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4.7 out of 5 stars
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2009
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This lens is Awesome...if you know how to use it. This is the second time I've bought this lens. I've had all versions of the 50mm, f/1.8, f/1.4 twice, and f/1.2L twice. The 1.2 version is in a class of it's own! I shoot with a 1D Mark III and had to micro adjust the lens +9. Now I can shoot wide open at f/1.2 all day long and get sharp pictures. There is no way I could do that with the f/1.4 version. Even after microadjusting it I would still get very bad focus shifts.

Manual focus on the f1.4 is very difficult due to the play on the outside focus ring. You need to turn it 1 or 2mm before the lens would actually focus. Not with the f1.2 version. When you turn the focus ring it will react instantly, no lag. It's a pleasure to manual focus.

I have a 24-70mm f/2.8L, 17-40mm f/4L, and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. They are now collecting dust on my desk. The 50mm has not left my Mark III since I calibrated it. It's so small (compared to my other lenses) I can carry it everywhere. The f/1.2 allows me to shoot pretty much anywhere I want so I don't even need to carry a flash. This thing can see in the dark!

So if you're deciding between the f/1.4 or the f/1.2, just go borrow or rent the lens and try it out first. Online reviews don't mean anything. Shoot with it for a week and you'll be hooked. Hands down my favorite lens! If I had to pick one lens to cover my weddings it would be the Canon 50mm f/1.2L!!!
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56 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2008
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I have owned/tested several copies of this lens from 2006-2008, the most recent one having a date code of UW07xx and have found that all have the infamous focus shifting issue.

Focus Shift Issue:
When shooting from within 4-5ft from the subject and closer all the way to MFD, at an angle (say 45 degrees), and between the apertures of f2-f4, even f5.6, as you stop the lens down, the focus plane shifts towards the back. For the lack of a better description the lens progressively back-focus as you stop the lens down from f1.2 to f5.6 so what was in focus at f1.2 is OOF by the time the lens is stopped down to f2-f5.6. At f8 the shift is hidden due to widening DoF. What this means is that focusing on the left eye will result in an OOF left eye and the left ear being in focus. Completely unacceptable.

Again, I stress the point that this is situation specific. When you are further away from the subject, the problem is still there, but is "hidden" by DoF limits.

But the problem is very real. Canon have known at least since May of 2007, promised to "take a look into it". Over a year later, nothing.

Good luck sending in the lens to Canon for calibration. They don't have the medicine for this illness! Granted my copy came back a little better than before (used to backfocus very badly and not even the Micro Adjust feature of my 1DMKIII could compensate for it). I sent mine in 3 times and grew tired of this exercise.

On the seldom occasion that the lens nails the AF, it can be as sweet as the 85L, which makes it even more frustration. So much potential...

I would recommend purchasing this lens from a place you can easily return it. If you are lucky enough to find a copy that's acceptable (again, the shift problem is inherent in the design of the lens, so you cannot completely avoid it) then hang on to it for dear life.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2012
Style Name: Base
I have had my 50MM 1.2L for a few days now. At first I thought there was something wrong with the auto focus mechanism but then I realized I needed to change my settings on my camera and change the way I'm focusing. The very shallow DOF makes this lens very difficult to focus if you're using focus-recompose method with the shutter pressed halfway. I changed my camera settings on my Canon 5D Mk II from One Shot to AI Servo. After some research online, I also realized I had to use the Back Button Focus (BBF) and Focus Lock to lock focus on my subject and then recompose and press the shutter. Removing the shutter from the auto focus and using BBF allows me to get the most accurate focusing on this lens at ANY aperture ... even wide open! I've read some reviews saying this had problems with back focusing but I haven't noticed that. It's a very fast lens and it can see in the dark!!! I also read reviews saying this was too heavy but I think it balances the weight on my 5D Mk ii perfectly.

This is an excellent lens and I'm excited about all the photos I'll get out of this! I haven't compared with the 50mm 1.4 so I can't speak to that... just thought I would make the leap and get the L series. It's worth it!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2011
Style Name: Base
I bought this lens to replace my Canon 50mm 1.4, but I soon found out that it is more of complement to the other lens than a substitute. Given its price, I thought it would exceed the 1.4 in every aspect. But I was wrong. Dead wrong! (well not really dead wrong, but I always wanted to say that, hehe)
My new lens arrived just yesterday. The date code: UZ10 (October 2011), factory fresh!! The very first thing I noticed of course is its weight and build quality. To me, that alone is worth a $500 premium over the 1.4. It feels f***ing fantastic to hold and gives a good balance with my 5DII.
Then I mounted it and did couple of test shots with both lens at identical settings. This lens has strengths and weaknesses over the Canon 50mm 1.4. Below are my findings:

Strengths:

Way better build quality
Slightly better and creamier bokeh.
1/2 stop faster (@ f/1.2)

Weaknesses:

Slightly less contrast (could be because it allows a little more light in)
Slightly less saturation
Softer at aperture f/2.8 and above
More Chromatic aberration (CA) at comparable apertures.

I would not consider the 1.2 to be any sharper than the 1.4 even at their widest respected apertures. At least not to my naked eyes. I really did expect a bit more from this lens. I will keep it for its strengths, but had planned to sell the 1.4 to cover (a little) the price of the 1.2. But after seeing the comparison shots, I am debating whether or not to sell the 1.4, as it has bitingly sharp images, especially from f/2.8 and above that neither the 50 1.2 nor my 24-70mm 2.8L can match.
My recommendation: if you have the 50mm 1.4 or deciding between the two, consider this: Do you really NEED that slightly cremier bokeh? Do you really NEED that ½ stop more light? And will you be using this lens professionally on a regular basis to exploit its build quality? And more importantly, are you willing to make sacrifices like slightly less saturation, less contrast, more CA and a lower sharpness at f/ 2.8 and above. If your answer is yes, then this lens is for you. Otherwise, appreciate the 1.4 version. I know I do, even more so than before!

Compare and make your own judgment. I posted a few of comparison shots at my flickr page. Search under people, "Sheedoe". Hi res available at photobucket dot com. Search users, "sheedoe".
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 26, 2011
Style Name: Base
This is a pro lens, so it's going to be heavy and it's going to cost a premium. But for me the most important attribute is image quality, and that's what this lens is all about. When I first got this I had still owned my 50mm 1.4, so I did a fairly extensive side-by-side test. If this premium 1.2 lens wasn't exceptionally better, it was getting sold and I would keep the 1.4, because the 1.4 copy I had is quite sharp. The conclusion was NO CONTEST, the image quality of the 1.2 is astounding! I use it on a 5D Mark II and I'm shooting at 1.2 90% of the time. The background softness is exquisite, and what is IN focus is so real looking you feel like you could reach out and grab it. Once you close down to 2.0 or smaller the sharpness is even crazier. But at 1.2 on a full frame, even outside (meaning 1/8000 ISO 100!), you get this surreal studio look even to a bicycle in the sun, and there's this VERY desirable dark vignetting that frames the shot in a fantastic way. This lens is expensive but worth it, and it feels like it it's made of lead. Don't get me wrong, the 1.4 is a great lens ESPECIALLY for 1100 bucks less, but when I did the pixel peeping on a variety of images from both lenses, the 1.4 ran out of breath quality-wise. HOWEVER, if you are shooting for the web and not planning on big prints, get the 1.4 unless you need the slim 1.2 depth of field. Also, if you have a crop sensor camera, you're using the sweet spot of any lens you mount, so the 1.2 may not be worth it especially since the minimum depth of field is wider in depth on a crop camera. Also, due to the nature of a 1.2 lens, you WILL have some chromatic abberation and auto-focus will be a tad slower. But if you're a pro photog with a full frame body and you shoot a lot of events like weddings, you'll get a look that is matched by no other. Find Jasmine Star's website and see her wedding images, 70% are done with this 50mm 1.2, but be prepared to be totally sold on having one. I'm sold my 24-70/2.8 to help pay off this 1.2, a VERY sharp zoom that I didn't think I'd part with, but now I don't miss it at all, I just zoom with my feet. This 50/1.2 along with my 70-200mm and the 16-35mm gives me everything I need, I can't recommend this lens enough. The 5D2 with the 50/1.2 has become my favorite point 'n shoot, lol. Try it first, many places rent them, but I would say to start eating ramen noodles now and save your bucks, you're going to want this lens.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2010
Style Name: BaseVerified Purchase
...this will blow your mind! Its WELL worth the $ spent, but if you don't plan to shoot a lot of low light shots, save your $$ and get the f/1.4 for a fraction of the price. With the exception of the macro, I've now owned every Canon 50mm EF mount prime lens. I first started out with the f/1.8 Mark II. The build quality on that made me feel nervous. The image quality was OK, but very soft wide open and not sharp until f/5.6. So I sold it. The f/1.4 unit was better, but not good enough. The bokeh was "choppy" and "grainy". It back-focused often and it was a noisy focus. Also, the plastic construction and focus mechanism still left me nervous. So I sold that, too. After mulling it over for quite some time, I finally broke down and bought the f/1.2. Holy moly is this thing incredible! The L lens build quality is (as you know) bar-none and top-notch. The focus is quiet and accurate. The bokeh is "dreamy" and smooth. Contrast is excellent...saturation is excellent....this lens is the one! The only (and I mean only) thing about this lens that I don't like about this lens the 72mm filter size. Every one of my other lenses has 77mm filters. I wish this was a 77mm barrel so I could use my expensive B+W Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with it. I even had a surplus 77mm UV/Haze filter sitting in my bag, but its of no use on this lens. With the other 50mm primes I've owned, I never got filters for them...seemed overkill on cheaper lenses, but with the amount of moolah you fork over for this f/1.2 bad boy, you'll want to protect that forward element!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2007
Style Name: BaseVerified Purchase
The photos I get with this lens are phenomenal! It gives me an extra stop or stop and a half over any of my other fast lenses, which can make a difference in low light. I love the super-narrow depth of field, too. There is nothing like it in 35mm photography, except maybe the 85mm f1.2 lens that Canon sells.

Granted, it is not as versatile as a zoom, but there is no zoom lens in the world that can approach the performance of this lens. You just have to know what it is best used for - normal, 50mm views of narrow depth of field. It is a fantastic short portrait lens. Though the 85mm might be even better for portraits, this lens will be more useful in more diverse situations than an 85mm fixed focal length lens.

The shallow depth of field can be used to make your subjects pop. They'll be even stronger, more prominent subjects as the background blurs while your subject is sharp.

You will be able to get more natural light shots in low light, too, as you won't need a flash as often. I greatly prefer available light to flash, so this lens helps me get more of those shots.

Best piece of glass I have ever laid my hands on.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2008
Style Name: Base
When I ran across this lens on Amazon, I thought it would have the same mixed reviews as other sources filled with people that don't actually take pictures. I have the the 85 f/1.2L II and had the 35 f/1.4L which was stolen and also have owned some of Nikon's best lenses. I picked up the 50 f/1.2L to see for myself. On a full frame body, the 50 f/1.2L offers the same very unique f/1.2 isolation you get with the 85L but with faster focusing and more compact size and weight compared to the 85L and 35L. It reminds me of why the 50mm lens was the go to lens in the film days. I used to take my 35L with me everywhere but now find 50mm on a 5D wide enough and pack either the 24mm ts-e or 24-70 if I know I'll need something wider. I don't like using a flash and am used to shooting with very little light. If you are comfortable with shooting at wide apertures, than you'll likely love this lens. If not, start with the 50 1.4 or 1.8 and see if you notice anything that could be improved on. Don't take my word for it. It's not like you're buying a car where you lose thousands of dollars when you drive away from the dealer. Lenses hold there value really well. Buy one, try it out, than sell it for a small 'rental fee' if it's not for you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2010
Style Name: Base
After a lot of conflicting research I bought a new 50 MM 1.2l in 2010. I've had no issues with this lens at all. This is on my Canon 5d Mark 2 at least 75% of the time. I wanted a daily lens for portraits. I do recommend this lens for anyone looking for a 50MM. However you do need to be aware of the following:

1) You have to know how to use a 1.2 aperture. If you put the camera in auto mode and its a darker scene you will be at 1.2 often, which will make full scene focusing next to impossible.

2) This lens focuses slowly. It has a lot of glass to move. You just have to get use to it. It's not as slow as the 85 1.2l though.

3) You may have to use manual focus every now and again in dark scenes. You have to be ultra precise with the 1.2.

Other than that the low light usage is amazing and the image quality is just stunning.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2007
Style Name: BaseVerified Purchase
After over 10 years of several point and shoots, and "prosumers", I finally jumped into the DSLR territory with a EOS XTi (just the body, no kit lens). I ordered this 50 mm f/1.2 lens to go the extreme: fastest possible lens with the supposedly "L" reputation.

I have taken several pictures with it and I must admit, I can never go back to shooting with flash or fill flash on. The other reviewer is correct, it amazes me the quality of the pictures one is able to take in dim or very low light.

The so called "bokeh" is present, and easily obtained.

I have no other experience with other L or "non L" lens- but I am happy with this 50 mm prime lens. It is not too heavy and certainly does not look obvious. It definitely has a very solid feel.

I checked for any "backfocus" issues reported in some instances, but found non with this issue.
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