Morning Conundrum: Is that 1.2 Made of Gold?

Morning Conundrum: Is that 1.2 Made of Gold?


So, as promised, I spent the weekend making portraits with a flashlight. And by flashlight, I mean car headlights. Those things have a lot more juice than a mag-light. I was shooting with the Hasselblad, but I took a break here to play with my friend Darl’s new 40D. I couldn’t for the life of me get the 50mm f/1.8 lens to focus. On anything. Either my brain was broken (quite possible) or that thing is worth its $89.95 price tag.

So here’s the question of the morning, for all you camera nerds who know way more about lenses than I do. Canon’s 50mm f/1.2 lens; Is it worth it?


50mm f/1.8= $89.95


50mm f/1.4= $325.00


50mm f/1.2= $1400.00

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There are 16 comments for this article
  1. MarcW at 9:54 am

    I forget which one it was, but one of the more prominent Wedding Photographer bloggers (it was either Jessica Claire or Jasmine Star) just got an f1.2 and her response was basically, “This thing is so worth it.” I have both the f1.8 and the f1.4 and in my opinion, the f1.4 is worth the price difference, but I’ve taken some nice pictures with the f1.8. In fact, one time I had to do a whole studio photo shoot with NOTHING but that f1.8 (long story) and it turned out great. M

  2. Ian Aleksander Adams at 10:25 am

    I’ve got the 1.4 and it’s pretty much the only lens I ever use on the canon now. I know that since I basically use the canon for web and documentation, the 1.2 would never be worth it for me. Even if it has a small increase in sharpness, better focusing time, or a couple other small perks, it just doesn’t seem worth the price jump.

  3. aparatgraf at 10:53 am

    The f/1.2 is sharper between f/1.2 to f/2 and has round aperture blades. Otherwise it’s heavier and slower to focus.

  4. Oleg Shpak at 10:55 am

    Rachel, thanks for your great work on this blog! Every day I look forward for the next surprise from you. Weekends are pain 🙂 Not sure why you had problems with focusing. I had no difficulties at all with 5d, whatever lens I had at the moment and using only car headlights for lighting. Same is true for a small mag-lights and 35/1.4L. 40d should have a much better autofocus system than 5d, there should not be any problems if everything work properly.

  5. Liz at 11:03 am

    Rachel, I got the f/1.2 with the proceeds from my recent print sale. I also have the f/1.4, which I got when I bought my 5D in October 2006. The difference between an L series lens and everything else is, in my opinion, profound. I’m not an expert on lenses, but I can absolutely see the difference. I also have the 85mm f/1.2, and I love that one as well. But the 50 is much better for my daily use, because it focuses faster and weighs less, etc. Bottom line: Yes, it’s worth the money.

  6. Nacho at 11:22 am

    The f/1.4 is got to be one of the best quality-price raports for a lens. That said, any Canon L lens I have used produces really stunning results. I am sure that this f/1.2 is no exception. Worth the extra $1,000? For you to decide. Cheers, Nacho

  7. briancorll at 11:36 am

    The 1.4 is good enough for me, but then I don’t do portraits or (hack, cough) weddings. I have three L-series lenses, the best of which (70-200 2.8 L IS USM) costs a bit less than the 1.2. I’d rather save my money towards a better full-frame body, which hopefully will soon be in my hands.

  8. Noah K at 11:44 am

    I used the 1.4 for a long time and it was my favorite lens. I now use the 1.2 but I really don’t see much of a difference in the overall quality of the photo. The one advantage is you look much cooler when you shoot with it. I say save your money and buy the 1.4. Focusing in low light is always a major problem no matter what lens.

  9. porgif at 11:57 am

    I’ve been using the 50mm 1.4, the 28mm 1.8, and the 100mm 2.0 for years. Two weeks ago I finally had enough of the missed shots these lenses were causing and raided the savings account for the lenses I’ve been coveting practically my entire life – the 24 1.4, the 50 1.2, and the big cahuna, the 85 1.2. It was the best equipment purchase I’ve made since going into debt with AMEX to buy my first EOS-1. The ability to focus in low light is the second best thing about these lenses. The best is the image clarity, in both the in-focus and out-of-focus parts of the image. Now, I may not be eating out as often as I used to, but boy, my images are tack!

  10. Tristan Tom at 12:39 pm

    It’s probably not worth it. That said, I bought one and like it a lot for the dreamy images it can yield wide open. It’s just not the same with any other lens (except the 85 f1.2).

  11. Eric at 1:14 pm

    I shoot a lot of lowlight photography, mostly music, and I love my 1.2’s especially the 85mm. Most people feel the lenses are not worth their price, however I disagree. The lens is the first thing in the line of capturing the actual photograph, the photographer points the camera in the direction of the subject but the lens is what sees the photo and makes it come to life before it hits the sensor or film. There is an astounding difference between the Canon L series and their consumer based lenses, you will see the difference if you use the lenses across all types of photography, lowlight to bright light and everything in between. Also, the one thing people don’t often discuss about the 3 big light suckers in the Canon line (35mm 1.4, 50 1.2, 85mm 1.2) is their rendition of color which is superb, also their ability to nearly see in the dark is amazing. I miss shots with my 85mm 1.2 but I don’t mind it, I shoot documentary style with the lens and when you get an amazing shot with it I will gladly miss some shots for the look, sharpness and color reproduction it produces. They are worth every penny and the 1.2 line of lenses actually made me switch from Nikon to Canon, all while never regretting it.

  12. Andy DeLisle at 5:56 pm

    I had a 50mm 1.4 and it was great for the first year. Shortly after I had it a year, the auto-focus died. I sent it back to canon, they fixed it. 2 months later it died again. I sent it back, they fixed it again, then 6 months later it died again. It never worked quite right on my original 1d or a friend’s mrkII. It had a hard time locking on focus, but it worked fine on my 20d. When it worked I loved it. I’ve been tempted to get another one but I’m trying to hold out for the 1.2. A friend has the older metal mount version of the 1.8 and he loves it. The focus isn’t as good as the 1.4 (when working) or the 1.2 but it’s a nice lens for the price.

  13. Wigan at 8:47 pm

    I’m using the 1.8 at the moment and occasionally (just occasionally) it produces and image that is astonishing in it’s clarity and colour. I’m assuming that the quality the 1.8 produces occasionally is much more common in the 1.4 or 1.2. If that’s the case then, yes, I do think they are worth the extra money. I just need to save up for one. Ps; Really enjoying Shoot the Blog by the way Rachel.

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