it possibly focussed faster & more accurately.
     
  5. Sorry, I meant to type that "the 50/1.2 L actually has lower resolution than the 50/1.4."
     
  6. Mark, that's weird! Why would it have a LOWER resolution....? I do not absolutely need a 1.2. At least, I don't think I do. I have the 85 1.2 and most of the time I shoot with it, shooting at 1.4 is still too shallow for my (mostly human) subjects (i.e. the eyelashes are in focus, but not the eye).
    Barry, I've read some of the reviews saying that the 1.4 craps out and starts making a clicking noise after awhile. Hopefully that isn't the case because if you like it that much, it seems that maybe it's the better choice (considering also the price).
     
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “Feelings on whether the 1.2 is worth the extra money?”​
    IMO no, unless one absolutely needs F/1.2 – (that’s very rare)
    I am not that hung up on the Bokeh (difference) between these two lenses.
    The 50/1.4 is more than quite suitable for my requirements: I would and did buy the 50/2.5 before I would consider the 50/1.2. And I do use the 50/1.4 at: F/1.6 and F/1.8, sometimes at F/1.4.
    If you still have the passion you expressed in 2010 for 'maximum sharpness lenses', then you might consider the 50/2.5 - sure slow to AF but a mighty sharp 50mm lens.
    Continuing the comparisons and value for money theme - IMO the 50/1.4 is a very good ‘value add’ when compared against the 50/1.8MkII.
    I might buy a 50/1.2 eventually – but it would be a luxury item to play at F/1.2 rather than and everyday tool: sure it has its ‘allure’.
    If you have the money then I doubt many would notice the differences between the 50/1.2 and the 50/1.4 when shooting Portraiture. So getting back to: “is it worth the extra money/” - the ‘allure and the “F/1.2 fun” and the red stripe all have to be added into the equation . . .
    ***
    “I do not absolutely need a 1.2. At least, I don't think I do. I have the 85 1.2 and most of the time I shoot with it, shooting at 1.4 is still too shallow for my (mostly human) subjects (i.e. the eyelashes are in focus, but not the eye).”​
    You probably don’t.
    It is more likely the ‘need’ is that we would want to stop motion in low light, rather than open up to move incrementally to a smaller DoF for most Portraiture.
    WW
    ***
    Also - @ Mark –
    “For me, the 85/1.2 L is definitely worth its price differential over the 85/1.8”​
    Specifically for the clarity of my understanding your comment, do you mean?:
    “For me, the 85/1.2L MkII is definitely worth its price differential over the 85/1.8”
    Thanks,
    WW
     
  8. Have had both multiple times, and have settled on the 50L. My 50 f/1.4 was very sharp, even wide open, but was a little flat, lacked contrast and didn't have great colors. The rendition of the lens never really did much for me. I owned a stellar copy for a number of years but didn't make many images with it.
    The 50L has better color, a nicer rendition, better build, better AF, and despite being slightly less sharp it just makes images that I really like. In the past year that I've owned it I've made literally ten times as many keeper images as compared to the 50 f/1.4.
    It's a nuanced difference, but one that clicked with me. As to whether it's worth the price difference, that's a subjective question only you can answer.
     
  9. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “It's a nuanced difference, but one that clicked with me. As to whether it's worth the price difference, that's a subjective question only you can answer.”​
    That has to be one of the most sensible and down to earth comments I have ever read about the comparison of these two lenses.
    WW
     
  10. Yes, William, I mean the 85/1.2 L II. Although it has faster AF than its predecessor, they are optically identical, are they not?
     
  11. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you for answering.
    "they are optically identical, are they not?"​
    No I don’t think so - (and I am going from memory – sorry - I haven’t the time ATM to check data)
    As well as the better AF – I also recall the MkII:
    • is less susceptible to Flare and Veiling Flare (coatings and internal barrel changes)
    • has circular Aperture Blades
    These three changes I recall that I noted at the time, as these performance issues are near the top of my personal hit parade to make me want to buy the MkII version.
    But had already bought the 85/1.8 (and not the 85/1.2 original) and I have since been content with the 1.8 version.
    WW
     
  12. Well now, Sheldon does make me think.... I'm terribly picky and that extra oomph in color and contrast might matter to me. Enough to spend that much? I'm not sure. Perhaps I should rent them both and test them out?
     
  13. Take a look at "The Great 50mm Shootout." Note this: "for practical purposes, [all the lenses tested] are very sharp. There’s not a bad lens in the bunch." Having read "The New King of Bokeh?", I would actually probably get the Sigma 50mm, which is also a much newer lens.
    The differences among the lenses you're considering are likely to be small, however.
     
  14. The whole point to get the 1.2 lens is ..to shoot at 1.2.I agree with Sheldon ,after having both for a long time.
    In my opinion it is better in every respect .The 1.4 lens is a normal one ,nothing special,but the L lens has character ,the pictures stand up and the color rendition reminds me of the Zeiss Planar lenses.One photo at 1.2 on Provia attached.Cheers
    00b0mj-503365584.jpg
     
  15. The whole point to get the 1.2 lens is ..to shoot at 1.2.I agree with Sheldon ,after having both for a long time.
    In my opinion it is better in every respect .The 1.4 lens is a normal one ,nothing special,but the L lens has character ,the pictures stand up and the color rendition reminds me of the Zeiss Planar lenses.One photo at 1.2 on Provia attached.Cheers
     
  16. I had both and I have become a big fan of the 50L. I had the 50L for about 2 years now and I have not looked back. Both lenses have some weaknesses but I just like what I get out of the 50L at 1.2 to 2.2 much more than the 50 1.4. The other issue is the 50 1.4 micro USM which, at least for me, was terrible in low light.
    I am sure you can find samples and opinions for both. Both are fine lenses. The 50L is simply better but more expensive. I find with photography a little better can be a lot more expensive.
    Here are a few of my personal favorite 50L photos
    1.6
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49877689@N04/6490608087/in/set-72157625081043656
    1.2
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49877689@N04/6245310595/in/set-72157625081043656
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49877689@N04/6244985663/in/set-72157625081043656
     
  17. "Feelings on whether the 1.2 is worth the extra money? I can afford it, but I don't want to waste money if the difference doesn't warrant it.
    Thoughts?"
    Let's reverse the question. Why do you think you need the f/1.2 L lens rather than the f/1.4 lens? What are you looking for in a 50mm prime that you think one offers that the other doesn't?

    The L is certainly a fine lens, but a good number of the folks who rave about it will rave almost equally about any lens that has a red ring and a letter "L" on the barrel or which is bigger and more costly than alternatives - quite apart from the functional and performance characteristics of the lens or its practical relationship to their own photography.

    In fact the 50mm f/1.4 non-L lens is a fine performer. In their attempts to explain away Lens Lust, many will tell you things about the non-L, some true or relevant but many not, that suggest that it isn't a fine performer. In fact, it is an excellent lens that has advantages over the L in certain types of photography and which, for the vast majority of photographers - including some very serious photographers - is actually the better choice.

    There is no "magic" that will accrue to your photographs from buying the biggest, most expensive lens.

    Dan
     
  18. Julie if you can live with MF you have several other options. I have and quite like the 50 F1.4 - while the build quality is not great mine has worked fine for many years. My lenses have quite a hard life and despite that the lens has endured. If you can live with MF then the Zeiss lenses are excellent. Personally I use the old Contax 50 F1.7 on an adapter and find it is a great lens. The Contax 50 F1.4 is also a very good lens as is the Leica R series 50mm F2 and F1.4. Some of these lenses are quite cheap ($200 and up for Contax, $600 up for Leica). While this is close to the Canon 50 F1.4 the image quality is higher and the build is at a different level. The Leica lenses are expensive but they really don't depreciate and the build is extremely high. The prices of these lenses has risen somewhat over recent times as film makers have bought these lenses for SLR video solutions (RED, Canon etc...). The made for EOS Zeiss lenses are about $750 for the F1.4 and about $1250 for the F2 Macro.
     
  19. "If you can live with manual focus"... then you may be happy with the Canon 50/1.4, since its autofocus mechanism often fails after a couple of years :-(
     
  20. IMPE, typically the EF 50/1.4 produces marginal imagery (at best) WO and near (though the wide sample variation ensures that a few will produce good results even WO - you could get lucky!). If your use is as a landscape lens though, then the EF 50/1.4 will produce fine results. As G Dan says, for some things, it's better than the L, though none of those reasons have anything to do w/ IQ.
    While I found that the 50/1.2L is better (and much better controlled), it produces imagery w/ a better 'oomph'. I don't know what it's resolution is, nor do I care. For portraiture (ie f1.4->~f3.5) it's quite good, with superior color rendition, and it gives the imagery great character. I've never owned one, just rented them on occasion, so the copies I've used are in good condition, and well maintained.
    One surprise performer I found though (especially for portraiture) was the Sigma 50/1.4 HSM. It's IQ was very nearly the equal of the 50/1.2L, and also far superior to the EF 50/1.4 - especially in the f1.4->f5 range (and yes, it produces marvelous quality work, even WO). As it costs only about $100 more than the EF 50/1.4 new, that makes it a helluva deal. Since I own an EF50/1.4 (my third, as the prior two died of AF seizure) I've only used the Sigs as rentals, but will be replacing my EF50/1.4 w/ one when it dies of AF failure. While the 50/1.2L is nice, it's not worth it (to me), the Sig OTOH certainly seems to be.
     
  21. "IMPE, typically the EF 50/1.4 produces marginal imagery (at best) WO and near (though the wide sample variation ensures that a few will produce good results even WO - you could get lucky!)"
    I'm tempted to describe this as hyperbolic nonsense, but I'll restrain myself.

    The IQ of the 50mm f/1.4 is excellent in virtually all ways. If resolution is your concern, it equals or out-resolves a number of excellent L zooms and is in the same class as a number of L primes. (I own both L and non-L primes along with L zooms, so I have some basis for saying this.)

    To repeat myself from a number of prior posts: All lenses have strengths and weaknesses, even the supposed best lenses are not "perfect." I tend to think of lenses as having "personalities," and the goal is to find the lens whose personality works well for your own photography. Abstractions like "greatest lens" or "sharpest lens" or "magical colors" are generally subjective and often quite meaningless in relationship to your own photographic needs.

    It is critical to step back from the hyped-up emotions that all-too-often afflict purchase decisions and to then try to be rational about what you really need and what the effect of certain choices will really by. Many among those with sufficient income to consider buying expensive photographic gear also have an affinity for defining their personal worth by owning "the best" things, regardless of whether these things are actually better in real ways for what they do. (Some photographic equipment buyers seem more interested in the acquisition than in the photography, but that is a different topic.) This can manifest itself with a self-congratulatory glow about owning the biggest and most expensive thing, along with inflated claims of the Pure Wonderfulness of said big and expensive thing.

    In the real world, many would be quite surprised to find that many of those producing the best and most admirable photography don't share this perspective. One very talented and very successful west coast photographer who some of you might appreciate and envy and whose books or workshops you might have taken advantage of basically uses two lenses: Canon 17-40mm f/4 and Canon 70-200mm f/4. Among such people, there is often a bit of bemusement about the Gear Lusters.

    Getting back to the EF 50mm f/1.4... what are its weaknesses?
    • It exhibits a small amount of barrel distortion. This is essentially irrelevant in almost all photography for three reasons. First, it isn't visible in most photographs unless they include subjects with obvious lines near and parallel to the frame edges. Second, most lenses exhibit at least some barrel (or pincushion) distortion. Third, it is easily, effectively, and invisibly corrected in post by all current raw-conversion software.
    • It exhibits a some halation and a slight loss of contrast at f/1.4. This is often misrepresented as "softness" at f/1.4, but the lens is actually decently sharp at f/1.4 - certainly very usable and I use that aperture when needed on mine without sharpness concerns. With some subjects you may want to use contrast or curves adjustments to compensate at f1.4. (If you are a critical photographer and post-processor you are doing this anyway with virtually all photographs, so it isn't that you have to add anything to your workflow - you will just use slightly different settings.)
    • There are frequently-repeated complaints about build quality. This gets us into a complex never-never land of forumtography. Such stories have a way of self-replicating and self-amplifying as those who hear such a story repeat it until the forum universe is eventually filled with stories of a "problem," most of which are actually people repeating (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. hand) stuff they read in a forum somewhere. I have no doubt that some 50mm f/1.4 lenses have had mechanical problems, just as I have no doubt that there are samples of almost any lens that have needed adjustment or replacement. Worst case, buy a box of 50mm f/1.4 lenses and their combined durability is likely to at least equal that of one f/1.2 L! ;-)
    In the end, so what? My 24-105 has worse barrel distortion and exhibits zoom creep. I could complain that my 70-200mm f/4 IS is not as sharp at minimal focus distance as it is at longer focus distances. My 35mm f/2 requires me to flip a switch in order to MF it. My 24mm f/1.4 is quite large and bulky for some of the situation where I use it. I have to think about the zoom tension ring on my 100-400. And so on. No lens is the Worlds Most Ultimately Perfect Lens... but somehow all of them allow me to produce photography that seems to work pretty well. :)
    In the end, there are no doubt a few photographers for whom the practical benefits of the 50mm L are worth the added cost (and bulk, etc.), but they are few and far between. Most of the people anguishing over this in forums are worried about things that aren't relevant and they would be very, very happy with the f/1.4 lens.
    Dan
     
  22. I like the 50/1.4 and have no complaints, but I treat mine more carefully than other lenses largely because everyone here tells me it won't last. In general, it scores better in optical testing than the 1.2 for most users, but I have to say I would like to try the 1.2 one day. Most of shots I see with it have a "little extra something". However my little extra something lens is the 35L and I am certainly not spending to get a new 50mm with the larger size and weight that goes with it. My aim is always to reduce the size and weight of camera gear if I can.
     
  23. "If you can live with manual focus"... then you may be happy with the Canon 50/1.4, since its autofocus mechanism often fails after a couple of years :-(​
    Ed, unfortunately, a typical failure (with this particular lens) could be described as 'seizure'. When it fails, often, the AF locks up tight (regardless of switch position), to the extent that the focus ring cannot be moved (by hand at least) I never tried with tools, but it was clear that the amount of force necessary would require breaking an internal, jammed, component.
    Count me as someone who had marginal feelings (due to it's substandard optical performance WO and near) about the lens prior to the first failure, but I have very specific feelings after 2 complete failures, and a third copy of the lens with intermittent failures.
     
  24. The naysayers are correct on this one. Optically, the 1.4 is very good. Mechanically, it's lousy. Of the two copies I've used, one wont focus at all, either automatically or manually. The other focuses manually only, but it feels like somebody threw sand in the mechanism. Very rough and imprecise. The really irksome thing is - if I were to send the lens back to Canon for repair, they'd replace the defective mechanism with the very same junk and it'll be dead again in 6 months.
    I can't imagine why Canon isn't so embarrassed with this lens that they don't fix it. But it's hung around for 20 years, unworkable focus mechanism and all, and there's no hint of a replacement.
     
  25. zml

    zml

    The 1.2 has a bit better color rendition and contrast compared to the 1.4 The former also sports a MUCH better and more modern construction/build and more consistent AF performance (although there are complaints on both lenses.) Above all, the subjective quality of images produced by these two lenses is very much different: the same scene photographed at athe same f/stop with both lenses will be IMO much more 3D and pleasant (especielly OOF parts) with the 1.2 than with the 1.4. This is a totally subjective opinion, though, so rent both, run some test and then decide.
    FWIW: the 1.4 is a rather old construction, ancient mechanically if not optically, so it might get updated, but there is no telling when. The rumor mill also bets on an update to the 1.2 :)
     
  26. My 50 1.4 was used hard for about 5 years and I never had it break but was just not as smooth and accurate as the 50L. People seem to either love or hate the 50L so maybe try to get one used or rent first to see if its for you.
    Canon is making a new 35 non L so maybe a new 50 1.4 is in the works. Along with the new higher prices.
     
  27. Magic or hyperbole aside, here's roughly what the difference between the two lenses looks like. It's flat cloudy lighting and at slightly longer shooting distance, so it doesn't quite "shine" as much as it can in other conditions, but at least it's consistent light and framing between the two shots. 50L and 50 1.4, both shot at f/1.4 at identical exposure settings, processed identically in LR (pretty much SOOC). Pull up the two shots in different tabs and toggle between them.
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v483/sheldonnalos/_32O7744-2.jpg
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v483/sheldonnalos/_32O7745-2.jpg
     
  28. zml

    zml

    Sheldon: too bad that the exposure differs between the frames shot with the 1.2 and 1.4 but your comparison shows exactly what I was talking about in my post above, so "ditto" from me.
    As an aside, I have noticed that I consistently need + 1/3 EV with the EF 50/1.4 vs. my other lenses.
     
  29. Yes, it's got better bokeh. This is a well known plus of the 50L. I also agree though with Dan's view of the performance of the 50/1.4 lens at f1.4 - it's not as bad as many say.
     
  30. I noticed that, in addition to the improved bokeh, the transitional zones (ie, where the IF area transitions to OOF area) are also smoother. obviously, in the example Sheldon kindly posted, that's not really noticeable, but, in many less controlled situations, the difference is often more tangible.
    As to why Canon hasn't issued a mk2 to the 50/1.4? I couldn't say, they've needed one for about 18yrs... Though perhaps they are now working on a 50/2 IS for $800? Just my opinion of course ;-) .
     
  31. Mark, that's weird! Why would it have a LOWER resolution....?​
    How many F 1.2 lenses do you see on the market? Ever wonder why?
     
  32. Sheldon: too bad that the exposure differs between the frames shot with the 1.2 and 1.4 but your comparison shows exactly what I was talking about in my post above, so "ditto" from me.
    As an aside, I have noticed that I consistently need + 1/3 EV with the EF 50/1.4 vs. my other lenses.​
    Yes, these were each shot "as metered" by the camera so they would be representative of what you could expect to see if you didn't apply any exposure compensation when you were shooting. They also were the same exposure value of 1/2000, ISO 100 at f/1.4 in consistent light conditions so they also illustrate how effectively the lenses each transmit light. The 50L benefits from reduced vignetting since it's been stopped down a bit as well while the 50 1.4 is wide open, and that can make the photo seem brighter overall.
     
  33. I already have a Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 lens which works fine on both my Nikons and my Canons (with adapters for FD and EF).
    I've said it here before, so I'll keep it short this time.
    • If you have to ask "Why?" to get a f/1.2 lens you don't need one.
    • If you don't know what it is for, you don't need one.
    f/1.2 lenses are very specialized tools. They do some things that other lenses cannot do well:
    Primary among these, in the old days before 36,000 ISOs, was to squeeze every last photon out of the darkness. A second thing was to have (in the best cases) lovely shallow depth of field with creamy bokeh. Not the least of the functions of f/1.2 lenses is as "bling". You can have the fastest lens in your photo collective until somebody shows up with an f/1.0 lens.​
    If these functions do not cry out to you that you must have it, then there is no sense to getting one.
    00b0qn-503391584.jpg
     
  34. zml

    zml

    > f/1.2 lenses are very specialized tools. They do some things that other lenses cannot do well
    Perhaps, but, the maximum f/stop and other "obvious" technical differences aside, each lens has a "personality" that may or may not suit to what one wants to achieve so choosing one over another is often driven by something else than the "obvious." Good examples of the above in the world of EF lenses are 85/1.2L and 85/1.8; 70-200/2.8 L IS II @ 200 mm and 200/2 L IS; the 50/1.2 L and 3 other 50 mm EF lenses; 100/2.8 L IS Macro and the non-IS/L version, etc.
    Each pair, even at the same f/stop and focusing distance will produce a rather different result.
     
  35. I don't want to waste money if the difference doesn't warrant it.​
    IMHO, the difference doesn't warrant it. I agree with all the above discussion about a slight color this or character that. We are talking about subtle differences in single digit percentages here. Don't buy into the yak about "setting your work apart". No lens in this world ever make a good picture. Unless you truly need to shoot at the edge of darkness or need wafer thin DOF you don't need a high speed lens to create stunning works of art or award winning photographs. Don't fall into the novice trap of fretting about your lenses. Any normal lens in the Canon line is worth using and offers unlimited creative potential.
     
  36. each lens has a "personality"​
    I agree. I was just talking to my Nikkor-S 55mm f/1.2 the other day and I have noticed that as it gets older it has become rather more crabby. In fact, close to the end of our discussion it told me to "get out of my field of view".
    I think we are into imponderables here.
     
  37. @Louis, I've heard this said about equipment not making the image, and as unpopular as my opinion is, I have to PARTIALLY disagree.
    Although I still consider myself somewhat a novice to the digital end of it (because I feel there is so much to learn), I am not new to photography per se. When I upgraded my lenses after buying my earliest DSLR, the quality in my images was immediately, greatly improved. I felt the same when I upgraded my body. This may not be the case with a 1.2 vs a 1.4..... the difference may indeed be negligible....but I am extremely picky about color and contrast, and it's possible it may indeed make a difference to me.
    I just feel that photographers can do quite a disservice to those newer to it by telling them their equipment doesn't matter.
    @JDM, I do understand why the differences may be important, and I'm always pursuing the creamy bokeh and dramatic separation of my subject from the background, as I do mostly portraiture. And great color is a big thing for me. Someone else may not think this is worth the extra money, but again, I can be VERY nitpicky. For me, it's not about having "the best" equipment, just what I feel good about purchasing and gives me what I want.
    I guess I asked this knowing already that only I can answer if it's enough of a difference to push me into the more expensive lens. We all have our own opinions about what's important in the results I guess and trying them both would be my best bet in deciding.
     
  38. @Sheldon, I just saw your images (thanks for posting those, by the way), and the L image does indeed look to have better contrast and color. I know that a lot of people would dismiss it, but not me. I think I may rent them both and do a side by side comparison like you did here, to be sure.
     
  39. Mark, that's weird! Why would it have a LOWER resolution....?​
    I don't know why it does, but I guess it was a design compromise that was made to eke out that extra half stop.
    If I were you and already had an 85/1.2 (which I do), there's no way I'd be considering acquiring a 50/1.2. The 85mm blows away the 50mm with respect to center resolution, contrast, colour rendition and bokeh, making it a much better portrait lens. You'd be much better off getting a 35/1.4.
     
  40. @Mark, I do have the 35 1.4 already (currently in for repair). I like the 35 but I do a lot of portraiture, and I feel like I get too much distortion at the distance I'm often shooting at. I love the 85 (although I had a rough time before I microadjusted), but I'm shooting with a cropped sensor cam and it's just not appropriate for everything. I was hoping the 50 would be better for more "full body" portraits. Also, I'm considering upgrading my camera in the next year for a full frame sensor cam and feel like the 35 will DEFINITELY be too wide then for what I'm normally shooting.I'd sell the 35 if I liked the 50 most likely.
    Oh, also, I just feel like even at 1.4 with my 35, I'm not particularly feeling like I get a very shallow DOF (which I tend to favor on a lot of images). My 85 is great at the same, and I was hoping the 50 would be as well.
     
  41. But wouldn't the 35mm be good for full body portraits on your crop body? It would give you an equivalent focal length of 56mm. With the 50mm, it would be 80mm, which is a little long for full body shots (unless you're in a very big room, or outdoors).
    I find the 35/1.4 to be an outstanding lens for environmental portraiture on my 5DII.
     
  42. Julie. I was serious with my suggestion of older MF lenses (Leica and Contax). They are not that expensive used and do
    give a different set of trade off to the traditional Canon designs. As I say the Contax 50 F1.7 is around $200 and this lens
    or it's F1.4 brother may give you the look you want. The image does differ quite a bit from the one you will get from the
    Canons. As you see in the shots Sheldon posted the Canon lenses have a very similar look, you can get both an MF lens
    (even the Sumicron) and the 50 F1.4 for the price of the L. The good thing about the Contax and Leica lenses is that you
    will be able to sell them for pretty much what you paid so they don't cost much to own. In terms of the build quality of the
    50 F1.4 mine has worked well for many years - the AF is not the fastest (or most accurate) and it has soft edges and
    lower contrast until you hit F2 but it works fine.

    Perhaps the replacement will be. $850 50F2.8 IS - this seems to be the trend with the 24, 28 and 35!
     
  43. Yes Mark you might be right. I just feel like I get distortion, and I'm not sure why since it's on a crop sensor cam. Maybe I'm imagining it, or again, just being nitpicky.
    Philip, I am often shooting under f2, though, and it does really bother me when my images don't look sharp. But I guess it wouldn't hurt to try it out for myself to see. I will definitely look into the Leica and Contax. What is it that you like about them, other than the price?
     
  44. Someone else may not think this is worth the extra money, but again, I can be VERY nitpicky... a lot of people would dismiss it, but not me​
    Of course there is a difference between a $350 lens and $1400 lens. You don't have to "nitpicky" to discern that. You don't need to be a professional photographer to see the difference. Even a rank novice can see the difference. No one in this thread is dismissing it. Your question asked for:
    Feelings on whether the 1.2 is worth the extra money
    Yet when I take the time to respond and share my experience with you, and it's not the hyperbole what you want to hear, you write that I'm propagating a disservice onto the photography community. It doesn't matter to me if you buy lens A or lens B. Anybody with a credit card can buy a lens. I make my living being picky about optics and image quality and my opinion is the difference is not worth the money, which directly answers your question. All the Canon 50's are excellent and the keys to good photography do not lie in the minor distinctions between them. You can take my advice or leave, that's fine. You don't have to thank me, that's OK. But please don't call my contribution a disservice.
    What I wrote to you was, in fact, the single greatest gift I could ever share with a budding photographer. You are just not in a place along your path where you are ready for it. Perhaps someday you will. Good luck.
     
  45. Of course there is a difference between a $350 lens and $1400 lens. You don't have to "nitpicky" to discern that. You don't need to be a professional photographer to see the difference. Even a rank novice can see the difference. No one in this thread is dismissing it.​
    To my eyes, what Sheldon's samples show is how little difference there is between the 50/1.4 and 50/1.2, and the differences there are certainly have nothing to do with resolution or contrast. His images reinforce my decision not to buy a 50/1.2 (at least, not an EF 50/1.2. I have several FD and Nikkor 50 and 55/1.2's).
     
  46. Ok, Louis, when you say that "even a rank novice can see the difference", that says to me that the difference is indeed worth the extra money. I really don't understand?
    If it's your job to be nitpicky about optics, I would think that you would absolutely recommend something that you feel the difference is so great that anyone could see it.
    I guess the "novice trap" reference kinda rubbed me the wrong way. I have been away from photography for quite some time (hence the need to learn so much about the digital end of it), but I'm not new to it. While I appreciate the help I get on this forum immensely sometimes, I can even see among others commenting in this thread how easily people get snarky and competitive (well it IS mostly men on here), and that's kinda how I felt that comment came off. I saw a huge improvement in my images with the last lens upgrade. I wished I had "fretted about my lenses" much earlier instead of wondering why I couldn't get what I wanted with the crap lens I was using.

    But you are right, I asked for your opinion, and you gave it. I should have taken it as that and not gotten so sensitive about the other part.
     
  47. I wrote text that included:
    "each lens has a "personality"​
    Someone replied:
    "I agree. I was just talking to my Nikkor-S 55mm f/1.2 the other day and I have noticed that as it gets older it has become rather more crabby. In fact, close to the end of our discussion it told me to "get out of my field of view".
    I think we are into imponderables here."​
    Funny. Sort of. But I obviously don't mean that a lens actually has a personality in the sense that a person does. The term "personality" is merely my shorthand for referring to the fact that each lens has its strengths and weaknesses and each lens is more or less suited to a variety of different things. One lens may have no vignetting, yet it has a bit less resolution. Another might be excellent stopped down, but not as great as a different lens wide open. One zoom may offer focal length versatility while another has a smaller range but a larger aperture.
    These things are actually the opposite of imponderable. They are objective characteristics of lenses that can be described, used, and seen.
    Dan
     
  48. JDM von Weinberg notes with respect to the advantages of a 50/1.2 lens:
    Primary among these, in the old days before 36,000 ISOs, was to squeeze every last photon out of the darkness.​
    I would concur, and I would add to this that the extra half stop also made a difference because when we were trying to squeeze every last photon, we were also trying to focus manually. For that reason, I loved my FD 50/1.2, even if I seldom shot it wide open. In combination with a low-light optimized screen, I stood a better chance of getting the focus right in low light, even if I was exposing at F/1.8 or f/2.0 (yeah, I know, get a rangefinder...).
    I am sure there are times when the shallow depth of field available at f/1.2 really matters, but for my part I never really figured out what they were, and I suspect that I am not alone. With modern cameras better able to focus in low light than any human, the focusing argument no longer holds, and the DOF at f/1.2 is really too shallow most of the time. To my eye, images shot with such narrow depth of field are like images shot with fisheye lenses: dramatic when used creatively and in moderation, but silly and affected when used in excess. Given the essential parity in image quality with the f/1.4 (of for that matter the f/1.8, although the location of the focus ring is a deal-breaker for me on that one) my sense is that most people mount the superfast lenses more as a status symbol than for their intrinsic qualities.
     
  49. The German designed lenses have a different design philosophy to the Japanese ones which gives them a different set of trade offs. They tend to try and achieve higher contrast (especially micro contrast) and creamy bokeh. Leica will state that to keep higher contrast to the field edges there is a slight loss of edge sharpness as the tradeoff is having some field curvature. That said my Leica lenses are sharper than the Canon ones (I should say I do not own the Leica R mount 50mm - although I do have to M mount Leica 50s). In terms of construction they tend to take it to another level (especially Leica). This means that lens element centring tends to be more accurate. They also tend to use higher quality glass than many of the alternative designs as in general cost was less of a factor for these manufacturers (there are obviously exceptions to this with lenses such as the canon FD55 F1.2 SSC Aspherical (which can be converted to mount on an EF body although the lens will be about $1000+ and the conversion another $150. The Contax lenses are still a great bargain. There are a number of reviews of older lenses on EOS bodies - this iste has quite a lot http://www.slrlensreview.com/web/reviews/carl-zeiss-lenses-swhorizontalmenu-172/zeiss-standard/369-carl-zeiss-planar-t-50mm-f17-cy-lens-review
     
  50. For those imaging that shooting with Magic Name lenses like Leica and Contax and so forth, the proof is (not) in the photographs. Despite the fact that many convince themselves that shooting with such brands makes a tremendous and visible difference in their work, it really doesn't play out this way.
    Those alt lenses are fine in many ways, and they come from companies that were once the cream of the crop. But the notion that newer companies are unable to produce lenses of the same or even better optical quality is a combination of wishful thinking and Brand Religion focusing on the "older gear is always better" false mantra.
    Dan
     
  51. G Dan - just one question Have you ever shot a Leica or Contax lens on your Canon Body?
    If you have not then I suggest you give it a try - it will either re-inforce your beliefs or you may actually like the experience. If you read my post correctly I said that they made different trade offs - I did not say they were better except for build quality and materials. The build quality and materials is an objective fact for most lenses. I recently posted some crops of the Leica R 35-70 F4 vs my Canon 28-70 F2.8 while the Leica has lens has a much more modest spec the IQ differences are clear to see (http://www.photo.net/canon-eos-digital-camera-forum/00atUJ).
    This is not true of all lenses and vendors - Leica has made some very poor R series lenses over the years. If the OP is looking for a different look wide open then Leica and Contax are obvious places to look. This is especially true since she appears to be looking for impact. Clearly you have to make trade offs and modern EOS DSLRs are not the easiest to use with old MF lenses. People often react negatively to Leica (usually without even shooting one) based purely on the price and specification. Interestingly owning Leica lenses is actually very cheap (usually almost free) as their lenses almost never depreciate and they usually appreciate. My cheap Contax 50 F1.7 cost me $90 a few years ago but I expect it will sell for $200+ on the auction site. My Canon 50 F1.4 (with hood and case) will sell for about $100 less than i paid in about the same time period. While these lenses are not for everyone and not for every situation (which is why I own the Canon 50 f1.4) they offer an alternative. The OP has a number of options and looking into older high quality lenses is one of them. By the way while you state that the proof is not in the photographs I suggest that you look at the winners of world press photographer of the year over time and see how many were taken with Leica. Before you say this is just history you may be interested to note that the last win (with a film Leica) was in 2008.
    The prices of these old lenses have risen quite a bit of late - I believe this is mainly driven by film makers who attach them to RED and similar bodies. Perhaps you should try a Leica sometime - what have you got to lose? Indeed the DP review on the M8 by Phil Askey ended with
    So what's the bottom line? I have to admit that I've been turned, from a skeptic to a believer, certainly the M8 isn't a camera everyone is going to afford, but a rangefinder is certainly something any 'serious' photographer should try at some point in their life. It's changed the way I shoot, I've found myself going back to manual focus more even when I use DSLR's and being more selective about lenses and depth of field, and more creative in my framing. My advice on the M8 would be, if you can afford to then get one, be aware of its limitations, shoot RAW and rediscover 'capturing moments'

    Indeed he did later buy one.
     
  52. Sheldon's two pictures are perfect examples of bad comparisons and not one of you has pointed out the glaring problems between the two images.
    The 1.4 is clearly back-focused around two feet behind the lady as can be seen in the driveway, the 1.2 is perfectly focused on the groove the lady is standing on. For the 1.4 this dramatically decreases sharpness and contrast of the subject and also decreases the oof blur in the bush to picture right, and that is the most obvious difference in "bokeh", the focus inaccuracy in these two comparison shots is the main reason for the differences seen, just cover up two thirds of the right hand side of the image and you will see the real differences between these two lenses, practically nothing.
    Now I don't care which you get, to me if you want a lens with a red ring on just because it matches your camera strap is just as good a reason as any, as is better build quality, weather-sealing etc etc, but don't kid yourself on the actual differences in image output, there are some differences, but they are tiny and if you do any kind of post processing these tiny differences are generally overwhelmed.
     
  53. Scott, by Jove, you're right! You've got more discerning eyes than the rest of us.
    Despite the focus issue that Scott has pointed out, I stand by my previous comments. Buy the EF 50/1.2 L if you've got limitless cash; otherwise, be happy with the 50/1.4. It's not a status symbol, but merely the better lens.
     
  54. Thanks guys. I think I'm going to try all the other suggestions on here before jumping into the 1.2, including Philip's. If this many are happy with the 1.4, as well as Philip is with his options, I think the best option is for me to try those out first before buying anything.
    I don't care about a "red ring" unless that's truly the best in my own eyes. I don't shoot with, or even know many, other photographers (hence no one to "show-off" to) and my subjects wouldn't know if my lenses were anything special or not. I just know how impressed I was with my 85 1.2 (once I worked out the microadjustment) and thought maybe I'd have the same experience with the 50, that's all.
     
  55. Funny. Sort of.​
    I am so wounded....
     
  56. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Mea culpa. Nice one Scott. I am very annoyed at me for not interrogating: but most happy for you - and that you did.
    WW
     
  57. The 50 F1.4 is not a bad lens and mine works fine. My copy has slightly slow and not perfect AF (although the AF is faster than the 85 F1.2 II). Mine is over 5 and has not broken so it is quite functional. Manual focus lenses are not a panacea and for lots of purposes are unsuitable as Manual focus on an EOS DSLR is not an ideal process. If you want something different old MF lenses offer a set of trade off that you may like. This (albeit taken with a Leica M body not and EOS body) shows an image taken with an old design 50mm lens - not technically perfect but this CZ 50 F1.5 Sonnar handles Bokeh. As you can see the trade offs made result in a completely different look for the background - this is a look I have never been able to get with a Canon lens (the old FD 85 F1.2 L probably comes closest)
    00b1Ar-503527784.jpg
     
  58. "G Dan - just one question Have you ever shot a Leica or Contax lens on your Canon Body?"​
    That dismissive come-back doesn't work, despite the fact that such a reply is often offered as if it should stop discussion in its tracks.

    So, no, I have not. There are many things I have not done, however, that I don't do because facts don't support the wisdom of doing them, or because facts support the wisdom of doing something else. Let me give you a photographic example. I have chosen certain specific lenses for my photography. In the process of making those decisions I investigated and considered many other lens options, almost all without actually trying them, and came to logical and intelligent decisions that led me to choose something else.

    The argument that people can only have opinions about things they have actually "used" is, on its face, simply nonsense. It also is an absurdly impractical concept. I'd be willing to bet that you (who offered up this gem of an argument) do not follow it in the rest of your life. For example, you might be able to offer an opinion about political systems or countries and whether you would prefer to live in them or not, but you would be a very unusual person if you had actually lived in all of them about which you have an opinion. I'll bet that when you purchase a car, you do not try all of the options that you dismiss before deciding that you are uninterested in them. You might claim to know things about places you have never visited. (It is cold in Antarctica. There is no oxygen on the moon...)

    While this writing about cars and political systems and far-off places may seem like an irrelevant digression in a photography forum, it really is not. There are those who will claim certain "magical" attributes for unusual, expensive, or hard to obtain photographic equipment, often waxing poetically about the ineffable qualities of such gear. The very fact that this gear is so expensive or unusual (or sometimes simply harder to use) let's the user persist in the claims of its wonderfulness... and dismiss any questioning of these claims as being ignorant (which is, of course, the underlying claim of your protest that I haven't used the gear) and uninformed.

    However, there are a few facts worth considering by those who would persist in this approach. First, it is well-known that those who believe that a thing should have increased value and who invest in such things quite often attribute special qualities to those things that are not objectively there, perhaps in an attempt to buttress their belief that a) they made a smart choice, b) they possess special sensitivity, and c) that they are therefore superior. In endeavors in which gear plays a role (photography, cars, audio, etc.) such people may build up their sense of personal value and importance by focusing on the perception that the tools prove their superiority: the $20,000 sound system produces ephemeral music, the $100,000 car makes one a better driver, the expensive and rare lens makes them better photographers. However, in none of these cases is there any connection between the expense and the quality of the work. No stereo system will even sound as good a symphony orchestra; BWM drivers are no more skillful than Ford drivers, and those who shoot with very old and odd lenses do not produce better photographs than those who use more prosaic gear.

    Second, perhaps like me, you actually know and occasionally work with some of the folks who are among those acknowledged to be the "best" and most admired and successful photographers in various genres. And perhaps you have noticed that quite a few of them - most, actually - do not use the so-called classic and unusual sorts of gear that some here want to promote. In fact, most of them regard lenses and cameras as basic tools rather than as objects of art or things that impart magic to their work. Yes, they use good quality gear. No, it often is not the most expensive stuff. And, no, it is very, very rarely the stuff that some gear heads dream about. It is almost always relatively everyday examples of good gear from mainline manufacturers. Truth be told, when such people get together they may talk about gear - a bit - but it is usually not the main topic. (Want to irritate a photographer? Walk up to him/her and start asking gear questions or, worse yet, pontificating about this or that lens or camera. Yuck!) When the topic does come up, it usually leads to some simple and objective discussion about some aspects of the functionality of the equipment. Or, not infrequently, it leads to a bit of head-shaking and laughing about those who focus on gear a lot and photography itself very little or, to put it more bluntly, obsess about gear rather than photographs. (If you haven't already see this, you should.)

    I am utterly confident that we could hang work done with Leica, Canon, Nikon, and a range of other gear in an exhibit and no one would be able to categorize the work based on the brand or model of lens used. Of all the things that have relevance to photography and the power of photographs, this business is close to the very least important.

    Dan
     
  59. And that kind of self defending diatribe is exactly the reason I no longer post here.
    For your own personal purchasing decisions not trying something before deciding to not buy it is fine, offering advice to people who are asking the difference between two readily available and popular lenses when you haven't used one makes your input considerably less relevant, however well meaning, accurate, or verbose your defense.

    There are plenty of people out there who do have experience of both these lenses, some chose the 1.2, some the 1.4 and many even went to the Sigma 1.4, and it is interesting to hear their actual experiences and reasoning as each lens works for each person for many intangible reasons, be that real or imaginary image characteristics, balance, weight, focus speed, focus accuracy etc etc, the important thing is they are happy with their purchase and use their cameras more because of it.
    Thanks, William ;-) and Mark!
     
  60. I dont want to prolong the debate, but you appear to be rather closed minded. You make the statement
    For those imaging that shooting with Magic Name lenses like Leica and Contax and so forth, the proof is (not) in the photographs. Despite the fact that many convince themselves that shooting with such brands makes a tremendous and visible difference in their work, it really doesn't play out this way.
    This is quite a definitive statement when you have not tried the lenses themselves. I was merely suggesting to the OP that if she is looking for a different look, switching to a German designed lens may give her what she is looking for. If you study the subject you will see that German lens designers often take a different approach to the trade offs lens designers have to make - this leads to a different look.
    By the way while a $100K car might not make you a better driver it will probably allow you to drive faster - thus for someone who wants to go faster it is a more appropriate tool. Your argument is rather disingenuous as it suggest that no equipment has special attributes or superior performance but when you get to cars you shift from the equipment (the car) to the driver! I would suggest that BMW cars are often better than Ford on objective criteria. You seem to have a real issue with alternate vendors - especially if they are brands with a strong reputation (and high prices). Lens design is a series of trade offs and different approaches will bring different results. I never once said Leica or Contax were better in terms of IQ. Indeed in terms of AF and IS these lenses are clearly inferior to Canon offerings. Their build quality is superior to EF lenses - but this is true of most manual focus lenses including most of the Canon FD lenses.
    By the way I still know several people who do not use mainline manufacturers but use Hasselblad, Phase One, Leica S and others. If you have not compared the quality of a 16 bit CCD sensor with no AA filter to a DSLR I suggest you should try and find the opportunity. Of course the need for such image quality is a debatable point in many circumstances. and I cannot personally justify the expenditure.
     
  61. I have 50 1.2 on my short list, as soon as I win 6/49.
     
  62. For what it's worth, I did not find the 1.4 EF the equal of the old OM Zuiko 1.4. I had trouble believing it so I tried with manual focus too. Not a nice feel either. So yeah, something else... ;)
     
  63. The EF 50mm f/1.2 L is "probably" more of an ego-trip, and it's users will justify claims about its wondrousness and esoteric appeal.
    The advantage of the extra 1/3 stop of the 1.2 over the 1.4 is questionable, particularly at the edges. For practical purposes, I doubt whether one could differentiate photos taken with either lens, and certainly neither can introduce aesthetics or art in your images (only you can).
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/19725722@N06/sets/72157603812692225/
     
  64. Mubeen
    I can see the difference quite clearly in Sheldon's shots above (even if the focus is a little different) and many of us can. Look at the difference in the bokeh. It's quite clear at f1.4. At f2 the two lenses would be closer, but at f1.2-f2 is where the fast lens produces smoother bokeh. Whether it matters to you is entirely another thing.
    neither can introduce aesthetics​
    Aesthetics are surely impacted by the quality of the bokeh, which is what the L lens is all about.
     
  65. Second, perhaps like me, you actually know and occasionally work with some of the folks who are among those acknowledged to be the "best" and most admired and successful photographers in various genres. And perhaps you have noticed that quite a few of them - most, actually - do not use the so-called classic and unusual sorts of gear that some here want to promote.​
    As wise man once said, the difference between professional photographer and amateur photographer is that the professional takes photographs to make money and the amateur makes money to take photographs.
    Professional photographer makes their equipment choices based on different criteria. Some examples:
    • Professional cares about return of investment. If there is a $399 50/1.4 lens with 4 star performance and $3990 50/1.4 lens with 5 star performance, the professional most likely picks the cheaper lens for better ROI
    • Professional cares about reputation. Wedding photographer needs to provide good quality photographs from all important moments of the wedding. He/she can't fail. Pro landscape photographer may have obligations to their editors etc. Fast AF, ability to zoom or weather sealing may be of far better value for professionals than improvement in bokeh or clarity an esotheric alt lens provides
    • Professional photographer has whole day, every day, to improve and profile their personal style (yet they often only copy the successful ones). Amateur with children has few hours a week and obviously looks for alternative ways how to distinguish their work from the crowd within their possibilities
    Some analogies with cars were given, I will add one too. My taxi driver is a professional and definitely a great driver. He drives Prius. He said it is reliable and has low consumption. It has good ROI and the ride is acceptable. It is all he needs. My neighbor has a Lotus. He drives it for fun. Should he drive a Prius instead? It is used by professionals, right?
    I am utterly confident that we could hang work done with Leica, Canon, Nikon, and a range of other gear in an exhibit and no one would be able to categorize the work based on the brand or model of lens used. Of all the things that have relevance to photography and the power of photographs, this business is close to the very least important.​
    There were two blind tests made on another forum with statistically interesting results. People were able to recognize which pictures were taken with Zeiss lenses.
     
  66. I recently purchased the EF 50 1.4 mm lens. I made the purchase to be able to take photos in low light at 1.4f. However, all of the photos I have taken wide-open at 1.4f are not acceptably sharp. I have found that I have to close the lens down to get decent sharp photos. I was not expecting this with this lens. So this was a surprising disappointment. At this point, I am still learning the lens and can't say if I am pleased with my purchase, all things considered. This is the first 'prime' lens I have purchased. All of my other Canon lenses have been zooms. My camera body is a 5D MII. If I purchase a prime lens again, I will have my camera with me and will test the lens out in the store before I buy. I made this purchase on my overall faith in Canon products, which was shaken a bit this time around. Live and learn I guess.
     
  67. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    “I recently purchased the EF 50 1.4 mm lens. I made the purchase to be able to take photos in low light at 1.4f. However, all of the photos I have taken wide-open at 1.4f are not acceptably sharp.”​
    If you’re looking at any glass that’s F/2 or faster . . . the same ‘general rules’ apply to these lenses as all other lenses – i.e. that they are a going to be a bit sharper when stopped down one or two stops: but this difference is generally exacerbated with really fast lenses such as those which are sub F/2.

    And cost comes into it also. The EF50/1.4 is not really “expensive”.
    And also, for many shooting scenarios the DoF at F/1.4 can be very slim – move ½ inch with your camera and that can render a soft image. And also one needs to verify that there is no Subject Movement.
    The EF50/1.4 is ‘reasonably’ sharp at F/1.4. (view them all ‘large’ and look at ET’s eyes)
    WW
     
  68. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

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