Oh, eBay, how would I know what to covet without you?

There will always be the Next Toy, but this one will probably never grace my camera bag. You might recall me writing about my Totally Awesome® 85mm f/1.2 lens. Man, I love that lens, though it definitely gets the best of me sometimes. That’s what practice is for.

But 85mm is a pretty long lens. It’s for zeroing in on one thing and making the rest of the world fade away. I’m starting to get some good results with it. But it’s not a lens for capturing a street scene, or for holding up over the windshield and grabbing a landscape while driving.

I’ve been mildly curious about the 85’s little brother, the 50mm f/1.2 lens. I looked on eBay last night and found them going for quite a bit more than I was ready to pay. Whew! No new lens lust.

Until I saw…

The Canon 50mm f/1.0 lens. It doesn’t seem like much, that difference of 0.2, and most of the time it isn’t. But the scale is logarithmic, so a difference of .2 down at this end of the scale can be huge in extreme circumstances. (Compare to other lenses that go down to f/2.8 or so and are considered pretty fast. 1.2 is way small, and 1.0 is nuts.) I read reviews from people taking pictures when it’s so dark they can barely even see. Street scenes coming to life at night. Ridiculous control of depth of focus.

Heavy. Not manufactured anymore. Very expensive. The lesser lens will handle almost as much, and even then it’s hard to justify paying less than half as much for the almost-as-good lens.

Still, a guy can dream (of spending thousands of dollars for a piece of glass he doesn’t need).

A guy can dream.

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2 thoughts on “Oh, eBay, how would I know what to covet without you?

  1. Epilogue: it turns out that there’s a reason Canon ditched the f/1.0. It just never worked quite right, despite the ridiculous effort (reflected by the ridiculous price). Most folks agree (but of course not everyone) that the smaller, cheaper (cough) still-stunning f/1.2 is a better lens. You just can’t fight physics.

    But… back in the day Zeiss made an f/0.95 50mm lens. I hear it’s pretty sweet.

    • Epilogue to the epilogue:

      Apparently the ‘not very good’ reputation of the 50mm Canon f1.0 is more accurately stated ‘misunderstood’. It was an extreme lens built in part to show the capabilities of the new mounting geometry Canon moved to when they brought out their autofocus lenses. A lot of progress has been made in autofocus since then, but if you’re willing to focus manually when things are really tight (which many photographers do anyway) then this lens is pretty magnificent. Or so I’m told.

      Yep, it’s back on the Lust List. Of course, I’d still need the lighter-weight 50mm f/1.2 for carrying around.

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