Can anyone help with advice on Canon 50mm 1.2L

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by TheDrift-, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. TheDrift-, Mar 3, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017

    TheDrift- macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010

    I have just upgraded my old Sigma 1.4 (the one before the ART) to the Canon 50 1.2L, in short I am not happy with its performance.

    I have AFMA's the lens just a -1 needed but Focal did report higher than normal levels of Astigmatism...the lens is pretty soft wide open and stopped down it does sharpen up, at 2.8 I would say its pretty much a dead heat between it and my 24 70 2.8 zoom.

    50m 1.2L at 2.8

    24 70 mk2 K at 2.8 at 50mm

    Both are 100% crops from 5d mk iv, of this scene


    50 1.2L wide open, I know I would expect it to be less sharp....but its a lot less sharp!

    I did intend to use it as a walk around as on long hikes the 5d4 and zoom lens can get a little heavy, (not as young as I used to be!), but i now find myself fast prime-less....I am thinking about the 85 1.2L but its not exactly light..I also notice it seems to have a lot of CA, even under normal lighting.

    Am i expecting too much from the 50 1.2L, or is it a Bad Copy? I am not normally one to shout bad copy, this would be my first time ever...but...

    ...further testing on focal says the quality of focus is excellent, but the astigmatism is between 7-8% wide open compared to a "normal range" of 1-2% for most users. Focal reports an large number of results to compare against.

    This is the first lens I have ever been disappointed in out of the box.

    Had anyone else got this lens? If so how does yours perform?
  2. Reality4711 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2009
    A 1.2L as a walkabout lens?

    From the images you have posted it is almost impossible to judge if your expectations were too high but, certainly, I would never have considered this lens for the job you have stated. Flexible, light and fast focusing it is not.

    Maybe, if 50mm is your favourite length, then using a slower, lighter and faster focusing lens like the 1.4 or even the 1.8 could provide what you need. The 1.0&1.2 are both very difficult lenses to get the best out of in a studio so walking about would seem a bridge to far.

    Regards. Sharkey
  3. Redneck1089 macrumors 65816


    Jan 18, 2004
    The 50mm f/1.2L won't be that sharp wide open, especially when compared to the Sigma ART. The benefits of the f/1.2L is that it's a 1.2 aperture, it doesn't have crappy unreliable autofocus like the Sigma 50 ART does, and its incredible bokeh!

    You've got a 5DIV with dual pixel AF. Put the camera into LiveView mode and shoot your target at f/1.2. LiveView focusing will give you the most accurate focus. Then shoot the target using the normal method of contrast focusing through the viewfinder. If there's a sharpness discrepancy between the two shots it means you'll need to go back to FoCal and do more test shots to mircotune more accurately. If the images look identical then it means that's as sharp as the lens is going to get.

    FoCal, from my experience, sometimes has trouble with really fast prime lenses. I almost gave up on it trying to calibrate my 85 f/1.2L II on my 1DX II. It might be worth running a few more tests using the full manual method rather than semi-manual, if that's what you're doing.

    If after all that, it might be worth taking the lens back to the store and asking for an exchange. If your store is a reputable place it should have no problems doing this for you. Or, before you go through with one exchange, ask to see another copy of the lens and try to do a side-by-side comparison; bring your laptop if you've got one and load the files immediately onto it so you don't need to rely on the tiny camera screens.

    I have never owned the 50 f/1.2L, but I've used it on many occasions and thinks it's a wonderful piece of glass. If I were buying a 50mm today it would be the one I'd purchase. If I were you I'd do a bit more testing or just do an outright exchange for a different copy.
  4. TheDrift-, Mar 3, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017

    TheDrift- thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    Thanks I think I am going to send it back, not sure If i will get a replacement 50mm or not yet, a bit put off at the moment.

    I have calibrated the lens maybe 6/7 times now with consistent results of -1/-2 (except on one occasion I got a minus 3)

    I got a strong constant light source via soft box and a very stable RRS tripod and Head. The results are all very similar so I am confident that it's AFMA'd right... keeps kicking out this high astigmatism result on every occasion?

    I have tested in this set up next to my old sigma 1.4 (not the art version, the one prior) and the old sigma 1.4 is sharper wide open

    Having done some google-fu it seems this high astigmatism is an indicator of a de-centring issue. This would mean the sharpness increases stopped down but causes issues wide open...which seems to be the problem I have.
  5. Redneck1089 macrumors 65816


    Jan 18, 2004

    I wouldn't let this experience be too off putting on the 50mm range. Chances are if you order again you'll get a good copy.

    If you're considering the 85mm f/1.2 instead, just be aware that it focuses extraordinarily slowly, it's not weather or dust sealed, and it's huge. It's a brilliant lens, but hard to use and be pleased with the results.

    I agree with your findings that it's a decentered element.

    Good luck with with your next purchase. :)
  6. TheDrift- thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 8, 2010
    yeah I think I was just unlucky, i think it has a de-centering issue..the circumstances of the purchase were a little 'different'...most UK suppliers of the lens have it listed for £1300 ish, but it dropped to just over £1000 on Amazon (thats Amazon Amazon not Amazon Market place)

    However the shipping was one day extra on prime and the lens was shipped from France....I was reassured about the slightly cheap price as it was listed as coming direct from Amazon....but yeah lesson learned I think...only problem is it has slightly put me off the Canon 501.2 :(
  7. The Bad Guy macrumors 65816

    The Bad Guy

    Oct 2, 2007
    I don't know about the other issue you're having, but the 50 f1.2 is notorious for being quite soft wide open.
  8. tcphoto1 macrumors 6502


    Aug 21, 2008
    Madison, GA
    I love my 50L, it along with my 100 Macro IS pay my bills. Yes, it could be that you got a bad one, needs to be properly calibrated or unrealistic expectations. I shoot nearly wide open, close to it's minimum focus and on a tripod on a regular basis without an issue. Odds are, if you shoot wide open with a rather slow shutter speed and handheld, you're going to have problems. What about image processing? Every image needs a little sharpening whether you shoot RAW or JPEG.


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