A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?

Started Dec 20, 2012 | Discussions
Moogles
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A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
Dec 20, 2012

I own a 5D2, a 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II. My wife has the NEX 6 with its kit lens, 16-50mm f/3.5 - f/5.6.

Initially, I had plan to ditch all my DSLR gear for mirrorless but photos from the NEX 6 was below satisfactory. The results from NEX 6 is OK, nothing fantastic. So, I hold off the thought and decided to keep my DSLR gear.

I am not a fan of rumors but when Canonrumors.com posted something about the new 24-70mm f/2.8 L II, Canon really made one. Now, the new rumors is that Canon will be creating a new 50mm f/1.2 L. Source: http://www.canonrumors.com/2012/12/patent-a-new-canon-ef-50-f1-2-suggestion-of-a-full-frame-mirrorless/

I am wondering if now's a good time to get the current 50mm f/1.2 L famous for back-focusing and some said it's not, or should I wait. I am not in a hurry but I'm thinking of selling my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II to fund for a 50mm f/1.2 L. What's your advice?

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JohnMatrix
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to Moogles, Dec 20, 2012

Moogles wrote:

I own a 5D2, a 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II. My wife has the NEX 6 with its kit lens, 16-50mm f/3.5 - f/5.6.

Initially, I had plan to ditch all my DSLR gear for mirrorless but photos from the NEX 6 was below satisfactory. The results from NEX 6 is OK, nothing fantastic. So, I hold off the thought and decided to keep my DSLR gear.

I am not a fan of rumors but when Canonrumors.com posted something about the new 24-70mm f/2.8 L II, Canon really made one. Now, the new rumors is that Canon will be creating a new 50mm f/1.2 L. Source: http://www.canonrumors.com/2012/12/patent-a-new-canon-ef-50-f1-2-suggestion-of-a-full-frame-mirrorless/

I am wondering if now's a good time to get the current 50mm f/1.2 L famous for back-focusing and some said it's not, or should I wait. I am not in a hurry but I'm thinking of selling my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II to fund for a 50mm f/1.2 L. What's your advice?

If all you want to do is collect new lenses then yes, I would wait for the 50/1.2L II, due to be released sometime between 2013 and 2020, for approximately 50% more than the current cost of the 50/1.2L.

If you want a 50mm lens to take photos with now, then get the 50/1.2.  Nothing much wrong with it if shooting at wide apertures is your thing.

BTW, replacing an ultra-wde angle zoom lens with a 50mm prime seems like an odd thing to do.  I presume the 16-35 doesn't get much use?  Will you miss having a wide-angle?

PS.  the 50/1.2 doesn't suffer from "back-focusing", it's "focus shift"

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Moogles
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to JohnMatrix, Dec 20, 2012

JohnMatrix wrote:

Moogles wrote:

I own a 5D2, a 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II. My wife has the NEX 6 with its kit lens, 16-50mm f/3.5 - f/5.6.

Initially, I had plan to ditch all my DSLR gear for mirrorless but photos from the NEX 6 was below satisfactory. The results from NEX 6 is OK, nothing fantastic. So, I hold off the thought and decided to keep my DSLR gear.

I am not a fan of rumors but when Canonrumors.com posted something about the new 24-70mm f/2.8 L II, Canon really made one. Now, the new rumors is that Canon will be creating a new 50mm f/1.2 L. Source: http://www.canonrumors.com/2012/12/patent-a-new-canon-ef-50-f1-2-suggestion-of-a-full-frame-mirrorless/

I am wondering if now's a good time to get the current 50mm f/1.2 L famous for back-focusing and some said it's not, or should I wait. I am not in a hurry but I'm thinking of selling my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II to fund for a 50mm f/1.2 L. What's your advice?

If all you want to do is collect new lenses then yes, I would wait for the 50/1.2L II, due to be released sometime between 2013 and 2020, for approximately 50% more than the current cost of the 50/1.2L.

If you want a 50mm lens to take photos with now, then get the 50/1.2. Nothing much wrong with it if shooting at wide apertures is your thing.

BTW, replacing an ultra-wde angle zoom lens with a 50mm prime seems like an odd thing to do. I presume the 16-35 doesn't get much use? Will you miss having a wide-angle?

PS. the 50/1.2 doesn't suffer from "back-focusing", it's "focus shift"

Well, I'd like to think like you but my brain doesn't allow me to, which is why I started a topic like this to get advice from more experienced photographers on what to do.

Yes, I don't use the 16-35 very much, I could have lived with a 17-40 f/4. I dont think I shoot anything more than 24mm on my 5D2. I have the NEX 6 to compensate most of the group photos which don't happen very often either. I am thinking of the 50mm as my walk around lens.

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Marco Nero
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to Moogles, Dec 20, 2012

I own a 5D2, a 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and a 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II. My wife has the NEX 6 with its kit lens, 16-50mm f/3.5 - f/5.6.

Initially, I had plan to ditch all my DSLR gear for mirrorless but photos from the NEX 6 was below satisfactory. The results from NEX 6 is OK, nothing fantastic. So, I hold off the thought and decided to keep my DSLR gear.

I am not a fan of rumors but when Canonrumors.com posted something about the new 24-70mm f/2.8 L II, Canon really made one. Now, the new rumors is that Canon will be creating a new 50mm f/1.2 L. Source: http://www.canonrumors.com/2012/12/patent-a-new-canon-ef-50-f1-2-suggestion-of-a-full-frame-mirrorless/

Canonrumors.com are chock-full of garbage.  That site is awash with false stories published by trolls looking to get a rise out of the camera communities.  Anyone can write in and make claims of a new lens or camera whenever they want to and the vast majority of these claims are FALSE.  The rumor about a new 50mm replacement is based on patents lodged by Canon earlier in the year from a camera that I believe is likely to be from the EOS-M series.  It's FAR more likely when looking at the patent application that it's a lens that might be released alongside the pro-version of the EOS-M than a DSLR.  The description on the patent even implies this.  Take a look at the 135mm L lens... it's an older lens and there's been rumors of a replacement... but think about that for a moment because the rumors of a replacement for this lens have been circulating for 7 years now.  SEVEN YEARS!  Sure, there might be something next year.  Or the year after the next.  But there might not be either.

I am wondering if now's a good time to get the current 50mm f/1.2 L famous for back-focusing and some said it's not, or should I wait. I am not in a hurry but I'm thinking of selling my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II to fund for a 50mm f/1.2 L. What's your advice?

The 50mm f/1.2L is a specialized lens.  MOST people claiming the camera had back-focus were actually shifting their lens forward as they squeezed off a shot.  It's especially common for people who recompose their shots to complain of back-focusing when this is NOT the case.  Canon claims that the concerns with that of backfocussing are minor and only occur at the minimum focusing distance which is 4 feet from the sensor itself and only at specific apertures.  They also claim that this is a feature of this particular lens. Most people won't notice it and it's NOT there when Manual Focus is used.  In a nutshell, it's not a problem.  You could likewise argue that the 35mm f/1.4L lens is likewise inferior to others in the same ballpark but to do so would be to dismiss the ocean of spectacular images it produces.  I own the 50mm f/1.2L lens and it is a very decent lens with a practical field of view for portraits or related imagery.  Canon know how sought after the 50mm lens is but that the price makes it prohibitive.  So any new release would mean that the cost is certainly going to go up by at least a third to 50% more and that will kill off a lot of interest.  What more can they do?  Well, the only thing people seem to expect on a new lens is Image Stabilization but that doesn't make sense on a lens so fast.  Especially when you consider that newer DSLRs are capable of such noise-free images these days when coupled with higher ISOs.

I own the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II as well but I tend not to use that lens as often as I would like to.  I do find the bokeh on the 50mmL to be extreme and this amount of bokeh simply possible on the 16-35mmL.  It depends what you want to shoot.  I use the 16-35mmL for landscapes and architecture because it's a wide lens.  The 50mmL is a specialized lens although you could use it as your only lens if you wanted.  The shallow DOF inherent with this lens makes it ideal for separating the subjects from the background.  It's got a tight view if you're not using it on a full frame camera.  But it's about the fastest lens I have ever used.

The 50mmL is a unique lens with some of the strongest bokeh you'll get in a portrait lens without an unusable focal length in a prime like 135mmL or the 85mmL.  Those too have extreme bokeh but they tend to have too much zoom to be as flexible as the 50mmL.  My wife uses the 50mmL as her on-the-camera-all-the-time lens.  I use mine on an EOS-M that I've been playing with although it's normally on one of my DSLRs.

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robbert100
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to Marco Nero, Dec 20, 2012

Hi Marco,

You are spot on!!

The EF 50-1.2L is a great lens provided if one knows how to use it to make the most of it's characteristics.

(still considering to buy one to fill the gap between my EF 24-1.4mkII and EF 135-2.0L the latter more and more replaced by my EF 100-2.8L IS)

Best regards,

Rob

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TheoC
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to Moogles, Dec 20, 2012

Liveview on the 5d2 is very good and the lens is a joy to use. I also use it with adapter on the Nex (Nex 5n) and it is fantastically good wide open. I do not even use the focus peaking feature of the Nex, when focus is acheved the evf starts flickering ever so slightly and it helps. I tried peaking with different colours and it was not for me. There is no point in stopping down a lens like this, the 50/1.4 EF would be the better choice. I quite like the fact that the Eos to Nex adapter has no aperture iris and I use the lenses only wide open. I hope you find a reasonably priced 50/1.2L. failing that, there are quite a few old 55 or 50 1.2 fd lenses that can be adapted to the Nex with a simple adapter. With aperture, to boot.

Theo

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tim73
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to Moogles, Dec 20, 2012

That's a rather odd set of lenses.  Two fairly specialised zooms, and nothing at all in the "standard" focal lengths.

And the 50mm f1.2 is another specialised lens. The sort of lens you'd buy only if you knew what you wanted it for.

My advice is, that if you need to ask, then this lens is not for you. Look at your favourite pictures, and see what focal length you used. Then decide if the picture is lacking anything technically, and let that guide your purchasing.

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lighthunter80
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to Moogles, Dec 21, 2012

I got the 16-35L II and the 50L myself on a 5Dmk2. I'd never sell the wide zoom. It is too versatile and even for me as a mainly 'people shooter' a good mix in the portfolio if not all images are taken at 50/85/135.

The 50L is a great lens. I read so much about it. Negative and positive but after all I am always impressed when I see the results at f1.2. It's jus so different from any other 50mm lens. I owned the Canon 50 1.8 II and 1.4 and Sigma 50 1.4 but none gave me this wow experience. The Sigma was relatively close with a nice bokeh but not as sharp wide open.

I can definitely recommend the 50L if you need/want this focal length and if you shoot it wide open.

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Thomas Kachadurian
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to JohnMatrix, Dec 21, 2012

JohnMatrix wrote:

PS. the 50/1.2 doesn't suffer from "back-focusing", it's "focus shift"

It's a lens I wanted to love and have bought and sold twice for severe focus problems. I am currently using a Sigma 50mm f1.4 that I checked and outperformed my 50F1.2L at everything but shooting at f1.2.

Sometimes the red ring is just trim.

Tom

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lighthunter80
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Re: A new Canon 50mm f/1.2 L?
In reply to Thomas Kachadurian, Dec 22, 2012

Thomas Kachadurian wrote:

JohnMatrix wrote:

PS. the 50/1.2 doesn't suffer from "back-focusing", it's "focus shift"

It's a lens I wanted to love and have bought and sold twice for severe focus problems. I am currently using a Sigma 50mm f1.4 that I checked and outperformed my 50F1.2L at everything but shooting at f1.2.

Sometimes the red ring is just trim.

Tom

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Call me crazy. I happen to like photos of cats.

Interesting... I bought my 50L in 2011 and I had the Sigma 50 and the Canon 50 1.4 at home at the same time. It was a good opportunity to test them against each other and the Sigma was noticeably the softest at 1.4

Funny thing is that the Canon 1.4 was a tad sharper than the L but with less contrast and not so nice bokeh. I gave back the Sigma and sold the Canon 1.4 and am happy with the L ever since.

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Rick Knepper
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Not a rumor, it's a patent
In reply to Moogles, Dec 23, 2012

There have been many patents filed which never come to fruititon.

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Rick Knepper
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You've got this mostly wrong but then you are not the first.
In reply to Moogles, Dec 23, 2012

Moogles wrote:

I am wondering if now's a good time to get the current 50mm f/1.2 L famous for back-focusing and some said it's not, or should I wait.

The following is not a technical discussion but rather it is more of a historical perspective of this form.

The 50L does not have the same corrective measures for spherical aberration that other Ls employ from the 100L to the 24L. Within ten feet AND stopped down up to f4-f5.6ish, the lens will shift focus, one of the symptoms of spherical aberration. Beyond f5.6, DoF will cover any shifts. At super wide apertures other than wide open, even a shift in focus onto a tiny closer or further surface of say the face will create the resemblence of a back focus. Not back focus as we common think of it, but a shift of focus. Shooting wide open should not produce the focus shift phenonmenom.

By the way, all lenses have spherical aberrations because their elements are rounded.

Having said this, there was a batch of 50Ls that indeed back focused wide open (as we commonly think of back focus) and if we had had MA back in the day, this probably would not have been a matter of concern. The hysteria of this issue was exaserbated by the focus shift issue and eventually melded into one issue by folks truly ignorant of lens design (and with reading comprehension problems because the following link was posted dozens of times by myself and others).

Common hardware corrections for focusing at close distances are aspherical lenses and floating elements. Every L lens from 24mm to 100mm has a floating element (including the original 50L) except for the current 50L. In fact, it is rare for 50mm lenses from any manufacturer to have floating elements.

Common non-hardware corrections for lenses without floating elements and the need to focus on subject matter that is closer than eight to ten feet are 1.) don't use it like this, 2.) learn how your lens shifts and correct for the shift before the shot or 3.) stop down past the DoF needed to bring the area into focus including the surrounding humps and bumps.

So what do you think the conclusion should be for someone considering the purchase of this lens and knowing that it does not have a strong correction for focus shift when close focusing? If you want to buy this lens to take a head shot of your newborn from 3 feet away, what would be your conclusion about the 50L. Not the right tool maybe? Better choice: the 85L maybe and step back, or the 35L and crop.

Here's the technical description of spherical aberration and focus shift that helped end my ignorance of this particular lens design and allowed me to see that my 50L wasn't defective, I was just using it incorrectly or not as the manufacturer intended.

http://toothwalker.org/optics/spherical.html

Do I wish Canon had included a floating element in this lens (which we take for granted in the other Ls from 24mm to 100mm)? Yes, I do but that's the design choice Canon made which has produced the seemingly endless controversy fueled by ignorance of course.This forum can't even discuss solutions because there aren't enough folks that understand the issue and that being, would a floating element detract from other elements of the lens IQ and would one pay the extra cost? It's similar to the controversy of IS in the 24-70 II (though much better understood by users). But if we were to simulate the same kind of ignorant discourse on the 24-70 II that we've seen on the 50L, we'd see complaining that 24-70 II is too soft and prone to shake. At least here, most folks know why they think this. Now you know the why fors of the 50L.

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lighthunter80
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Re: You've got this mostly wrong but then you are not the first.
In reply to Rick Knepper, Dec 23, 2012

Rick Knepper wrote:

Moogles wrote:

I am wondering if now's a good time to get the current 50mm f/1.2 L famous for back-focusing and some said it's not, or should I wait.

The following is not a technical discussion but rather it is more of a historical perspective of this form.

The 50L does not have the same corrective measures for spherical aberration that other Ls employ from the 100L to the 24L. Within ten feet AND stopped down up to f4-f5.6ish, the lens will shift focus, one of the symptoms of spherical aberration. Beyond f5.6, DoF will cover any shifts. At super wide apertures other than wide open, even a shift in focus onto a tiny closer or further surface of say the face will create the resemblence of a back focus. Not back focus as we common think of it, but a shift of focus. Shooting wide open should not produce the focus shift phenonmenom.

By the way, all lenses have spherical aberrations because their elements are rounded.

Having said this, there was a batch of 50Ls that indeed back focused wide open (as we commonly think of back focus) and if we had had MA back in the day, this probably would not have been a matter of concern. The hysteria of this issue was exaserbated by the focus shift issue and eventually melded into one issue by folks truly ignorant of lens design (and with reading comprehension problems because the following link was posted dozens of times by myself and others).

Common hardware corrections for focusing at close distances are aspherical lenses and floating elements. Every L lens from 24mm to 100mm has a floating element (including the original 50L) except for the current 50L. In fact, it is rare for 50mm lenses from any manufacturer to have floating elements.

Common non-hardware corrections for lenses without floating elements and the need to focus on subject matter that is closer than eight to ten feet are 1.) don't use it like this, 2.) learn how your lens shifts and correct for the shift before the shot or 3.) stop down past the DoF needed to bring the area into focus including the surrounding humps and bumps.

So what do you think the conclusion should be for someone considering the purchase of this lens and knowing that it does not have a strong correction for focus shift when close focusing? If you want to buy this lens to take a head shot of your newborn from 3 feet away, what would be your conclusion about the 50L. Not the right tool maybe? Better choice: the 85L maybe and step back, or the 35L and crop.

Here's the technical description of spherical aberration and focus shift that helped end my ignorance of this particular lens design and allowed me to see that my 50L wasn't defective, I was just using it incorrectly or not as the manufacturer intended.

http://toothwalker.org/optics/spherical.html

Do I wish Canon had included a floating element in this lens (which we take for granted in the other Ls from 24mm to 100mm)? Yes, I do but that's the design choice Canon made which has produced the seemingly endless controversy fueled by ignorance of course.This forum can't even discuss solutions because there aren't enough folks that understand the issue and that being, would a floating element detract from other elements of the lens IQ and would one pay the extra cost? It's similar to the controversy of IS in the 24-70 II (though much better understood by users). But if we were to simulate the same kind of ignorant discourse on the 24-70 II that we've seen on the 50L, we'd see complaining that 24-70 II is too soft and prone to shake. At least here, most folks know why they think this. Now you know the why fors of the 50L.

__
Rick Knepper, photographer, non-professional, shooting for pleasure, check my profile for gear list and philosophy.

Thanks Rick for this clarification. I use my L since about 1.5 years now and never noticed any focussing issue. I shoot it mostly between 1.2 and 1.8

I was skeptical when I bought this lens but never regret it. Prices at least here in Australia are 20% down compared to early 2011. The 85L is not an alternative to me, it's an addition. In my case I got the Sigma 85 1.4 and saved a lot with the same image quality.

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William DIllard
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Re: You've got this mostly wrong but then you are not the first.
In reply to lighthunter80, Dec 24, 2012

lighthunter80 wrote:

Rick Knepper wrote:

Moogles wrote:

I am wondering if now's a good time to get the current 50mm f/1.2 L famous for back-focusing and some said it's not, or should I wait.

__

Thanks Rick for this clarification. I use my L since about 1.5 years now and never noticed any focussing issue. I shoot it mostly between 1.2 and 1.8

I was skeptical when I bought this lens but never regret it. Prices at least here in Australia are 20% down compared to early 2011. The 85L is not an alternative to me, it's an addition. In my case I got the Sigma 85 1.4 and saved a lot with the same image quality.

The Sigma is very very good because you don't have to get so close to your subject to get really good background blur but I found that I had to lessen the contrast in camera in order for me to feel comfortable with it. If you notice a lot of pictures with the Sigma 85 seem stiff. I think Sigma was out to compete with Canon so they made the lens overly contrasty but they did not have to do that because the lens is sharp as it is and fast focusing too. I reduce the contrast by -1 and it is perfect !

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