EF 50mm f/1.2helL USM

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2helL Lens

The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2helL USM Lens

If you look at the image above and get a spontaneous erection, then trust me when I say that you are not alone.

*adjusts pants*

She’s a beauty isn’t she? Just holding this lens in your hands, you feel the weight, the build quality, the feeling you have comes pretty close to an orgasm. And the images you can capture using this lens are incredible. But looks can be deceiving. And in this case, it’s kinda like how it is with women. It’s like you meet this beautiful woman somewhere and you get all crazy about her and try hard to make her yours. And after a while you succeed, and you start ..err.. enjoying … her, but slowly but surely you start to notice that though everything looked great on the outside, the behaviour is not exactly what you were hoping for. This is when you get introduced to the term Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO in short. You start to see the cost (not just financially, but most certainly also financially) of “owning” such a woman. And then, as time goes by, you start to notice that you get less and less Return on your Investment, ROI in short, from your woman. For example, to get the same amount of sex you were having when you first met her, you have to do double and even tripple the amount of work now that you were doing back then, and this is assuming you’re still able to get sex from her at all at this point. Because the amount of work you’ll have to do will only increase until at some point you’re just not up to it anymore. And then you just stop having sex. At least at home.

*pauses and thinks while staring ahead at nothing*

Anyway… where was I? Oh yeah,

In the case of this lens, many rushed to buy this shiny and beautiful looking lens that promised great images when it was released at the end of 2006, only to find out later that they spent $1600 and were essentially fucked, because the lens had a backfocus issue which is related to the way it is designed. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I’ll just refer you to this website where there’s a nice compilation of information on the issue. Not only does the lens backfocus often, it also doesn’t focus consistently when using autofocus. You can focus on the exact same object a few times, without the camera and object moving, and you’ll get a different focusplane each time, especially noticeable at f/1.2.

Many people started complaining and emailing me about the issues they were having with this lens almost from the moment it became available, and I ofcourse started talking to Japan immediately about it, while telling everyone else that Canon would be releasing more information on the issues in the near future. Two of my emails can be found here:

“Technical discussions about the EF50mm f/1.2L USM are continuing to occur between Canon USA and Canon Inc.. The matter is not resolved yet, but it is most certainly not being ignored. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more about it until there is an official conclusion.”

“Canon Inc. is definitely aware of the claims concerning the AF accuracy of the EF50/1.2L USM. They’ve been investigating for the past couple of months, and I am told that there will be some kind of public announcement forthcoming in the near future. Stay tuned, and thanks for using Canon equipment!” – email from Chuck Westfall 5/24/2007

We had a conference call last week with Japan and in between all the asskissing and cocksucking we brought up this issue again, and the bastards are still not ready to give us the green light to send out the fuckup notices for this problem. Meanwhile I’m sitting here while people are constantly asking me when I’ll finally be able to tell them more, and the only thing I’m able to tell them is to stay tuned and thank them for using Canon equipment.

It’s been over two goddamn years now.

But despite the issues, I like using this lens when I’m taking pictures of my daughter because of the results I know I can get, but sadly only if I am lucky and the lens actually happened to focus where I wanted. I had to force myself to try and live with the issues. It’s like Chris Rock said:

“When you love somebody, you got to love everything about them. You got to love the crust of a motherfucker.

You can’t just love the white part of the bread.

You gotta love the crust, the crumbs, the tiny crumbs at the bottom of the toaster.

That’s what the real motherfucker is.”

Yeah, that’s what the real motherfucker is, a back/inconsistent focusing 50mm lens that is capable of producing great images when it works.

Fortunately I also have my 85mm f/1.2L which is outstanding, and when I’m shooting my mother in law (with a camera, sadly), I only use the 135mm f/2L, which is razor-sharp even at f2 and captures even the tiniest of all the wrinkles on her face just to show her how fucked up she really looks. I swear to God, sometimes it’s almost like the lens ads wrinkles to her face on the fly while making existing ones look like small Grand Canyons. When she really pisses me off, I stop down to f11 for even greater effect and apply the unsharp mask filter in Photoshop several times as well. It’s all automated in my Mother in Law action set.

Ok enough of that.

It looks like Galbraith received another paycheck from Nikon because he has updated his article about the poor 1D Mark III AF performance with his findings based on the latest fixes issued by Canon Inc. The outcome was predictable. But here’s the thing, notice how Galbraith is decorating his whole article about the bad AF performance of the 1D Mark III with beautiful pictures that ARE in focus AND taken with… wait for it… a 1D Mark III.

There’s a strange concept you don’t see everyday: Tell people a camera can’t focus well by putting pictures in the article that are actually in focus and taken by the same camera.

Fucken A.

I think Nikon might have to reconsider their relationship with Galbraith after reading this.

Here’s the thing, Rob, I know you like the image quality the 1D Mark III gives you, so stop complaining, for fuck’s sake, and live with the AF shortcomings for now. Ya gotta love the crust of the motherfucker dude. Ya can’t just love the white part of the bread. Learn to live with it. And besides, at this point I think we both know there’s nothing Canon Inc. can possibly do anymore to fix it. We’ll just have to wait for the 1D Mark IV and hope AF performance will be much better.

And I say we have to HOPE the 1D Mark IV will be better, because the way employees are being treated right now at Canon in Japan is quite terrible. Read this article and see for yourself, here’s a quote:

Can you imagine working in a place where the boss got rid of all the chairs and put in alarms which go off when you don’t walk fast enough?
Well some of the folks who work at Canon don’t need to imagine – its a reality for them.

 No wonder most of our products released in the last 3 years suck so much.

Employees at Canon Electronics

Employees at Canon Electronics

 That shit is just fucked up. And what’s with the striped shirts? They almost look like prisoners. Working in such an environment, you can begin to understand why these people produce a 50mm f/1.2 lens that can’t focus well, a 1D Mark III that has focus issues, a 5D where the mirror falls off, a 5D Mark II with an old AF system that rarely works and with a sensor that has various issues too, a 50D with noise and banding etc. Now I also understand why Kyokoshiro isn’t hooking up all dos vires on de assembly line.

Fortunately things are a lot better here at Canon USA.

Anyway, I’m gonna go make me a nice cup of coffee now and relax for a bit.

21 thoughts on “EF 50mm f/1.2helL USM

  1. Funniest update yet, and very true.
    Hmmm, I remember sex.
    Since I put a ring on the bitches finger I have more change of finding a cure for cancer (or a fix for the 50 1.2L for that matter) than getting any action from the mrs.

    • Like many others, including myself, you fell into the trap. They’ll do anything to get you to commit to them in the beginning. Once they get to a level where they feel safe with you (you can’t easily leave them), then everything changes within a day.
      The way you have to live with a woman is have her constantly living on edge. Never give her any kind of assurance and let her feel safe that she “owns” you. That’s how the jerks do it. Being Mr. Nice Guy won’t get you where you want to be.

  2. Fake Chuck,

    How right you are… If I only had your council before she got fat and lazy!

    You are the voice of reason in these times of chair-less production lines! Great post!

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  4. My 1D3 and 1Ds3 both have focus issues, to wit, inconsistent focus (+/1 a few cm) when used wide open with my fast lenses. 50mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4. Useless: I have to take every picture 3-5 times to be sure.

  5. I’ve sent in my copy of the 50 1.2 to CPS twice!! I’m about to send it in again. I always shoot around f2 and the CA’s are effing terrible! The amount of missed shots due to the back focusing are unacceptable . I get like 50% keepers if I’m lucky! What do I do now? Keep sending it in? They always send it back saying it’s calibrated to factory standards. They just send me back the same lousy performing expensive glass with the same problems. What the fuck Canon!!!

    • Matt, the 50mm f/1.2 lens seems to have a problem by design. Canon Inc. probably can’t fix it that’s why they are keeping quiet about it.

  6. There are some wedding photographers on the fred miranda forum praising the Sigma 50mm 1.4, from what I have read the Sigma is sharper wide open than the Canon counterpart and the focusing motor system isn’t as fragile (so they say). I would be interested in one but I rarelly shoot my 50mm 1.4 from Canon wide open.

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  11. Yikes. You should have stopped the “woman” analogy after “And in this case, it’s kinda like how it is with women.” After that, it devolved into a sexist monologue that was hard to read.

    Maybe your next post can be about how the 85mm f/1.2 is like a newly acquired chattel slave.

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