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canon 50mm 1.2 vs 1.4

Let’s pit the canon 50mm 1.2 vs 1.4. Is the Canon 50mm 1.2 L lens worth $1,000 more than the EF 50mm 1.4? That’s the call you are going to have to make. Hopefully I can help you make that decision.

As a newbie to the Canon system and the 5D, I purchased the EF 50 along with the body. I like the FOV from a 50mm so this lens was a no-brainer. But was the 50L simply magic? Would I see the jump in contrast and micro detail when I switched to the 35mm ASPH cron from the revered V4 cron on my Leica M’s? What about the the rendering of background detail when shot wide open? Don’t make me say the “B” word…

After reading 5,864 posts on the internet about the 50L being the best/worst lens ever, I decided the only way to know for certain was to spend $70 to rent this lens for a week and put it to the test.

I will be the first to acknowledge that this is by no means a scientific test. I didn’t shoot the USAF resolution chart. I will call it a real world test. I wanted to see how scenes look when photographed with both lenses. To do this I simply took the same photo with both lenses. Most of these come from a 2-hour walk around my neighborhood. Most times I took an f/1.2 and an f/1.4 version with the 50L and an f/1.4 shot with the EF 50. You will also find an f/2.8 comparison shot in the mix. That’s the range that supposedly separates the EF 50 and the 50L.

All the photos have minimal processing. They were are all shot RAW and converted with ACR 4.3.1. They were re-sized to 1600 pixels wide because that’s the biggest size I can fit on my monitor at 100 percent. I realized that I rarely make prints anymore. Everything is for the web or personal viewing. Even images where the 1.2 out shined the EF 1.4 in detail or edge sharpness were lost when I went down to 1600 pixels.

The photos have a modest USM and are saved as an image quality 10 in Photoshop. If you want to get your hands on some of the RAW files drop me a note. Otherwise, leave a question on this post.

I’m not sure if this will be useful, but I’ve also uploaded the ICC profile I created for my monitor, which is embedded in these images.

I did buy a lens hood for the 1.4 from HK Supplies via Ebay. It was dirt cheap and fits perfectly. I was concerned about how many knocks the front of this lens could take before needing repair. The lens hood is good protection against those knocks. I can still buy three more copies of this lens before I equal the cost of the 1.2.

In low-light situations the 1.4 focused as well as the 1.2 for me.