Canon 7D, Canon 50mm f/1.2L lens, 1/320 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100

Yesterday I wrote a mini-review of the Canon 85mm f/1.2L lens, and today I’m going to share my thoughts on the 50mm f/1.2L lens. This is not a scientific and thorough review, just some thoughts and observations on the lens after using it for a full day.

First of all, I really like this lens. The focal length is perfect for a lot of the work I do (food and people shots), and since I use a Canon 7D which has a crop-sensor then the true focal length is actually closer to 85mm.

In the studio I chose not to shoot it at its widest aperture (f/1.2). I read reviews that said it is sharper at smaller apertures so I stuck with it at f/2.8 for the majority of my images. Wide-open (f/1.2) gives it way too little depth of field for my tastes, plus it’s difficult to nail the focus when you have such a shallow range to work with. I found that f/2.8 was a very nice sweet spot and the focus is acceptable.

Another thing I notices was that the CA is acceptable at this aperture. There is some slight cyan CA in this image but most of it is only noticeable when zoomed in at 100-200%, and it would be easy to remove if I wanted to.

I also really like the fact that I can get in close with the lens, as close as 1.5′, and with the crop-factor in play it feels like I’m in much closer.

The lens is also pretty big, and heavy for a 50mm. It’s got a lot of top-quality glass so that is expected, but I don’t think I would use this as a “walk-around” lens. When I’m working I usually shoot with a battery grip, and I will remove it when I’m doing casual shooting. The size of this lens, however, made shooting without the grip awkward since the camera/lens setup felt off-balance, so I would be less likely to take this around with me when not in “work” mode.

The price of this lens (around $1,500) is the only thing keeping me from running to Pictureline and buying one today. I already own the 50mm f/1.8 (thanks to a generous friend) but would like to have a higher-quality lens in this range that I can use for work so I plan on purchasing the 50mm f/1.4 instead (around $370). It will be nice to have a fast, quality lens in my collection since my other “L” lenses are f/4 at their widest aperture. Plus it’s much smaller and I can tote it around with me when I’m doing casual shooting with my 7D.

Huge thanks to my friend dav.d for letting me play with his 85mm and 50mm lenses over the past few days. :)