Canon 50mm f/1.2 L
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L (full-frame and APS-C coverage, 72mm filters, 20.9 oz./592g, 1.5'/0.45m close-focus, about $1,620). bigger. I'd get mine at Amazon or at Adorama. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Adorama or directly to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It helps me keep adding to this free website when you get yours through those links — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. Thanks for your support! Ken.
NEW: Premium 50mm Lenses Compared 04 September 2014
Canon 50mm Lenses Compared 05 Nov 2013
see also Canon EF 50mm f/1.0 L USM (1989-2000)
This Canon 50mm f/1.2L is the sharpest 50mm lens I've ever used at apertures faster than f/1.4.
Just grab the ring at any time for instant manual focus override.
It's just about the same as its larger, older brother, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.0 L, with this f/1.2 lens having a little more overall contrast and sharper in the corners wide open.
If you need sharpness at wide apertures you can't get with the smaller and much less expensive 50mm f/1.4 USM, this 50 1.2 delivers. Once you're shooting at normal apertures like f/4, this 1.2 lens is the same as the 50/1.8 II, either of which are a little bit sharper than the 1.4 USM.
Canon 50mm f/1.2L on a black Canon Rebel XTi.
Note how the prism of the tiny XTi has been designed to accommodate even these crazy professional lenses without obstruction.
1.) Best super-speed 50mm lens I've ever used, with no veiling haze like conventional fast 50mm lenses wide open.
3.) Great, modern ergonomics.
2.) The $125 50/1.8 II is just as sharp if you're not shooting at large apertures.
Canon calls this the Canon Lens EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM.
EF: Electronic Focus. All modern Canon lenses focus with a motor in the lens.
L: Expensive as L. No exact technical meaning other than this being Canon's lingo for lenses with extra durability and weather sealing. L lenses work on all cameras including film and full-frame digital. Canon puts a red band around the front of L lenses.
USM: Ultra-Sonic Motor: The focus motor operates silently.
Used on a 1.3x camera it gives an angle of view similar to what a 63mm lens would give on a 35mm film camera.
8 elements, 6 groups, including one glass molded (GMo) aspherical element.
The lens has a floating design with which the lens adjusts itself to optimize correction as it's focused.
Canon 50mm f/1.2 at f/1.2 (EF diaphragm not visible). bigger.
8 blade rounded, stopping down to f/16.
Looking in the lens, it's quite round to about f/2.8 and octagonal from about f/4. Out-of-focus points of light are almost always round at every aperture.
1.5' (0.45m) from the image plane (the back of the camera), marked.
Maximum Reproduction Ratio
1:6.7 (0.15x), specified.
Infrared Focus Index
3.384" diameter x 2.581" extension from flange (85.96 x 65.56mm), measured.
20.867 oz. (591.6g), new sample measured in November 2013.
20.894 oz. (592.3g), new sample measured in March 2007.
Canon ES-78 Hood.
ES-78 plastic bayonet, reversible. Included.
LP1214 pouch, included.
24 August, 2006.
$1,620, November 2013. ($1,259 after rebates).
$1,600, March 2007.
Canon 50mm f/1.2 MTF.
It's very good at f/1.2 and of course fantastic from f/2.8 and smaller.
The front and rear groups move inside the barrel. The barrel itself and filter threads don't move.
Focus Distance Scale
Sound and Noise
Manual Focus: Plastic on plastic.
Autofocus: About the same.
Ease of Manual Focusing
Excellent: just grab the ring at any time.
For best results, get a special focus screen optimized for fast lenses. You can't see focus as well with the standard focus screens, which are designed for f/2.8 and slower lenses.
Autofocus Accuracy and Consistency
Sharp results at f/1.2 demand perfect focus accuracy. Depth of field is so thin at f/1.2 that any subject, other than a flat test chart, will mostly be out of focus.
If your camera has it, you may need to adjust AF Fine Tuning for perfect results at f/1.2.
If your camera lacks AF Fine Tuning, it's not likely that any given sample of lens will give perfect results on your camera at f/1.2. No worries, if shot with an older camera, learn how or where to focus for perfect results with your lens.
My 5D Mark III gives consistently great results at f/1.2.
On my original 5D in 2007, I got some frames that were way out of focus, even though the AF system assured me I was AOK. Watch for this if you're shooting this on an older camera.
For perfect results every time at every aperture, focus with Live View, but you probably won't need it.
Manual focus is typical. It takes 130° to turn from infinity to 1.5 feet/0.45 meters (the 50/1.0 L takes 280° to get to 2 feet/0.6 meters).
Breathing is a motion picture term which refers to what happens as you pull (change) focus from near to far.
The image from the Canon 50mm f/1.2L gets bigger as focused closer.
Bokeh is fair. Isolation is excellent at f/1.2, but isolation is a different issue than bokeh.
Bokeh, the quality of defocused blur circles, is mediocre. The blurs circles get lighter along their circumferii at f/1.2.
The bokeh of the 50mm f/1.0 is actually very, very similar.
The 85mm f/1.2L II is much smoother.
Note how the blur circles look like little rolled condoms, not flat circles. Normal, neutral bokeh would yield ordinary circles, and the elusive perfect bokeh (I've never seen it) would render these circles as Gaussian distributions.
Lateral Color Fringes (LCA)
There aren't any lateral color fringes, so long as you're in perfect focus. If you're not in perfect focus, spherochromatism will give other color fringes — but that's a different aberration.
Full-frame image at f/2.8
Unsharpened crop from above image from 12 MP 5D at 100%.
At f/1.2, full-frame 5D.
If you're not in perfect focus, you'll see some secondary axial chromatic aberration (magenta) if you're focused in front of your subject. My autofocus system focused a tiny bit too close, and this is what I get using AF at f/1.2:
Unsharpened crop from above at 100%, autofocus, my 5D.
Same thing at f/1.2, except in proper focus.
To get this in focus I pointed my AF sensor at the bushes a few feet behind the gazebo. My 5D has a consistent focus offset, which is different from the shots where the AF system missed entirely.