That Old Canon 50 f/1.2 EF ROCKS on the EOS-R

That Old Canon 50 f/1.2 EF ROCKS on the EOS-R

By Steve Huff

So I bet at least one or two of you here have an old Canon 50 1.2 EF lens that has frustrated you when used on a DSLR. When I bought mine, I had to calibrate it to my 1dXII before it attained perfect focus. Even so, it wasn’t always “on” and depended on the distance I was from my subject. Now that I have a Canon EOS-R this lens has had new life breathed into it as you can attain perfect focus wide open at f/1.2 EVERY TIME. With Mirrorless there is never an issue of back or front focus. I was out shooting this lens once again tonight with the EOS-R and it performed like a champ, making me wonder how much better the new version is at double the cost and size.

Here are just three shots from the EOS-R with the 50 f1.2 EF shot wide open. This is the OLD lens, not the new. Focus was instant, and locked on every time. As I said before, focusing this lens even in lower light is INSTANTANEOUS and accurate.

I will have a review soon of the EOS-R, stay tuned!

Three shots with the 50 1.2 on the EOS-R taken at f1.2. CLICK for larger. Using this old lens on the EOS-R is a JOY, and you will never miss focus. BTW, these are all OOC JPEGS. 


  1. The Canon EF 50mm F1.2 is reported to have focus shift in close distances (in DSLRs). Could you please let me know whether you have experienced such focus shift with EOS R.

    I have been looking to get a 50mm lens for my newly acquired Canon EOS R and debating on Sigma ART 50mm F1.4 or the EF 50mm F1.2. The new RF 50mm F1.2 is out of my budget currently. I am also looking at the Tokina Opera 50mm F1.4 (Pentax lens rebadged in Tokina). It is highly rated by the Pentax users but not sure whether it will work in the future EOS R cameras.

    • There is no focus shift with the EOS-R as it is not possible to happen with mirrorless. It is spot on as are all the fast Canon EF primes. That is one of the many benefits of mirrorless.

      • Thank you Steve!

        Do you think the EF 50mm F1.2 is still a good buy? I know that RF 50mm F1.2 is technically superior and has better sharpness and micro-contrast, many people say that the EF 50mm F1.2 has certain special character. Could you share your own opinion about the comparison of these two lenses. Sorry, if I am asking too much 🙂

        • You nailed it. I had both here but kept my old EF version. It has more character, and while the new one is technically superior, the old version has a little more magic and mojo. Both are awesome though, and the old one focuses just as fast and accurate as the new on on the RF.

  2. Hey Steve,

    Have you figured out if there is a way to change the sensitivity of activating the Canon R’s viewfinder? I finally got around to testing one out and not being able to immediately see what I’m shooting was infuriating coming from a DSLR. Even if its just a fraction of a second.

  3. Beautiful images! I love in particular the one with the drummer in focus, wonderfully framed. Now I am fully convinced that I go for the old EF 50 mm f/1.2… thank you very much for your advice and this new, great review.

  4. Unlike our Sony’s with all the dodgy 3rd party lens adaptors, it looks like Canon nailed their EF adaptors out the gate. I’ve had zero interest playing with lens adaptors on the Sony, but these Canon adaptors actually appeal. Certainly an enticing camera for EOS owners, especially that adaptor with a filter drawer, hello videographers! Good to read some positive shooting experiences with the EOS R, rather than the juvenile comparisons/complaints elsewhere!

    • So you’re complaining about products you’ve never used and then complain about other people complaining based on ‘spec’? Good stuff.

      This lens focussed way better on Sony cameras than Canon cameras until this one arrived even with the ‘dodgy’ 3rd party adapters.

      • When there’s money on the table, and one chance to get it right, enjoy! Why not throw in a Sandisk card and one of those cheep Chinese batteries for good measure……….. K.I.S.S.

          • @Steve Huff. Huh, why are you bringing up the one card slot non-issue? Point to Matt was simply, these mirrorless are quirky *even the Sony’s* so why not stay on-brand, with glass, cards, & batteries!

          • Not sure I understand your request here or even what the issue is. For me, a single slot is a non issue. For others, it may be. For me it is not. There has never been, nor will there ever be a perfect digital camera as everyone has different wants and needs. Not possible to make a perfect camera for all. Thank you.

          • “I’ve used cameras with one SD card slot my entire life, or with none (it is called film).” Thumbs up! And the most funny thing is that film cameras never had (have) an option to load a second backup film to be on the save side. I really should be more scared when I use one of my vintage cameras…

            That said, safety really depends on the card maker. I stopped using Lexar and returned to Sandisk which never let me down so far…

  5. I’ve been nailing focus with all my L primes wide open with LiveView on my 5D4. Never a problem to use outdoors. It would be nicer through the viewfinder but it’s a preference, not a requirement.

    • @ Ryan McGinty

      Totally agree with your comments, especially the last one — that singer definitely has some Melvin-ish ‘Buzz’ going on!

  6. Awesome looking forward to reading your review. I for one am excited for this camera. Of course few draw backs but that’s because they wanted to keep some of the things on the pro.

  7. I have a 50 1.2 which I probably don’t use enough… But when I do nail focus I am plenty satisfied with it’s sharpness. I should use it more often and I imagine using live view AF on my 5DIV (or a 6DII) should yield similar results… I wish they would patch the 5DIV with eye AF like the R!

    • The Canon EF to RF adapter that launched with the EOS-R. No compromise when using EF lenses on the R, in fact they get faster in AF and much more accurate as well.

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