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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

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Reviews Views Date of last review
181 297057 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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Daan B
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Registered: Aug 15, 2007
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 7777
Review Date: Nov 28, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Superb IQ (already wide open), build, reliable and accurate AF
Cons:
Some fringes wide open, not the fastest AF in town (although very reliable and accurate)

Well, what can I say... It's this lens that made me switch from Nikon to Canon. It's glued to one of my 5D's perminently. I use it primarily for available light portraiture and some landscape photography.

It is sharp already wide open. At f/2.0 it becomes insanely sharp and stays that way up to f/8. Bokeh is the best I have ever seen on a (D)SLR system. Contrast and colors are top notch (even at f/1.2). Beautiful shadow rendition, deep colors and smooth transitions of tones. The 3D look is definitely there: subjects are really jumping off the frame. Distortions are nothing to worry about. The 85L II also handles flare well: in landscape shots pointing towards the sun, I didn't see anything that made me worry. There is some fringing in high contrast areas when shooting wide open. But by f/2.0 these are mostly gone. CA's in the (far) corners of the frame are not an issue.

The 85L II is built like a tank. I really like the materials used. Lots of metal and some kind of rubber on the outside of the barrel. It's rather heavy. But because of it's weight the lens provides excellent stability (on a 5D with grip): I get keepers even with 1/30 seconds! AF is a little on the slow side when focusing from up close to infinity. But when doing a pre focus, it's speed is sufficient enough (for shooting portraits / landscapes). Also, the AF (on a 5D) is very reliable and accurate. Real handy when shooting at f/1.2 - f/2.0. It simply never misses.

It's an expensive lens for sure. But well worth it. I'd say it's Canon's finest... Highly recommended!


Nov 28, 2007
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neilgundel
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Registered: Dec 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 31
Review Date: Nov 23, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp - especially stopped down to 2.0 and beyond. Build quality is outstanding.
Cons:
Very prone to purple fringing wide open in certain conditions.

This lens is worth the high price in my opinion. I agree with all the other comments about fabulous bokeh, IQ etc., but I don't think the focusing speed is an issue for anything but the fastest moving sports. Also, on a 1DsII, I find the low-light focusing to be as good as or better than any other lens I have used. Portraits at 1/60 sec + f/1.2 + ISO 800 snap into focus instantly.

Landscapes at 5.6 are extremely good - on the level of the 135/2.0.

For example:
http://naturalportraits.com/utah_85_12_at_56.jpg

DOF is basically non-existent at f/1.2 at portrait distances, which is wonderful when you have exactly the right things in focus, and terrible when you don't. You will need to learn to focus accurately, or you won't get your money's worth.

Purple fringing wide open in some but not all or even most backlit situations - I haven't yet figured out how to tell when it will be an issue. A photoshop filter that removes the purple would be very helpful at times.



Nov 23, 2007
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bobbytan
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Registered: Feb 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 8980
Review Date: Nov 18, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,589.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Ethereal bokeh and OOF blur. Sharp like a macro lens. Good contrast and color. Significantly better AF than version I. Eye candy.
Cons:
Heavy, somewhat pricey, and relatively slow AF.

I had the first version of this lens (3 years ago) and didn't think it was anything special. As a matter of fact, I hated it, sold it, and gave this lens a rating of 6. Well, that was then. Since then, I have seen several stunning images from this lens, and I am more than convinced that Version II has some important changes, especially in the area of AF speed and control of flare and ghosting. Less flare (thanks to the Super Spectra coatings) results in better contrast and color, so IQ has to be better than the previous version. I would go so far as to say that this lens as good as any Leica lens. It has superb resolution, sharpness, contrast and color. It is IMO the best Canon lens.

AF speed is still slow, but not terribly so. It should be adequate for most situations except fast-action sports. I wish the Minimum Focussing Distance is shorter than 3.2ft, but I realize that if the DOF at 3.2ft is ultra-shallow, the DOF at less than 3ft is probably unusable. If I need to reduce the MFD I would use it with extension tube EF 12 and/or EF 25. Because of the super-narrow DOF, a tripod is recommended when you shoot wide open at the minimum distance in available light.

Yes, it is very heavy for an 85mm lens, but unless you go all plastic (horrors) what choice do you have with an f1.2 lens? But although it's heavy it balances well on any Canon body. And yes, it is expensive too, but ultra-fast lenses are not cheap as they are very expensive to make. If you compare this lens to the limited-edition Carl Zeiss Planar 85/1.2 lens, it's really reasonable! The going rate for a mint-condition Zeiss 85/1.2 is well over $6,000 i.e. if you can find one, as this is a rare/collectible lens. FWIW the MFD on the Zeiss lens is 3.5ft.

Does this lens deserve all the accolade and hype from its owners and users? You bet! It is every bit as good as what everyone says, but YMMV. Great sharpness throughout the aperture range, great color and contrast ..... and the bokeh and OOF blur is just magical and cannot be matched by a slower lens. This is the lens that I will take with me to my grave, along with my 5D or its successor! Wink

I have had this lens for only about a week, and have only done some product/book shots. Check it out here:

http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=783872

If you are still undecided or unconvinced, check out the user reviews on the B&H and Amazon web sites. You will be amazed at the number of perfect scores that this lens gets.


Nov 18, 2007
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niimo
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Registered: Jul 24, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Nov 1, 2007 Recommend? no | Price paid: $1,800.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Very sharp with careful use. Precise focusing. At times, amazing bokeh.
Cons:
A lot of CA in sun light, heavy and bulky and not $1800 build quality.

Obviously a terrific quality lens, that with proper use can produce superior results. However, the negative outweighed the good for me. During shoots, my wrists would begin to ache because of the wight. I got used to the weight, but still that frustrated me. I was surprised by the build quality. Not that it was poor, but it was not as good as I expected for $1800, that is for sure.

It was challenging shooting in sunlit high contrast scenes because of the sensitivity to CA wide open. I did some informal sharpness testing comparing with my 50mm f/1.8 II, and though it was sharper, not by much. The bokeh was much more smooth and just delightful at times. It's hard for me to not give a lens like this a top rating, especially since I am very please with a lot of the photos I shot with it. Would I recommend a friend to buy it? Only if money was no an object.

See the photos I took with this lens:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/niimo/tags/CanonEF85mmf12LIIUSM/


Nov 1, 2007
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Peter Kotsa
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Registered: Nov 1, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 268
Review Date: Nov 1, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: better than version I in every area.
Cons:
weight,

you get what you pay for. The contrast and colur control are excellent. I dont use a lens hood with this lens and the flare control is amazing..well done Canon

Nov 1, 2007
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Huib Nederhof
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Registered: Oct 17, 2007
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 2
Review Date: Oct 17, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, bokeh, contrast
Cons:
Maybe price

I had before the 85mm F1.2 Mark1 on a 1DsII. Everything is a little better with this lens.

Oct 17, 2007
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idd2
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Registered: Dec 11, 2006
Location: Russia
Posts: 2
Review Date: Oct 9, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $2,000.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Amazing Bokeh, sharp, wonderful color...
Cons:
Price

Best lens. I have 35L, 85L and 135L.
85L is my favorite lens. Nothing to compare with.

Look some photos here: http://www.ivanov.spb.su


Oct 9, 2007
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Matt Kerby
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Registered: Jun 9, 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 517
Review Date: Oct 2, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,600.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp wide open, 1.2! great color/contrast balance.
Cons:
Slow AF

Not much more to say than everyone else. This is my favorite L prime especially on the 5D. It's sharp at 1.2 and by f2 it's super sharp. This lens gives a very sereal 3D effect that's hard to duplicate, it isolates your subjects in a very spacial, warm way. The 50L comes close but I like the 85 a little better. As far as size...I like it, no I love it, it's front element is huge...looks cool. Works great in low light, focus is spot on every time. Buy this lens at let your inner artist flourish:)

Oct 2, 2007
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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: 157
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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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
181 297057 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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