Talk me out of buying a 50 1.2L

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by tom_berkowski, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. I have almost decided to make the 50 1.2L my gift to myself. Someone talk me out of this $1400 purchase.

    Sample reasons that will cause me to put away my credit card:

    - Someone can speculate that Canon will come out with a better 50 1.4 which will focus faster & more accurately
    than the one I purchased & returned last year and that reported reliability issues will improve.

    - Someone can tell me to wait for a Conurus to start conversion of Contax N 50 1.4, that I shouldn't worry about
    possible mirror clearance with 5D, that it image quality will be exceptional, and that focus speed and accuracy will
    be in the ballpark of a Canon 50 1.2L.

    - There is some other substitute for the breathtaking, "did I really shoot that?" quality of a few of shots from the last
    time I rented this lens. (I commonly used 1.8, so 2.8 zooms not an option. 85 definitely not a substitute, and 35
    probably not the best choice in my experience)

    - That there will be a rental company that will open nearby that will always have this in stock at last minute.

    - That the infrequent focus issues I had first time I rented this lens (and decided not to purchase) should stick in my
    mind. (Focus issues were not as bad as 50 1.4, just more annoying than I thought should happen in a lens so

    - Many other reasons, I'm sure.

  2. I have the Sigma and have been really pleased with it. Very sharp.

  3. You seem terribly concerned about focus issues. Do these 50mm lenses not have the autofocus performance like other Canon lenses that you already have? Is it possible that it is your camera body or technique that is causing the problems that you had with the 50mm lenses?

    My concern is that the 50/1.2 L may not be that much better than the 50/1.4 with respect to actual image qualtiy. I have not specifically researched this though.

    The 50mm focal length is not as important to me as other focal lengths so I would have a hard time justifying the expenditure but if you use yours alot than it may well be worth it to you.
  4. What do you use it for?

    I was considering it myself but am going to hold off a bit longer. It appears that the general view is that it's not worth the extra $1000 for the 1.2 over the 1.4. I have the 1.4 and borrowed a friends 1.2 the other day, and am now comparing.

    The new 50mm 1.4 EF bayonette Zeiss lens was released this week and at about $750 is substantially less. (No auto focus though)
  5. I have the 50 1.4 qnd it nails focus.

    I can't complain about any "reliability" issues.

    I keep the hood on it all times including in the bag to protect the front, my favorite on a crop body followed by my 85 1.8 on

    I may go 1.2 on the 85 one day but not at the moment.

    On the other hand L glass is why we shoot Canon.
  6. Get it, if you hate it sell it, you will only lose a few weeks rent on the thing and you will be able to lay the ghost to rest.

    Take care, Scott.
  7. I am too are not that happy with the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens. It must be the worst 50mm lens I've tried! But I
    would not think that f/1.2 glass would be better in perfomance -- I have an old manual focus Tomioka f/1.2 lens
    and while it is definitively a high-end lens, it has some optical abberations like glow and low contrast that
    would not work so well with autofocus. I guess Canon's f/1.2 is somewhat better optically, but then again, many
    other manufacturers were able to make decent and autofocus-friendly 50mm f/1.4 standard lenses. I would rather
    give SigMa's new 50mm a chance than waste a lot of money on a lens that is probably not really better than
    Canon's old f/1.4 normal lens when it comes the focus accuracy. I mean, even you experienced critical focus
    troubles with it when you rented this lens.

    It's a feature of super-fast lenses to be very demanding on autofocus systems! Maybe a high-end body with the
    very best AF technology will focus better with any lens, but I don't think that a f/1.2 lens will make you happy
    if the current f/1.4 is performing poorly.
  8. Have you looked at the new cameras that do a pretty good job handling higher ISO's?
  9. Don't do it; those lenses are known to carry the Bubonic Plague, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions in Europe and Asia. JR
  10. I can confirm, EF 50/1.2L is not the most consistently focusing lens I own. Consistent means - no finetuning will solve the issue. EF 28/1.8 is the worst, however - even highly praised EF 70-200/2.8L IS is better, yet not great in this respect.

    EF 50/1.2 L is very good wide open and is flare resistant. Good lens. If you have use for it - get it. I have no good words to say about EF 50/1.4 - maybe except it is great stopped down.
  11. What you gain in speed by virtue of the non-stopped f1.2 you will probably lose in terms of depth of focus if used wide open or at up to f2.8.

    If you really need a dcent 50mm, then track down a pristine 50mm f1.8 mk1, spend the money on a body with focus adjust memory instead.
  12. While I'm certain that purchasing the 50mm f1.2L will make you popular with everyone within a hundred miles, cause the Pulitzer Committee to start asking you to lunch to fish for your opinions, and cure baldness in all the males within your family, you can be absolutely certain that the moment you purchase this lens, Canon will immediately issue an improved, MkII IS version with faster focusing-USM and intelligent image-taking capabilities. The new model will automatically select and photograph the best compositions for you while you're away at lunch. I'd wait for it if I were you.
  13. I'm frankly surprised that so many are maligning the EF 50/1.4. Mine is razor sharp and focuses fine. I don't typically shoot wide open, but if I'm in a low light situation where I need to, I use my FD 85/1.2 L, FD 50/1.2 L or FD 55/1.2 SSC Aspherical. Yes, I'm still shooting film in tandem with digital. It gives me more versatility, and keeps me connected with the art of photography.

    Tom, I'd go ahead and get the EF 50/1.2 L. My EF and FD L's are quite simply astounding. There is no substitute.
  14. you have my permission to not buy it. it seems you have already come up with the reasons why. here is another reason, unless you are shooting super low light with no flash and no tripod you dont really need it and you are not gaining that much speed over a 1.4.
  15. Look at the detailed test data on Chromatic aberration is much higher with the 1.2L lens at all apertures, and the 1.4 is just a tiny bit sharper than the 1.2L at f/2.8 and above. If you plan on shooting at f/2 and below, the 1.2L is your lens. Otherwise the 1.4 is going to outperform it at a much lower price.
  16. Unless you actually _need_ f/1.2-f/1.4 you could buy the EF 50mm f/1.4 and get all of the same photographs... and have
    money left over for other excellent primes.

    Bigger and more expensive and larger maximum aperture is not _always_ better for every type of photographic use. Unless
    your needs are quite specialized you are unlikely to realize photographic value from this lens that equals the difference in

  17. Go ahead and buy it. It's not like you're spending Noctilux type money.
  18. Thanks for all the answers. Yes, focus is an issue for me. I primarily shoot children in unstructured play
    environments. 50 1.4 was slower & less accurate focusing than other Canon lenses I have owned or rented, and I'm
    not just comparing to L lenses. 50 1.2 was much better but not perfect in my rental expreience. I certainly expect
    more from a lens that cost so much. 35 1.4L was better in focusing than the 50 1.2, as was 24-70 2.8L in my

    I take more groups of kids now (2-4) rather than just one at a time, so I feel the urge to own something wider than 85
    to get closer to the action. Also, I almost always use 2.5 and wider apeture. 50 1.4 on paper seems perfect, but I
    tried renting and owning, and I know I won't be happy.

    I thought the 50 1.2 lens would have a rebate, but of course not this time. I don't think I want to wait 6 months for
    next rebate cycle.

    I haven't used a Sigma since a camera shop tried to push a cheap zoom on me many many years ago. It focused
    slowly and of course was like f/8 or something. I know that I shouldn't judge all lenses in a brand by this single
    experience, but I don't even know if my shops rent Sigmas to try the 50. I'll have to check.
  19. SCL


    Buy it - anybody who salivates so badly over a lens that they need others to talk them out of buying it will only fall into total despair if they don't get it. Then you can determine for yourself if it does what you want, if not sell it to somebody else. If so, then your exercise was a bust in the first place :)
  20. it. Someone has to feed the market place.....
  21. it. Someone has to feed the market place.....

    But the......doesn't someone make an f/1......even better!
  22. Take the hot water bottle off your forehead and go take some pictures.
  23. Get a grip, man! :)

    $1,400 is a big-assed wad of cash. Wouldn't you rather spend it on a vacation to Hawaii, Yellowstone, or some
    other photogenic location?

    More seriously, do you really think it will take better pictures? How? Why?
  24. From what i've seen, I like the way the 50 1.2L renders images. The only issue's too cheap! Come on guys, only $1.4k compare to $5k for the Leica noctilux? Clearly the Leica is 3.6 times better than the Canon.

  25. Because you know damn well that spending $1400 for a lens that doesn't hold a golden key to the gates of a good photograph is absurd. Go with a 1.4 that will closely match the lens and feel good about not succumbing to your brains way of testing whether or not you can honestly answer the question: Is it absolutely necessary? With any new toy comes the effect of a bias, the photographs taken by the 50 1.2L are great, I'm not disagreeing with that, but you can easily make shots that are just as good with something that doesn't make you feel guilty about making an ill decision.
  26. I have putting off buying for all the above reasons, I have the 24L that is faster focusing in low light, which is where you need the quick focus ability, I have the 50 f/1.4 and it does suck in low light because it hunts. People will say do manual focus, I wish my eyes were still 20/20. But that same 50 f/1.4 at f/4 is an awesome lens and a heck of a lot cheaper. Now having said that, the 50 f/1.2 lens I will probably buy some time next year as that is my favorite distance, as I do a lot of low light photography. Do I think that the 50 f/1.2 will take better pictures, well the contrast and color will be better, but most importantly it will take pictures where other lens can't at a much lower ISO.
  27. If you want to shoot 2-3 children then you are not working at the lens it's minimum focus distance and you will have nothing to worry about the focus shift.
    It's at MFD and f/1,6 - f/2,4 when focussing with middle focus point that focus shift will occur.

    I bought it for the DOF & focus speed and like it.

    Only you can decide if you want to spend the money at this lens and what your ROI will be with a crises comming in ....

  28. I had the 50L and loved it. Focus issue on smaller apertures didn’t bother me because I mostly shot it wide open.

    Here are some of the pictures I took with it:

    There simply isn’t other autofocus lens available that can achieve same results and as shallow depth of field.
  29. sbp


    Question - if you are shooting children at play, do you really need or use f/1.2?

    FWIW, i have the 50 f/1.4, which is my only non-L lens, and love it. I have never had focus or functionality issues. Like
    Bruce, i keep the hood on all the time, to protect the extending barrel. IQ is good in the environment which i use this lens -
    very low light, high ISO, moving subjects, usually on 1D3.

    For the same $1.400, you could buy a 50 f/1.4 AND a 135 f/2L (the sharpest of 13 L lenses i own).
  30. If you really need a 50mm f1.4, then I recommend the new Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM. I use this on my 5D and it is excellent and much cheaper than the Canon f1.2 L. It is very well constructed, focusses well and is sharp. Although I'm comparing apples and pears I have been quite disappointed with the Canon 24mm L lens which is not so sharp and which has focussing problems. Do you really need f1.2?
  31. Don't buy it. I'll buy it for you, then you can buy me the 24/1.4L II that I'm lusting after. Then, we'll swap for Christmas and/or Hanukkah! Life's short, and whoever dies with the most toys wins. Get it!

    Michael J Hoffman
  32. The economy has fallen of the edge of a cliff, keep your cash and buy gold with it and keep it under your matress. We will
    probably have years of deflation so you can get it cheaper if you wait.
  33. I have the 50L .. get it if you care about shallow DOF and beautiful bokeh. I love this lens. Now saving for the 85L
    If this isn't an issue for you, then you'll probably be just as happy with the 1.4.
  34. Natharit said"

    "From what i've seen, I like the way the 50 1.2L renders images. The only issue's too cheap! Come on guys, only
    $1.4k compare to $5k for the Leica noctilux? Clearly the Leica is 3.6 times better than the Canon.


    Agreed, but I think the new Nocti is now going for 10 large! (-:
  35. i forgot to mention something. if i have my camera on C-AF it is super slow and hunts in low light BUT if i use S-AF it will focus right away.
  36. you have buyers remorse and you did not buy it, how do you think you would feel after?
  37. OK, I'll try. <p/>In January 2009: the worst retail sales figures in over a decade will come out, the worst
    corporate earnings reports in over a decade will come out and, as a result, the DOW will sink below 7,000,
    massive layoffs will be announced (even if Detroit gets there bail-out), people will be desperate and sell all of
    their photo equipment for pennies on the dollar - film gear will be traded for food. But, before you wait to buy
    the 1.2L at a ridiculously low price, you yourself will lose your job and you will be wishing that you did not
    buy that $1,400 + tax lens because you could eat for a year with that money.<p/>Hows that.
  38. Contax 50mm Planar T* f1.4 ZE! Manual focus and auto exposure. What more do you need? Plus it is less than the Canon 1.2.
  39. I don't think Michael Angelo ever spent $ 1400 bucks on a chisel. Neither did Rembrandt, on a brush. Surely Salvador Dali tried to. Juzfughedabowdit! Take you camera to China or something, and start shooting.

  40. There are well documented issues with back focussing but despite that I enjoy this lens.

    I have had a few strange results with it but I stress a 'few'. It's shallow DOF is a challenge after using zooms and being used to 2.8/F4 , so user error is a factor that has to be addressed.
    Personally I can see why pros get frustrated with this lens but as a guy not relying on shots to earn cash I'm quite happy with it.
    I'm looking forward to trying it out on my pre-ordered 5D2 as FF is where this lens should be. (It's just too long for me on my 20D).
    Build quality is excellent and it feels very nice.
    That aside I bought it on a B&H special for $1100 US in February when the Canadian dollar was at par.
    If I don't like it on the 5D2 I can sell it for at least what I paid for it. Quids in!
  41. If you buy that lens a black hole will be created and all digital cameras will be sucked into it, therefore requiring us to all go back to film!
  42. Wait for inevitable MkII version with SWC nano technology, and use the f/1.4 version for now.
  43. My 1.4 focus is spot on, and I use a hood, and I don't shoot it at anything less than f/2.0 anyway. I compensate by ISO, monopod or flash. Like all lens', there are quality control issues, and even canon releases a few dogs. When I get a lens, I test it out right away before the return date expires. I picked up a 100mm macro in bestbuy, and they don't have a return policy on their lens, but the sale was a good deal. So I shot a few tests right in the store, fired up LR on the laptop and did some pixel peeping.

    $1400 can wait for a deal on used, as others said, the current economy is driving bargains onto ebay.
  44. The camera body you attach the 50 1.2 to will influence your impressions of the lens performance. For me, I use the 1.2 on a Ds2 and Ds3. Along with the 85 1.2L, the 50 1.2 is probably one of the two best lenses I can use on these bodies. I've tried the 1.2 on a 5D and 50D and the performance (focusing) is ho-hum...not completely consistent. On the Ds2 and Ds3 bodies, the focus is excellent and the lens allows a broad range of creative opportunities with its razor thin dof. I often prefer it for portraits because of the shorter range it allows on the FF Series One bodies.

    I also own a 1.4 and it's a fine lens when new... I tend to be a heavy user of the lens though, and find that it doesn't retain critical focus as well as the L lens over time. At the very least, the 50 1.2 is an investment grade lens that you will likely never 'outgrow'.
  45. I don't think there is any way around the fact that an f/1.2 lens is a specialized tool. That extra little bit wider costs a lot in money and usually such lenses will do no better, and often worse, than "lesser" lenses when stopped down.

    With modern digital cameras and their ability to shoot at high ISOs, I find even my cheapie f/1.8 to work for most low light photography. However, for that incredible bokeh, etc. I still use my old Nikkor-S 55mm f/1.2 lens wide open with a simple adapter. One of the first things I used my Canon digital camera professionally for was a shoot in a painted cave where the Nikkor worked beautifully for hand-held shots (difficult to use tripod where there's no place to put it) together with the generator-driven spots.
  46. OK, I'll talk you out of it.

    The 50/1.2 is grossly inferior to the Zeiss 50/1.4, and the Zeiss is only a few hundred dollars more. Don't waste good money on inferior merchandise. Real men buy Zeiss!

    Did that work?
  47. I would love to have that lens if I could afford it, but this year I'm concentrating on lighting equipment. On my Canon 5D that would give me an extra stop with out rellying on the ISO and the nosie reduction software. I'm not an ISO freak, maybe this goes back to film days. I rarely go above 400 although occassionally for a "must have", I'll go up to 800. If its too dark I use a flash. Not sure how the optics on the 50mm 1.2 are, but I know first hand that the 85mm 1.2 is an awesome lens !

    By the way Leica does not relly on high ISO. They relly on the old fashioned the stuff that gave them their name, that is good lenses with great optics in low light situations.
  48. There simply is not a lot to be said for the 50 1.2. While it is true that it is an "L" series lens, it is not strictly comparable to many other L lenses.

    The bottom line is that it simply is too expensive and is not all that useful.

  49. Because it was the worst-rated of Canon's six 50mm lenses at's reviews.

    See 79 user reports here:

    I agree with the others in this thread, though; if you really think it'll have noticeably better performance than
    the 50/1.4--let alone 4x better performance!--you should buy it. Talented indeed is the viewer who can readily
    discern the difference between 1.2 and 1.4 wrt things like background blur, but maybe your viewers are more
    discerning than mine.

    Personally, I would listen to those who would usually tend to *defend* an expensive lens purchase who instead say
    the 50/1.2 is not worth the money (see link above) instead of basing my judgment on one bad experience with a
    50/1.4, but it's your money, not mine. So go for it.
  50. May I recommend the 50/1.8mkII and putting the rest of the money into a suitcase under the bed? Or send it to me for safe-keeping?
  51. it


    Don't buy it, you'll be sorry.
  52. I own a 50mm 1.8 mkII but struggling alot with the AF, also looking to upgrade to 1.4 and I'll be honest this is these are the first bad reviews I read about it, only read good thing.
  53. Maybe the strongest feature of L-series lenses is the weatherproofing. If that is not a concern for you, and the 0.2 difference in f-stops doesn't convince you that the f1.4 is good enough for your needs, then I guess you need to pony up the money.
  54. nowhere did I hear avail light shooting; as such, this purchase appears to be a status lens. I have never desired a Noctilux (f/1.0) when the Summilux (f/1.4) kicks b-tt.
  55. Thanks for responses. I would not buy for wider apeture (f/1.2 vs. 1.4). I use a lot of 1.8 - 2.2, sometimes a bit wider, but I've only used wide open (1.2) in rental lenses a couple times successfully.

    My primary reason for considering purchase is the focus speed & accuracy vs. the 1.4. Secondarily for feel (solid bulk, focus feel). Third for reliability concerns, but that is offset by cost.

    I am just not happy with 50 lens choices, and I need a normal lens. 50 1.2 is somewhat inferior to other L lenses in my experience, supporting what others have pointed out, so it's a bit of a rip-off. However, I can't use one of the other L lenses to do 50 work.
  56. If you want the Canon 50mm F1.2 then get it

    I chose the Sigma 50mm F1.4 and am happy with the performance and resulting images
    it is sharp at F1.4 or stopped down, and has quick focus
  57. I have a Canon 50mm 1.8II which is my fav. portrait lens when i am travelling light. Its very sharp at F1.8 and for me...the AF is no problem, u just need to get used to how it focuses. The AF is also quite fast and accurate. I don't have AU$140 i have ever spent.

    And for serious weddings, i use Canon 85mm 1.2L. ...its the MKI version and AF speed is more than enough to shoot a bridal portrait. Shes not running anywhere. And at such wide apertures, u are most likely to use MF anyway.

  59. Can't do it. I love mine. I used the f/1.4 for 2 years -- since I got the f/1.2L the f/1.4 hasn't been mounted. I grew to dislike the f/1.4 because it could not AF at all in highly backlit situations. The focus on the f/1.2L is fast and accurate in challenging situations.

    If you want a lens that is good from f/2.2 to f/5.6, the f/1.2L isn't designed for that range and you're better off with the f/1.4.

    The Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZE has become available in just the last few days, and it's only a matter of time until it becomes legendary -- for its harsh bokeh wide open. On the other hand, if you want sharpness at the plane of focus and smooth transition to blur at f/1.2, this is your lens.
  60. the reviews indicate the lenses are closely matched, except for flare (the f/1.4 flare more). $300 v. $1500. Flare is a big deal in my book, can ruin alot of pix.

    I have a great 50/2.0 Hexanon for my Leica (about $400) and I also have a 50/1.4 Summilux ASPH (about $2500 used). go figure. best of luck.
  61. If you buy it, little green men will come out of the box and kidnap you in your sleep. You will be teleported to an undiscovered planet and they'll pull out the hairs on your body one by one. Howzat? ;-)
  62. Do real men buy Zeiss ZE lenses that are really Cosinas (with the obligatory license fee paid, of course), or are these
    somehow lesser men? ;-)

    PS- "hey, my cheapo Panasonic camcorder says "Leica" on the front!"
  63. >> My primary reason for considering purchase is the focus speed & accuracy vs. the 1.4. Secondarily for feel (solid bulk,
    focus feel). Third for reliability concerns, but that is offset by cost.

    Then IMHO you should go for the 35/1.4 L. No 50mm lens gives you both ring USM and IF design so either focus speed
    and/or accuracy is compromised. As far as feel and reliability it's also top dog.

    Happy shooting,
  64. Regarding suggestion to go with 35 1.4L, which has better focus. I have only limited rental experience with the 35, but I did like the focus. My question is whether 35 mm is a substitute for 50 mm. In my limited experience, I found 35 mm to be wide for my use, but then again maybe with time I could figure out how to use it more effectively.
  65. "My primary reason for considering purchase is the focus speed & accuracy vs. the 1.4."

    Hmmmm... If you use your AF intelligently, you shouldn't have nearly this degree of focusing difficulty. I addressed this exact issue in a post I wrote in another thread:

    In short, you should be able to AF very quickly and reliably in near darkness with a very slow lens on a very early model DSLR if you simply give your AF points a decent edge. (Seriously.) If you can see it in the viewfinder, an AF detector can nail it. An f/1.2 lens is simply a stupid level of overkill to achieve AF. The only reason to get the f/1.2 is if you plan on doing a lot of shooting below f/2.

    But if you want to blow that kind of money on a lens that won't outperform a much cheaper one, go right ahead. I'm sure the Japanese can use help with their economy too.
  66. Tom, I'm unsure of your original post- if you're asking people to talk you out of buying this lens, it sounds likely you've already answered your own question.
  67. I agree Brian. I've never had to be talked out of buying a lens and I rather like my 50L.
    In fact I don't think I have ever linked the words " talk me out of buying xxx lens" in thoughts or speech.

    More like, "My missus is gonna kill me when she sees this nice new lens!"
  68. >> My question is whether 35 mm is a substitute for 50 mm. In my limited experience, I found 35 mm to be wide for my use, but then again maybe with time I could figure out how to use it more effectively.

    Stepping forward one or two steps is all you need to do.

    Happy shooting,
  69. With a 35, how close could I get before I would have to worry about the big nose effect? I'll rent the 35 1.4L again to try it out, plus see if I can find a Sigma 50 to play with. After that, I'll probably be ready to make the decision.

    Thanks everyone.
  70. that is why we have over kill in megapixels, so one can step back and then crop the heck out of it:) why worry about in camera composition?
  71. Tom,
    Buy an 85 F/1.2 LII instead and explore its wonders.
    Tony T

Share This Page