Camera & Lens Experiments: Bokeh Quality

Camera: Canon 5D Mark III

Lenses: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM


Comparing bokeh quality on the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L lens and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens

After conducting this experiment, I found that I prefer the look of the bokeh produced by the 50 L lens. Though it has a slightly more geometric shape, it is overall rounder and smoother in appearance. The STM lens produces almost an oblong-shaped bokeh circle. The contrast and exposure seem much more desirable on the image shot with the 50 L lens (this is known to be one of the selling points of the Canon’s L-Series line). Even though these were shot from the exact same distance (all I did was switch the lenses while the camera stayed on the tripod) the compression on the image shot with the 50 L looks nicer and the depth of field looks a bit shallower. The STM lens is the newest version of Canon’s “nifty fifty” and does a decent job, especially at the $125 price tag. But, this lens sits in my bag while I use the 50 L lens for about 50% of my portrait work because of the wider aperture (I like shooting at f/1.4 and f/1.2 quite often) and because it just produces really beautiful portraits. The nifty fifty seems to miss focus a lot from further distances making it less useful for full-body portraits. The 50 L is a much older lens but is definitely worth the higher price tag for the kind of  work I do. [Click image for larger view]



Roxanne is a Fond du Lac professional photographer.


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