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Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Review Date: May 12, 2009 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $355.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Incredible value, excellent bokeh, decent build quality for the price, quick focus.
Nothing that I can think of, except the hood could be a bit beefier.

For months I lusted after the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L lens. I needed that focal length mainly for portraits on the 5D. I had a 70-200 f/4 which fulfilled the focal length requirement, but I wanted something brighter, smaller and something that would give me beautiful bokeh, something which I wasn't getting from the 70-200. You may be asking, if I wanted something lighter, why was I looking at the 85mm 1.2L? Admittedly, it is not a lightweight, and while it may be shorter, it may not be much lighter, if any. The cost was another sobering factor. I didn't know if I could justify $1800 for a lens that I might not use all that much since I'm not primarily a portrait photographer. Even when I had the chance to get a like-new one for $300 less at a photo flea-market, I had reason to hesitate. That's when I started to look at the 1.8 version. Up to that point, I had only purchased L glass and I didn't want to deviate from that practice, especially for a prime lens, but when I began to read the extremely favorable reviews on this site, I had to take a hard look at the 1.8. Factoring in the cost, approximately 1/5th that of the 1.2, I just had to go for it. Initially, I tried to do even better, by finding a good deal on eBay. There are lots of 85mm f/1.8 lenses on eBay, but a lot of folks are looking for one too. If your winning bid is $25 less than retail, consider yourself lucky. That being the case, I went ahead and just bought a new one from B&H. The first results have been terrific and while the 1.2L lens may have the edge on wide-open sharpness, I don't think it justifies the cost, not for me anyway.