After using this lens for a month, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is the best lens I have ever used, period. I used to rate portrait lenses as 1. 200F2; 2. 85ii; 3. 135F2 with 85ii being the most versatile. I listed 85ii for sale within a day of getting my own 85L 1.4 (previously rented it for a weekend). Here is the positives:
1. Consistent sharpness at 1.4 under different light conditions. Significantly sharper than 85ii at f1.4
2. MUCH less CA than 85ii. The older lens has quite a bit of purple even on faces and eyes.
3. Very strong contrast and color saturation at f1.4. I always thought 85ii was particularly great at that but the new 85 brings it to a whole new level, must see it to beleive it - phenomenal colors.
4. Fast AF, much faster than 85ii and similar to 135L but not the fastest.
5. Phenomenal IS that is one of the best implementation for video I have seen. Second only to 70-300ii that produces tripod like results even when panning.
6. Smooth continous DPAF tracking performance in video. Simply, the best video lens with superb shallow DOF I have ever used.
7. Fantastic build, weather sealed, whereas 85ii has always been a dust magnet.
8. Improved ergonomics over 85ii - nice handling with 5div and the hood size is much more convinient.
9. The most surprising discovery is that the new 85 has better bokeh than 85ii, IMO. 85ii bokeh gets a little nervous with some ghosting away from the center of the frame, not to mention purple fringing. The new 85 is smooth throughout without any signs of ghosting or nervousness.
10. Work against bright light is very well handled. 85ii was pretty good at that too but it’s a whole new level with 85IS. And of course much better than 135l which rapidly loses contrast when shooting against bright light.
11. Improved MFD over 85ii - definately noticeable.
12. Lovin’ 77mm filter size; now all but one lens I own are 77mm.
13. Colors. colors, colors...
If I have to nitpick, here are some negatives:
1. AF motor and/or IS are picked up by 5div built-in mic, defintey on the louder side as far as lenses go (louder than 35IS). But the only lens I tried that was truly quiet is 24-70 f4 - I can use built-in mic. With every other lens (even STM ones), I have to use external mic so it’s not a big deal to me at all.
2. Small amount of purple and green fringing still show up sometimes in certain scenes but you have to magnify to see it and much easier to remove than 85ii. It is not noticeable in 4k video as shot with 5div (unlike 85ii)
3. AF is not as fast as 24-70ii or 24-70 F4 but it’s expected of wide aperture lenses.
3. I wish the price would be more accessible to more folks. It is competitive compared to the inferior (I used it) Sony 85mm GM but Canon can do better.