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  • Maria Rosa Photography

A Comparison of Lenses - Canon 50 f/1.8 and 50 f/1.2

Nifty Fifty

a lens review

A 50mm lens is often referred to as a “nifty fifty”. It is so versatile and really easy to use. It can be an inexpensive investment that promises to improve your photography without the weight of carrying a bulkier lens. Even the least expensive 50 mm lens will help to improve your photography over a kit zoom lens. Even though a kit lens could cover the 50 mm spectrum, having this prime lens is a whole different beast.

Every person starts somewhere with photography

(the same with any endeavor you may be interested in digging deeper into, which is wonderful).

This post is for the photographer who is looking to purchase a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens, or considering an upgrade or first time purchase to a 50mm 1.2.

For 7+ years, I frequently used my Canon 50 f/1.8 lens. I was able to take a variety of different kinds of images over the years with it. I loved exploring with that lens. The price tag was exactly right for me at the moment as one of my main lenses. The lower depth of field created with the f/1.8 was shallower than any other lens I had owned. The 1.2 though, is out of this world amazing! Read further for more info!

It's not the camera, it's the photographer.

I'm sure you've heard this before. Sure you can explore your personal space in different ways with $1000's worth of cameras and lenses.

But it's not everything. It's really not.

What a photographer feels, how they react, what drives them in their personal lives, what their influences are, how it translates to the way they approach photography, what propels them to click the shutter each time - it all counts - it all matters.

It's a beautiful, thing, isn't it? I adore the unique voices there are in photography.

Whenever I'm considering purchasing new camera equipment, I rely on reviews to help me with my decision. (Usually expensive decisions!)

I also read tons of comparisons from photographers. Sometimes it's hard to find a comparison between specific lenses or brands that you may be wanting to compare and research.

Let this post be another voice in helping your research comparing and contrasting a Canon 50mm 1.8 -and- 50mm 1.2!

First, I'll share some images taken with each lens, then I'll share some quick final thoughts. ​​

I love the 1.8!

It's a great lens to walk around with. It's lighter than the 50 1.2 and you can have a lot of fun with taking great pictures with it!

Also, you have a bit less to worry about walking around, hanging out at family functions or running around the forest with your kids, because it costs about $100. (I know to some that is still an investment, especially for the hobbyist or the newer or younger photographer). In reality, though, the 50mm 1.8 is an excellent investment with a HUGE bang for your buck!

It's a great portrait lens and at the 50mm focal length, the size, distance and feel of the images feel true to life. It's an awesome focal length. The lower 1.8 aperture has given me great results over many years.

I think this is a great lens to own for pleasure, work and/or as a really awesome prime lens!

You can see a difference if you look closely, especially with the bokeh - the blurry parts - of the image.

Those parts are cleaner, neater & softer than the bokeh created with the 1.8.

Overall, the 1.2 is sharper and seems to focus quicker. You can tell where that extra cost went to upgrade this "nifty fifty" lens.

Even at shooting with at an aperture of 1.8, to me, this lens is smoother and faster than the Canon 50 1.8 lens.

The option of having your aperture at 1.2 though, makes this lens oh. so. incredible. It's one of the reasons to buy it.

I was reluctant purchasing this at first, because it was the year that I added the Canon 5D Mark III camera to my collection, with another steep price tag for me.

I spoiled myself though, because I had been making my 1.8 work for me for years and saw my work get "better" and become more "me".

You can hang on to good lenses for years and years and years. I plan on this being part of my collection forever.

The Canon 50 mm 1.2 is a strong lens. It's heavier than the 1.8, made out of stronger materials, and it seems it could withstand a lot more accidents and bumps, keeping up with years of heavy use.



If you are a newer photographer, starting out in the professional photography world, a hobby photographer, or want something really lightweight (and/or don't have a thousand bucks to spend on new equipment right now) - the 50mm f/ 1.8 might be perfect for you. I used it for many years and I grew with it by my side. Although it's made more of lightweight plastic and is definitely lighter than the 1.2, that's part of the charm of it. The 50mm 1.8 is definitely a really big bang for your buck, and an awesome introduction into prime (fixed focal length) lenses.


Another popular Canon 50mm lens is the f/1.4 which I have not owned. It's a couple hundred more than than the 1.8 and will give you a bit more depth of field at the 1.4. You can check out a little more about it and read some reviews on Amazon here.


However, if you have the funds, or are thinking about upgrading, the Canon 50mm 1.2 is AMAZING. This focal length is really so versatile and so wonderful. Having that 1.2 aperture has worked SO well for me in low light situations. I see a big difference in what I was able to do compared to the 1.8.

I find myself using it for all sorts of different purposes through the wedding day and during a family portrait session and headshot sessions.

It's heavier and a little bulkier than the 1.8. But it's not crazy heavy - at all. The 1.8, though, is SO light - anything will seem heavier next to it.

The Canon 50mm 1.2 is well worth the extra weight in your camera bag. But is it worth the extra weight OUT of your wallet?

It definitely feels more substantial and strong in your hand. And it is. It also takes your 50mm focal length images to a whole other level, and opens up doors for you in low light situations. It's crisper, sharper, the bokeh is gorgeous, and you will be blown away with the images you take with it.

It's an investment for sure, so, if you ARE just starting out, I might go 1.8. If you're coming from working with only a zoom lens or a kit lens, a 50mm 1.8 is the perfect introduction into prime lenses with a fixed focal length and a great intro into this world of the 50 mm lenses.

And with an investment of under $130, you aren't losing with the 1.8. Even if you upgrade later, you can hang on to that 1.8 for a lens you'd be much more secure knocking it around during a nature walk.

I would never give up my 1.2. It's always in my bag for a wedding or portrait shoot, and I'm in love it. <3

I really do hope I was able to share some useful pieces of information or knowledge with you.

I wish you luck in finding exactly what you're looking for.


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