Behind the Scenes of a Portrait Shoot With the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2

Canon's RF lens range has been expanding but some of their earlier lenses are closing in on early classics for Canon mirrorless. One that has been particularly well-received, is the 50mm f/1.2.

When most photographers buy their first camera, they'll usually acquire a nifty-fifty lens soon thereafter. This usually comes in the form of a 50mm f/1.8 and is arguably the most cost-effective lens you can buy when you measure dollars spent against image quality. The 50mm focal length is a staple of the craft and walks the line between a long prime that doesn't capture much of the scene, and a wider prime like the 35mm which is more common in street photography. For all-purpose portraiture, you can hardly go wrong with a 50mm.

The Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM is some distance from the cheap and cheerful nifty-fifty, however. There are two striking and related differences: the first is that it is an f/1.2 lens, making it extremely quick and offering razor-thin focus when wide open. This comes at a cost though, with this lens coming in at $2,299. For a new (in terms of not owned by anyone else and relatively recently released) f/1.2, camera brand 50mm lens with autofocus, you are always going to have to dig deep into your pocket. There were some early criticisms on this front when the build quality was questioned, which is mentioned in this video. The barrel is plastic and for over $2,000, some were displeased by that.

Nevertheless, it is solidly constructed and the images really do speak for themselves.

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17 Comments

J.d. Davis's picture

It looks soft to me...anyone else?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

The eyes were sharp. It might be your monitor and/or Youtube quality settings.

J.d. Davis's picture

OK, cranked it to 4K on a 5K monitor - eyes are sharp but nothing else is

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- "eyes are sharp but nothing else is"

No, anything in the same plane of focus of the eyes are also sharp.

J.d. Davis's picture

We must be splitting 'hairs' here - just my opinion, it's not a pleasing look.

Robert Nurse's picture

If he was shooting near wide open, up close and focusing on the eyes, this should be expected: eyes tack sharp and little else is.

Will Lovitt's picture

Nice demonstration and sound logic about who may find the lens useful. The only problem I have is separating the lens results from the stunning model -- if it were used to take photos of me, it might not be so impressive. :)

Alejandro (Alex) Martinez's picture

The plastic barrel should not matter to me, but I hate to say that it does. My Zeiss 85mm 1.2 is metal, and that tactile feel, I believe, keeps me more present as a shooter. This may be a stretch, but the same goes with cars, clothing, and even kitchen knives; when a design feels expensive, it changes your behavior. With less expensive, 3rd party manufactures closing the gap to Canon in the quality lense game, this seems like a miscalculation.

J.d. Davis's picture

SRSLY! for over 2 grand the plastic barrel makes this a cheap feel. It's not a question of being 'displeased' it's clearly being pissed for feeling ripped off. Perhaps the only thing worse is using plastic for lens elements and mounting flanges the way some manufacturers do.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I have an old Sony/Zeiss 135 f1.8 that I wish was made out of plastic. That thing weighs almost as much (if not more) than a 70-200 f2.8.

I'm all for saving weight so long as the AF speed and image quality are there.

Jan Holler's picture

The lens is surely superb. But the way he shoots like with a machine gun (he must have taken hundreds of images) is weird: Keep the camera in front of you and just press the shutter. One or the other image will be good enough after being cropped. Is this photography or I am just old style. I guess the next step is filming in 8k with 120fps and select some best frames.

Leina Green's picture

I’ve been asking that myself where the photographer puts a modell in front of the camera and she does her thing while the photographer snaps away. Maybe that’s just to test the lens?

Leina Green's picture

What is this post-processing style called? Where the colors are desaturated and unnatural. I see it almost everywhere and some clients are asking for it.

Brett Styles's picture

Could someone please give him a film camera. Is this a new trend with mirrorless, wave the camera around on rapid-fire and hope you get a good shot. Not an impressive demo, I would have preferred he took time to compose, get the pose and expression from the model, judge the zone of DOF and push the shutter ONCE!, like in the good old film days.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Relax. "Rapid-fire" was done on DSLRs also.

David Pavlich's picture

How someone shoots is irrelevant. It's the final result that matters. So what if someone takes 100 shots to get one good one. It did absolutely nothing to anyone else except for the time it takes for the person that's processing the shot(s) to go through them.

Alejandro (Alex) Martinez's picture

Three things.

1) No matter your preference, cameras are just tools, so hold off on your judgment of another photographer who is just trying to hustle.

2) Mirrorless is not a trend. I say that as a begrudgingly soon-to-be adopter of mirrorless who prefers the days of film and darkrooms. The lens quality from the mirrorless form factor will soon eclipse the predecessors and eventually catch up to medium format film cameras.

3) Rapid fire has always been a crutch or, at best, a Plan-B even in the film days. We forget that FPS was the #1 selling point on SLRs before DSLRs Megapixels came along. So shooting in rapid bursts is nothing new.