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May 16, 2014
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The Nifty-Fifty Showdown: Canon 50mm 1.2 vs 1.4 vs 1.8

Check out this comparison between the Canon 50mm 1.2, 1.4 and 1.8.

The 50mm prime lens is the go-to lens for any photographer or filmmaker. With it’s relatively low cost and extremely large aperture there is no bigger bang for your buck on the market.

That being said, when picking a 50mm lens you generally have 3 options: the 1.2, 1.4 or 1.8. All three come with their advantages and disadvantages so we thought it would be really helpful to take an objective look at all 3 to see which one is best for you.

Canon 50mm 1.8

When people refer to a “nifty-fifty” they are usually referring to the Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. Not only does this lens shoot amazing images but it can also be bought for about $100.

Focal Length: 50mm F-Stop: 1.8
Stabilization: None Elements: 6
Weight: 4.6oz Cost: $125

Canon 50mm 1.4

The next step up from the 1.8 is the 1.4. The 1.4 has a few improved features not to mention a $400 price tag. Unlike it’s predecessor the 1.4 is made of metal making it a more solid and durable build. It also comes loaded with an Ultrasonic Motor for silent shooting.

Focal Length: 50mm F-Stop: 1.4
Stabilization: None Elements: 7
Weight: 10.2oz Cost: $399

Canon 50mm 1.2L

Coming in at a staggering $1619, the 1.2 is the only 50mm prime to be given an “L” rating by Canon. Like the 1.4 the 1.2 comes with a USM and rugged metal body but is unmistakable superior in it’s bokeh creation.

Focal Length: 50mm F-Stop: 1.2
Stabilization: None Elements: 8
Weight: 1.3lb Cost: $1619

The Comparison

The following video created by SLR lounge is a fair and non-biased comparison between the three 50mm lenses. The video extensively covers many factors that contribute to a good lens including:

  • Sharpness
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Bokeh
  • Lens Build
  • Autofocus

The results definitely surprised us.

Who could have known the 1.8 would outperform the 1.4 in sharpness? I guess we need to save up just to skip strait to the 1.2! This video was first shared by SLR Lounge. Thanks for sharing guys!

Have any thoughts on this comparison? Share in the comments below.

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  • StephyPephy

    I know entirely too many photos who have had to replace their 50mm 1.2 because the focus ring is held on by two small plastic screws which, when jostled just right or tapped lightly, tend to sheer and pops off. The repair is so expensive and rarely done correctly the first time that many have just replaced at a great cost. Some, like me, have bought the Zeiss 50mm 1.4 and have never looked back. Despite it being manual only (although I come from a generation where auto focus was a cute frill ignored by pro photogs), the look, especially the bokeh, and the build are outstanding. Not to mention that it is less than half the price.

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