Love the 50mm F1.2? We’re in Love with These Four

There’s surely a love affair that lots of photographers have with the 50mm f1.2 lens. Since its earlier days in the film world, photographers adored it for weddings and portraits. And these days, with such great high ISOs on cameras, photographers love the 50mm f1.2 for its beautiful bokeh. A lot of them only cropped up in the past few years. And we’ve tried them all. So let’s take a look at which ones are the best.

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Pro Tips on Using 50mm f1.2 Lenses

Here’s what you need to know about buying 50mm f1.2 lenses:

  • Let’s be straight; the reason you’re getting 50mm f1.2 lenses is the bokeh. That, and they’re often considered to be the creme-de-la-creme of lenses.
  • Don’t expect these lenses to be lightweight. They’ve got a lot of technology inside.
  • If you’re shooting portraits, always use face and eye-detection.
  • Always remember that 50mm f1.2 lenses have apertures. So stop them down every now and again.
  • All these lenses were reviewed by our staff. And all the photos were shot by our staff. We won’t recommend anything we genuinely don’t like. You can check out our full reviews of each recommended 50mm f1.2 lens in each section.

Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM

Pros

  • Gorgeous bokeh
  • Weather sealing
  • Pretty fast autofocus, much faster than the DSLR versions
  • Build quality is solid.
  • The textured, matte feel is nice.
  • The control ring around the lens feels like an organic aperture ring.
  • People simply look good with this lens attached.

Cons

  • Expensive, but when you consider what this lens is, then it makes sense for what you do.
  • Though it isn’t needed, image stabilization would have been nice due to the size.

How’s the Bokeh?

In our review, we state:

All of these lenses have a beautiful look to them, but I’d argue that the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM adds a bit more pop and beauty. (Then I’d highly rate Sony’s Alpha lens.) The bokeh on all of them is nice; but I’ve seen that the Canon RF 50mm f1.2 L USM’s bokeh isn’t always perfectly round.

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Nikon Z 50mm f1.2 S

Pros

  • Excellent balance between sharp and sterile
  • Beautiful bokeh
  • Accurate colors
  • Weather-sealed
  • Digital lens info display

Cons

  • Long and heavy
  • Autofocus is slower than the competition.

How’s the Bokeh?

In our review, we state:

The Z 50mm f1.2 S uses nine aperture blades to capture smooth, rounded bokeh. The lens quickly yet smoothly moves from incredibly sharp to softly blurred. The blur softens lines and edges and draws the eye to the subject.

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Sony 50mm f1.2 G Master

Pros

  • Fast to use on both the Sony a7r III and the Sony a7r IV
  • Weather sealing
  • Nice render
  • Very sharp
  • Wow, Sony actually listened to us and allowed a little bit of flare in. Bravo!
  • I think over $2,000 is a fair price.
  • Pretty lightweight

Cons

  • A few autofocus issues with strong backlighting
  • Two different hard function buttons are a bit odd.
  • Still has a render that’s nowhere as gorgeous as Canon’s

How’s the Bokeh?

In our review, we state:

“The Sony 50mm f1.2 G Master is great. For folks who want clinical sharpness, you’re getting it. For folks who complained about onion bokeh, there is none. And if you are bothered by beautiful lens flare, its soul has been sucked dry. You’ll need to put all that stuff in via post-production. Basically, if you don’t like sitting in front of a computer, create a camera profile. Otherwise, get a Pro-Mist filter or something. You’ll probably need it. Sony does this thing that adds extra contrast, clarity, and sharpness. Lots of you will like it.”

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Leica 50mm f1.2 Noctilux

Pros

  • Great vintage character
  • Metal construction
  • Excellent shooting experience
  • Superb bokeh
  • Rich colors
  • Well-controlled flare
  • Focal length scale with depth of field

Cons

  • Technically imperfect with edge softness and aberration
  • Manual focus only
  • Heavy
  • Expensive at over $7,000

How’s the Bokeh?

In our review, we state:

“The bokeh from the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.2 is simply delicious. Backgrounds have a nice, soft blur. At times, the bokeh almost seems to have a slight twirl to it. The falloff from sharp to blurred is fast, making the subject really pop. This effect works well for the foreground as well as the background.”

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The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.