Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM Review
Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM Introduction
The RF 50mm f/1.2L USM is a very fast standard prime lens for Canon's new EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera system.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM features a bright f/1.2 maximum aperture, a ring-type UltraSonic Motor (USM) AF system more usually found in Canon’s super telephoto lenses which delivers fast, near-silent autofocusing, 10 rounded diaphragm blades for smoother bokeh, 40cm close-focus distance, a configurable control ring, and a weather-resistant construction.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM officially retails for £2349 / $2299 in the UK and the USA respectively, making it the second most expensive RF lens available at the launch of the Canon EOS R system, after the RF 28-70mm F/2L USM zoom.
Ease of Use
There's no getting away from the very obvious fact that the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM is a massive prime lens, weighing in at 950g and measuring almost 11cm in length, making it much larger and heavier than the equivalent Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM DSLR lens (although you have to factor in the size, weight and cost of an adapter if you want to use that lens on an EOS R series camera).
When mounted on the Canon EOS R mirrorless camera, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM feels fairly well balanced, requiring you to cradle it with your left hand. One-handed use is possible, but only really for a short period of time.
Build quality is outstanding. The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM feels solid in your hand, even if it is mostly made out of plastic, and it features an L-series level weather-resistant design that protects against dust and moisture.
A new feature for RF lenses is the Lens Control Ring at the end of the lens barrel, which can be used to control certain key camera settings. Although not a new idea in the wider photography world, this is the first time that Canon have incorporated this idea into their interchangeable lenses.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM does not feature Image Stabilisation, so there's no control on the lens for this feature.
There is a focus mode switch with the usual AF/MF settings. Note that this lens usefully offers full-time manual focusing even when AF is selected. There's also a focus limiter switch that toggles between Full and 0.8m-Infinity settings.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens has a generously sized focus ring with a ridged, rubberised grip band. There are no hard stops at either ends of the range, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 77mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
When it comes to auto-focusing, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM zoom is a very quick performer, taking around 0.05 seconds to lock onto the subject when mounted on the Canon EOS R camera that we tested it with.
We didn't experience much "hunting" at all, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing virtually all of the time, helped by the incredible -5EV rating of the EOS R camera. The USM motor is almost silent, which makes this lens well-suited to video recording.
The lens ships with a large petal shaped lens hood (ES-83) with a lock button and a soft case (LP1319).
At the 50mm focal length the angle of view is 46 degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are very well controlled with this lens, so much so that we could only find a few very minor examples in our test shots.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM produces fairly nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16 or f/22, although be careful to watch out for flare effects when shooting directly into the sun.
Vignetting and Distortion
When using the lens wide-open at f/1.2, you can see some obvious light fall-off in the corners. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/4 or smaller. Distortion is very well controlled.
The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM isn't really a macro lens. The close-focus point is usefully at 40cm from the film/sensor plane though, and Canon quotes a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.19x. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a Compact Flash card. Note the incredibly shallow depth of field when shooting at f/1.2!
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. Canon have employed an iris diaphragm with ten rounded blades for a very pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they have largely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples shot at every aperture, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.