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:
- 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
...and it will be worth every penny. 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.
+0.8 [that is, quite close to my thoughts about this matter.]
Edit - the main thing that I believe I'll stick with a Canon 50mm prime with (rather than a Sigma, or other 3rd party lens) is that there have been slight AF inconsistencies with 3rd party lenses, which is crucial for my style of 50mm shallow depth of field photography.....
Thanks for saving me some typing time, ahsanford