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QUIZ: Which 50mm Lens Shot This?

Over the past month, I’ve published a couple of videos about differences in image quality produced by three 50mm lenses: the Canon 50mm f/1.4, the Canon 50mm f/1.2L, and the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART. In those comparison videos, I’ve pointed out the differences between the image quality and bokeh of the lenses under controlled conditions.

I ‘ve done the comparisons, and I’ve pointed out the differences, but I don’t want to make too big a deal out of them. They’re less significant that some people might expect after watching my videos… but of course, the price differences ARE still quite significant, currently (at Amazon):

Maybe this quiz will help you decide whether the price differences are justifiable, for you.

The Quiz

Each of the questions in the quiz below will contain at least one image. These images are mostly bad shots from the time I spent shooting for the comparison videos; they’re not great images, and they weren’t specially chosen because they are characteristic of a lens in some way; they’re just random shots.

Some of them stand alone, some images are grouped with 100% crops. In each case, you can click on the image to enlarge it so that you can get a better view of the detail.  What do you think? Is the Sigma significantly sharper? Does the Canon f/1.2L have a “magical” quality? Let me know what you think in the comments section, below the quiz.

50mm Lens Quiz : Can You Tell the Difference?

Good luck! Keep in mind that not all of these images are shot wide open, making it especially difficult to tell the images apart. Don't worry about it :-)
Congratulations - you have completed 50mm Lens Quiz : Can You Tell the Difference?.You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. That comes to %%PERCENTAGE%%.This pretty much means: %%RATING%%

Post Your Score Below

We're not keeping track of the scores (this Quiz software just isn't cool enough). So, after you complete the quiz, please post your score in the comments section below, so that we all have an idea of how well people are doing.Needless to say, people who do well are more likely to post their scores, so if you don't guess well, please make the extra effort to post your score, too!
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  1. I got 45% correct. I was able to guess the 1.4 from the artifacts more successfully than the other two. Really love the colors on the Sigma and 1.2l. I have heard enough people call the 1.2l the magic lens but this quiz cleared it up for me. Going the Sigma route after weeks of research. Thank you Mat!

    1. Nice! Glad you found this helpful :-) I am planning on doing another one of these with the Sigma and Sony 135mm f/1.8 lenses, just because there’s been so much talk about them both, and they’re both excellent lenses.

  2. Congratulations – you have completed 50mm Lens Quiz : Can You Tell the Difference?. You scored 15 out of 16. That comes to 78%. This pretty much means: Nice. You could probably distinguish one of these lenses from the others, reliably.

  3. 75% This was surprisingly fun. I got every Sigma one, but I never owned the 1.2 Canon, so when in doubt, it was a crap shoot…speaking of crap, boy does the 50mm 1.4 bring bad bad memories. When I was starting out, some “expert” told me that was the one I should use and it was so much better than the nifty 50 and it after a year of stumbling, I gave up and got a Sigma and never looked back, nor bought another Canon lens. I HATE HATE HATE that Canon 50mm 1.4…it’s an awesome lens for 1993, but buying it in 2014, boy do I wish I could go back in time and just slap myself in the face instead of buying it….so many crappy photos taken with that lens. So many precious memories of my son as a baby, blurry and crappy compared to his younger sister…once I bought a Sigma.

  4. 75%
    thanks for the quiz, I mostly went with “lemon” shaped bokeh that you mention in your videos, I really couldn’t distinguish the 2 Canons reliably though, what are the main differences?
    (also went with more chromatic aberration – magenta to be precise – for the Canons, which also seemed to kind of work.)


    1. Not bad! That’s a little better than most people are doing.

      I don’t know if there are really any main differences that I can point to, when you’re looking at web-sized images like this. Each lens will look a little bit different just because of its overall design, but it’s more a matter of “character” than anything I can point to.

      Really, the point of this quiz was to show exactly that… that even when you’re an experienced photographer and looking for the differences, they can be pretty hard to find.

  5. Congratulations You scored 15 out of 16. That comes to 91%. This pretty much means: Nice. You could probably distinguish one of these lenses from the others, reliably.
    I cheated.
    I could not get better than 50% I took three goes (short memory span) then gave up and looked at the HTML code and still got one wrong. Oops.

  6. You scored 15 out of 16. That comes to 72%.This pretty much means: Nice. You could probably distinguish one of these lenses from the others, reliably.

    That was interestingly fun! Thanks for the quiz! I got my eye sight back. Lol!

  7. Very interesting post, I got 88%. Would love to see more like this. 35mm & 85mm too, maybe?
    Fun fact: I got the first 10 questions 100% correct on the first try, the later ones screwed me over a bit, the Art and the L lenses are quite close.

  8. Hi everyone,

    Sorry for the language, i am a french speaking gentleman ;)

    Funny fact of this test (i got 59% result) is: i actually spotted the canon 1.4 every single time and mostly instantly (i failed only on some too hight iso images).
    And pictures with this canon 1.4 were just so bad to my eye…
    Weird thing, i actually only own a canon 1.8…

    This quizz really makes me want to upgrad.

    Thanks for the good work,

  9. I’m not sure if those picture have been through any color adjustment in post processing, but one thing I notice from each of the lens, they produce different color profile, with Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L having a distinct “L” series lens color profile. Again, this is my personal opinion and I still guess incorrectly on some images there.

    Nice quiz Matthew! I like your approach on reviewing those gears, thumbs up!

  10. Hello,

    just a question. If I use a canon 50 f1.4 and a canon 50f1.2 or a canon 24-70 f2.8. I take the same photo at at 50mm and also at f2.8, or another aperture. Will it be the same quality assuming I use the same 5d mark iii. I would love an answer to this, if not a comparison video…


    1. Hi Chris,
      There would be a few likely differences.
      With the 24-70mm lens, f/2.8 is the largest aperture, which means that’s where the lens is going to have the lowest resolution performance (though the Canon is really quite good there, the Tamron isn’t quite as good) With the 50mm primes, stopping down to f/2.8 is at least two stops smaller than wide open, so they’re already getting into the range where they’re quite sharp… so they may be more consistent across the frame.

      The Canon 50mm prime lenses both display a little bit of barrel distortion (as seen in the videos), whereas the 24-70 zoom will have no appreciable distortion (or perhaps just a bit of pincushion) at 50mm. This is a minor difference… probably less than the difference between the Canon and Sigma 50mms.

      At f/2.8, the lenses should have pretty similar depth of field, but there may be minor differences in the quality of the bokeh at the same aperture, and of course, when the 50mm primes are opened up to f/1.4 or 1.2, they will have much much shallower depth of field and smoother bokeh than the lens at f/2.8.

      Those are the differences that come to mind :)
      – Matthew

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