For the 87th time, Canon is working on an EF 50mm F/(no one knows) IS USM. Going to happen. Done deal. (An 85 as well, surely.)
It will be exactly like the other non-L IS refreshes that the 24/28/35mm focal lengths got in the last two years:
...and it will be worth every penny.
- Far far sharper. As good or better than Canon's large aperture L in the same FL.
- Modern, fast USM
- Size on par with the current 50 F/1.4 -- i.e. much much smaller and lighter than the L or the Sigma Art.
- 3-4 stops of IS
- Much better build quality: solid feel, higher quality plastics, etc.
- Internal focusing
If you want a solid 50mm for all purposes including handholdability in low-light, video, etc., this will undoubtedly be it. The Sigma Art is a stellar lens at a great value, but a one stop advantage of speed is obliterated by 3-4 stops of IS depending on what you shoot. (For me, that's huge.) And we all know what a fickle diva the 50 F/1.2L is -- stellar draw/bokeh/feel but soft as a noodle in the corners and somewhat finnicky AF at wider apertures.
The only unknowns remaining are the max aperture and the cost.
All prior non-Ls that got this refresh treatment retained their prior max aperture (24 and 28 --> F/2.8, 35 --> F/2). However, in this segment, an F/1.4 IS might be big and heavy and perhaps Canon doesn't want to do that, so some folks have posited that it will be a segment-shaker-upper and be an F/1.8 IS. We shall see.
The cost will depend on a lot of things:
- Is it replacing the Canon EF 50 F/1.4 USM or will it be sold alongside it?
- Will the max aperture be F/1.4? F/1.8? F/2?
- How sharp will it be? If it outpunches the 50 F/1.2L considerably (which not a high bar at all), will Canon enjoy people paying (say) $600 instead of $1500 for sharper lens? (Replace $600 with $949 and you can see why Sigma loves life right now.)
So my guess is that it will be 90% as sharp as the Sigma Art (at comparable apertures) and run high at first offering -- say $799 -- to gobble up every photog who has stuck with the Canon 50 F/1.4 because the L is lacking something that they need. Over time, the price might settle down around $600 like the other non-L IS refreshes.