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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

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179 288312 Jun 17, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $1,781.34
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.94
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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ashwinrao1
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Registered: Aug 8, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 194
Review Date: Aug 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,099.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Terrific for low light photography without flash, great bokeh, razor sharp when stopped down even a touch! An amazing lens, all in all, and fast becoming one of my favorites
Cons:
Bulky,with a slippery focus ring. Cost is...a lot

Wow, what a lens. Wow, what a price tag. Well, I just got this lens a few weeks back, and it has become one of my favorites, and in rapid fashion. The pictures it takes when stopped down are razor sharp. It is FAST, and great for motion stopping. Low light capability is nothing short of amazing, with its f/1.2 aperture. I initially intended this lens for portrait capture and photojournalistic activities, but I have found it to be the sharpest medium length telephoto (on my XT), and thus it has seen more use on my camera than I first suspected. Just the way this lens feels in your hand makes you feel like you have a sure thing. It is SOLID. Some say heavy, and I concur, but nothing compared to the 70-200 f/2.8 IS L lens. I have not had trouble with lens flare so far, but this lens typically is best used in low light conditions, anyways. In my opinion, the pictures it takes are "special". They are imbued with that umph that lenses such as the 85 f/1.8 cannot deliver. I suspect that this has something to do with the narrow depth of field, the additional scenarios which you can shoot in, and L glass. With the 85 1/2 lens, one becomes the envy of all of the photo enthusiasts in the room. If you have the money to invest, and was a fast and sharp lens for low light situational shooting, this lens cannot and will not be beat.

Aug 8, 2006
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Paul Sabella
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Registered: Nov 9, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 151
Review Date: Jul 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Extremely sharp, fantastic bokeh, lowlight photography, great colors.
Cons:
Expensive and heavy.

This lens is really fantastic for portraits in low/natural light. Focusing was fast enough for candid and very precise on my 20D. My favorite lens along with 35L, 135L & 70-200 IS. I would not part with it.

Jul 27, 2006
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kaop
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Registered: Sep 24, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 66
Review Date: Jul 26, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,900.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very Sharp Build Quality Perfect 'head to hip' portrait lens (on Full Frame)
Cons:
Limited application (portraits mostly) Focal lengh not perfect for event/group shots $500 USD too expensive

Great lens if you only care about Sharpness and taking studio or outdoor portraits with alot of feet zooming room. As I find focal lengh is not suitable for event photophy or group shots. 50mm 1.2L would be the perfect solution for that.

Jul 26, 2006
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staffer1
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Registered: Oct 30, 2005
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 12
Review Date: Jul 3, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Speed, sharpness; whole new world in low light. Reasonably discreet (unless someone knows what it is); well balanced on a pro body. Brilliant lens for wedding work.
Cons:
Price; because it's short,fat, smooth and heavy, I can see it might be easy to drop; rear lens element almost flush with mount, so extra care needed when mounting;manual focus nonsense.

Simply stunning. If a zoom is the 'fast food' model of a lens, then this is the slow food, as the Italians call it, but ultimately better for you! When I first put it on the camera, I thought it was really heavy, and the focal length seemed a bit short for my preferred face-only shots, but in real-world action, it's brilliant. I can always use the 135 for that style, anyway.The 85 may well be the perfect wedding lens. It's razor sharp, the focus speed is perfectly good for wedding situations, and f2.8 now seems sooo slow. I love the way it lets me blur everything around the subject. On a 1V HS it's beautifully balanced, and doesn't hurt my muscles after hours of use the way my 70-200 2.8 did. The squat, black disguise makes it ideal for street stuff. too. And if someone tries to mug you for it, hit him with it, and he'll be stunned too!

Jul 3, 2006
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stewarda
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Registered: Dec 19, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 72
Review Date: Jun 25, 2006 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros:
Cons:

This lens is quite excellent. I have been using it for a few months now (got the second one that came to Adorama, much to the drool of the other folks there), and it is a very impressive lens, as many have described previously.

On the 5d, it is just spectacular as a portrait lens, very reminiscient of the Leica 75f1.4 on the M in tonality, contrast, and in the type of composition it inspires. Despite its focal length, it is an incredibly intimate lens, since you can essentially shoot portraits in in near darkness.

On the Mk2N, is becomes an amazing event lens. Combined with the speed and the excellent AI focusing system of the Mk2N, the lens allows for low ISO, high shutter speed shooting in waning light, when the 70-200 would have been put away already. The excellent noise reduction of the Mk2N and the 5d allows for significant cropping, making this lens more useful than a slower zoom in low light.

On the down side, it is very heavy, making it a pretty serious addition to carry around, and the movement of the focusing ring in and out of the lens barrel means that great care must be taken with it. But, this lens can be the sole replacement for the 70-200 on a trip, which is no small feat.

Combined with the 24f1.4, you have an amazing indoor kit for very intimate wide angle and portrait photography. Combined with the 28f1.8 or 35f1.4, you have an amazing travel kit that basically lets you shoot 24 hours a day. Combined with the 16-35, you have a very versatile travel or event kit as well.

I find that I use this lens more than the 135L. There are several reasons (none of which are related to the quality of the 135, which is also impressive). But here are my considerations: with the 135 on the 5d, I typically am bound by 125 shutter speed/f2 combo. If you put that lens onto the Mk2 or 20D, the shutter speed has to go up, further limiting the low light utility. If, on the other hand, I put the 85 on the 5d, I get 90 shutter at f1.2, which gives me 2.5 extra stops. It's a no-brainer for me in terms of versatility.
And, I can move the 85 to the Mk2 or 20d to get a longer reach, still gaining two stops. Not bad.

If you like the rangefinder style of shooting, where you essentially don't shoot much past 90, and you don't mind composing within the confines of a prime, or if you need a high speed lens for indoor events/sports, this lens is really spectacular.


Jun 25, 2006
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stewarda
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Registered: Dec 19, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 72
Review Date: Jun 25, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,000.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp, great bokeh, lowlight capabilities, excellent color rendition
Cons:
Expensive and heavy

This lens is quite excellent. I have been using it for a few months now (got the second one that came to Adorama, much to the drool of the other folks there), and it is a very impressive lens, as many have described previously.

On the 5d, it is just spectacular as a portrait lens, very reminiscient of the Leica 75f1.4 on the M in tonality, contrast, and in the type of composition it inspires. Despite its focal length, it is an incredibly intimate lens, since you can essentially shoot portraits in in near darkness.

On the Mk2N, is becomes an amazing event lens. Combined with the speed and the excellent AI focusing system of the Mk2N, the lens allows for low ISO, high shutter speed shooting in waning light, when the 70-200 would have been put away already. The excellent noise reduction of the Mk2N and the 5d allows for significant cropping, making this lens more useful than a slower zoom in low light.

On the down side, it is very heavy, making it a pretty serious addition to carry around, and the movement of the focusing ring in and out of the lens barrel means that great care must be taken with it. But, this lens can be the sole replacement for the 70-200 on a trip, which is no small feat.

Combined with the 24f1.4, you have an amazing indoor kit for very intimate wide angle and portrait photography. Combined with the 28f1.8 or 35f1.4, you have an amazing travel kit that basically lets you shoot 24 hours a day. Combined with the 16-35, you have a very versatile travel or event kit as well.

I find that I use this lens more than the 135L. There are several reasons (none of which are related to the quality of the 135, which is also impressive). But here are my considerations: with the 135 on the 5d, I typically am bound by 125 shutter speed/f2 combo. If you put that lens onto the Mk2 or 20D, the shutter speed has to go up, further limiting the low light utility. If, on the other hand, I put the 85 on the 5d, I get 90 shutter at f1.2, which gives me 2.5 extra stops. It's a no-brainer for me in terms of versatility.
And, I can move the 85 to the Mk2 or 20d to get a longer reach, still gaining two stops. Not bad.

If you like the rangefinder style of shooting, where you essentially don't shoot much past 90, and you don't mind composing within the confines of a prime, or if you need a high speed lens for indoor events/sports, this lens is really spectacular.


Jun 25, 2006
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AGeoJO
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Registered: Jul 8, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 12597
Review Date: Jun 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Excellent in isolating objects, smooth bokeh
Cons:
Bulky and heavy but for a reason: f/1.2!

This is a great portrait lens although on a FF camera, the focal length is a tad on the short side for my taste. If used at wide open aperture settings, especially at f/1.2, you have to pay close attention to select the point of focus. The chance of getting perfectly focused shots is greater, if you stop the lens down somewhat. Again, the rounded apeture up to f/2.5 helps.

Jun 22, 2006
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wcastleman
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Registered: Nov 21, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 318
Review Date: Jun 18, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Of the 85L: Super shallow plane of focus and superb bokeh. Of the Mark II over the Mark I: 1) 1.8x faster autofocus; 2) Better resistance to flare.
Cons:
The EF 85mm f/1.8 will do almost everything the 85L will at 1/6th the cost, smaller size, lighter weight.

I have reviewed this lens at length here:
http://www.wlcastleman.com/equip/reviews/85mm/index.htm

The biggest improvements of the Mark II lens:
1) 1.8x faster autofocus: Autofocus in the EF 85mm f/1.2L Mark II is now fast enough to use in sports and other fast moving action photography;

2) New lens coatings: Flare is markedly reduced which results in better image contrast in unusual lighting situations;

3) Round aperture diaphragm to f/2.5: Results in smoothed out of focus aperture diaphragm patterns at apertures from f/1.4 to f/2.5

4) Electronics changes to support E-TTL II flash function



Jun 18, 2006
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2in3
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Registered: Jun 7, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,099.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: as others posted
Cons:
loose manual focus ring

..this is actually my first canon lens comes with my first canon dslr, 5d...

..i know there is 85/1.8 out there, but Iíd rather spend more time on taking good pictures than fiddling around with qualities of different lens...

..every pros for listed here is proved, tack sharpness, nice bokeh, vivid contrast, low light handheld possibility, faster focusing, tank build, blah blah...

..any cons?..yes, the very loose manual focus ring makes me feel not that great..well, nothing is perfect...

..weight?..many people complain about the weight, but i guess thatís where the quality comes from..how can i blame...

..price? .. for sure itís not worth every penny..the thing is, did mercedes buyer ever consider of cost-effective things?...


Jun 9, 2006
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BrittMcT
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Registered: Oct 26, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2306
Review Date: Jun 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,850.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Incredible bokeh, tack sharp, fast focus considering the amount of glass being pushed around.
Cons:
A bit on the expensive end, heavy... but worth it.

I saved 4 months to afford this lens and it is an absolute beast providing excellent images and most wonderful bokeh I have ever seen. I love the depth of field possible with the f/1.2 f-stop and like I said, the bokeh is amazing. It is very heavy and if you have a 5D with battery grip and this lens you would be holding 5+ pounds.

Jun 8, 2006
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Gordonjohnmac
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Registered: Sep 17, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 29
Review Date: May 23, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: With 5D: Very very sharp, accurate fairly fast AF even in low light, solid build, bokeh smooth and beautiful, all I hoped for and more.
Cons:
Price but you get what you pay for!



May 23, 2006
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ken peachey
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Registered: Oct 11, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 16
Review Date: May 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Used with 5D & 1d MkII - Super sharp, wonderfull bokeh, this is the sharpest lens I have, focus spot on and acceptably fast. well worth the wait (not a pun)
Cons:
Weight, price.



May 22, 2006
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Anthony8858
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Registered: Jul 10, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 810
Review Date: May 16, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,950.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Fun piece of glass to use on a 5D. FF keeps you close enough to your subject to keep it "personal". Loves light, AF is fine.
Cons:
Probably could use a lower price point, then again, if you have use for 1.2, then I guess we should pay for it

I guess by now you've heard that from a technical standpoint the lens is fantastic. I also find the AF fast enough for its intended purpose......and that's portraits. Another aspect overlooked, is that this lens is FUN to use. I keep it on my Canon 5D every chance I get. If there people around, and I need some help with the lighting, you bet I'd have my 85mm 1.2L II with me. Great lens.

I also have the older version of this lens, and the focus ring is much tighter, and thus much easier to be accurate in MF situations. So I guess you could say that I would like the newer version's MF ring to be a bit tighter too.


May 16, 2006
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cwphoto
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Registered: May 23, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 1668
Review Date: May 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros:
Cons:
Correction to KPV-1Ds' remarks: the original EF 85mm f/1.2 L also had an ultrasonic motor, the remarks below are misleading.



May 13, 2006
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fotografz
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Registered: Mar 11, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 218
Review Date: May 13, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: I have the need, the need for speed. Very good image quality. Beautiful out of focus areas. Faster focusing than the previous 85/1.2 ... but still slower than other mid-teles. Can be made faster in low light by using a STE2 for it's focus assist beam.
Cons:
Huge lens with a huge price tag. Sloppy manual focus control.



May 13, 2006
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IraGraham
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Registered: Oct 30, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 622
Review Date: May 12, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,899.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Build quality. Reasonable fast autofocus speed (though not accurate). L glass. As solid as a lens can be made.
Cons:
Very inconsistant autofocus. Price I paid $1899.00 is a rediculous price.

I bought mine for a great price at Cord Camera in Columbus Ohio. At $1899, I still feel the lens is overpriced. My biggest issue with the lens was inconsistant autofucus on the 5D. 2 or 3 out of 5 images were not critically in focus. I compared it to my 85 1.8 at the same 1.8 aperture and the 85mm 1.8 was dead on sharp 5 of 5 times compared to 2 of 5 times with the 85L. I thought it was me until 3 other experience photographers had the same results. Two of them had the first version of the 85 1.2. I ended up repurchasing the 85 1.8 and returning this beast. In short, for me it was not worth the money considering it's problems. I will just use the 85 1.8 instead.

May 12, 2006
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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
179 288312 Jun 17, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $1,781.34
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.94
9.6
85II


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