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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
176 281474 Nov 23, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $1,784.94
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.93
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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aestiva
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Registered: Feb 17, 2009
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: May 15, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: beautifull bokeh, nice colors
Cons:
soft wide open, slow af

Nice lens. Good build quality. But slow af.
From 1.8 - 2.8 al lot better than my Canon 85 1.8, after that, you can't see the difference anymore.
I put some samples on my site www.totaalfotografie.nl


May 15, 2012
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nswelton
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Registered: Jan 16, 2006
Location: N/A
Posts: 260
Review Date: Apr 11, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: fast, nice bokeh, built like a tank
Cons:
slow to focus, not sharp wide open, heavy, expensive

not sure what to make of this thing. upgraded from the Mk I version because that version was too slow to focus on anything moving. i found it to be just barely fast enough to focus during a wedding, and a huge step up in flare resistance. nice contrast, beautiful colors. optically it could be sharper at 1.2 or 1.4. i refused to shoot this lens below 1.8 unless i absolutely had to do to image softness. but it's a beauty nonetheless.

Apr 11, 2012
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twistedlim
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Registered: Oct 20, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3127
Review Date: Feb 7, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp wide open, incredible separation of target from background. Solid feel, made for the 5D. Color and contrast amazing throughout the scale.
Cons:
Heavy (read solid feel). Slow AF compared to the 1.8 but there is a lot of glass to move but accurate.

Bravo Canon! The perfect lens...what else is there to say. Worth every ounce and penny.

Feb 7, 2012
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Kevin Sherman
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Registered: Nov 11, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1045
Review Date: Jan 19, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Magical. Bokeh. Sharp. Magical.
Cons:
Price, slooooooow focus.

This lens is killer and magical and will produce some of the best images. It really is magic. There's sharp, and then there's the 85L II, it's in it's own class.

You have to rent one or borrow one to really appreciate the images this lens creates.


Jan 19, 2012
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dweter
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Registered: Jan 14, 2012
Location: Italy
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 15, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: bokeh, bokeh, bokeh ! colors, handling
Cons:
slow AF performance
Jan 15, 2012
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nglaap
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Registered: Dec 17, 2010
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 13, 2012 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: insanely sharp from F2.0,bokeh,colors,handling
Cons:
suffers from CA (especially in harsh light) when stopped down below F2, slower AF then other L class lenses

insanely sharp from F2.0, the bokeh is unmatched as are the colors. I own several L class primes and zooms but none match the image quality delivered by the 85L. it also feels nice to handle, its a big heavy lens but easy to hold. I love my 70-200 2.8 IS but its a pain to work with because of the weight. This lens because of its shorter lenght does not give me that problem.

its AF is not the fastest. shooting kids is doable but not when they are running, it just cant keep up. when you use this lens in harsh sunlight it tends to flare. not the best time of day to take pictures but I've run into it a couple of times. by comparison the 35L does a much better job here. other then that I have zero complaints.

Overall (for me) I think this lens was well worth the investment. I use it on every occasion/shoot.


Jan 13, 2012
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dimitris77
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Registered: Aug 28, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 535
Review Date: Dec 13, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Superb bokeh, nice colors, excellent build
Cons:
CA wide open, slow focusing, heavy, 1.2 dof hard to master, heart attack anxiety while you mount it so you don't scratch the rear element. Also focusing ring doesn't engage when camera is off.

Overall it's a unique lens. Some might love the isolation and bokeh. For me it didn't really do it especially since I had to put up with annoying things like CA wide open (if it was a little I wouldn't mind but in this it comes in buckets), slow AF and the damn old school ring is not as precise because it has no resistance. I would have prefered a more balanced 1.4 design with nicer manual focus ring and more corrected optics. However 1.2 is really special for the thing it does. Since I sold it I moved to zeiss 100mm which to me is a better lens.

Dec 13, 2011
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jcsculpture
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Registered: Dec 13, 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 13, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,950.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Beautiful Bokeh, Sharp even at 1.2,
Cons:
Slooooooow AF, CA's a bit pronounced. Price

Perhaps my favorite lens of all time is the Canon 85mm 1.2. It is highly regarded as a portrait lens and I could not agree more. It produces absolutely beautiful images with buttery bokeh. It is also very, very sharp wide open. It is my go to portrait lens. I will never part with it. I love it.

Recently I have found myself really getting into MF lenses. I recently bought the Cyclop 85mm 1.5 (very similar to the Helios 40 85mm 1.5). The Cyclop 85mm 1.5 is said to be the same glass as the Helios 85mm 1.5, but without the ability to change the aperture. The Helios and the Cyclop are know for their “swirly” bokeh.

Anyway, I did a comparison test and in it it tests the Canon's sharpness, CA's and bokeh. It is very revealing. The follwoing link is not meant to show the beautiful images which can be created with this lens... rather it is to show CA's, sharpness, distortion, bokeh, etc..


Link to test including sharpness, CA and Bokeh...

http://johncarnessali.com/lens-tests/2439


Dec 13, 2011
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Andy123456
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Registered: Nov 6, 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 7, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: 1.Very nice background blurr. 2.Very sharp 3.Good color 4.Build quality is excellent 5.Good low light
Cons:
1. Very expensive 2. Heavy 3. Very difficult to get correct focus. 50/50 pictures results.

I purchased this lens to take my baby boy. So far, this is one of the best lens I have seen.
Pros: Very sharp pictures quality. Nice background blurr. The build quality is tough. The manual focus ring is by far the best I have seen. This is an excellent lens for low light.

Cons: This is a really sharp lens but some pictures taken can be blurry. Very challengeing to get clear pictures all of the time. The price is just too expensive for consumer to purchase. Can be very heavy when used for long hike. Slow autofocus, not as fast as my 24-105 is L, but manageable if taken still photo. The range of 85m is very difficult to use in tight spaces, but I knew this when I bought this lens as this is not the lens fault.

Overall, this is a super lens and need to spend a lot of time to play with the focus.


Nov 7, 2011
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NCB7
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Registered: Oct 16, 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Oct 16, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,750.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: 1.2 Fstop Prime lens, Bokeh is unreal
Cons:
Price, Heavy

I've wanted this lens forever and whem I got it I was blown away by how nice it is... One of Canons BEST. Pricey but worth it

Oct 16, 2011
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Canonizer
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Registered: May 21, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 256
Review Date: Aug 9, 2011 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Sharpness at wide apertures; outstanding bokeh; build quality.
Cons:
Very slow AF performance; focus by wire; poor ergonomics and handling.

A little background on my shooting style -- I use this lens for portraiture. I also own the 35/1.4L, 50/1.2L and 135/2L. I prefer primes and shoot at the widest aperture possible. I shoot with the 5D2.

I find the 85/1.2L II to be an over-rated lens here in the reviews forum, not only because of the significant "cons" of this lens, but also becasue the Canon EF 85/1.8 is such a higher performer and a much, much better value.

I shoot a lot of children, and many of them are in motion. I also shoot weddings in low light. This lens goes crazy trying to keep up due to the very slow AF. My keeper rate with this lens in such shooting circumstances is very low and I am always concerned about whether I got the shot or not. There is very little time for constantly checking the LCD for critical focus with the type of shooting I do. Yes, when I get the focus right, there are outstanding results. Sharpness is excellent even wide open, but to be honest, sharpness is not my priority with this lens. I never had a client that was impressed by seeing their skin pores. The bokeh is some of the best going at this focal length.

The bulky, heavy and awkward shape of this lens results in poor handling characteristics, which has also caused me to miss some shots.

When you own this lens there is always the elephant in the room -- the Canon 85/1.8 -- which I sold and sometimes regret doing so. It focuses very quickly, is very sharp, and handles like a dream. The bokeh is not up to the 85/1.2L's standard, but it creates its own satisfying bokeh. Given the enormous price difference, I spend a lot of time justifying the 85/1.2L II, and often can't quite get there.

Although I have been shooting with this lens for three years, I've never really bonded with it, and honestly, I am starting to entertain the idea of selling it.


Aug 9, 2011
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Beverly Guhl
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Registered: Nov 11, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 3095
Review Date: May 10, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,900.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp,crisp,quality,dependable,bokeh
Cons:
heavy, slow focus in low light

I show with a 5DMKII. I owned the 85mm 1.8 for a couple years and I had a really sharp copy, so I couldn't imagine the 1.2 being THAT much better to justify the huge cost difference... but, I wanted to see for myself. I've had the 1.2 for about a year now and am pretty dazzled with it. It is definitely sharper, and there's a bit more clarity and snap to the images, just what you'd expect in an L lens. The bokeh is a dream.

I shoot a lot of headshots and some portraits, so I mainly use it for that, but I do pull it out for babies, kids, dogs, and cats, too (though I often use my 35 L for those). For headshots and portraits this is just amazing. The sharpness in the eyes is everything. On the downside, it's ridiculously sharp for some people's skin even at f/3.2 in a tight headshot, so I find myself softening the skin slightly on occasion.

On the downside... 1. It's HEAVY. I'm pretty strong and can hold 6 lbs. of camera and lens, but it's challenging to hold my 5DMKII with this lens using one hand while shooting. Always nice to have a hand free when you need it, like when getting a baby's attention. It's worth the weight though, of course. 2. It's "great for low light" situations, but the catch is you can't auto-focus well in low light every time you need to. So, be prepared to manually focus or miss some shots. None of the other things folks have said about the lens bothers me (lens hood, mount, etc.)

Here's some pics taken with this lens at various apertures.

http://www.beverlyguhl.com/85L_samples/85L.html

For anyone debating whether to buy the 1.2 or the 1.8, I'd say IF you can comfortably afford the 1.2, go for it. If not, then don't fret. If you get a sharp copy of a 1.8 it's a gem, and the differences can be made up in post if you can adjust and sharpen images reasonably well. I just sold my 1.8, but I seriously considered keeping it because it was so lightweight and sharp.


May 10, 2011
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AshleyJones
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Registered: Feb 1, 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 20
Review Date: Apr 22, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Super sharp at F1.2; bokeh; contrast; colour
Cons:
Minimum focal length; not the fastest focussing

I have a few L lenses but I find it hard to find a reason to take the 85L off. I have had it for just over a year and no other lens has come close to making me as happy. I mainly shoot portraits and rock gigs and I am delighted with the results I get with the 85L combined with the 5DII. I got a good deal on the lens that I couldn't resist; I would never have bought one at the ful UK price. But now I have owned one, if I lost it I would have to replace it.

I also have a 60D and the lens is considerably less amazing on that body. I don't really understand why but I would stick with the (excellent but not as magical as the 85L) 85 F1.8 on a crop body. I would prefer it to focus a bit closer but - for me and the stuff I shoot - the combo of the 5DII and 85L is just unbeatable.


Apr 22, 2011
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Cinepixtor Media
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Registered: Nov 2, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 202
Review Date: Jan 11, 2011 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color, contrast, & bokeh Large and Heavy - Oozes quality Quick Release Lens Hood
Cons:
Noticeable CA but not noticeable for the type of shooting I use the lens for. Focusing is a bit odd and very light... the focus seems to "glide".

i have shot this on my 1Ds Mark II, 1D Mark III, 7D, and 5D Mark II. I have had the lens for a few years and have truly come to appreciate it fully when it's mounted on my 5D Mark II. The color, contrast, and bokeh is AMAZING! My go to lens when doing head shots or modeling shoots. The sweet spot for me is shooting at f2.0
It's not cheap but well worth it.


Jan 11, 2011
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Breitling65
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Registered: May 31, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 5239
Review Date: Dec 30, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, amazing L colors and contrast, 1.2, presize AF.
Cons:
bulky, cost more every year, need weathersealing

This is my second copy of this lens, same superb as first one I sold 3 years ago. There is no alternative to this lens, I tried several other lenses with same focal, nothing even close to 85LII. Magic optic at F1.2, greaa for some creative shots and photogs with good eyes.

Dec 30, 2010
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hatch1921
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Registered: May 12, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 4557
Review Date: Dec 25, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,840.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Super sharp all the way to F/1.2. Color/contrast/bokeh all are stellar. Locks focus like mad. Solid build as you would expect. Weight... balance very well with the 5D2+grip
Cons:
CA but not horrible and mentioned 1 million times already.

No complaints... purchased a 3rd part 85mm and it had erratic focusing issues. Purchased the 85LMK2 instead... dialed it in.. shot 3 clients the next day. It performed so well it's hard to describe. LOL So sharp... versatile focal length... bokeh is great... focus is dead on...

Say the $ and buy this beast... it's worth it and then some IMO.

Hatch


Dec 25, 2010
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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
176 281474 Nov 23, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $1,784.94
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.93
9.6
85II


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