Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens

Last update: Review & Sample Photos @ Photozone (added on 23 March’07)

Canon has announced its new L-series standard prime lens: the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. The lens is featuring Latest Ultrasonic Motor (USM) for fast and near silent auto focus with manual focus override with environmental seals providing dust and moisture resistance. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM should be available in November 2006 for US$1600.


>> REVIEWS (last updated: 23.03.07)

PhotoZone reviews the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens and writes;
“The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 USM L is a specialty lens for those requiring the maximum in depth-of-field capabilities. At large apertures the lens produces the beautiful, buttery bokeh which can be expected from such a lens. Technically the resolution results are very good to excellent but not really superior to its cheaper cousin – the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. The center performance is generally stellar but the borders can´t quite follow although they remain easily in very good territory beyond f/1.2. The vignetting is quite high at maximum aperture and CAs are unusually pronounced for a fix-focal. The build quality of the lens is exceptional and the AF speed is very fast for such a lens.”

KenRockwell reviews the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens and writes;
“If you’re a regular photographer like me, personally I rarely use middle focal lengths and prefer the convenience of a zoom. I prefer wider lenses. I want to try the Canon 35mm f/1.4L and 24mm f/1.4L, which can be hand-held at even slower speeds because of their lower magnification. If you’re on a budget, I haven’t tried Canon’s 50mm f/1.4 ($310) or 50mm f/1.8 ($80) yet, but I doubt you’d notice any difference in actual use. If you’re on a budget, you’ll be happy to know that the extra $1,200 you spend on the f/1.2 version goes towards resistance to weather and better performance f/1.2, where it’s unlikely you’ll ever get to see that performance in real photos.”

TheDigitalPictures reviews the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens and writes;
“The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens is going to be purchased by those who want the best image quality they can get from f/1.2 to f/2, by those needing a more-pleasing background blur quality than the other two 50s deliver, by those requiring the least amount of lens flare in their results or by those who need/want the best quality (build) lens they can get. I can’t say that the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens is a good value, but I do think it is worth the price to serious photographers who need what it can deliver.”

DigitalGrin reviews the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens and writes;
“OK so, is it fair? Probably not. I’m sure there’s lots of physics voodoo that goes into making that f/1.2 work. But the reality is, that the 50 f/1.4 is an incredible performer, at 1/5th the price. Now, if you need f/1.2, well then, the 1.2L is the lens for you 🙂 And let me also say, that the sharpness isn’t horrible at f/1.2, in fact it’s good. But in this example, the 50 f/1.4 was better for sharpness.”

Lord_Malone (a FM forum member) reviews the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens and writes;
“To sum everything up, this is a damn fine lens. If you can justify spending your hard earn dollars on this lens, go for it. I consider it a godsend for the 1.6x users looking for a 85L quality portrait lens. If not, the 50 1.4 and 1.8 versions are by no means lacking in optical quality, and will suffice for 95% of the 50mm shooters out there. This lens fills the niche between my bread and butter 16-35L and 70-200L IS lenses nicely. Great for general photography, low light shooting and portraits. This lens is aimed at the serious amateur with deep pockets (not me) or the serious-as-sh!t pros with deep pockets (not me). This lens deserves to be regarded in the same respect as the Holy Trinity of Canon primes which include the 35L, 85L, 135L. Overall, I think Canon has a winner on their hands. If the price dropped down to the point that would attract “mere mortals” (me), I’m sure there would be nothing but praises being sung about this lens.”

>> SAMPLE PHOTOS (last updated: 23.03.07)

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens Sample Photo @ Photozone
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens Sample Photos @ TheDigitalPictures
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens Sample Photos @ Pbase
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens Sample Photos @ Flickr


Amstelveen, The Netherlands, 24 August, 2006: Canon today releases its new L-series standard prime lens: the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM. Sharing the widest aperture of any lens in Canon’s current EF range, the new model offers extremely fine control over depth of field and consummate low available light performance. It is expected to be popular amongst wedding and portrait photographers, as well as professional photojournalists. Endowed with Canon’s latest AF technologies, the lens embodies the brand’s reputation for superior response high-speed auto focus, while a circular aperture produces beautifully even background blur.

The EF 50mm f/1.2L USM features

Latest Ultrasonic Motor (USM) for fast and near silent auto focus
Full-time manual focus override
Super Spectra coatings and optimised lens element shaping to suppress flare and ghosting
Environmental seals providing dust and moisture resistance
Circular aperture diaphragm for beautifully even background bokeh and ‘removal’ of distracting backgrounds
Distance information passed back to the new E-TTL II flash algorithm of all current model digital EOS cameras
Minimum focus distance 45cm
Lens hood and pouch included in the box.
Low light shooting

At f/1.2, the lens shares the maximum aperture of any lens in Canon’s current range. As such, it is ideal for shooting indoors using available light – a typical requirement of photojournalists and wedding photographers not wishing to disturb or influence a scene with flash.

Fast auto focus

Canon’s latest Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor USM (USM), high speed CPU and improved AF algorithms combine to ensure rapid, highly responsive auto focus. Canon’s Ring-type USM holds the lens with precision and accuracy, the instant it arrives at the correct focus and without overshoot, and features full-time manual focus override.

Portrait photography

The combination of an almost circular aperture diaphragm for attractive bokeh (evenly graduated blurring of out-of-focus areas) and the extremely narrow depth of field at its widest aperture combine to make this an ideal portraiture and studio lens. The f/1.2 aperture can be used to bring tension to a shot by keeping the focus sharp on the subject’s eyes while blurring other facial features.

L-series construction

The L-series is Canon’s elite professional lens range, designed and built to meet the needs of the most demanding professional photographers. To match the weather resistance afforded by EOS-1 series camera bodies, seals and gaskets and a lens mount O-ring prevent the ingress of dust and moisture to keep pros shooting in inclement conditions.

Aspheric element

To combat the softening caused by spherical aberration in conventional wide aperture lenses, a large aspherical lens element with precise variable curvature is incorporated into the 8 lens, 6 group construction. The aspheric element ensures high sharpness and contrast throughout the focus and aperture range.

Super Spectra coatings

In addition to optimised lens shapings to reduce reflections and the use of anti-reflective material inside the lens barrel, the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM employs Canon’s patented Super Spectra lens element coatings. These suppress flare and ghosting – more prone to occur with digital cameras due to reflection off the image sensor. By increasing light absorption, coatings reduce reflections off lens element surfaces to deliver crisp, undistorted images with natural colour balance.

E-TTL II flash integration

The EF 50mm f/1.2L USM transmits distance information to the E-TTL II flash system of all current model digital EOS cameras, improving flash exposure metering when used in conjunction with Canon’s range of EX Speedlite flash units.

Accessories and the environment

The EF 50mm f/1.2L USM comes with a cylindrical lens hood and lens pouch. In keeping with Canon’s Kyosei philosophy of living in harmony with the environment, the lens features only lead-free glass.

One Response to “Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Lens”

  1. katie potter says:

    I am so throughly in lust with this lens. I’ve had it for coming up on about a year now, and in most cases, it has completely replaced all of my other lenses… well, ok, not completely true… but something could happen to all of my other lenses and if I still had this one, I wouldn’t want to murder EVERYONE… which, heh, for me, is saying something!

    It’s pricey but well worth it… and isn’t your career worth investing in? Not a lens for the hobbyist… the prime 50mm makes you work for your shots – despite how awesome the lens is, you won’t become totally schooled overnight, but you’ll start grabbing those shots that make you go, “oh hellz yeah, I can rock this.” And then eventually, you’re steady enough to say goodbye to AF without a tripod… it’s a teacher, of sorts. You kind of have to know exactly what you want BEFORE you start shooting away… you’ll get some great shots in there – granted – but this lens forces you to learn your stuff… and the results are incredible. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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