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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

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173 273383 Feb 13, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $1,787.04
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.96
9.6
85II

Specifications:
Retaining the impressive optical performance and large aperture of the original EF 85mm f/1.2L USM, this new medium telephoto lens uses a Ring-type USM, high-speed CPU and optimized algorithms to achieve an autofocus speed approximately 1.8x faster than the original. The high-speed AF and circular aperture create a shallow depth-of-field that brings attention to the subject and blurs the background, which is ideal for portraits and weddings. The floating optical system, which includes an aspherical lens element, suppresses aberrations and ensures excellent imaging performance.

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panthercz
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Registered: Mar 2, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 33
Review Date: Feb 17, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Bokeh, clarity, sharpness, image depth, color, contrast.
Cons:
Rear element exposure, minimum focus distance, only goes down to f16.

Nothing really new to add onto what everyone else has already stated. You get what you pay for, and with this lens you get every penny that you put into it. f/1.2 is amazing just for the wonderful bokeh. Images have such great depth and can take on a near 3D quality. Color and contrast are beautiful as well. Really everything about this lens is great! I love shooting at ISO 50 with my 5D and this lens, images are so clear and sharp it is amazing.

My only gripes with this near perfect lens is the rear element can easily be damaged if you are not careful. I would like to be able to go down to f/20 but sadly this beauty can only hit f/16. Finally the 3.2 foot minimum focus distance is a little much. These are minor gripes and more just my own preferences, not any actual fault with this lens.

The images this lens produces are like the 300mm f/2.8L, only better.


Feb 17, 2008
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Studio58
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Registered: Apr 21, 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 862
Review Date: Feb 11, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,650.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Arty, awesome bokeh. Sharp through the range. Quality PLUS.
Cons:
A little tricky to attach to the camera.

I recently purchased the 300 2.8L is & was after one last lens to round out the range. The 85 was an option I had been considering for a while.
Nothing I can say adds to what has already been stated. I can only add my vote to one absolutely awesome lens.
The weight feels nice on the MK3's.... well balanced.


Feb 11, 2008
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Evan Baines
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Registered: Jan 15, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 5293
Review Date: Jan 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,590.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp at all apertures, color, bokeh... pretty much anything IQ related.
Cons:
Makes other lenses feel inadequate. AF is "delibrate" but not nearly as bad as I expected... Haven't made it hunt yet. More than adequate for candids.

Yes, it really is that good.

Jan 5, 2008
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recordproducti
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Registered: Jul 11, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 215
Review Date: Jan 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Simply an awesome lens! Superb clarity, sharpness, smoothness, richness, punchy and so 3D. This lens deserves 11.5, not 10.
Cons:
After using lenses like this even good zooms just don't get close.

The 85L mkII is worth every single hard earned penny! The colours are super fantastic and it gives the most amazing 3D images. Wide open it's just amazing. I find it's my lens of choice for social events, in low light and in good light. I use it whenever I can.

I have yet to use a better lens.


Jan 5, 2008
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kazunori
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Registered: Jun 26, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: Jan 3, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,590.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: IQ/sharpness at f/1.2, snap-on lens hood, and great bokeh. f/1.2 is a wonderful feature.
Cons:
Heavy, relatively slow focusing, high price (but not unexpected), electronic focusing.

f/1.2 is a lot of fun. You almost never have to worry about cluttered backgrounds, as everything turns into a nice blur of colors. You really can focus on an eye and get the eyelashes out of focus (although I can tell that I'll have to practice quite a bit to really learn how to use this lens well).

Another plus is that at f/1.2 you can take photos indoors at ISO 100-200 without flash. It's quite liberating!

At f/1.2 it's not as sharp as the 135mm f/2L I tried a while back, but this is completely expected, as 85mm is wider, and f/2 is nothing like f/1.2. I find it amazing that it is so sharp at f/1.2. It has none of that halation that the 50mm f/1.4 has, but it does have a bit of purple fringing that creeps in, although that's not an issue when taking low-contrast images like portraits.

One minor annoyance is having the electronic focus. It lags a bit behind your manual movement of the focus ring, and you also have to manually focus to infinity to retract the lens before putting it away. The focus being slow does make taking shots of moving objects or babies difficult, especially when you're trying to frame with a narrow DOF. I miss the focus speed of the 135mm f/2L, but you just can't get images similar to those from this lens without f/1.2.

I use this on a 20D, and it does feel pretty heavy. But it does make me want a FF camera, as that would allow for even narrower DOF for the same framing.

Although it has its drawbacks, its IQ and the total artistic freedom it allows for has made it my new favorite lens.


Jan 3, 2008
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Tony Rogers
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Registered: Jul 9, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 299
Review Date: Dec 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Superb sharpness, brilliant bokeh, focusses well (albeit a little more slowly than other lenses). Excellent lens in the studio.
Cons:
Heavy, but balances well on a 1D series body. Expensive!

It took me a long time to buy this lens, because I'd tried it a couple of times on a 5D. For some reason, it doesn't seem to focus as quickly on a 5D. Put it on a 1D3 or 1Ds3 and it seems to focus faster (still noticeably slower than a 135 f2, but pretty much everything is!)

Glad I finally got one. This lens completed my conversion to shooting primes (begun with the 135 f2 and 200 f2.8). Forced me to buy a 35 f1.4 and 50 f1.2 (such a shame!).

I would not recommend this lens for shooting sports - it does not autofocus fast enough. This lens was designed for use in the studio, and it takes on all comers there.

One warning - if you buy this lens, be prepared to become dissatisfied with all your zooms...


Dec 28, 2007
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albertino
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Registered: Dec 22, 2007
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: eccellente qualità-sfocato meraviglioso-luminosità estrema
Cons:
nessuno

Un obiettivo meraviglioso sotto tutti gli aspetti.
Nitidezza esemplare e dolcezza di sfumature incredibili.
Bokeh inimitabile-luminosità impressionante.
In teatro, con luce scarsa, ho scattato serenamente a 1/60° con 100 iso Da consigliare certamente-


Dec 23, 2007
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blue_streak
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Registered: Jan 25, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 35
Review Date: Dec 4, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, unparalleled bokeh, resulting images justify the price (for me anyway)!
Cons:

Wow.
The results that come from this lens are something else! This is what I have been looking for, a lens that can do what no other can. A lot of money, but I do not regret it.


Dec 4, 2007
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Daan B
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Registered: Aug 15, 2007
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 7520
Review Date: Nov 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Superb IQ (already wide open), build, reliable and accurate AF
Cons:
Some fringes wide open, not the fastest AF in town (although very reliable and accurate)

Well, what can I say... It's this lens that made me switch from Nikon to Canon. It's glued to one of my 5D's perminently. I use it primarily for available light portraiture and some landscape photography.

It is sharp already wide open. At f/2.0 it becomes insanely sharp and stays that way up to f/8. Bokeh is the best I have ever seen on a (D)SLR system. Contrast and colors are top notch (even at f/1.2). Beautiful shadow rendition, deep colors and smooth transitions of tones. The 3D look is definitely there: subjects are really jumping off the frame. Distortions are nothing to worry about. The 85L II also handles flare well: in landscape shots pointing towards the sun, I didn't see anything that made me worry. There is some fringing in high contrast areas when shooting wide open. But by f/2.0 these are mostly gone. CA's in the (far) corners of the frame are not an issue.

The 85L II is built like a tank. I really like the materials used. Lots of metal and some kind of rubber on the outside of the barrel. It's rather heavy. But because of it's weight the lens provides excellent stability (on a 5D with grip): I get keepers even with 1/30 seconds! AF is a little on the slow side when focusing from up close to infinity. But when doing a pre focus, it's speed is sufficient enough (for shooting portraits / landscapes). Also, the AF (on a 5D) is very reliable and accurate. Real handy when shooting at f/1.2 - f/2.0. It simply never misses.

It's an expensive lens for sure. But well worth it. I'd say it's Canon's finest... Highly recommended!


Nov 28, 2007
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neilgundel
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Registered: Dec 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 31
Review Date: Nov 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp - especially stopped down to 2.0 and beyond. Build quality is outstanding.
Cons:
Very prone to purple fringing wide open in certain conditions.

This lens is worth the high price in my opinion. I agree with all the other comments about fabulous bokeh, IQ etc., but I don't think the focusing speed is an issue for anything but the fastest moving sports. Also, on a 1DsII, I find the low-light focusing to be as good as or better than any other lens I have used. Portraits at 1/60 sec + f/1.2 + ISO 800 snap into focus instantly.

Landscapes at 5.6 are extremely good - on the level of the 135/2.0.

For example:
http://naturalportraits.com/utah_85_12_at_56.jpg

DOF is basically non-existent at f/1.2 at portrait distances, which is wonderful when you have exactly the right things in focus, and terrible when you don't. You will need to learn to focus accurately, or you won't get your money's worth.

Purple fringing wide open in some but not all or even most backlit situations - I haven't yet figured out how to tell when it will be an issue. A photoshop filter that removes the purple would be very helpful at times.



Nov 23, 2007
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bobbytan
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Registered: Feb 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 7288
Review Date: Nov 18, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,589.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Ethereal bokeh and OOF blur. Sharp like a macro lens. Good contrast and color. Significantly better AF than version I. Eye candy.
Cons:
Heavy, somewhat pricey, and relatively slow AF.

I had the first version of this lens (3 years ago) and didn't think it was anything special. As a matter of fact, I hated it, sold it, and gave this lens a rating of 6. Well, that was then. Since then, I have seen several stunning images from this lens, and I am more than convinced that Version II has some important changes, especially in the area of AF speed and control of flare and ghosting. Less flare (thanks to the Super Spectra coatings) results in better contrast and color, so IQ has to be better than the previous version. I would go so far as to say that this lens as good as any Leica lens. It has superb resolution, sharpness, contrast and color. It is IMO the best Canon lens.

AF speed is still slow, but not terribly so. It should be adequate for most situations except fast-action sports. I wish the Minimum Focussing Distance is shorter than 3.2ft, but I realize that if the DOF at 3.2ft is ultra-shallow, the DOF at less than 3ft is probably unusable. If I need to reduce the MFD I would use it with extension tube EF 12 and/or EF 25. Because of the super-narrow DOF, a tripod is recommended when you shoot wide open at the minimum distance in available light.

Yes, it is very heavy for an 85mm lens, but unless you go all plastic (horrors) what choice do you have with an f1.2 lens? But although it's heavy it balances well on any Canon body. And yes, it is expensive too, but ultra-fast lenses are not cheap as they are very expensive to make. If you compare this lens to the limited-edition Carl Zeiss Planar 85/1.2 lens, it's really reasonable! The going rate for a mint-condition Zeiss 85/1.2 is well over $6,000 i.e. if you can find one, as this is a rare/collectible lens. FWIW the MFD on the Zeiss lens is 3.5ft.

Does this lens deserve all the accolade and hype from its owners and users? You bet! It is every bit as good as what everyone says, but YMMV. Great sharpness throughout the aperture range, great color and contrast ..... and the bokeh and OOF blur is just magical and cannot be matched by a slower lens. This is the lens that I will take with me to my grave, along with my 5D or its successor! Wink

I have had this lens for only about a week, and have only done some product/book shots. Check it out here:

http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=783872

If you are still undecided or unconvinced, check out the user reviews on the B&H and Amazon web sites. You will be amazed at the number of perfect scores that this lens gets.


Nov 18, 2007
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niimo
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Registered: Jul 24, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Nov 1, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Very sharp with careful use. Precise focusing. At times, amazing bokeh.
Cons:
A lot of CA in sun light, heavy and bulky and not $1800 build quality.

Obviously a terrific quality lens, that with proper use can produce superior results. However, the negative outweighed the good for me. During shoots, my wrists would begin to ache because of the wight. I got used to the weight, but still that frustrated me. I was surprised by the build quality. Not that it was poor, but it was not as good as I expected for $1800, that is for sure.

It was challenging shooting in sunlit high contrast scenes because of the sensitivity to CA wide open. I did some informal sharpness testing comparing with my 50mm f/1.8 II, and though it was sharper, not by much. The bokeh was much more smooth and just delightful at times. It's hard for me to not give a lens like this a top rating, especially since I am very please with a lot of the photos I shot with it. Would I recommend a friend to buy it? Only if money was no an object.

See the photos I took with this lens:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/niimo/tags/CanonEF85mmf12LIIUSM/


Nov 1, 2007
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Peter Kotsa
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Registered: Nov 1, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 267
Review Date: Nov 1, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: better than version I in every area.
Cons:
weight,

you get what you pay for. The contrast and colur control are excellent. I dont use a lens hood with this lens and the flare control is amazing..well done Canon

Nov 1, 2007
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Huib Nederhof
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Registered: Oct 17, 2007
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 2
Review Date: Oct 17, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, bokeh, contrast
Cons:
Maybe price

I had before the 85mm F1.2 Mark1 on a 1DsII. Everything is a little better with this lens.

Oct 17, 2007
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idd2
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Registered: Dec 11, 2006
Location: Russia
Posts: 2
Review Date: Oct 9, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Amazing Bokeh, sharp, wonderful color...
Cons:
Price

Best lens. I have 35L, 85L and 135L.
85L is my favorite lens. Nothing to compare with.

Look some photos here: http://www.ivanov.spb.su


Oct 9, 2007
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Matt Kerby
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Registered: Jun 9, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 511
Review Date: Oct 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp wide open, 1.2! great color/contrast balance.
Cons:
Slow AF

Not much more to say than everyone else. This is my favorite L prime especially on the 5D. It's sharp at 1.2 and by f2 it's super sharp. This lens gives a very sereal 3D effect that's hard to duplicate, it isolates your subjects in a very spacial, warm way. The 50L comes close but I like the 85 a little better. As far as size...I like it, no I love it, it's front element is huge...looks cool. Works great in low light, focus is spot on every time. Buy this lens at let your inner artist flourish:)

Oct 2, 2007
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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
173 273383 Feb 13, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $1,787.04
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.96
9.6
85II


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