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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses
Thread started 08 Aug 2005 (Monday) 13:15
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Canon 85f1.2 L....(a mini review)

 
schmoelzel
Lord of the Holy Trinity
1,889 posts
Joined Aug 2001
London (Canada)
Aug 08, 2005 13:15 |  #1

Greetings from the hot, sticky, tropics of southwestern Ontario Canada!! Today my newest acquisition arrived; the much anticipated EF 85F1.2 L or more commonly known as the incredible 'light-sucking' machine!! I was able to try one (albeit briefly) a few weeks back so opening the package didn't reveal any surprises. I knew it would be BIG and heavy; I new that the hood was BIG and plasticky; I was pleasently surprised that the previous owner included a nice hard-shell case with the lens. Much better than the pouches that are now commonly sold with the L lenses. So here is a quick view of my 35F1.4 and the 85F1.2 side by side.........too bad that I sold Toogy my 85F1.8 or I could have had them side by side!!

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As you can see, the 85L is BIG! The weight is also very substantial. Don't know if this lens would have felt comfortable on my smaller DRebel. I would love to see a pic of one of these guys attached to the new Rebel XT!!! I think the lens is almost as big as the camera!!

I have spent the morning with my beautiful toddler Julia and tried to give this thing a small workout. Here are some of my first thoughts and opinions regarding this lens.

Is it sharp? In a word, YES!! However, at F1.2 the DoF is so narrow that you better be sure that your focus point is bang on or the image will appear soft. I have been using my 35L a lot lately so I messed up quite a few shots because I wasn't concentrating on the shutter-speed........(more concerned with holding the weight of the lens!!) More than just sharp, the contrast on this thing is unbelieveable. And colours just pop........

How is the AF (autofocus)? On my 1D, the AF is very very quick even though I understand now some of the reviews that I have read that complain about the slow AF. It is slower than the 85F1.8 when shooting at F1.2 but at F1.8 or more, I am pretty certain that it focuses just as quickly. I think this lens is obviously intended for portraiture and such and not shooting sports. The manual focus ring is deadly accurate which is really nice to use..........I found that in low light, the AF was a little reminiscent of my 100F2.8 Macro, which also searched in low-light. The 85L is a little quicker but the sense was familiar. Again, I am not a pro so to me this is a non-issue. For some though it might be a let down for such an expensive lens. What I do notice is that the focus is very very accurate, thus maybe this explain why it hunts a bit.

Could I use it as a door-stop? Yes, I think the girth and the weight of this baby would hold open most large doors!! :) I wouldn't recommend it as a boat anchor though since I don't think it is weather-sealed!!

The hood looks BIG? Yeah, it's big and I had read before from people that they didn't like how the hood rotates freely when attached to the lens. Now I can understand this.......at first it seems a little bothersome but what is more concerning to me is that turning the hood also seems to turn the focus ring!! I hope that is not normal.......maybe someone else who has this lens can check.

Is it really better than the 85F1.8? Ah, the ultimate question which always illicits fierce debate. I won't get into this because I no longer own a 8F1.8. What I can say about my own personal shots, the colour and contrast that the 85L exhibits are better than the 85F1.8. Sharpness is a tough one......I would say that this is where they are equal. The 85F1.8 is plenty sharp and is a great lens in it's own right. I am obviously biased now that I own one of these so I will refrain from making any further comments!! :) Suffice it to say that I really really like this lens!!

Bokeh? Again, this is always a subjective thing but as many have stated, this lens is the king of blurry backgrounds. If you want a lens that isolates your subject from it's background, this one is hard to beat. I would equate it with the 135F2 in that regard. Again, suffice it to say that if you like a blurred look, you will not be disappointed.

Ok........just some of my initial thoughts. I will try and take many more shots with an aperture other than wide-open in the next while...........here are some of my first shots with this puppy......the first one is actually the very first shot that I took this morning with my new lens. Comments are always welcome and thanks for reading and looking!!

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Camera: Canon 1D
Shutter speed: 1/750 sec
Aperture: 1.2
Exposure mode: Manual
Flash: Off
Metering mode: Spot
Drive mode: Continuous (low): frame 1
ISO: 250
Lens: 85.0 mm
Focal length: 85.0mm
AF mode: One-shot AF

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Camera: Canon 1D
Shutter speed: 1/125 sec
Aperture: 1.2
Exposure mode: Manual
Flash: Off
Metering mode: Spot
Drive mode: Continuous (low): frame 1
ISO: 320
Lens: 85.0 mm
Focal length: 85.0mm
AF mode: One-shot AF

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Camera: Canon 1D
Shutter speed: 1/6000 sec
Aperture: 1.8
Exposure mode: Manual
Flash: Off
Metering mode: Spot
Drive mode: Continuous (low): frame 1
ISO: 200
Lens: 85.0 mm
Focal length: 85.0mm
AF mode: One-shot AF

IMAGE NOT FOUND IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
Byte size: ZERO | Content warning: NOT AN IMAGE


Camera: Canon 1D
Shutter speed: 1/3000 sec
Aperture: 1.2
Exposure mode: Manual
Flash: Off
Metering mode: Spot
Drive mode: Continuous (low): frame 1
ISO: 250
Lens: 85.0 mm
Focal length: 85.0mm
AF mode: One-shot AF



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mrclark321
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Joined Mar 2005
.... with a long history
Aug 08, 2005 13:27 |  #2

Greats shots schmoelzel I'm glad you like the new toy. Your daughter is a real cutie!!
Also a great review on this lens or lense. These reviews come highly reguarded by lots of us here at P.O.T.N.
Dan


A crap pile of various gear!

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AjP
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DFW, US
Aug 08, 2005 13:29 as a reply to mrclark321's post |  #3

Agree with Dan, thx for review and great pics of your cute daughter


"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still."
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Lotto
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Joined Mar 2005
Southern California
Aug 08, 2005 13:51 as a reply to AjP's post |  #4

Thanks for sharing the review, stunning pictures with your beautiful daughter as always.

One thing I don't quite understand..
"It is slower than the 85F1.8 when shooting at F1.2 but at F1.8 or more, I am pretty certain that it focuses just as quickly. "
Canon lenses all focus when wild open, no?


5D, 24-70L, 70-200L IS, 50 f1.4, 100 Macro, 580 & 430EX

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drisley
"What a Tool I am"
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Aug 08, 2005 14:30 as a reply to Lotto's post |  #5

Lotto wrote:
Canon lenses all focus when wild open, no?

I'm pretty sure they also focus in captivity too :lol:

Excellent review and pictures! At the rate you go through lenses, you should set up a site that does lens reviews and charge advertising money ;) Plus you really do write great lens reviews.
Oh, and that 135L that you want to add to your stable may be on the way soon. :D


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Croasdail
Cream of the Crop
6,590 posts
Joined Apr 2005
North Carolina
Aug 08, 2005 14:56 |  #6

Oh thanks alot... just when I thought I had found the perfect love for me in the 1.8 version - you tell me it can even get better...!?! Now you have me thinking of cheating on my 85 for another one... this is not good.


Mark
Its by knowing and mastering all the rules that you learn which ones you can break.

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m3elmo
Member
204 posts
Joined Apr 2005
Aug 08, 2005 15:32 |  #7

wow, the depth of field is incredibly shallow. may i ask how far you were away from the kid during those images?


Danny
http://photobucket.com​/albums/b103/m3elmo/external link
some random pics...

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Candid ­ Bandit
Senior Member
286 posts
Joined Dec 2004
San Francisco
Aug 08, 2005 16:34 |  #8

You've got a hell of a lense there. For me.. It was the first one I bought. Then I got the 135L and I tell ya..it has nothing on the 85L. Focus acurracy, contrast and color..85L hands down! Bokeh...hoohooo. Background is not even a factor anymore when I shoot now. This glass can make a rusty fence look beautiful.


Weapon of choice: 20D...
Caliber: 85mm f/1.2L
135mm f/2.0L
24mm f/1.4L

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Wavy ­ C
Senior Member
855 posts
Joined Jan 2005
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Aug 08, 2005 17:22 |  #9

Hmmm, call me crazy but...

it seems a little crazy to pay all that extra cash for the f1.2 when you can get, what, 98 per cent of the performance for a quarter of the price (with the f1.8)?

Okay, I suppose it's not quite as simple as that.

I imagine that the main advantage of the f1.2 is the half stop or so of low light performance you gain - but this comes at the cost of extremely shallow depth of field. For portraits, to me at least, the dof is too shallow to be really useful. The results don't look that natural. When you look at someone in real life you expect to see both eyes and most of the face in focus - it looks kinda odd when part of the face is blurred. Perhaps it might have very occassional use for special effect type photography but I would only want this look very sparingly.

Things like colour and contrast are pretty subjective. With a little tweaking in photoshop even the kit lens can deliver really excellent c&c. With a lens like the f1.8 where c&c are already excellent it should be that much easier.

Don't want to sound like the little boy commenting on the king's new clothes, but I imagine the f1.8 lens would be the best choice for most photographers - even wealthy ones who can afford the f1.2



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Wavy ­ C
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855 posts
Joined Jan 2005
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Aug 08, 2005 17:28 as a reply to Wavy C's post |  #10

I grabbed this one of my 7-month-old kid with the 85mm f1.8...

Settings were 1/100 sec at f1.8 (wide open). Handheld, white balance etc on auto, no flash used.

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schmoelzel
THREAD ­ STARTER
Lord of the Holy Trinity
1,889 posts
Joined Aug 2001
London (Canada)
Aug 08, 2005 18:33 |  #11

Thanks for all the comments and I am glad that my little review provides a small amount of info that hopefully you can all glean something from.........I have received a few emails asking me if I can post some shots at different apertures; I will but I think I will just link them as to keep those with slower internet speeds in the loop......give me a day or so and I will have some shots at the larger apertures.

WavyC - great picture and a lovely pose! I don't really want to get into the debate of whether this lens is better/worse than the 85F1.8........as you mentioned, it has a lot to do with personal preference and finances!! I am not by any means wealthy but I like to have very good equipment/gear whatever my hobby demands. Not always possible and I have been more than fortunate to run across some great deals (such as this lens). I saved almost $600 CAD from buying a used lens compared to new.......made it worthwhile for me. I really like the 85F1.8 and think it is a fabulous lens. I can even agree that there are certain things that are 'better' about it than the 85L (price not withstanding). But there must be a reason why it is so much more expensive than the non-L..........for me, when I look at shots that I took when I had the 85F1.8, they are very sharp but don't have nearly the contrast and/colour that the L lens does. This lens actually has a 2 stop advantage and that accounts for much of the price increase between the two. I know that you can add saturation and contrast in the post-processing stage but at what cost? Time comes to mind and I would venture to guess that quality also is lost. As for the very DoF, I like portraits where the eyes are in focus and the ears disappear in a blur but this really only occurs when you are wide-open and very close to the subject. Move a small distance away and the whole head would appear sharper......not only sharper but the subject isolation can't be matched by the 85F1.8. I think that is why many switch from the 85f1,8 to the 85F1.2. I don't think it is sharpness but rather the superior subject isolation that can be achieved. I have just returned from a walk with my dog and I took the 85L along (of course!!:) ) and I took some very plain nature shots........the way you can isolate the tree from it's surroundings is fantastic. Now I know that this isn't the only lens with that ability but from what I am seeing in my shots, it's the best one that I have tried thus far! But you are probably right that the 85F1,8 is the best lens for most photographers. The 85L is very specialized and you better like what it can do and use it a lot or else having one doesn't make much sense.

Just to answer a couple of more questions:

1) I was about 1.5 metres from my daughter when I took these shots.

2) when I stated that the AF is slower wide-open, I should have included in low-light. It seems to hunt a little more before it locks onto focus.........doesn't bother me but I can see where a pro wedding photog might miss a lot of shots because the lens is hunting for AF.




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drisley
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Aug 08, 2005 18:47 |  #12

The 135L can produce amazing bokeh too. :)
This wasn't even taken wide open, but rather at F4.
My models aren't as cute as Wavy's and Schmoelzel's though :D

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schmoelzel
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Lord of the Holy Trinity
1,889 posts
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London (Canada)
Aug 08, 2005 18:52 as a reply to drisley's post |  #13

drisley wrote:
The 135L can produce amazing bokeh too. :)
This wasn't even taken wide open, but rather at F4.
My models aren't as cute as Wavy's and Schmoelzel's though :D

Drisley, I am sure that there are some on this board that will find those lenses much better to look at then the kiddos!! :). And yeah, the 135L can achieve those melted looking backgrounds and subject isolation is tops! Can't argue with you and that's why I'll get my hands on another at some point!!




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FScott
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Maryland, USA
Aug 08, 2005 18:53 |  #14

Damn Schmoelzel. I'm really upset with you! Those shots are just great. I love the shallow depth of field at 1.2. Now I have to save even more pennies...

-- Scott.


70D, 20D and POTN strap, 24-105/4.0L, 100 Macro/2.8L, 50/1.4, 100-400L, 70-200/4.0L, EF-S 10-22, M42: Super Tak 135/3.5, Pentacon 135/2.8, SMC 55/2.0

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Wavy ­ C
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Belfast, Northern Ireland
Aug 08, 2005 20:13 |  #15

Well I guess any lens that gives great colour and contrast is a big plus. Those are the things that really make a difference to pictures. Must admit I'd love to try the 85mm f1.2 :)

Just wanted to point out that the f1.8 is also capable of great results and, to me at least, has a much greater 'bang for buck' ratio.

I picked up my used 85mm f1.8 about four months ago and was a little concerned because it was about 12 years old. I only paid £100. However, it has turned out to be a great lens. So much so that I reckon that, even new, this must be the best value in Canon's line-up (yes, even compared with the cheaper 50mm f1.8 because it is so much sharper and produces that great background blur).

BTW, the pic I posted earlier was shot as a large/fine jpeg rather than raw and received very little post processing other than a small crop.

Congratulations on getting your new lens - hope you get lots of enjoyment using it!



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Canon 85f1.2 L....(a mini review)
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