The Canon 50L f/1.2 and the Zeiss 50 1.4 on the Sony A7RII

The Canon 50L f/1.2 and the Zeiss 50 1.4 on the Sony A7RII

Hey hey! Well, it is Friday again and besides wishing all of you here a great weekend full of shooting (cameras of course, lol), I am getting ready to review the Canon 5D MKIV. I have a Canon 50L f.1.2 here, a lens I used to own and love (when it focused correctly) and I also have the new Sony/Zeiss 50 1.4. I also have a Metabones MKIV  adapter so I can try this Canon 50L on the A7RII.

I remember when I owned the Canon 50L in 2004-2005 (If my memory is correct)I thought it was fat, huge, heavy and frustrating. I would have the hardest time nailing focus with it using a 5D back then, but when it was in focus, it was magic. Not at the level of the legendary 85L but it had magic. Back then, we did not have the saturation of lenses that we have today. There were no Sigma Art lenses, in fact, Sigma was known then as a hit or miss, with many lenses being either GOOD or NOT due to Quality Control. These days, Sigma is rocking it with amazing lenses in the ART line that compete with ANY manufacturer.

The Canon 50L has been around a LONG time…but is very well loved in the Canon world it seems 😉 Comes in at $1349. 


But today, I was curious as to what I would think of the 50L since it has been so many years since I have shot with one. I am spoiled when it comes to a 50mm lens. It is my all time fave focal length, and I appreciate great 50mm lenses. My favorites these days come from Leica  and Zeiss/Sony. It’s tough to find a BAD 50mm lens these days in the $1k and up price bracket. I would say it is impossible actually!

The Sony 50 1.4 is the new kid on the block, and not for Canon, but since the Canon is an option for the Sony…why not test them out side by side?


So how about the Canon 50L? When it arrived I was surprised to see how much smaller it was than the new Sony/Zeiss 50 1.4! Yes, its short and stout and slightly heavy but the new Sony is even more so. The Canon, adapted via a Metabones adapter to my Sony A7RII is offering fairly quick AF in decent light (will be testing it tonight side by side with the Sony 50 1.4 in LOW LIGHT situations, report next week) but not sure yet how it will do in REALLY low light.

I wil be shooting some really low light stuff later on tonight with both lenses, as I am curious what the Sony offers over the adapted Canon. But before tonights actual shooting adventure, I decided to try some shots side by side to see if any huge differences appeared in the rendering. I always loved the 50 and 85L lenses and how they drew an image as I remember they were so unique. Let’s take a look:


Just an indoor shot, in my home, last night. Only light was the kitchen light. Only real difference I see here is the Canon has some “glow” much like classic Leica glass. The Sony is more crisp and free from the glow, but overall the lenses look close. The Canon has slightly more shallow DOF due to the f/1.2 aperture (though EXIF shows f/1.3) but I see a tad more crispness in the Sony file. BUT!!! I think I prefer the overall vibe of the Canon here!!  Click them for larger versions!



My dog Baby, who is the biggest baby ever. Again, with the Canon I see the “glow” which I happen to love (many hate it). When you click these to see the larger versions, what do you see as the main differences? As for auto focus, this was indoor last night again and both lenses focused with about the same speed. 



I see a color difference here, some DOF differences and a SLIGHTLY more “dreamy” rendering with the Canon…THESE ARE OOC JPEGS.



Next week look for my report with these lenses in actual use side by side, in a lower light environment. I will also share my thoughts on which I prefer using on the Sony A7RII after I shoot both in a real world way. Thanks to all, and have a GREAT weekend!



  1. My vote is the Canon
    Even with the limited resolution the internet provides in the images in this summary, the red on the Canon lens still pops while the Zeiss is a little cooler.
    Even the old screw mount versions had as much pop in colour.
    thanks again

  2. I think all the samples show the Sony has warmer tone while the canon has cooler tone, which together with that ‘glow’ helps to create that ‘dreamy’ look

  3. I’m a Sony shooter with FE55, loxia 50 and Batis 85 (love my 50’s). I’m also a Canon shooter with 85 1.2 so I don’t really have any allegiences to one system or another.
    Based on these images I’d personally pick the Canon 50 1.2L over the Sony Zeiss 50 1.4 which has really surprised me. The image of your little puppy looks a little more contrasty on the canon and I love that 1.2 dreamy look. There is a real 3d look to it without being harsh. Dare I say that it has a more Leica-esque look. The Zeiss is beautiful too but the Canon has this one for my tastes.

  4. Well, this inspired me to put a few 50mm-ish lenses on a Sony A7RII to see, mainly, how the few I’ve got compare with Sony’s own FE-fit 55mm f1.8 and the current outstandingly smooth Leica 50mm f1.4.

    Those two give virtually identical results, just like Steve’s photos up above – except that things look a bit closer or larger, obviously, with the Sony 55mm. But their out-of-focus ‘bokeh’ is pretty much identical ..smooth, no “onion rings”, no hard edges ..just blend-away softness, as in Steve’s pics above.

    So how do those two (..Sony 55mm and Leica..) compare with the small Zeiss manual-focus 50mm f1.5 which so many people seem to adore? Ugh; it gives nasty hard-edged out-of-focus highlights. And the celebrated Konica 50mm low-light f1.2? ..Ditto.

    How about a Minolta 58mm f1.2? ..a bit soft and a bit flare-y (’s a bit old..) but slightly hard-edged highlights, too.

    What about the old Leica screw-fit Canon 85mm f1.8 and Canon 100mm f2?

    Perfect! ..just a teeny bit soft. Smooooth gentle ‘bokeh’, matching the softness of the Sony 55mm and the current Leica 50mm 1.4, and those pictures above.

    So instead of paying the rather high price of, say, those new Sony/Zeiss lenses, or a Canon f1.2 L ..a used Canon 100mm f2 from eBay costs £188.56 / about $250 as I write this. All you do is step back a bit further than you would with a 50mm, and you get pretty much the identical picture for a fraction of the price ..because the slightly smaller aperture on the 100mm gives the same visual results as the wider aperture on the 50mm lenses! But the older Canons are manual focus lenses, compared with the autofocus Sonys, or the Canon 50mm L (above) [with an autofocus adaptor on the A7RII].

    Then there’s the venerable manual Leica-screw-fit Nikon 105mm f2.5 the Canon 100mm, but with more contrast, ‘bite’, and really impeccable images ..and still with those gorgeous soft out-of-focus highlights like the Sonys and the modern Canon 50mm L much nicer than the hard-edged globules being offered on Kickstarter for an ersatz Meyer-Optik 58mm f1.9 at $499 or more:

    If you’re up for manual focus, then those old screw-fit Canons with an adaptor, or that original Nikon 105mm, give super-soft melt-in-the-mouth highlights, as delicious as Steve’s photos above, but at a fraction of the cost of the current Canon f1.2 L or the Sony autofocus 50mm or 55mm.

    ..Similar smoothly out-of-focus background blur, but at about 1/5th of the price.

  5. I’m at that moment to sell my 50 and 80 because I want to change from canon to Sony…. How is the autofocus compared to the Sony glass?

    • Using the Mark IV Metabones adapter it is actually quite fast and accurate. I shot it last night in near dark conditions, a performance..and it did amazingly well. No OOF shots and no misses. I was VERY impressed. Crazy how far these adapters have come.

  6. I have the a7ii, metabones IV, canon 50mm 1.2 and 85mm 1.2 setup. I’ve been pondering the same questions as you but never had the 50mm 1.4 to compare, only the 55mm 1.8.

    Don’t forget to update the metabones and try out both Green and Advanced modes (side button on the metabones) as one is Phase only and the other is Hybrid (Sony clone) both have their advantage and disadvantages.

    I’m not fully convinced at selling my canon lenses just yet but I can tell you one thing… As good as that adapter is, if your trying to get a non posed non staged shot… chances are you’ll hunt and miss the timing for the perfect shot you saw happening.

    To sell or not to sell the Canon 50mm/85mm 1.2 for the Sony 50mm/85mm 1.4 … That’s been my push and pull for the last weeks.

  7. The Zeiss would be my choice out of these two, even though I don’t think these sorts of lenses are worth it. However, I see no point in an f/1.2 lens if an f/1.4 lens is available (look at the price difference with Canon’s own 50/1.4 – just for one third of a stop!). Digital cameras make these lenses into purchases more stupid than they ever were before.

    But this isn’t just about SLR lenses. It’s the same with Leica – give me a classic Summicron over the Summilux any day. The Noctilux? You can keep it. Although Leica’s Noctilux weighs half of Canon’s EF 50/1.

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