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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
181 296014 Nov 9, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $1,776.88
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.94
9.7
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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mordicai
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Registered: Oct 11, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 131
Review Date: Sep 1, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color,Contrast,Sharpness, 1.2
Cons:
manual focus is weird,noisy AF on my 40d.


I've never felt the desire to post a review of a lens here, but this lens is a whole different ball game from my other L lenses. This lens has knocked my socks off since I opened the box. The dreamy quality of this lens is so fine. Check out sample pics on pbase.com . I love the weight. It helps me keep a steady hand.


Sep 1, 2008
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marcus riley
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Registered: Sep 27, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 192
Review Date: Aug 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: f1.2 speed and dof; sharp sharp sharp even wide open; unbelievable image quality; accurate AF; colors & contrast; !!!
Cons:
CA from about f1.8 down if not careful; focus a little slow; weight; other lenses get jealous ;)

This lens is amazing! After all the lenses I have gone through, this is the only one I REALLY care about and love. If not for this lens, I would seriously consider trying Nikon's promising new D700. If canon had other focal lengths with the same quality as this lens, I'd buy all of them regardless of price.

Weight can be annoying on a 20D or Rebel. Not bad on a 1 series body as it hangs level and doesn't swing.

CA can come in to play but after f1.8 they are pretty well controlled if not gone completely.

My version is so sharp at f1.2 that I NEVER feel the need to stop down until I need more DOF. I use f1.2-1.6 about 95% of the time.

Even with version II, focus is pretty slow on consumer bodies. Right on par with most macros it seems, though, much faster than my Sigma 150mm macro. On a 1dmkII body, the focus is much faster and even good enough for tracking kids around as long as you aren't too close.

I find focus to be accurate.

Flare is never an issue.

Colors are rich and accurate.

The minimum focus length could be shorter, but I can't complain as it's equal to most other lenses in it's class.

After first getting it, I was in a room with about 8 other photographers and I passed it around to let everyone try it. After that, I was constantly being asked if I had the lens when we met and if they could use it.

The image quality is amazing!


Aug 29, 2008
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AlainPhoto
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Registered: Jun 13, 2006
Location: France
Posts: 482
Review Date: Aug 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: can deliver incredible images
Cons:
nothing important (heavy, big, expensive, slow focus, wierd manual focus drive, expensive ...)

this lens is not legendary by mistake !

yes, on the paper you might question yourself about the crazy tradeoff you have to make versus the fantastic 85 1.8 !

yes, it's very expensive, big, heavy (1kg), the focus is not really the sport type (get noticably better with a pro AF though) ... all have been said here ... on paper yes, you have many reasons not to go for it

but it's a wonderful piece of glass, maybe the best available, who will produce wonderful images, can achieve focus in extremly low light, and who is really sharp at 1.2 !

so you will get less in-focus shot, but the images who will be in focus will be really better than any other lens can offer, so you'll take the trade-off

beware, if you try this lens, you'll want it. badly.

Alain
http://www.alaindavreux.com


Aug 21, 2008
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pobz
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Registered: Aug 13, 2008
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 1
Review Date: Aug 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: quality L lens build, superb colour and sharpness, f1.2,
Cons:
poor manual focus implementation, slow AF, heavy and a little bulky, not weather proof

There's nothing more to report of the positive aspects of this lens that hasn't already been mentioned - the most important part is the quality image, and THAT is does pass with flying colours.

So, I will mention a few things about the operation of this lens that has surprised me a little.

There is no ring seal between the back of the lens which seals to the body. All my other L lenses do, so I am a little puzzled why this does not. Therefore even less weather-proof.

The manual focus operates electronically when switched to manual mode. (the focus ring activates electronically to the actual focus operation in the lens, unlike many other L lenses that are mechanically attached) The focus ring is VERY loose and easy to knock, therefore easy knock out of focus. It also has a long circumference in the focusing ring which is why the AF is slow damn slow. Sports lens or not, this for an L lens is quite shabby. The focus ring also moves at the same rate, like traditional lenses; unlike the neat short focus movement with a mechanical advantage ring which allows more movement with the ring of other canon lenses.

I think canon have cheapened the operation of this lens by not supplying, for example, switch for shortening the back focus given the huge focus ring circumference.

Be very careful putting this lens on the body as the back optic is pretty much flush and very wide. You need to be dead accurate.

Other than that, you'll get great images.


Aug 13, 2008
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rentedmule
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Registered: Jun 13, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 41
Review Date: Aug 4, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp everywhere
Cons:
heavy

Its not the equipment, its the photographer. Except for this lens and the 300f/2.8L IS. These two may be this best in Canon's stable right now. I am one of those guys who always buys the next grade down from the top. There are very few times when buying the "best" translates into proportional returns. This lens is the exception to my rule. After renting one for a week I ordered one for myself. It has been worth every cent. There may be a little learning curve but the best people shots I have taken to this point were taken the first day I put this lens on.

If you are serious about indoor people photography you need this one. The only problem you will have is all of a sudden your existing lenses will see less use as It is hard to take this one off the camera.


Aug 4, 2008
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scjurgen
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Registered: May 18, 2008
Location: Italy
Posts: 2
Review Date: Jul 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, bokeh, shallow DoF, contrast, focus range. Last but not least the WOW effect when you mount it and people see that big big black hole...
Cons:
slow focus (but it is not a sport lens).

A great lens, but you need a lot of patience/time to master it.

If you have AF individual lens adjustment (1D) you should put the focus slightly behind so you get for example the eyes sharper. It is easy to make mistakes if the subject or your camera moves even slightly while shooting (increase f-stops).

This lens is my all time favorite and got totally in love with it.

Manual focus will help in many occasions to get the best out of it.

Calculate also to use ND8 filters to get the super bokeh even in strong light conditions (I use 77mm with step-up from it's 72 to 77 so you might save some money if you got 77mm caps).


Jul 30, 2008
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Bruce Sawle
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Registered: Sep 26, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 4207
Review Date: Jul 22, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Super sharp Wide open. Incredible Bokeh.
Cons:
Learning curve, focus speed

I love this lens. It may never leave my MK III. To me this is the perfect focal length on a 1.3 to FF camera.

Jul 22, 2008
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nsbkaizen
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Registered: Jul 5, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 20
Review Date: Jul 5, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: -very sharp at f1.2 -out of focus rendering is superb -ability to isolate a single element in a picture is outstanding
Cons:
-weight -price -slow AF from infinity to closest focusing

This lens is not as easy to use as compared to the 35L for example but the results are spectacular when you nail the focus. The sweet spot is about a meter from the subject which is about the closest focusing distance. Portraits taken at this range will have the eyes in sharp focus while the rest of the features dissolve creamily into a beautiful blur - maybe not your conventional portraiture but I love the look.

I would highly recommend changing to a high precision focus screen and get used to manual focusing. Your keeper rate will be much better.


Jul 5, 2008
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Liquidpics
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Registered: Jun 14, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1107
Review Date: Jul 1, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,750.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp wide open, selective paper thin d.o.f. allowing for creative focus, excellent contrast and color, and dreamy/buttery bokeh. The AF is also noticeably faster then the first version of this lens.
Cons:
It's not cheap but, for a one of a kind truly amazing lens, you get what you pay for.



Jul 1, 2008
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george malamis
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Registered: Aug 9, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 787
Review Date: Jun 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,599.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp wide open, beautiful colors, contrast, and bokeh.
Cons:
Cost - but anything this good has to... Focus speed is slow



Jun 25, 2008
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dan727
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Registered: Jan 31, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 721
Review Date: Jun 25, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Same thing everyone else has said... color, creamy bokeh, sharpness.
Cons:
Price of course! Weight. Danger of dinging rear element. Just be cautious about working with the lens and you will be okay.

I do not want to re-hash what everyone has already said about this lens. I recently sold my 85mm f/1.8 to get this lens and wondered if the price differential was worth it. You can just visit the 85L thread in the Canon forum to see the results of this lens for yourself. The f/1.8 is an awesome lens for the money... but if you get a chance you will find the f/1.2L is worth every penny of its premium price.

Just some observations about the lens. It is gargantuan compared to the 85mm f/1.8. Size and weight wise. But I use it on a 40D and it feels real balanced. It might feel awkward on a smaller camera like the Xti's. The lens probably feels right at home on the 5D, but does a fine job on a 1.6X camera.

As others have said the rear element is nearly flush with the mount. Be prepared to baby the lens. Build wise it feel like a tank but just be cautious when removing or putting on the lens.







Jun 25, 2008
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Andy M
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Registered: Sep 10, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 9
Review Date: May 13, 2008 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros: Bokeh heaven, sharp as a tack, wonderful colour and contrast.
Cons:
Weight, slow focus, minimum focus distance.

Already owning a 135L I bought my first 85L mkII last year. It was a quality lens, but I eventually sold it through lack of use, and through me thinking the cheaper - and just as sharp 135L - would cover any need I had for the 85.

As always happens, as soon as I sold it I began to need it again for portraiture projects. The creamy bokeh of the 85L cannot be replicated, and so I once again had my debit card jumping out of my wallet and into the camera stores arms.

A truly excellent lens - one which Nikon have yet to come close to comparing - and definitely a 'keeper'. On the 1Ds mkIII it is astoundingly good, and exceptionally well balanced.


May 13, 2008
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Chris Bunjamin
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Registered: Sep 5, 2007
Location: Canada
Posts: 289
Review Date: May 4, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: razor sharp, f/1.2.
Cons:
chromatic aberration, heavy, rear glass element is exposed (easy to scratch), slow-AF.

One of my favorite L-series lens and my latest purchase. Again, AMAZING bokeh this lens can create. But it suffers from Chromatic Aberration even at f/1.6. Well, that can be taken care off through PP but still, they could've used some sort of coatings that can help eliminate the CAs.

Sharpness, the sharpest lens in my whole lineup, it's definitely at the top, with 24-70 2.8L and 70-200 f/4L IS coming next in line.

The weight of this thing is a ton! So you have to be ready when planning on carrying this lens around cause it might hurt your back eventually Smile

Slow AF! Well this lens is not designed to shoot moving/sports, but you can get away sometimes, just have to get used to the lens characteristics.

And last but not least, if you plan on switching this lens back and forth, it would not be such a good idea. Why? Since the rear glass element of this lens is actually exposed to the surface of the rear part of this lens, so you have to be extremely careful when putting it on and taking it off the camera.



May 4, 2008
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Collins
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Registered: Feb 25, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 45
Review Date: May 4, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: No superlatives to describe bokeh, great color and contrast, sucks up light
Cons:
A bit hefty (but not too much so), slow AF (not an action lens), price.

I'd been eying this beast for what seems like forever. I wanted to get a good deal on a used one but grew impatient and ordered one new from Calumet.

I wasted no time and put it to good use during an engagement session and it helped me yield my best results to date; the f/1.2 aperture opened up the night to me and my clients.

In addition to the great light-gathering ability the bokeh is *otherworldly*. Your subject is almost appears 3-D at the maximum aperture if you get any manner of distance between them and the background.

Straight out of the camera the sharpness, even wide open, is staggering. The colors rendered are very pleasing. This lens is very impressive to be sure.

My only lament is the AF is indeed slow as others mention--I shudder to think about how slow the *previous* version was...

Is it worth the money? If you shoot in the lowest of light and want to add some extra dimension to your portraits--yes. If you can afford it (and I waited to purchase it until I could) and find the focal length useful, then get it. One of the finest lenses in the Canon lineup.


May 4, 2008
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terminator
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Registered: Jan 28, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 281
Review Date: Apr 28, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Razor sharp from f/1.2!!! Fast AF.
Cons:
Expensive, fragile rear element

I have long been dreaming for this *MAGIC* lens since my addiction to L glasses. Recently I have got a unbeatable deal to buy this lens in pristine condition second-hand. Being used to the image quality of sharp 100mm macro, 135L, and 70-200mm f/4L IS, I am still thrilled by its performance. At f/1.2, it already beats many Canon primes and L zooms I have owned. I have no hesitation to shoot it wide open, and feel incredibly fun to use it. There is no need to repeat the praises in the other posts here - all they have said are true. It worths every penny! So if you can find a deal like mine, do not hesitate for a single second and hurry for it!

Apr 28, 2008
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mttran
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Registered: Nov 3, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 7936
Review Date: Apr 19, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: best of all
Cons:
none

One best lens canon makes

Apr 19, 2008
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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
181 296014 Nov 9, 2015
Recommended By Average Price
93% of reviewers $1,776.88
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.94
9.7
85II


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