50mm Showdown! Canon L Series f1.2 VS Standard f1.8

Ever wonder what the difference is between those high-end L series lenses and the inexpensive ones? We put the Canon L series 50mm up against the economical Canon 50mm f1.8 testing focus, bokeh, image quality, and vignetting.

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Article: DSLR Lens Buyers Guide


50 mm lens showdown

One thing that wasn't mentioned...or I missed it, was the type of camera used to test the lens. At the end of the video they show the vingetting seen with the cheaper lens. From what I have seen/heard (correct me if I am wrong) but if you are using an APS sized camera (T4i/T5i, 60D, etc) you will not see the vignetting (or very much less of it). It is only on a full sized sensor camera that you see the vignetting.


I think that is an extremely important point to mention with respect to this lens test.

Filming the dark scenes

jacomakar's picture

Thanks so much for doing this video, I just purchased 50mm 1.4 lens and I'm loving it. However, there's never enough tutorials and video on filming the dark scenes, I seem to be getting a lot of grians (background noise) with all the lenses when filming a scene that has shadowy areas in it or even more so when the scene is not well lit. Is there anything I could do to make it a little better? I have canon rebel t4i. Thanks a lot

Andy Makar

Broken Lens

waynet's picture

I dropped my f1.8 on the carpet and it popped in half. Irrepairable. I have the 1.4 now and it's build is amazing.

a better choice

the old version of the Sigma 1.4 beats them both by miles. I haven't used the new, more expensive Sigma so I can't comment on that.



Missed Some Key Points

PaulieDC's picture

I've owned the 50mm 1.2 for 4 years and You couldn't crow-bar it out of my hands. Here's why: Assuming you would even consider a $1600 lens then you must be pro or semi-pro (that's me, also photographer doing video as well). Right off the bat is build quality. You WILL bump your gear on set and the 1.8 will crumble to pieces, not if, when. The 1.4 which I have owned is a way better choice if budget is tighter. But the 1.2 has one more pro feature: WEATHER-SEALED. Does no one here ever get stuck shooting on a drizzly day? Or on the beach with wind blowing? Also, you can drop the 1.2 and it'll laugh at you. The 1.4 may survive and the 1.8 will be an instant disassembled Lego set, lol. The reviewer said the 1.8 feels kind of plasticky compared to the 1.2. That's like saying a $29 tripod at WalMart feels kind of wobbly compared to a Miller. I'm amazed I even heard that stated that way. ANOTHER thing, shooting at f/1.2 gives you a look that just cannot be explained compared to shooting wide open on the 1.8. The resolve power of the 1.2 can feed the huge DSLR sensors way better... so the test should have been like a night time shot at an outdoor cafe, and THAT would have sealed it right there, forever, that the 1.8 isn't worth looking at. Seriously, hazy noontime footage in the test?? My iPhone 6 Plus takes better daytome footage than that, lol! Last note and I'm thinking that this information has not reached the DSLR video world for some reason: As a landscape shooter, the f64 days are over, with digital you have diffraction that you're not going to get around. That means going past f/11-f/13 will give you softer imagery. I never ever shoot at f/16 let alone even get near f/22, so the Max Aperture (Iris) point is moot. Besides, you buy an f/1.2 lens for f/1.2, not for "everything in focus". If you need daytime hazy shots with all in focus, then yep, get the 1.8, the glass is quite nice. The case is a joke, so be careful!

What about the middle ground?

jbm8357's picture

Canon also makes the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM that retails for ~$350. It's 3x of the 1.8, but still only a quarter of the cost of the 1.2L. The 1.4 has the USM motor, better build quality, so deals with a lot of the issues you raised about the 1.8.

Also - it's important to know if you saw the vignetting on a crop sensor or only tested full-frame. Putting this lens on a MFT mount, for example, might not show the same problems.