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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

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130 257519 Aug 23, 2017
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,379.02
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.70
8.52
9.5
ef85mmf_12_1_

Specifications:
With a large maximum aperture of f/1.2, this is the fastest 85mm telephoto lens in its class. One aspherical lens element and two high-refraction elements give sharp images with little flare even at maximum aperture. The floating system corrects coma for high image quality.


 


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celsus
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Registered: Feb 6, 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 504
Review Date: Feb 11, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 4 

 
Pros: Very good sharpness, the colour rendering is on the typical L lens level. Good build, the rubberized sort of a finish adheres well to the hand holding the lens.
Cons:
Excessive purple and green fringing in the range checked: f1.2 to f2.0. As of today, still have not checked the CA behaviour when stopped down further. The CA is brought about by any higher contrast boundaries and highlights, such as in the image of a crystal vase in a rather dimly lit room. The design of my 85 f/1.8 optics clearly controls the CA better. The focusing lens group drive makes somewhat unsettling rocking noise in its target position, as if there was a degree of backlash or calibration hysterisis in it. The manual focus ring feels rickety, not consistent with the solidly built remainder of the lens. The location of the red "dot" for lens-camera mount alignment is inexplicable: one can not actually see the "dot" when trying to engage the lens onto the body. In summary, what I see in this lens design is the focus group drive assembly, CA control and packaging having been made subordinate to lens speed. I would be hard pressed to see in this lens the sort of excellence I have found in some other (cheaper) Canon L and non L lenses. Having f/1.2 nominal aperture, this brute of a lens is just (obviously) fast and probably of a sharpness roughly comparable to EF 50 f/1.4. So, do get it if you must or really want to have the f/1.2 lens speed (at 85 mm). If you can live with f/1.4 or even f/1.8, look elsewhere.



Feb 11, 2006
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Liquidpics
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Registered: Jun 14, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1107
Review Date: Feb 9, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: The DOF is like no other lens as well as the 1.2 for available light. The AF is no problem. Geeze. It's not sloooooooow like others have mentioned. Quite the body on this one. Lens seems to be indestructable. Capable of producing creative shots with the ultimate bokeh!
Cons:
You have to pay close attention to your subject and your focus point wide open because as mentioned the DOF is razor thin.



Feb 9, 2006
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Remford
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Registered: Aug 7, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 1392
Review Date: Jan 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,399.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Permits absolute artistic control, optical work of art, capable of shots which are unmistakable to this lens. Ideal for portraiture and human life-subjects. Ethereal bokeh, unlike nothing else.
Cons:
Massive mass. Unique (unfamilair) focus ring. Power-assisted USM is slow and lacks tactile response.

This is a true artist's lens; and it comes with a steep learning curve. It isn't a lens that's made to be "stopped down" just because it's fast, nor is it a lens that one should shoot with, hoping that everything will be sharp edge-to-edge at f/1.2. It's beauty is in the heavenly bokeh, razor thin DOF, and unique optical color transmission that makes shots taken with it, when hitting its sweet spot (takes LOTS of practice to do consistently, but few endeavors are as worthwhile), like none other and true examples of photographic art.

Jan 7, 2006
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Film_Ruled
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Registered: Oct 20, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 653
Review Date: Jan 1, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,450.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Most lenses can be compared on several levels of criteria. This one can not. At 1.2 is can not be compared, it is pure magic!
Cons:
Size, weight, focus by wire? Really quite minor.

I own the 85 1.8 and love it. I is small, light, fast focusing and sharp.
But this 85L, whoa man what a lens! I shot a 4 day advertising job with it and did not use another lens. Brilliant careers have been built on the look of this lens at 1.2 and now I can see why. On the 5D, there is no such thing as bad light with this lens.

It weighs a ton and is not easy to hide as a street photography lens, but man! Is it worth it.


Jan 1, 2006
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kboyd
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Registered: Dec 25, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 0
Review Date: Dec 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Impeccable quality. Astonishing photos and pleasing Bokeh.
Cons:
None

What can I say… WOW what a lens. From the very moment I unpacked the lens, to the very first shots over Christmas, I have been in aw of this lens. On first inspection of the lens, you can tell the quality is impeccable. I have a Canon 10D and the balance is great. Focusing is slow but not as slow as I expected. Even on the 10D with a 1.6 crop, I was able to shoot indoors under normal light conditions. Shooting distance was typically around 10 to 20 ft. I found myself wanting to shoot in the f/1.2 to f/1.8 range just to experience the unique DOF this lens can provide. Absolutely astonishing quality and unbelievable photos. If you have the money to spend on a lens, this is hands-down the one to get.

As far as the 10D/ f1.2L lens combination, the focusing is some times off. But not very often. The biggest problem I have had with this lens is while in AF-mode, sometimes my fingers touch the focusing ring. At f/1.2, this can cause major problems just by bumping the ring. Remember the DOF at close range seems to be around 10mm to 20mm at the most.

I cannot wait to get a Canon 1Ds MkII. I’m sure this is one of the best combinations on the market. As I said above and as so many other people have said in this review… WOW… This is simple one of the best lens investments you will make.


Dec 27, 2005
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jonbrach
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Registered: Dec 22, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 919
Review Date: Dec 15, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: tack sharp,incredible bokeh,low light ability
Cons:
none so far given the upside of the lens

This is truly an incredible lens...I have only had it for a couple of days now having bought it from a fellow FM'er.The possibilities are endless and from my observations so far the upside of this lens exceeds any other lens ive used....Let me state upfront that this lens requires more work and effort to get things just right and the 1.2 makes proper focus imperative.Wide open the lens is tack sharp but also requires incredible precision to make sure you get the shot right.About the focus,loads has been written about the slow focus of this lens and it is both true and false.The lens takes a long time to rotate when you go from focusing far away to close up but if you are shooting at a constant area the focus is not all that much slower than other canon lenses.I shoot alot of jazz and blues clubs and i cannot wait to use the lens in this setting where the distance will be essentially constant and as a result the focus shouldnt be a problem.On the other hand i wont attempt to use the lens for fast moving sports where you will be focusing all over the field at a rapid pace...i will use my 135 l for those shots....all in all i can see that this lens is going to keep me busy experiementing and learning and enjoying...

Dec 15, 2005
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rbraun
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Registered: Sep 10, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 332
Review Date: Dec 14, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fabulous image quality, clarity and color rendition. Smooth OOF areas a.k.a. Bokeh
Cons:
Big, manual focus only works with shutter button partially depressed

1. Slow AF. Not for me. AF is adequate for my needs.

2. Weight. This is a big lens. Compared to leica 90mm Summicron this lens is a giant, but it does wear on a Canon body well. I would say the weight of Canon L glass is only a problem if you carry more than one of them in your camera bag. It gets heavy pretty quickly.

3. Usage. I love to use this lens everywhere.
I used it in shooting hockey games
<br>
<img src="http://www.widereach.net/rodina/images/portfolio/faceoff.jpg">
I used it to shoot in low light on the street
<br>
<img src="http://www.widereach.net/rodina/images/portfolio/onthephone.jpg">
I used it to shoot portraits.
<br>
<img src="http://www.widereach.net/rodina/images/2005/yveta102005.2.jpg">

4. Care. There is a lot of dollars invested in this lens. Pamper it.



Dec 14, 2005
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gorim
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Registered: Dec 4, 2005
Location: Japan
Posts: 7
Review Date: Dec 10, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Fabulous bokeh, contrasts, and color. Pulls in the light.
Cons:
Sure it focuses slow like everyone says, but not enough to be a problem

Rather than repeat all of the good things everyone else has said, I will focus on my opinions of the negatives everyone else has said. This is based on my experience of using it as a primary walk-around lens for the past 2 months.

1. Slow AF. Yes, its true, but I found it is not much slower than my 50/1.8, and honestly, it hasn't been a terrible issue for me. I frequently shoot moving targets and my OOF rate is about 2/3. Frequent pre-focusing helps alot. AI Focus can help too.

2. Weight. Yes, its heavy, but its also not as bad as most people make it out to be. Its a short lens, so the weight is close to the camera body, so it is actually not so difficult to hand-hold and keep steady, especially compared to longer lens. The way the lens frame narrows towards the rear makes hand-placement for holding rather convenient. I once walked around an event for 6 hours with this mounted on a 350D w/grip and 580EX all around my neck. No problems (but you need a comfortable neck strap!).

3. Usage. Many will say this one is best used in a portrait studio where it can be safe and secure on a tripod. Bollocks. There is no disagreement that this lens may have little equal in that setting, but the idea that it should be held captive within, rather than allowed the freedom to go out, is sad. It can do so much more. In my case, this stays on my 20D as my primary walk-around candid lens. I now prefer it over my 35D and 135D. Granted, one must accept the challenge of the slow AF and razor DOF wide-open, but the results are worth it.

4. Care. It does require a bit more conscious thought. Canon strongly recommends it be set to infinity for storage so that the lens elements are fully retracted. The rear element is quite flush to the metal mount, making it high risk for scratching if carelessly handled while attaching/removing from the camera body. Not a bad practice to have anyhow.

Overall, I have been extremely happy with this lens.


Dec 10, 2005
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Vinny Viper
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Registered: Dec 8, 2005
Location: N/A
Posts: 10
Review Date: Dec 8, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Beautiful Images - Fantastic Blur Capability - Build Quality - Sharpness - Colour - Hand Held Indoor Shots (Club's Concerts & Gigs) - THE Twilight Lens
Cons:
Slow Focus after using 400 F2.8 L IS USM & 70-200 F2.8 L IS USM

If I had to choose one lens to use always the 85 1.2 L USM would be it.

This lens is simply stunning.

Don't just sit there reading this... go buy one for yourself and discover why this lens is addictive!

My Great Dane even lets me take shots of him with this Lens...

So to sum up... Nigh on Perfect.


Dec 8, 2005
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Daniel Buck
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Registered: Jan 12, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3455
Review Date: Dec 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,499.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: optical quality, solid feeling lens
Cons:
for some, the price and weight

good lens, but not as "magical" as the internet has made it to be. And the focusing is not as slow as the internet has made it to be. Focusing is slower than all of my other lenses, but it has not been a problem.

Dec 4, 2005
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dave_in_gva
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Registered: Nov 24, 2005
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 29
Review Date: Nov 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Detail, bokeh, contrast and colour saturation, focal length
Cons:
Price, weight. Some will find focusing problematic.

This lens is capable of providing stunning resolution, combined with exceptional colour and contrast.

If you can afford it you will not be disappointed from a final image quality perspective.

That said, vignetting at the very largest apertures (say 2 and lower) is visible, albeit easily corrected and not easy to detect in some images. Focusing for some will take getting used to as others have noted and is of course more of an issue at the wide end. Some will find the weight a problem although I do not.

With those realities in mind what you are left with is simply a very high quality optic.

Some images made with this lens that reveal it's capacity for detail extraction:

http://www.pbase.com/david_meddings/image/51444136/original

http://www.pbase.com/david_meddings/image/51444137/original

http://www.pbase.com/david_meddings/image/51442327/original

At F1.2 the effects from extremely shallow depth of field and a superb bokeh can produce very particular effects:

http://www.pbase.com/david_meddings/image/51632893/original



Nov 24, 2005
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JohntheMackem
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Registered: Sep 28, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 3, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Razor sharp, faster auto-focusing than expected (even in low light), lovely smooth fly-by-wire manual focusing. Beautifully made. It even looks awesome when mounted on the camera!
Cons:
Nothing - it's the finest lens I've ever owned and worth every penny

Just got this lens and only taken a few shots so far. Firstly, it focuses faster than a lot of reviews suggest - it's certainly quick enough for me, especially on the 1D II. Manual focusing is lovely, smooth as silk and better than expected. However, the 45 point focusing a bit of a hinderence especially close up and I'm only certain I've nailed the focus when using a single central focusing point - honestly the DOF is THAT shallow! However, when you Do nail it, this lens is sharp enough to cut yourself with and makes my other L lenses seem second rate, even my beloved 70-200 f2.8 IS is put to shame! It's so sharp that if you intend to get any closer than a half-length portrait, you had better use very soft light or be prepared to spend a lot of time in Photoshop - it picks up every pore and every skin blemish! Goodness knows what it could do on a 1DS II!
The colours it produces are wonderful and it's fun to use as the DOF and bokeh are unreal. I spent months deciding whether or not to buy this and now that I have I'm having the most fun with my photography than I have since I was a kid. If you're considering this lens, do yourself a favour and buy it!


Nov 3, 2005
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Sharmy
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Registered: Nov 2, 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 0
Review Date: Nov 2, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Image quality, BOKEH
Cons:
Not dust and water sealed. Does not transmit distance information to camera for ETTL II flash use.

A truely remarkable lens. Out of this world BOKEH - you won't believe it until you see it. It really does open up a whole new world of photography to you.

Focus speed - fine with 1DMK2 - remember, focusing element has so much work to do.

Weight - fine. One expects a quality lens to be heavy.

As much as I like my other L series lenses, this has quickly become my favorite.


Nov 2, 2005
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wongwai
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Registered: Sep 16, 2003
Location: China
Posts: 55
Review Date: Oct 31, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Build Quality is 1st class, Sharpness, & f/1.2
Cons:
none

This is an amazing lens. Heard a lot about it, but have to use it to believe it. This lens is constructed beautifully. Although it weight about 2.3 lb, it just feels right with my 1DmkII and my 350. I read a lot of people complain about the focus speed of this lens, but I use it to take couple of pics of the Lion King show at HK Disney (very dark environment) with my 350D, following is a link to them

http://www.pbase.com/wongwai/image/51142480
http://www.pbase.com/wongwai/image/51142407
http://www.pbase.com/wongwai/image/51142485
http://www.pbase.com/wongwai/image/51142488
http://www.pbase.com/wongwai/image/51142533
http://www.pbase.com/wongwai/image/51142622
http://www.pbase.com/wongwai/image/51142637
http://www.pbase.com/wongwai/image/51142642

I use AI servo for most of these pics, there is 1 or 2 that I use one shot, and I find out the AF speed is not as bad as other people claims. All and all I just happy to got this lens.


Oct 31, 2005
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Emre
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Registered: Sep 9, 2005
Location: Turkey
Posts: 20
Review Date: Oct 28, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated

 
Pros:
Cons:

did anybody use this lens with eos350d and elan 7ne?
if so were u satisfied


Oct 28, 2005
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Sneakyracer
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Registered: Mar 24, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 3027
Review Date: Oct 26, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Image Quality [sharpness, color, contrast, bokeh], this is it, one of the best lenses made.
Cons:
Some purple fringing at wide appertures can be seen in extreme highlights [shiny objects]

This is it, one of the best lenses made. Optically is excellent except for the purple fringing wide open in point highlights. Dont know if its an issue with digital sensor but its there and can be bothersome on an an otherwise spectacular piece of glass. [btw, the 85mm f1.8 was way worse]

Subjectively it renders images with a nice "look" to them. In another league from other lenses.

I read a LOT of comments/reviews before buying. One concern was focus speed, well when I got the lens it isnt nearly as bad as most people said it was, in fact, it focuses quite nicely.

Also, I expected it to be a tad soft at f1.2, OMG!! it isn't. Ive used it mostly at f1.2~1.6 and sharpness is excellent. Focus accuracy has been very good with 1D mk2.


Oct 26, 2005
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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
130 257519 Aug 23, 2017
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,379.02
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.70
8.52
9.5
ef85mmf_12_1_


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