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Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM Review – Worth the Money?

Photographer Dustin Abbott does a full review of the sometimes polarizing Canon EF 50mm f/12L USM lens. A real world review accompanied by a number of sample images. You can also read the full written review that covers a variety of other aspects of the lens here:

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  • I thought I was good with a 50mm 1.4G (for my Nikon DSLR), 85mm 1.2L and 70-200mm 2.8L IS II but it seems the 50mm 1.2L and 135mm 2.0L are must have lenses too.

    I first heard Dirkson appreciate this lenses (and a 24mm 1.4L II) and more recently Vanessa Joy that regard the 50mm 1.2L very highly, also the 135mm 2.0L And now I see this review, which is actually the oldest, and they all concur.

  • i am very happy with my Canon EF 50mm f1.2L which i paid £490.00 second hand and is BOXED

  • To much bla bla bla

  • For better low light photography on a trip to Paris, would this add value that Canon's 50/1.4 wouldn't have?

  • Cool .. no one talks about the intangible like you do .. would you say this lens is in the Zeiss territory for that special drawing gift of the lens? I suppose when you compare it to Zeiss it is actually the cheaper option! In 2020 would you still go for this lens at its price range? I want to get a really good 50mm for my Canon full frame up to $1000. Thank you Maestro!

  • i got one of these Canon 50mm f1.2L and i paid £490.00 second hand and is all in good condition and is all working well

  • you have to choose while making..
    which lens would you choose sigma f1,4 art or canon L1,2

  • Thanks Dustin, I Soooo agree with you that character is not measurable 😉

  • B MB M

    Author Reply

    So much talking and so few illustrations.


    Author Reply

    It's not undefinable, it's the 1.2

  • Dustin. I love how you don’t just take how a lens test and determine your review based on that. Everything that you said about it having a special look that you couldn’t nail down is dead on. I took a look on Flikr and it’s almost 3D and the color pop. I’ve honest never seen images have this certain look that this lens gives. I’m about to get one for 700 shipped.

  • PoofPoof

    Author Reply

    Thank you

  • I got 50mm f/1.8 Mk I, 50mm f/1.4, and 50mm f/1.2. Only the 50mm f/1.2 is on my camera all the time, the weather seal, bokeh, and most importantly the RED RING AND BIG OMG glass just make it something you wanna carry out.

  • Hello Dustin! Thank you for the informative and honest review! Could you recommend a few sharp lenses for outdoor lifestyle photography? Prime lenses only please.

  • Dustin, If Money wa not a factor, Which would you choose, The Canon 50mm 1.2 or the Sigma Art 50mm 1.4?

  • I started researching lens sharpness recently b/c I was pretty unhappy with how sterile and digital most of my portrait pics looked using my Sony A7III. I have come to the conclusion that these super sharp lenses that score off the charts with DXO are not the look that I am after. I am seriously considering selling off all my Sony gear including the 50mm 1.4, 135mm 1.8, 35mm 2.8 and 85mm 1.8 and switching over to the 6D Mark II and Canon lenses.

  • Dustin, in light of having used the best 50mm ever: RF 50L F1.2, have you refreshed your views on the old tired EF 50L F1.2? I've had both lenses, let me tell you, the EF 50L is not in the same league as these: 85L and 135L. However I did get the RF 50L and wow!! On my R its truely magical, I dare say perfect, and everything the EF 50L should've been. If one must get a 50mm for their EF mount body, I would suggest they get instead the Sigma Art 50mm…its a lot better than the EF 50L f1.2.

  • I couldn't care less about the downsides…..I'm buying this lens!

  • Thank you for this thouthful review, Dustin!
    This lens is such an imperfection. It is absolutely the softest Canon L-lens wide open (and second of all independently from aperture) among those I own, and I have quite a bit of this glass in my kit.
    It is also second slowest in af – department, only faster than 85mm 1.2 and this is unsurpassed king of CA. So much of aberrations you wouldn't find anywhere else as this glass delivers.
    But it is a fantastic tool for lovely images. One of my best portraits I made with this glass and I always know I'll get some nice pictures each time I put it on my camera. This color, oily paintins like, this very pleasant skin tone and dreamy look, those couldn't be measured with a lineal. For those who are looking for a pro grade 50mm,
    It is hard to consider this buy for a full price, but if you can find a good deal as I did. Then go for it! You wouldn't regret.
    And yes, I admire engineers who designed such a fast lens in this tiny and light weight body. Still very impressive!

  • Totally agree with you. Nice review 🙂

  • Came here after researching what Scott Schuman -The Sartorialist uses, and yes I think it's true. That lens delivers on some 'magic' that some do not. The reviewer's own photos are dreamy and joyful and I definitely want that aspect in my photos. 🙂

  • it's super sharp in the middle, the edges are gonna be BOKEH! anyway. I haven't seen complaints about BOKEH! being bit soft.

  • I know this is an old review, but I am curious how the old takumar 50 1.4 holds up against this as far as IQ goes. The more I shoot, the more I’m appreciating 50mm rather than my usual 35mm, so this lens is a consideration if I can find one for the right price

  • I rented this lens during a family trip to New York. It is the PERFECT companion for the Canon EOS 6D. Highly recommended!! I am now saving my pennies to grab one of these for myself. 🙂

  • good review but ffs man, stand still and get some clothes that fit!

  • stand further when recording please, also close the aperture more.

  • 85mm 1.2 or 50mm 1.2?

  • Mr GMr G

    Author Reply

    I was brought here to your insightful review because thanks to channels like yours, I've learned to test lenses for myself, and have found that wide open, this lens is pretty terrible (IMO)! I will probably never shoot people at f/1.2, but it's nice to know when your lens is excellent throughout the entire range. With the Chromatic aberration issues and lack of fidelity at wider apertures, this sadly, is not. Thank you for all of your great content over the years.

  • Does something move around inside when you shake it? I’m worried about mine

  • I will just get a sharp lens and put some fingerprints on the front filter if I need soft… no point to pay high price for a optically poor lens..

  • Not sure about this one. I mean I've seen several wide-open shots from other 50mm lenses that made it rather impossible to tell apart from the L. But then he did say RARELY matched it, so…

  • is this1.2 L lens is good result images to my 750D? thanks..

  • is this1.2 L lens is good result images to my 750D? thanks..

  • Nice review. I have one and I really like it. I was suprised at how good it was at 1.2. Based on the comments I had read I expected it to be almost umusable. I use it at weddings and find it particularly flattering on women and the softening effect it has on the parents of the bride and groom. They think I am a photographic god lol.

  • Great review Dustin, only read the review on your website last night…and here you are!