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Canon 50mm prime f1.2L vs f1.4

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Norman Willis
Canon 50mm prime f1.2L vs f1.4
on Nov 1, 2010 at 8:13:21 pm

I have been using a Canon HF S10 to make teaching videos in studio. The glass is amazingly good for a consumer camcorder, but the AVCHD is just a little grainier than I would like.

I have a 5DM2 body, which has 2.5 times the pixels of AVCHD. I am looking at the 50mm prime F1.4 ($500 with warranty and all) versus the F1.2L (basically $2000 with warranty and all). My tendency is for the L series glass, but it would be a stretch right now.

I do not know these lenses. If I am satisfied with the picture I get from my HF S10 but just need more pixels, is the F1.4 on a 5DM2 body going to do that? Or should I really save for the F1.2L?

Also, are any other issues with these lenses that I should know about? I read some issue about the auto-focus breaking? Thanks.

Norman Willis
http://www.nazareneisrael.org


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Richard van den Boogaard
Re: Canon 50mm prime f1.2L vs f1.4
on Nov 1, 2010 at 8:46:27 pm

My advice: save up for now. The 50mm F1.2 is totally worth it. It's such a great piece of glass...

I am frequently amazed at the difference in quality of the shots made on my lenses and the 50mm nearly always jumps out, when compared to my 24-70mm F2.8. I don't have the 1.4, so I can't give you a heads-comparison.

This review will help you in your decision making: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/reviews/canon-ef-50mm-f-1.2-l-usm-lens-r...

Richard van den Boogaard
Freelance cameraman • Glidecam Operator • Editor • YouTube expert


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Phil Balsdon
Re: Canon 50mm prime f1.2L vs f1.4
on Nov 1, 2010 at 9:02:48 pm

Another alternative is to look around for a good used lens. Pentax used to make a K mount SMC 50mm f1.2 that was excellent, I'm sure other manufacturers also made good fast lenses, (Nikon perhaps). Fotodiox make good quality adaptors to use these lenses on Canon EOS mount cameras. According to Philip Bloom though the Canon F series lenses do not adapt well due to the fact the adaptor requires a lens element though, resulting in a loss of resolution. I value Philip's opinions and experience highly.

Another alternative lens is the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f1.1 for Leica M which is around $1,000 new, and the appropriate Fotodiox adaptor for around $80.

I'm using these adaptors very successfully on Pentax SMC and Mamiya 645 lenses.

I also use the Canon 50mm f1.4 with great results in low light. I couldn't justify the enormous extra expense for the Canon L series 50mm f1.2 for a gain of only about 2/3rds of a stop.

Depth of field and tracking focus on a portrait shot with the lens wide open is a challenge though, even on the f1.4 and Canon 7D. Eyes in focus, tip of the nose and ears soft and then the subject starts to get animated and enthusiastic, but the bokeh is fabulous!

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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John Davidson
Re: Canon 50mm prime f1.2L vs f1.4
on Nov 1, 2010 at 9:12:23 pm

I've had the 1.2 50mm for about a year and I have not once regretted it.


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Steve Crow
Re: Canon 50mm prime f1.2L vs f1.4
on Nov 1, 2010 at 9:44:26 pm

First of all the sensors in the 5DM2 are so hugely better than your camera that you are already going to be seeing MUCH better video.

I have the 50mm 1.4 and for training videos (or most any other kind of video for that matter) this lens is going to be excellent, there is no need to spend the extra money.

I love it for shallow depth of field shots but that might not even be a huge concern of yours. Set it at F8 or F11 and film away.

If you are on the fence I suggest renting both of them or buying the 1.4 and renting the L glass for the duration of the project, it will probably cost less than $200 for a week's rental (an estimate) Heck you could rent the camera with the lenses too and see how you like the combo, in fact that's what I suggest you do now that I think about it.

I use BorrowLenses.com but there are other rental houses out there besides them too.

Now I did have my focus ring break suddenly on the 1.4 but don't let the scare you. The chances of that happening to you are very low unless you drop the lens a couple of times. (I treated my lens carefully but there are always going to be one or two lemon copies of a lens out there in the market place when Canon is manufacturing them by the thousands) Canon fixed my lens for the cost of shipping.


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Norman Willis
Re: Canon 50mm prime f1.2L vs f1.4
on Nov 1, 2010 at 10:15:22 pm

Great information, guys. Thank you.

>>I love it for shallow depth of field shots but that might not even be a huge concern of yours. Set it at F8 or F11 and film away.

I have the 24-105mm F4L, but when I tried to use it I needed more than four times the light as the HF S10 (I needed 24 CLF's). It was so bright I almost had issues reading the teleprompter.

The HF S10 has an F1.8 lens. I am not sure how the HF S10 manages to get everything all into focus with an F1.8 lens (no bokeh there!) but it seems to. When I asked why this was before, some suggested that perhaps it uses a lot of auto-gain (which might also help explain the decrease in image quality).

Norman Willis
http://www.nazareneisrael.org


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Micah McDowell
Re: Canon 50mm prime f1.2L vs f1.4
on Nov 2, 2010 at 2:56:10 pm

The reason the HF S10 keeps everything in focus with an f/1.8 lens is that it has a tiny, tiny sensor (1/2.6" which is approx. 9.7mm vs. the 35mm of the 5DmkII). The smaller the sensor, the higher the "crop factor" which has the effect of reducing the depth of field and apparent bokeh.

The tiny sensor also partially accounts for the lower quality since each pixel is smaller and can't be as sensitive to light without increasing gain and therefore noise.

As for your original question, I think you would be very impressed with even the Canon 50mm f/1.8 as far as optical quality and low light performance is concerned. The f/1.4 is better, and the f/1.2 is better still, but the law of diminishing returns definitely applies here. The 50mm f/1.4 is a HUGE jump from an f/4 zoom lens. The 50mm f/1.2L is a tiny, tiny, tiny jump from the 50mm f/1.4.

Now, having said all that, remember that lenses are a much better investment than camera bodies. That f/1.2L will still be a valuable, excellent lens five years from now, even after the 5DmkII is long obsolesced. If you do have the cash to put into the high-end glass, you won't have to worry about it being a bad buy.


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