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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

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126 245397 Sep 3, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,380.92
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.71
8.49
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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sieracki001
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Registered: Mar 24, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 4
Review Date: Mar 27, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,429.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Amazing Bokeh. Sharp at f1.4, not bad at f1.2. Awesome lens barrel.
Cons:
Bit of CA on contrasty subjects at f-stops less than f2.

Been shooting with this lens for a couple of weeks so I want to share some initial impressions. This is designed as a portrait lens, and optimized for that type of subject, so I am 'misusing' this lens a bit, perhaps better to say that I'm not using it for what it's main purpose is.

Not to just repeat what others have said, although I agree with most of the posts on this lens, I want to comment on some of the negtive aspects of this lens. Believe me, the pluses outweigh the minuses, but at this price I'm nitpicking of course.

Focusing: ring has tremendous travel. Camera has to be activated to allow the ring to change the focus. Autofocus is slow. Others have said all this. Well, this lens is designed for very precise focusing at a very shallow DOF that is possible on the lens. The ring's travel is actually an advantage when you are shooting under f4. This allows very precise movements and enables you to select what will be in focus with precision. I don't recommend autofocus with this lens, especially in low light. Since the viewfinder is as bright as it ever will be, you should be able to focus pretty accurately.

Weight: Fine for me. Not a trivial lens to shoot with. The price you pay for the extra light.

Price of alternatives: Very difficult issue. Is bokeh really better at f1.2 than f1.8 to justify the purchase of the lens? Yes IMO. The f1.8 isn't bad at all. Go for that lens if the price scares you off. The extra $1000 or so could be used else where (for example, a super duper Gitzo tripod).

This is a hard core lens for the perfectionist. Maybe bragging rights factors into this too. Everyone who has heard of this lens wants to see what f1.2 can do. It can do plenty, but I'm not always going to shoot at f1.2, trust me. You pay a price in being able to get anything in focus. Very specialized lens here, must be used appropriately. Remember no lens is as good wide open relative to what it is at f8. With this lens, you are getting as good as it gets wide open. So the question is, do you really need to shoot wide open? Are you ready for the trade offs?


Mar 27, 2005
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Nimra
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Registered: Jan 4, 2004
Location: Germany
Posts: 37
Review Date: Mar 20, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp @ f1.2
Cons:
focus speed

Enough said - this thing is tacksharp, a wonderful lense and next to the 35 1.4 and 135 2.0 a must have.

So the focus system is weird and slow, but pretty exact. If You're out for lowlight job's and no IS helps (subject motion) - You can try out this glas, if Your in artwork this lense is impressive.



Mar 20, 2005
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intero
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Registered: Oct 9, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 2034
Review Date: Mar 14, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Unbelievably sharp wide open. Bokeh that is nothing short of amazing. Exceptional color and contrast.
Cons:
Expensive.

This is one impressive lens. Yes, it's huge. Yes, it weighs a ton. Yes looking down the barrel of this beast will weaken the knees of any gear head. Yes the manual focus is a bit weird and takes some getting used to. All that said, this thing is an absolute blast!

It is so sharp at 1.2 - it's just scary. Open it up a bit and dang. I haven't taken many shots at greater than 1.4 though, since it's such a blast wide open. The bokeh is nothing short of amazing.

I've never had an 85 1.8 so I can't really compare those two, but I have or have had a 20 1.8, 50 1.8, 50 1.4, 24-70L, 28-70L, 28-75, 100f2, 100 macro, 135L, 70-200 2.8 non-is and a host of long and zoom lens that aren't known for their image quality or bokeh so aren't worth mentioning. This lens produces better images than any of those.

If you do portraits and you shoot Canon, I can't imagine why you wouldn't have this lens. It's just that good.

-Tom


Mar 14, 2005
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Tom Conte
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Registered: Mar 8, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 3313
Review Date: Jan 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,400.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Incredible bokeh and razor thin depth of field (which when used correctly is extremely powerful), sharp wide open, nice color
Cons:
Fat and heavy, racks through quite a range so its slow focusing

The best way to experience a 85mm lens is on a full frame camera, and then it just 'makes sense' as a portrait lens. This and a 1Ds is a powerful combination. The bokeh is excellent. There are concerns I hear that this lens is slow to focus, but (if you have a 1-series) set the P.Fn that turns off drive seeking. Then it is not bad at all.

Hands down this is my favorite lens.


Jan 18, 2005
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P Alesse
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Registered: Dec 24, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 11465
Review Date: Jan 7, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sturdy build, balanced weight, tack sharp, great bokeh... almost too good.
Cons:
Slower AF if you are used to sport lenses, 1.2 can be a double-edged sword, and... PRICE

Is 1.2 worth the price? Depends. If you are a portrait photographer and looking for great bokeh with tack sharp results... then yes. If you are looking for it's amazing 1.2 just for low light performance... maybe not.

Keep in mind, that this is portrait lens. You might be able to get away with shooting sports with the 1.8, but with the 1.2, you have to be aware of its slower AF and very short DOF. Overall, it's a lot more challenging to operate than say a 50/1.8 with its more P&S handling.

If using for portraits, be very conscious of its short DOF when using wide open at its minimum distance. Stay away from a selected point AF if planning on shooting anything less than f/3.5 at short distances... you'll lose facial features in the bokeh. The low 1.2 will lull you into a false sense of security under low light when you're shooting at ISO 400 and 1/125 shutter. You'll be thinking how amazing this lens is until you preview the shots and realize that you have only one region of the face in focus... the AF points.

At 5.6, the lens is a lot more forgiving and the results are great, but...not necessarily that much greater than a 1.8. So, once again, you have to consider your needs and whether you really need this lens.

With a little practice and some trial and error, you'll produce some amazing results at the wide open aperture. Just have to be careful of your composition and proximity to the subject. The slower AF is not an issue if shooting portraits... IMHO

It's a heavy and dense lens, but its wide and sturdy build make it fine for hand holding once you get used to it. If coming down from the bigger zooms, you'll hardly notice it being an issue.


Jan 7, 2005
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CeeCee
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Registered: Dec 6, 2004
Location: Denmark
Posts: 15
Review Date: Dec 21, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: I cannot wait to produce modelling and weddings with this awesome lens. Initial testshots indicates that every positive post on this lens is true.
Cons:
However - It is slow, but i believe that i will learn to master it manually faster than the USM will AF on a subject. This is also keeping you sharp as a photographer doing things manually ;-)

So far my testshots are just for my own sake, but they show that you get what you pay for with this De-Luxe 85Žer. I was anxious about the size of it, - cause it IS huge....but to my surprise the 1D mrkII seem to feel very balanced with this lens on.

Tack-sharp even wide open.....

Bokeh.....come again....this 85Žer invented the term Bokeh....got it ;-)

Awwww man - this is truly awesome....had the Nikkor 85/1.4 Ais and loved it - and missed it for a couple of years....now I am back on track.

CS


Dec 21, 2004
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Tom_W
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Registered: Sep 5, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 3803
Review Date: Dec 9, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: The optics, the bokeh, the encumbant speed when you need it most.
Cons:
Heavy, althought fits in the hand nicely.

I shoot natural light sporting/pastime/adventure portraits. This lens possibly has only one equal in this field, the 200mm F1.8 at 3 times the price.

If you need it, you'll know it. Stunning.

T.



Dec 9, 2004
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fisk
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Registered: Nov 22, 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 7
Review Date: Dec 1, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,430.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: You get.....
Cons:
.....what you pay for!

Nothing comes for free; you get great bokeh, sharpness, tone, colour etc, you pay a price.
Having to pay for something good is not really a negative aspect, but we'd all like to pay less,




Dec 1, 2004
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Keith Wong
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Registered: Dec 25, 2003
Location: Australia
Posts: 1049
Review Date: Nov 21, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,500.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Optics!
Cons:
Price!

I can't say anything new that other people have already said. Yes, the AF is slow but I knew that even before I bought the lens. FWIW it's fast enough for its application, which is portraiture. You're certainly not going to track an F1 car with this lens.

So IMO there are only ONE downside to this lens - it's price. Once you accept that you are getting the best 85mm lens on this planet, you forgive its weight and slow AF. I am enamoured of this lens, I want it to be buried with me when I die! Smile


Nov 21, 2004
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AlexC
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Registered: Mar 16, 2003
Location: Canada
Posts: 78
Review Date: Nov 9, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,199.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: It is fast, has creamy bokeh, and is fast (did I mention that it's fast?)...
Cons:
It is a fat pig of a lens, heavy, and somewhat slow to focus...

This is not a general purpose lens, but it is an *exceptional* lens for available light portraits. If you do a lot of shooting in low light, and are willing to put up with the bulk and somewhat ponderous focusing, then this is a highly recommended lens. even at more than triple the price of the 85mm f/1.8.

Nov 9, 2004
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Derek_S
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Registered: Sep 22, 2003
Location: N/A
Posts: 450
Review Date: Nov 7, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Amazingly sharp stopped down and a "look" that only f/1.2 can impart upon your compositions
Cons:
Average autofocus on anything less than a 1-series body (no, I haven't tried this on a 20d)

Instead of regurgitating what the others have said here, I'll tell you how useful for applications this lens is:

-Showing off your depth of field photos on photo boards : 9.5/10
-Weddings : 8/10
-Compressed landscape : 9/10
-Posed portraits : 9/10
-Concerts (where the performers just sit and almost resemble inanimate objects) : 8/10
-Photojournalism : 6/10 (formerly 4/10)
-Concerts (where the performers actually move) : 6/10 (formerly 4/10)

The humble pie addendum (December 2, 2004) : After trying out a different copy of this lens, I found that the AF speed is noticeably faster (I "slap" the mf ring around a lot less). I've therefore given it a slight bump in certain areas I initially thought it was deficient in. Sharpness is the same; it's still very sharp wide open and quite possibly the sharpest one I've tried (with regards to the EF line) stopped down.

I've rented this lens enough times from a friend. But after trying this copy out, I'm very tempted to pick it up as the light vacuum brother to my 85mm f/1.8.


Nov 7, 2004
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go4it
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Registered: Sep 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 746
Review Date: Nov 3, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,239.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Find another mfr's lens in this approximate focal length as a bench-mark. Now, raise the bar about twice as high with THIS lens. F-A-S-T, beautifully-constructed optical wonder. It's an "L" alright ... Possibly the fastest, most silent auto-focus lens I've ever used!
Cons:
Biggish. Expensive-ish. A bit unweildy on balance unless you have it on something like a 10D / 20D with the battery grip. Another B-I-G filter to buy! And ... disturbingly, the lens hood is sold separately. Why?

You don't have to be crazy to buy this lens ... but it will help. Just fairly well off will do.

Lens is positively awesome! The colour ... the resolution ... the bokeh.

It is amazing what Canon has created! Because of the 1.6X correction factor, this lens along with the 24mm and 35mm "L" series lenses in the bag and a 20D, this is an ideal 3-lens traveling kit! It's like the ULTRA-speed "135mm" I always dreamed of back in the good old film days.

Is there siuch a thing as a "perfect" lens? Probably not. But this'll do in a pinch! If you can afford it, you WILL NOT be disappointed.


Nov 3, 2004
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Richard Smith
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Registered: Jan 16, 2002
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 517
Review Date: Oct 26, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,638.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp, I Like The Manual Focus System (find it very accurate). The look it gives.
Cons:
Slow USM focusing ? (See below).

You buy this lens for the look it gives and if you like that you will consider it an excellent purchase.

Slow Autofocus ??? Well yes but to put it into perspective:
When the lens goes from closest to infinity and back it is slow compared to other L lenses.
But once you are in the zone with your subject it feels as quick as any L lens I have used.

I can imagine it would feel like a dog on a 10D in low light where there is a tendancy to "hunt" but on a 1Dm2 I find it more than acceptable.

If you like the "look" it gives (shallow dof, colour and contrast) then you can learn to work with the focus system.


Oct 26, 2004
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bobbytan
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Registered: Feb 2, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 7566
Review Date: Sep 23, 2004 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Build quality. f1.2 aperture with nice bokeh.
Cons:
Too expensive, too fat/obese ... and waaaaay too heavy for 85mm

Okay, I've had this lens for only a day, so I am not in a position to comment on the optical quality, but I have no doubts that it is as good as the 85/1.8, and it has a useable f1.2 aperture. Is it better than the 85/1.2? Those who have the lens will probably say yes, but the reports I've read suggest otherwise.

But just based on the physical characteristics i.e. size and weight, it was a turn off for me. I can accept that a 70-200/2.8 must weigh quite a bit but I couldn't come to terms with an 85mm prime lens being so heavy, so, somewhat sadly, I parted company with the lens after owning it for just a day.

If tests and reviews have shown that it is optically DEFINITELY superior to the 85/1.8 I would probably have kept it ... but that is not the case. So the 85/1.2 goes and the 85/1.8 stays.


Sep 23, 2004
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hoovie918
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Registered: Jan 24, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5
Review Date: Sep 1, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,250.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Unlike any other Canon lens I have used, well woth the investment !! For weddings this is going to be a staple in my gear.
Cons:
None.



Sep 1, 2004
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thebiker
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Registered: Jun 3, 2003
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 292
Review Date: Aug 12, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $890.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Amazing bokeh - never seen anything like it before from any other lens. Its fast, its razor sharp and at f/1.2 it produces distinct images which sets it in a class of its own. Just got it only very recently but it seems to be quickly becoming my favourite piece of Canon glass. Simply unbeatable for indoor photography without flash. I like the indentation in the rear of the lens barrel - makes it really comfortable to hold and focus manually.
Cons:
Slowwwwwww autofocus and heavy as a canon-ball. The rear lens is flush with the rear plate and you need to be really careful when mounting it. The electronic contacts actually sits on the rear glass itself !!! The front extends outwards when focussing and you need to always remember to retract it completely by setting the focus to infinity when storing the lens.



Aug 12, 2004
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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
126 245397 Sep 3, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
95% of reviewers $1,380.92
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
9.71
8.49
9.5
ef85mmf_12_1_


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