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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 15 Jan 2012 (Sunday) 01:17
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85L II vs 85 1.8 - A pictorial comparison

 
StephenAndrew
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Jan 15, 2012 12:36 |  #16

Glad this little comparison is useful - thought I'd add a few things I noticed when comparing them side by side...

For some reason, the 5D2's in-camera light meter had different readings for the two lenses at the same aperture - I noticed when using the 85L, a proper exposure reading would indicate a 1/3rd stop faster shutter speed than for the 1.8. I didn't notice at the time, but looking at the photos, you can tell that the 85L's images are indeed ever-so-slightly darker than the 1.8's. Not sure what the reason is behind that, but check out the exif and you'll see what I mean.

I borrowed an 85L a while back for about 2 mins, and I was using a 70-200 at the moment so it didn't seem all that big - but using it side by side to the 1.8 - man, the 85L is a little porker of a lens. Seriously, it's a thick and heavy chunk o' glass and metal. Reminds me of the scene in Jurassic Park where the kid's playing with the night-vision goggles in the Jeep (I hope at least one person gets that reference...) I also forgot that the rear element isn't set inside the lens at all - it sits flush with the back of the lens, inviting grubby little fingerprints to smear all over it.

My initial impression regarding AF is that it's slow - but not dinosaur slow. The 1.8 is quicker no doubt, but hearing what others have said about it, I was expecting it to be a lot slower. I would 't use it for sports, but for weddings and portraits, unless the bride and groom are running down the aisle, I think it'll be the bees knees.

A couple little unique features for the 85L - MF can only be used when it's attached to a turned-on camera, and the focus ring spins very freely, and the hood also spins very freely, independently from both the lens itself and the focus ring. It feels a little weird at first, but it's probably just because all my other lenses have a "normal" MF system and bayonet-mount hoods. These aren't necessarily bad things, but certainly different from other lenses.

Both lenses are pretty sharp wide open, but the 85L is more so. As sharp at the 35L at max aperture, and the colors and bokeh are, for a lack of a better term, pretty bangin'. I'd be outside playing around with it if it weren't 15 degrees right now here in Connecticut :(

The 85 1.8 is an excellent lens, and for most situations, can do everything you'd want out of an 85mm prime. It's definitely more comparable to the 85L than the 50 1.4 is to the 50L. Bottom line, I haven't had the 85L long enough to say whether it's worth the extra $1400 or not, but it's of superb quality, and I'm looking forward to seeing the images that come out of it in different conditions.


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BigBlueDodge
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Jan 15, 2012 19:00 |  #17

Alot is made of the 85L's focus speed when compared to other lenses. And to be honest, I don't think many of those who criticize the focus speed understand why it is slow. On Canon's camera, Canon states that the focus accuracy of a lens will be within the DoF of the max aperature. If the camera has a high precision AF sensor (which most do), then the focus accuracy is increased to 1/3 of the DoF. Now let's put this in the context of the 85L and 85 1.8.

At 10ft on a FF camera, the 85L has a DOF of .29ft (or 8.839 centimeters) at max aperture. The 85 1.8 has a DOF of .44 ft (or 13.41 centimeters) at max aperture. Using the 1/3 DoF accuracy guarantee by Canon, the 85L has to be able to hit within range of 2.94 centimeters of the AF point, while the 85 1.8 only has to hita range within 4.47 centimeters of the AF. So, the 85L has to be 65% more accurate in focus precision over the 85 1.8, while using glass that is 241% heaver than the 85 1.8. In my opinion, when you look at these two factors, it is plausible to me why the 85L is slower. My 85L offered much more precision in focusing over my 85 1.8 when I manually focused each lens. I could just barely nudge the focus ring on the 85 1.8 and it would send the DoF flying elsewhere, while I could easily move the 85L's Dof millimeters at a time. There seems to be a wider range on the AF ring than on the 85 1.8. So when you equate a larger AF range, combined with a higher precision focusing requirement, you can see why the 85L is slower in focusing.

I've had 3 85mm f/1.8 and 1 85 f/1.2, and the 85L is the only one still in my bag.


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sloanbj
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Jan 16, 2012 02:17 |  #18

Great comparison! Wish more people would post actual photos around here instead of just wildly posting opinions with marginal basis in fact.

I don't see much value to the L lens here, even if it did focus quickly. Given the weight, cost and focus differences it is a no-brainer which one to choose.


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Jan 16, 2012 02:53 |  #19

Having owned both, I actually could tell the difference, b/c of the richer colors of the 85L (the blacks are nicer in your lens pictures from the L) as well as the slight green fringing of the bokeh.
I bought the 85L II on a good deal, with no intention of keeping it. a few months later, I sold the 1.8.
Many talk about the extreme shallow dof of 1.2, and how only eye lashes will be in focus in shots. indeed, shot at f 1.2, near its mfd, which is necessary for a head shot, that is true. however, not so for half body or full body portraits, where it gives great background separation. I also never found its autofocus speed lacking, but I do not attempt to shoot indoor sports with it.
It also has excellent color and contrast, better than 1.8. Honestly, sharpness is about the last reason I would prefer the L. the 85 1.8 is plenty sharp at 1.8, especially for portrait use. the thing that I most like about the 1.8 is the size.
All said, without a doubt, there is a sizable premium to be paid for the 1.2, and despite its nice color and contrast, I would not keep it if I did not primarily shoot it between 1.2 and 2, esp given that the 85 1.8 is so good in its own right.


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ROGERWILCO357
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Jan 16, 2012 03:03 |  #20

would love to see some portrait shots with both for comparison especially the eyes..and the scene from Jurassic park the kid has the lens the guy says is it heavy kid yes then they are expensive put them down lol..kids


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Desert ­ Pictures
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Jan 16, 2012 13:25 |  #21

jccobb2 wrote in post #13707790 (external link)
I think you're missing the point, people buy the L glass to shoot at f1.2. a comparison of the other aperture settings is nice, but the bottom line is the cheap one cannot shoot at 1.2. it's really the whole point of owning the L lens

I must disagree. The 1.2 aperture is not the only "point of owning the L lens". I have three of them and I don't often shoot them wide open because I don't like the shallow DOF open gives me. I buy "L" lenses because of the build quality, the glass and the weather sealing, as much as for the speed. If the only reason was to shoot wide open all the time I wouldn't spend the money.

YMMV,
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brez
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Jan 16, 2012 16:21 |  #22

I'm embarrassed to ask; How do you check the exif data?

Thanks
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Jan 16, 2012 16:32 |  #23

Desert Pictures wrote in post #13713920 (external link)
I must disagree. The 1.2 aperture is not the only "point of owning the L lens". I have three of them and I don't often shoot them wide open because I don't like the shallow DOF open gives me. I buy "L" lenses because of the build quality, the glass and the weather sealing, as much as for the speed. If the only reason was to shoot wide open all the time I wouldn't spend the money.

YMMV,
Dave

85L is not weather sealed, and the 85 f/1.8 is built well enough, although mine did get pretty dusty fairly quickly, and I guess that it's not uncommon for that to happen.

Either way, I went with the Sigma and love it! :D


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StephenAndrew
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Jan 16, 2012 23:42 |  #24

brez wrote in post #13714864 (external link)
I'm embarrassed to ask; How do you check the exif data?

Thanks
Mike

There are online apps you can get for different browsers that give you a right click "view exif data" option, google it and you'll find it :)


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brez
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Jan 17, 2012 09:27 |  #25

StephenAndrew wrote in post #13717361 (external link)
There are online apps you can get for different browsers that give you a right click "view exif data" option, google it and you'll find it :)

Thanks
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Jan 18, 2013 04:47 |  #26

thanks for the comparison! I have a plugin for exif and this is what it shows for the 2nd image (1st comparison image)

EXIF IFD0

Camera Make {0x010F} = Canon
Camera Model {0x0110} = Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Last Modified Date/Time {0x0132} = 2012:01:15 01:53:31

EXIF Sub IFD

Exposure Time (1 / Shutter Speed) {0x829A} = 1/80 second ===> 0.0125 second
Lens F-Number / F-Stop {0x829D} = 18/10 ===> ƒ/1.8
ISO Speed Ratings {0x8827} = 200
Original Date/Time {0x9003} = 2012:01:14 12:48:14
Shutter Speed Value (APEX) {0x9201} = 6321928/1000000
Shutter Speed (Exposure Time) = 1/80 second
Aperture Value (APEX) {0x9202} = 1695994/1000000
Aperture = ƒ/1.8
Exposure Bias (EV) {0x9204} = 0/1 ===> 0
Flash {0x9209} = Flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
Focal Length {0x920A} = 85/1 mm ===> 85 mm

I'm guessing that the top photos are from the 85L.....but how do I tell from this exif data??

At least to my eyes on this crappy netbook display that I'm currently using, the letter look a tiny bit sharper and the lens color seems slightly more saturated in the top photos...


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Jan 18, 2013 08:19 |  #27

kevindar wrote in post #13711791 (external link)
Having owned both, I actually could tell the difference, b/c of the richer colors of the 85L (the blacks are nicer in your lens pictures from the L) as well as the slight green fringing of the bokeh.
I bought the 85L II on a good deal, with no intention of keeping it. a few months later, I sold the 1.8.
Many talk about the extreme shallow dof of 1.2, and how only eye lashes will be in focus in shots. indeed, shot at f 1.2, near its mfd, which is necessary for a head shot, that is true. however, not so for half body or full body portraits, where it gives great background separation. I also never found its autofocus speed lacking, but I do not attempt to shoot indoor sports with it.
It also has excellent color and contrast, better than 1.8. Honestly, sharpness is about the last reason I would prefer the L. the 85 1.8 is plenty sharp at 1.8, especially for portrait use. the thing that I most like about the 1.8 is the size.
All said, without a doubt, there is a sizable premium to be paid for the 1.2, and despite its nice color and contrast, I would not keep it if I did not primarily shoot it between 1.2 and 2, esp given that the 85 1.8 is so good in its own right.

Agreed. Shooting at F1.2 takes a little extra effort, but is very much useable for everything except headshots, especially given the sharpness of the 85L wide open (50L is nowhere near as sharp at 1.2). Nailing a shot at f1.2 has a very distinctive look. I get a lot of comments about how "3 dimensional" my shots from the 85L wide open look. The improved saturation, sharpness, CA, etc etc that you get going from the 85 1.8 to the “L” is icing on the cake, IMO. It’s something that only pixel peeking photogs will appreciate. But that sense of dimension you get at 1.2 is something that most everyone will notice.

The difference between F1.2 and 1.8 doesn’t “sound” like a whole lot….but it’s a full stop faster, and almost twice as shallow. It’s the equivalent of going from f2.8 to f4.0 (which some people obsess over when it comes to zooms).

That said, it really is heavy, slow, very expensive, and has a very specialized use. But if you prioritize taking distinctive portraits (professionally or otherwise) its worth it, IMO. The 85 1.8 really will do 90% of what the 85L will, but that extra 10% (the extra stop) is where the 'magic' happens.


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Jan 18, 2013 10:58 |  #28

You can trick DPP into letting you run Digital Lens Optimizer on 85/1.8 files .

Here's how: https://photography-on-the.net …/showthread.php​?t=1265249

Left image with DLO, right without.


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Jan 18, 2013 11:13 |  #29

BigBlueDodge wrote in post #13709965 (external link)
Alot is made of the 85L's focus speed when compared to other lenses. And to be honest, I don't think many of those who criticize the focus speed understand why it is slow. On Canon's camera, Canon states that the focus accuracy of a lens will be within the DoF of the max aperature. If the camera has a high precision AF sensor (which most do), then the focus accuracy is increased to 1/3 of the DoF. Now let's put this in the context of the 85L and 85 1.8.

At 10ft on a FF camera, the 85L has a DOF of .29ft (or 8.839 centimeters) at max aperture. The 85 1.8 has a DOF of .44 ft (or 13.41 centimeters) at max aperture. Using the 1/3 DoF accuracy guarantee by Canon, the 85L has to be able to hit within range of 2.94 centimeters of the AF point, while the 85 1.8 only has to hita range within 4.47 centimeters of the AF. So, the 85L has to be 65% more accurate in focus precision over the 85 1.8, while using glass that is 241% heaver than the 85 1.8. In my opinion, when you look at these two factors, it is plausible to me why the 85L is slower. My 85L offered much more precision in focusing over my 85 1.8 when I manually focused each lens. I could just barely nudge the focus ring on the 85 1.8 and it would send the DoF flying elsewhere, while I could easily move the 85L's Dof millimeters at a time. There seems to be a wider range on the AF ring than on the 85 1.8. So when you equate a larger AF range, combined with a higher precision focusing requirement, you can see why the 85L is slower in focusing.

I've had 3 85mm f/1.8 and 1 85 f/1.2, and the 85L is the only one still in my bag.

It was also posted awhile back that the code used in focusing the 85L was significantly longer than that of the 85 1.8. Basically the 85L has to go through many more steps than other lenses to reach the high degree of precision you describe above. Regardless of the size of the lens (although it could be a factor) the 85L simply has more steps to process before reaching its focus.


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Jan 18, 2013 13:06 |  #30

I really see no use for the 85mm L. They look exactly the same: there's maybe some MINOR differences. It's VERY hard to justfiy buying the 2000$ lens.


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85L II vs 85 1.8 - A pictorial comparison
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