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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

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173 277130 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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corny
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Registered: Feb 16, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 15
Review Date: Sep 25, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharp, faster focus but still not quick!
Cons:
Not much of an improvement to the mark 1

Replaced my mark one with the mark 2. Still a great lens but only a bit quicker in terms of focus. Others think the mark 2 has better bokeh than the mark one but I haven't noticed any improvement. However, still a great, great lens.

Sep 25, 2007
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jofoto photo
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Registered: Jun 5, 2006
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 877
Review Date: Sep 17, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: colours, contrast, bokeh, mines sharp at 1.2.
Cons:
CA wide open, fine once stopped down. Expensive in the UK ( not the lens fault)

a standard to which other lenes should aspire, colours, contrast, bokeh are outstanding.
worth every penny or cent. sharp at 1.2, low light king, focusing is accurate and speedy enough for most jobs. The 1.8 does focus faster and is very sharp from f2. But for me in lowlight 1.2 will and has got me the shot. I'm refusing to take it off the camera. There is nothing better to replace it with..


Sep 17, 2007
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Emmet Otter
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Registered: Sep 23, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 154
Review Date: Sep 7, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very Sharp @2.0 on up! Great for low light. Superb weight and feel.
Cons:
Atrocious and CA throughout @1.2 but dimineshes when stopping down. AF is a slug and hunts in dark areas. PRICE!!!!

I must say this is a very fine lens indeed. A work of art! Like everyone else says "dreamy bokeh"

This is my first prime purchase so its sorta hard for me to review this in comaprison to any other prime. I am dissapointed in the CA @1.2 in certain lighting conditions for such an expensive lens, but but like i've mentioned, stopping down clears it all up. Its 'nice' sharp @1.2 but gets crazy sharp past 2.0.

The big plus with the lens is its low light capabilities. It's like a black hole that sucks in and bends light. Very cool, but the minus side is hand holding it @1.2 makes it damn difficult for me. I'm not the steadiest person in the world so it makes it extremely difficult to get anything within the razor thin sharpness field. So i'm mounting it to get my good shots in darker areas Sad

The AF speed does suck! It's sloooow. I've also read the reason being is that it has to get good focus @1.2 which can be rather difficult. What annoys me more is it hunts in lower light. I don't know if its my camera in combination with this lens but, it sorta defeats the purpose in a way of working with a low light lens.

I was shooting on an overcast day and I must say that when shooting @1.2 ISO 100 I was peaking with my shutter. Have to use ND filters on bright days at those apetures.

Hope this review helps anyone.

-Emmet Otter-





Sep 7, 2007
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johnastovall
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Registered: Apr 7, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1332
Review Date: Aug 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,650.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Razor sharp wide open, smooth boken and a jewel for very low light
Cons:
None for my use

I to street shooting in a small Texas town until now the 50/1.0 was my only choice for the low light levels was working under with the 5D. This lens now give me a second choice and allows a different look from the 50/1.0.

You can see some examples here.

http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=700313

I've also found it very good for archtectural details in old churches when working off a tripod and stopped down.


Aug 8, 2007
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Wayne Stroud
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Registered: Aug 7, 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 11
Review Date: Aug 7, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Feels pro, heavy, superb build, weight (yes)
Cons:
Seems to scrape a little when (occassionally) hunting in low light, 82mm filter blah blah

Used and loved the 85mm USm 1.8 for years now and still used it over my 70-200mm on 1DS Mk ll for portrait work... until I got the 85mm 1.2 L. This lens is what I was waiting for: huge, heavy, massive optics and a real joy to hold onto. Recently ran a personal test in Aperture, assessing images at 200% from my original 85mm and the 1.2 L ll: seriously, no comparison. The bokeh looks wrong now on my 1.8 - kind of globular and the spots of luminescence appear elliptical and stretched. With the 1.2 L ll, background bokeh light is so even, so uniform; so round. I knew I'd like this lens but wasn't prepared for how good the results have been. Testament to the lens is that since I've owned mine, several key primes have gathered dust. So that's a thumbs up then. If you've got the spare cash and portrait work is as important to you as it is to me, then there's no question - this lens is seriously impressive.




Aug 7, 2007
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ZEROSKULL
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Registered: Jan 16, 2007
Location: Brunei
Posts: 3
Review Date: Jul 16, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,900.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: The best bokeh in the Universe, Colour contrast
Cons:
Heavy, pricey but worth it, AF focusing in low light is quite slow

Been using this lens for nearly 3 months, all I can say the price that you pay is worth it. Its quite heavy and looks so gorgeous on my 5D. Get this lens if you have extra cash. I bought it because it is one of my wish list which I have 2 more L lens to go.

Samples :

http://www.pixels-n-grains.com/index.php?showimage=207

http://www.pixels-n-grains.com/index.php?showimage=206



Jul 16, 2007
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joepapa
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Registered: Jun 17, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1
Review Date: Jul 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,689.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, brokeh, color rendition and feel
Cons:
CA wide open is terrible. Almost needs to be manually focused when wide open.

Picked this up from B&H with the $100 instant rebate and am pretty impressed to say the least. This lens is so sharp it will ruin your opinion of most anything else wide open. The brokeh produced by this lens looks magical as I have NEVER seen anything come close. I have also had to tone down the sharpening on my post processing and in camera as it is almost too sharp. It will reveal any and all flaws if you focus on someones cheek. The depth of field is so shallow when you are close up that if you don't nail the focus, forget it. I am using it exclusively on the Mark III and I am very impressed with how fast it focuses but it is the least consistent focusing lens wide open of any lens I have ever used. Wide open from a distance you can forget even trying if your subject is moving at all. Up close, its focus accuracy is outstanding. Build quality is amazing and the look of this lens on your camera is enough to make you stand out and be the envy of any other. I shot a wedding last night and one of the guests was a female photographer and she said the lens was going to make her cry it was so impressive. My only other complaint is the CA (purple fringing) is terrible when you shoot wide open and the focal length is a little tight on a 1.3 crop. I would say it would be a problem on a 1.6 crop camera like a 20d. If you buy this, get ready to zoom with your feet and get really good at manual focus.

Jul 15, 2007
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atreidex
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Registered: Jul 11, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: Jul 13, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,690.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Everything. Build. Sharpness. 1.2. Contrast. Color. ETC ETC.
Cons:
none, given what it is for, and what you pay.

Echo-ing other praise.. I wanted to write my two cents for those who are on the fence about buying this lens, not because of the question of quality, but because they're not sure if they want to spend that much money on the 1.2 versus 1.8, or comparible zoom range.

Short answer, it is worth it. I've used all common L zooms, 85mm 1.8, other primes, the 85mm 1.2 mk I, and this lens has surpassed them all when it comes down to simple image sharpness, color/contrast rendering, and build quality.

I use it on a 5d, have for approx 3 weeks for several projects and test shoots, and am one happy customer. So if you can afford it & need the 1.2 or focal length, buy it now!

I ignore comments about weight, slow-focus, and price-point, because they are missing the point about what this lens was made for.


Jul 13, 2007
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juberisk2
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Registered: Sep 16, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 406
Review Date: Jul 10, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: bokeh, sharpness, etc. - what everyone else is saying
Cons:
poor autofocus, poor price v. use ratio

I agree with much of what other reviewers here have said, particularly the last few, and especially Simon King's assessment.

I coveted this lens for quite a while, and with my overtime pay I finally pulled the trigger in May '07. As much of a bokeh-seeking, prime lens junkie that I am, I thought I'd be using this lens all the time. To the contrary, I find it unreliable (autofocus) for wedding work, especially for low light candid shots (receptions, etc.). I've gone back to using the 85/1.8. Also, as a prime lens guy, I generally don't mind switching lenses on the fly with my thinktank belt setup, but I have to say that with this lens, the rear element protrudes so much that I'm flat out uncomfortable using the lens casually. If I don't put it on my 5D before I leave the house and keep it on, forget it - I aint bringin' it. It's a substantial lens in weight and girth, and it is indeed somewhat difficult to use at the wider apertures, but I'll go one step further and say that even at f 2.8, the autofocus issues are much worse than many other lenses at 2.8. In short, too many minor problems (price, size, rear element, autofocus) keep me from getting my money's worth. Make no mistake, this is definitely an impressive lens that creates out of this world images, but if I knew I'd end up keeping my 85/1.8, I would have just bought the 50L or 135L. I recommend this product, but not overwhelmingly.



Jul 10, 2007
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mfoto
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Registered: Sep 18, 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 2321
Review Date: Jun 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very pleasing and unique look to shots taken at 1.2. This lens does what no other lens can.
Cons:
Price for sure will turn many shooters away, that including myself for a good long time. Slower focusing but the IQ more thn make up for it.

It is not easy to come up with comments which haven’t already been mentioned here hundreds of times. When I decided to go for the 5D a natural companion to this camera would be the 85 1.2L II. I had tested the original Mark I version a couple of year prior to taking the plunge for the Mark II.

Going back to the film days I’ve had different portrait lenses over the years… the FD 85 1.8, Nikkor 105 2.5, Zeiss 85 1.4, Zeiss 135 2.8. I have also had a couple of EF 85 1.8s. The way I recall it the built quality is still not up to the old Nikkor or Zeiss lenses but time may have erased some memory here. As for IQ it is also hard to compare but the 85 1.2L II has not disappointed. It is a tricky beast to shoot with. You have to know its strengths and limitations. The difference really comes in to effect when shooting at f/ 1.2 – 1.4 -1.6….

There is often debate about the 135L vs. 85L. The 135 has faster focusing and works better for close ups.. You can also add the 1.4x converter to the 135L which makes it quite versatile. Then why the 85L – it is a pleasing focal length for portraits and the look of your f/1.2 will have you wondering – how did I do that? Smile

I have only had the lens for a couple of months now but I will add more shots to this gallery as I get them:
http://mfoto.smugmug.com/gallery/2797708#165579934

Morten
www.mfoto.ca



Jun 28, 2007
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I Simonius
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Registered: Apr 22, 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 51
Review Date: Jun 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: f1.2, lovely contrast, saturation and bokeh
Cons:
Focussing is often too slow even on slow moving subjects

This lens is a speciality portrait lens; it's big, heavy and expensive but it's designed to do one job only and to do it better than anything else. But we knew that before we bought it. On the 5D (+all FFs) there may be some vignetting but that's no biggy on portraits either.

It does produce colour, contrast and bokeh that are noticably better than the f1.8 lens. However the fucussing speed will be a real shock to those that were used to the 1.8 lens. If the the 1.8 was a jet ski the 1.2 is an old barge. It is VERY slow by comparison. Now obviously not as slow as it was in MK1 version but I dread to think what that must have been like! ;-)

The slow focussing should not be cried about as others have said because everyone says it focusses slow, but all the same it was a suprise to me and will be to others that have not used this lens before, HOW slow it is.

It focusses about the same as you could manually; and you might think that's quick, until you realise that the focuss ring travel goes on and on - no quick flick of the wrist to snap it in manually!

I have been using the centre AF point and not using AI Servo (which I will try next) in good sunlight I find that exact focus if off 50% of the time. By 'off' I mean not exact due to subject movement , not miss-focussed.

This is the problem with a f1.2 lens; focus has to be exact because everything out of focuss is definitetly and completely and beautifully OOF.

My prior technique has been, in portrait orientation, to use centre AF point on eye(s) then reframe slightly before shooting. This is not a good technique with this lens - as the reframing alone is enough to lose the precise focus but combine that with the tiny bit of extra time it takes between achieving focus and the shutter going and the subject wil probably have moved half an inch; enough to lose focus.

Therefore this is a lens that undoubtedly improves with use as one's technique adapts. I have only had a it a month and am experimenting to see which AF mode and technique works best. I think the model has to be instructed more along the old fashioned lines of the early photographers with very slow film, i.e. "Freeze" :lol:

Only joking: but the serious point is that one's technique has to adapt to this lens, and when it all comes together, despite it being hardwr o master than the 1.8 lens , it will then produse results which are clearly superior


Jun 11, 2007
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Tyrven
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Registered: Jun 11, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jun 11, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,700.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Very sharp, fast, tight DOF/bokah.
Cons:
The autofocus performance is really disappointing.

I don't mind paying top dollar for a high quality lens - however, I expect that for that price I'm going to extremely satisfied with the product.

That said, while the 85mm f/1.2 is an absolutely beautiful lens the autofocus performance is a huge disappointment. When working with stationary subjects this isn't an issue (of course) but I repeatedly missed shots with mobile subjects - especially when approaching the camera.

Also, while the manual focus ring is large and easy to adjust, I found it challenging to manually focus while maintaining the balance of the camera due to the weight of the lens.

Mounted on a tripod in a studio shooting stationary subjects this isn't an issue; in a practical field setting it's really a bummer.

However - despite these shortcomings - I was really astonished by how sharp the photos were even when the aperture was wide open. Further, the contrast and saturation (when used with the lens hood) are astonishing. For these reasons I will likely purchase this lens (I rented it for a photoshoot this weekend as a means of evaluating it before dropping the cash on it).


Jun 11, 2007
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Peter Kirk
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Registered: Sep 25, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 309
Review Date: May 18, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: An absolute joy to use, Excellent contrast, Outstanding sharpness at 1.2, best bokeh in the buisiness, balance when paired with 1 series cameras.
Cons:
Some CA , nothing that cant be fixed.

I think this lens is worth every cent.
It is in a class of its own. I rate it equal with my 135L, another legend of a lens.
Different beasts, but both produce dreamy outstanding results.
Definately a KEEPER of a lens. Well worth investing in.


May 18, 2007
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vlookup
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Registered: Apr 23, 2007
Location: N/A
Posts: 1
Review Date: Apr 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Artistic control of DOF is amazing, Clarity of image.
Cons:
Autofocus slow in comparison with what you may be used to.

This lens is a liberation. Ever since I moved to digital I have had to work very hard to get the subjects isolated in a picture - it seemed that it was easier with film. However this lens is just lovely, you can play with DOF and really see the results. At its closest focus distance with the Aperture at 1.8, you get just over 1cm of focus with fantastic blur.

This effect just makes you wish all your lenses were capable of the same DOF control. This is a fantastic lens and the one I am most pleased about.


Apr 23, 2007
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petr vokurek
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Registered: Apr 16, 2007
Location: Czech Republic
Posts: 3
Review Date: Apr 22, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: excellent sharpness combined with even better bokeh
Cons:
none....maybe the focus ring that strangely rotates togetger with the hood:-))

I find all aspects about this lens possitive... The sharpness is truly impressive but where it excels is the background blur or bokeh- the unsharp areas are really pleasingly out of focus. This is the biggest difference between this beast and its smaller brother- the f1,8 version. I have them both and both are my favourite lenses, although I do not use the f 1,8 lens very often now...only for travel when weight is important. The sharpness of both is about the same and if I was interested in sharpness alone, I wouldn´t bother to buy the f1,2 version- both lenses are very, very sharp, well made and the f1,8 version even has less distortion! What sets them apart is the bokeh- what you can do with the big one at f 1,2-1,4 is just fantastic and you really cannot do it with the f1,8 version- it´s just far inferior. However, if you are a "safe shooter" and use your lenses in the f4-smaller range there is absolutelly no point in spending so much more for the bigger lens- unless you want to impress! I longed for this lens for a very long time and now that I finally have it I not only don´t regret the purchase but wonder how I could have lived without it for so long! One thing though- I mainly do portraiture so this lens is perfect for me- combined with 70-200/2,8 and 24-70/2,8 and 135/2. If your main interest is something else, this lens may not be so useful for you, especially given the cost. For example, I never take it with me on travel- too heavy, big, too specialist, too expensive to get stolen.

Apr 22, 2007
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PhotoproX
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Registered: Apr 6, 2007
Location: Albania
Posts: 0
Review Date: Apr 15, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: great IQ, great bokeh
Cons:
price, weight, weary AF, strange manual focusing

Canon has the fastest 85mm lens available today and you pay the premium...

Image Quality is great and shallow dof allow breathtaking shots in the hands of skilled photographers.

Is this worth the hassle with price, weight, weary AF and strange manual focusing? Only if you´re rich and absolutely love the 85mm perspective.


Apr 15, 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 277130 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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