Very good review with very nice photographs indeed!
I do have a few remarks and questions, though .
smorter wrote in post #14549487
.... The focus ring is wobbly and loose and shifts when pressure is applied, similar to how a loose tooth would move around.
Caused by the Focus-by-wire design. It only controls an electrical signal, nothing else.
The lens itself is not internal focusing, and is of a front group focusing design (the forward group moves in and out of the lens barrel), and this, together with the loose focus ring, and where the lens mount is screwed into the body, are the primary causes of its “dust pump” characteristic.
Similarly, the lack of weather sealing on a L lens at this price point is disappointing, however potentially unavoidable given the design of the lens.
This is not my experience, but then, I do what Canon suggests one does for weather sealing, i.e., mount a filter. I'd suggest a B&W UV MRC XS-Pro Nano digital filter .
BTW, the forward group that moves is all elements but the piece of glass at the back of the lens, the same one you are worried about regarding scratches.
The 85L II is a Focus By Wire design. That is, manual focus (MF) is achieved electronically. As the lens ....
In the field, it’s quite difficult to remember to focus the lens to infinity before dismounting the lens. Yes, it is partially my fault, but I doubt many would miss the focus by wire feature if it was scrapped in favour of conventional manual focusing.
In the current lens body there is not enough space for this; it would make this lens considerably fatter.
I assume you think this is a minor annoyance?
The biggest feature missing from this lens is Image Stabilisation (IS). Canon has historically struggled implementing IS on fast primes and only since 2012 has IS been implemented on a prime lens below 200mm focal length.
Some photographers are dismissive of whether IS is required in large aperture lenses such as the 85L II. Their arguments are that IS are not needed for fast lenses due to their ability to yield faster shutter speeds with their large apertures. I wish they were right, but unfortunately I have countless images ruined by camera movement induced motion blur disproving this theory.
I would gladly pay an extra $1000 for this lens for the inclusion of IS. Obviously, I’d prefer it to not cost anything extra though.
Part of the package, I am afraid. If you see how tightly packed the glass in this lens is, and how big the elements are, I reckon it is impossible to implement IS without a complete redesign, which would also affect bokeh to a large degree. This and FTM by cams rather than wire would likely make this lens at least twice as expensive, were it to be another F/1.2, and considerably larger and heavier.
The current implementation is a double gaussian variant, and in order to fit IS it would have to become a retrofocus type of design, with huge elements. I wonder how well that would work, and how much that would cost, actually, apart from the effect this would have on bokeh.
Note that due to the large aperture, out of focus highlights (out of focus bright spots in the background) are truncated by the mirror box, even on full frame cameras Often this can be to the image’s detriment, and stopping down the lens will yield a rounder highlight.
This is actually caused by the shortness of the lens and the large aperture. In order to reduce this effect the barrel would have to be quite a bit wider, and the mirror box too.
Chromatic Aberration (CA)
Optically, susceptibility to CA (both lateral and longitudinal) is by far the weakest attribute of this lens. This lens is most heavily afflicted by CA in the following situations:
(a) When used wide open or at large apertures (longitudinal and lateral CA)
(b) When photographing high contrast transitions particularly in bright light (e.g. white wedding dress against black tuxedo) (lateral CA)
(c) When photographing metallic objects (lateral CA)
I have never noticed any lateral CA (yellow - blue). PF (Purple Fringing, bright purple) at very high contrast transitions in areas in or out of focus, yes, and spherochromatism (longitudinal CA, magenta/red - cyan/green), yes that too.
Kind regards, Wim