The Canon 50L is undoubtedly a ‘Marmite lens’ and by far the most controversial lens in their current L lineup, dividing opinion and inspiring strong emotions in both its champions and detractors. Some high profile photographers sing its praises, particularly wedding photographers such as Jasmine Star and portrait shooters like Sue Bryce and Lara Jade. It is championed for its beautiful, soft bokeh that has a unique dreamy quality.
On the other hand, a quick search on Google will show you that many photographers seem to purchase then quickly return this lens, complaining of softness and focus problems. The internet is awash with a whole range of posts on blogs and forums detailing the various joys and frustrations of using this lens, often leaving photographers who are seeking to choose between the 50L and its two cheaper stablemates – the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and the ‘nifty fifty’ Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II – with more questions than answers. Is this lens really worth four times the cost of the f/1.4, or more than ten times the cost of the nifty? Is the lens design ‘faulty’, causing backfocusing and focus shift issues? Having used this lens in a professional capacity for quite some time now and having done a lot of research into the facts behind the issues, I hope to be able to shed some light on this mythical and much-maligned beast.