This speedy full-frame 50mm f/1.2L ($1,400, street) fills a vacancy left by the demise of Canon's 50mm f/1.0L four years ago. The company's only L-series normal lens, it's the fastest normal AF lens on the planet.
Large and hefty, at nearly twice the size of comparable Nikon and Pentax f/1.2 manual-focus lenses, this lens exemplifies how the L-series opts for sharpness over compact convenience. The AF speed is somewhat slow, unsurprisingly, given the amount of glass the motor must move. The lens' unusual design shifts the entire optical assembly within a stationary outer housing to focus. To prevent moisture and dust from coming between the assembly and housing, Canon strongly recommends a protective UV filter.
In The Lab
SQF data showed Excellent sharpness and contrast across the board, which is not a given with such a high-speed lens. (Canon's 50mm f/1.4 USM, for example, turned in Very Good SQF numbers, dropping to Slightly Below Average at f/2 and f/1.4.) In DxO Analyzer 2.0 tests, the new lens showed Slight barrel distortion (0.23%), and light falloff was gone by f/2.8 -- a strong showing. The maximum magnification ratio at the close-focus distance of 16.87 inches was an adequate 1:6.
Canon-using pros -- especially available-light, wedding, and portrait shooters -- have been clamoring for a high-speed, supersharp normal. Now they've got it.