50mm f1.0L Comparison to other 50mm lenses (large image)

Started May 3, 2005 | Discussions thread
Elan Remford Veteran Member • Posts: 3,716

You have to go through all this rigamarole to demonstrate a point that seems to be disputed only by those who have never seen or used a 50 f/1.0. Those of us who own them and use them seem to have no problem appreciating them.

Dave W wrote:

Thought those of you interested in the Canon 50mm f1.0L lens might
be like to see a comparison to the 50mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.8 MkI
lenses. Many have stated their avoidance of the f1.0 lens due to
its price on the used market and the relative lack of benefits as
compared to the less costly 50mm lenses. In particular I have seen
it stated that the f1.0 lens is not as sharp as the other 50mm
lenses. I decided to compare them for myself after recently
obtaining the f1.0 lens. A set of comparison photos is shown below.

First, the usual disclaimers - I am not a pro. These results
obviously are only accurate for my copies of the lenses. The 50mm
f1.4 and 50mm f1.8 lenses represent the best I have obtained so far
of multiple samples. In the case of the f1.8 lens, it is the best
of four copies. The f1.4 sample is the best of three. All shots
were captured with a 1D MkII tripod mounted, and with MLU.
Sharpness was set to 4. Multiple shots were taken for each lens
and aperture combination, with the best of several shots selected
for the comparison. My copy of the f1.0 lens appears to back focus
slightly on this camera. I am considering whether to send it to
Canon for a check up, or to leave well enough alone. Will probably
do the latter.

Many have complained that the 50mm f1.0 lens is not useable wide
open. My conclusion is that it depends on what you need for the
shot. Though the wide open sample shown is quite soft out of the
camera, it becomes what I would call "useable" with some mild
sharpening, but surely would not win a sharpness contest. This has
been confirmed with some other "more real world" test shots I have
taken with the lens. The lens becomes significantly sharper at
f1.1, or stopped down only one-fourth of a stop.

I also concluded that for my samples the 50mm f1.0 lens is sharper
at f1.1 than the f1.4 lens is wide open. However the f1.4 and f1.8
lenses "catch up" by f5.6.

Of course there are factors other than sharpness to be considered
like color saturation, flare control, etc. when evaluating a lens.
My experience so far has been that if a lens does not consistenly
autofocus accurately and yield reasonably sharp results, the other
attuributes will not matter for my use. I will obviously be
interested in the overall performance of the lens, but so far, so

Whether or not the f1.0 lens is worth the cost is an individual
decision in my view. I am not trying to convince anyone one way or
the other. I am simply sharing some data with you.


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