Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM Gordon Laing, June 2013

Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM quality (APS-C)

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To evaluate the real-life performance of the Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM lens, I shot this landscape scene at every aperture setting using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III mounted on a tripod.

The Mark III was set to 100 ISO and the lens focused on the center of the composition using magnified Live View assistance. Most of the scene is effectively at infinity so even at f1.2 the depth of field covers the range of distances from top to bottom.

The full-frame Mark III allows us to compare the sharpness across the entire frame from the extreme corners to the center; by taking a carefully measured crop, we can also simulate the corner performance when mounted on a camera with a smaller APS-C sensor.
  Canon EF 50mm f1.2L results
1 Canon EF 50mm f1.2L quality full-frame
2 Canon EF 50mm f1.2L quality APS-C
3 Canon EF 50mm f1.2L quality centre
4 Canon EF 50mm f1.2L bokeh
5 Canon EF 50mm bokeh comparison

I shot the scene in RAW and processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW using sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile; meanwhile the White Balance was manually set to 5500K. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts. I also switched off all lens corrections to reveal vignetting, chromatic aberrations and geometric distortions - everything you see here is uncorrected.

I'm presenting these results over three pages: corner sharpness on full-frame, corner sharpness on APS-C (on this page below), and center sharpness. I also have a fourth and fifth page illustrating and comparing the depth of field and bokeh quality - you can jump to any of these from the index above right. Now it's time to discuss the results on this page, below, for the corner sharpness on APS-C cropped-frame cameras.

The image above right shows the full-frame area with three red rectangles representing the cropped areas on each results page. The crops presented on this page were taken from the second red rectangle in-between those in the corner and middle, so indicate the performance in the corner of an APS-C crop-frame image.

The EF 50mm f1.2L USM greatly benefits form the more forgiving smaller APS-C sensor size, avoiding much of the vignetting and coma that's present in the corner of full-frame images. That said, sharpness is still an issue, and even on the smaller APS-C frame you'll need to close this lens down for the sharpest results in the corners.

As you close the aperture, the sharpness gradually improves, but doesn't start looking good until you reach f4. At this point the extreme corners are still a little soft on the APS-C frame, but it's not a bad result. Close the lens to f5.6 though and the situation greatly improves, with a further small refinement at f8.

So the 50mm f1.2L USM is capable of delivering corner-to-corner sharpness on the APS-C frame, but you'll need to close it to f5.6 or ideally f8. Now let's see how it performs in the middle of the frame in my Canon 50mm f1.2 center sharpness results.


Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM
Corner (APS-C cropped frame)
f1.2 corner (APS-C)
f1.4 corner (APS-C)
f1.8 corner (APS-C)
f2 corner (APS-C)
f2.8 corner (APS-C)
f4 corner (APS-C)
f5.6 corner (APS-C)
f8 corner (APS-C)

Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM
results : Quality full-frame / Quality APS-C / Quality Centre / Bokeh / Bokeh comparison

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