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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
174 279676 Aug 20, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $1,784.94
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.96
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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nsbkaizen
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Registered: Jul 5, 2008
Location: United States
Posts: 8
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: 781
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: 273
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: 6798
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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nivenu
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Registered: Jul 16, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 10
Review Date: Apr 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Contrast, sharpness, bokeh...all are first rate!
Cons:
Watch that back element when changing lenses...it's very vulnerable.

Sorry I did not buy this excellent lens sooner.
It is a joy to use. The IQ is superb, even wide open.
DOF wide open is very small, but remember it's f1.2
Bokeh has been well documented by others so I wont add.
The rear element is vulnerable to damage and great care is needed, especially when changing lenses. Having said that, this lens is that good you may not want to change lenses
often.

The weight is not a problem and you soon get used to the
balance, especially on a D or N body.

Price is always going to be a problem, but I believe this is reflected in the quality of this lens. Optics, build quality,
and weatherproofing.

Mine's a keeper...


Apr 12, 2008
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simonella_viru
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Registered: Nov 19, 2005
Location: Canada
Posts: 644
Review Date: Apr 12, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: - large aperture for low, natural light environments - useful focal length (for full frame) - beautiful contrast, bokeh - sharp wide open, even sharper stopped down
Cons:
- electronic manual focus (i.e. camera off = no manual focus) - protruding front element, when focusing - heavy - slow auto-focus

can't give this lens a 10, as much as i'd like to. there are obviuos negatives that i just can't ignore. but the positives are so strong that, in a relative sense, they help me stomach the negatives.

i'd say the biggest weakness of this lens, even with the mark II version, is the slow auto-focus. if you're thinking of catching moving things/ people at a wide open aperture, you'll definitely miss-focus the majority of your shots. even stopped down, you'll still miss shots- depending on how close the subject is to you of course. with the auto-focus being as slow as it is, it's easy for subjects to outpace the DOF envelope.

at the end of the day, you use the right tool for the right job. this tool has its specific purpose, so as long as you use it for those purposes and as long as you learn the limitations of this fantastic lens, you'll be very pleased with the photos that it can help you produce.

cheers,

Simon


Apr 12, 2008
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cgi_photo
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Registered: Mar 27, 2008
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 26
Review Date: Mar 30, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: build, AF, color, contrast, 1.2 (if you need it)
Cons:
slow af-speed, heavy for a 85? don't like the MF

This lens is amazing. It's color, contrast and bokeh simply blow me away. It's the best lens for portraiture I own and it is my most used prime.

pros:
- sharpness at almost all apertures
- excellent build
- bokeh, colors, etc.
- AF accuracy

neg:
- AF-speed a bit slow
- price
- don't like the MF

If you can afford it, buy it :-)


Mar 30, 2008
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krobatshov
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Registered: Jan 22, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 552
Review Date: Mar 21, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharpness, AF accuracy, colors
Cons:
"way too loud" for me, AF speed, weight

It's the perfect addition to the 135f2L -
The fact that this lens is almost as heavy as a 70-200 2.8 made me get a handstrap -

If you're shooting under "controlled situations" and are ready to burn a hole in your wallet - go for it

Technically flawless - sharp all the way -

Compared to other L lenses, however, the canon 85L is slow & loud - which shouldn't be a problem when shooting in controlled situations, e.g. portraiture/advertorial in general

Despite the "negative" aspects mentioned in the paragraph above, AF is accurate - a real keeper




Mar 21, 2008
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jirok12944
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Registered: Nov 22, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Mar 13, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: sharp and contacty wide open
Cons:
size, wight, price

I'm happy owner of 35L and 50L. Both incredible and very special lenses. Decided to try 85L. Used it about 500 shots. It's all true, it is sharper and contrastier wide open. I'd argue about magic affect compare to 35L and 50L, it seems the same blur , and same 3D effect. On negative side 85L slower, heavier and difficult to use in limited space. Subjectively 85L is difficult to use, even with sharper images AF misses (due to slownesses) ruin everything. IMHO 85L is a lens for controlled shots with enough space. Again subjectively I have very limited use for 85L ... unfortunately. It's a good chance I'll struggle with it for few more months and sell it. Nonetheless 85L is very special and very capable lens, in right hands it's gold!!! I rated all three lenses 10, all of them have some limitations and they are expensive... but they are capable of capturing images magical way, other lenses can't get anywhere close ... try them all to understand yourself.


Mar 13, 2008
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Dr Jimson
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Registered: Mar 3, 2008
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 80
Review Date: Mar 10, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp. F1.2 is awesome for indoor shots and ultra shallow depth of field. Very smooth bokeh.
Cons:
Some chromatic abberation.

This is my favourite lens. It produces fantastic portraits that have an almost 3D effect.
The lens is very sharp, especially if stopped down slightly.
Some reviews say the lens is difficult to use but I have not found this to be the case. The shallow depth of field can cause problems but I have found the best way to deal with this is to select the central focussing square, focus on the eye and reframe the shot.
I like the heavy weight of this lens and find it sits in the hand nicely.
My only criticism is that there is some chromatic abberation visible in high contrast shots but this is not usually a problem in portraits and is also only really noticeable on heavily cropped or enlarged images.


Mar 10, 2008
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lextalionis
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Registered: Jul 28, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 1076
Review Date: Feb 29, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness at 1.2 is great! At 2.2 it's unbelievable! Bokeh is dreamy!
Cons:
AF seem a little slower from other L lenses

Perfect portrait lens in every way! The lens feels quality-built and balances nice on the camera body. This AF does seem a little slower but it doesn't bother me.

Here's a set of sample photos taken with the EOS 1D MkIII:
Sample Photos

-Roy


Feb 29, 2008
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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
174 279676 Aug 20, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
94% of reviewers $1,784.94
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.72
7.96
9.7
85II


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