Canon 85 1.2L II - What a lens...

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Tom Stanworth, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Its not often that I get excited about lenses as such, but I have been busy shooting portraits shot with this lens and I have to say I am seriously impressed now that I am producing darkroom prints.

    Sharpness is fantastic and the general look is just perfect for portraits. Most were shot at F2 - F3.5 but those shot at wider apertures are wonderful too. One frame shot at 1.2 or 1.4 (can't remember) has a particularly special look to it, which is not all about shallow DOF, but rather a slight glow. Its hard to describe but presumably due to some sort of aberation or other (spherical?). its very subtle, but there.

    I did not expect to be excited about the character if this lens when shooting portraits at anything other than 1.2, but I am amazed by the superb contrast, sharpness and impecable OOF handling of this lens no matter what distance, magnification, aperture, lighting etc.

    After trying a few 1.8 EF lenses that had problems straight out the box, I bought this as I needed it urgently. All I can say is I won't be trading down when this project is done. This is one hell of a lens... (if only it was half the weight! That said, my favourite portrait of the lot was shot right on the shutter speed threshold in very poor light at 1.2 or 1.4 (can't remember which) so I would not have this particularly special image were it not for the speed. So far the somewhat average close focus has not been an issue either.
     
  2. Sim2

    Sim2 Subscriber

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    Question - are you shooting this with film or dig? Seen loads of reviews with dig but nothing when used with film.

    Sim2.
     
  3. mesh

    mesh Subscriber

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    Never owned one myself, but had a play the other day with a friend's (on one of those evil 5DmkII's ;-) A wonderful lens to use, and the few results I saw were pretty special. I'd love a chance to use it on an EOS 3 or 1v. A vertical grip would certainly balance the weight nicely but I must say I didn't find the 85 1.2 THAT bad for weight. Following up on Sim2's question - I'd be really interested to know if there are any issues with using it on older film bodies.
     
  4. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    If it's an EOS body, all EF-USM lenses will fit.

    I have used it on trial on an EOS 5 (Elan A2/A2e) and EOS 50E, but it is much more satisfying on the EOS 1N where the weight of the lens is nicely counterbalanced by the overall weight of the camera (fitted with PDBE1)
    The weight of this pup has often drawn criticism but that needs to be balanced against its outstanding optical characteristics, and there are much more cumbersome optics in the Canon line-up. L-series lenses aren't given the 'L' as an afterthought. Like all such lenses, optical performance only gets better (beyond what the human eye and film and printing can discern) as it is stopped down even though its performance deliverables can be seen at full aperture.

    The remark about aberration would seem highly unlikely given this lens's pedigree and refinement.

    I give little credibility to reviews undertaken only with digital. Reviews should be conducted with film stock as there are too many variables with digital that can influence the result (including sly post-capture tweaking, which they would never mention for fear of harming kick-backs! :tongue:).
     
  5. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    this lens sells like hotcakes at all my local dealers here in LA, they have trouble trying to keep them stocked, same with the 50/1.2

    great lenses, especially wide open and natural light. they do seem to impart a certain "glow" to the film, or dig!+@L.

    -Dan
     
  6. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Tom, can you compare it to the FD version?
     
  7. WRSchmalfuss

    WRSchmalfuss Member

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    Canon 85mm 1,2L II

    The optical design is still from the 70's, and not as spectacular as many people believe. The AF is slow and not very precise, using the lens wide open at f-1.2. The manual handling precision is also not very good, compared to other manual prime lenses. A friend of mine has sold his 85/1.2L, because of this problems again.
     
  8. clayne

    clayne Member

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    I've used one. Great optics. Lens mechanics and feel totally suck if you don't want to use AF though.

    The price (1800$+) is completely nuts however. I'd never buy one new. As far as I know the FD version is very similar and just as good. Unfortunately that "secret" has been out for a while and it's also an in-demand lens. If I was a full-on Canon user I'd try to get one, but I mostly shoot Nikon F3s and Leicas.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The FD 85/1.2L has always been a very desirable lens. I had a couple of other lenses in that focal length range, so I never felt I could justify the expense on one, but you can find them inexpensively enough today to pay for an FD body and have cash left over for film or maybe another great lens like the 50/1.2L (I did own that one) compared to the cost of the new EF 85/1.2L-II.

    Or you can get the Zeiss 85/1.4 in EF mount. I looked at one of these a couple of years ago at PMA before it was released, and it was very impressive, at least based on what I could see through the viewfinder. I just found a slightly used one on eBay, and it should arrive sometime this week. It is of course half a stop slower, but it's less expensive, and looks to be a very sharp lens with fantastic bokeh, excellent build quality, and a helical designed for manual focus, if you like manual focus.
     
  10. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I've had the FD version of the 85mm f1.2 L lens for about twenty two years, I bought it new when I worked in the trade, and although the company I worked for let me have it at cost it still cost an arm and a leg, but since I'm a portrait enthusiast it was worth it, this is one of the worlds great lenses. As far as I'm aware the optical design is the same as the current A/F EOS version.
    P.S. What really Tees me off is many owners of these optics think that because they have paid a lot of money for them, and they have good full aperture performance they must be used wide open all the time and they produce a lot of mediocre shots with insufficient depth of field.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2010
  11. MartinCrabtree

    MartinCrabtree Member

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    Thanks for adding one to my list guys. :D
     
  12. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    I've got a friend with the FD 85/1.2L lens that he's looking to sell, I should probably talk him into joining here and listing it in the classifieds. I'd buy it from him but I already have the 85/1.2 Aspherical (the older breechlock version) - Canon has made this very nice lens for a very long time!


    Duncan
     
  13. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I also have a FD 85/1.2. A great lens and I won't gave it up for anything!

    Jeff
     
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  15. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

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    I've got the 85L F1.2 and the 85mm F1.8....they both show some purple frenging, but worse when used on a DSLR. They both are great lenses, although the F1.8 model shows purple fringing if one is not careful.

    Someone mentioned the 50L...this lens is not in the same league as the 85L...the 50L has design problems; it does not focus sharp across combos of focus points, distances from subject, and f-stops....it is flawed, sadly. I have the 50L too and after Canon has tried to re-calibrated it three times, I have lost all faith in it. However when one knows it's temperment, it's weaknesses, and such, one can still get great sharp pictures from it, but not without special camera workflow.

    Now these other L's are in the same league as the 85L: 35L, 135L, 200L....the 50L is Canon's shame :-(
     
  16. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't know about the autofocus version, but the manual focus version of the FD 50/1.2L focuses wherever you decide to focus it.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Yeah the even older 55/1.2 Aspherical is an amazing performer too. Not sure what happened with the 50/1.2 L


    [​IMG]


    Duncan
     
  18. film_photog

    film_photog Member

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    I can't say enough about the 85mmf1.2 mk1!! I have used this lens on both the 5Dmk1 and my EOS1N-HS. This lens was used in a studio and on a photo shoot on a sailing vessel. Great glass at a high price but worth every dollar.

    Fred
     
  19. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Suffice it to say that if God made a lens any better than the Canon FD 85mm f1.2 L, he kept it to himself.
     
  20. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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    Yes, the Canon 85 f 1.2 is a terrific lens.

    If you haven't bought it, may I suggest trying the Zeiss 85mm f 1.4 lens. It is a Zeiss Planar construction, terrific optics at about half the price of the Canon. How'd they do dat? It's a manual focus, which I like for Portraits and I can make sure the eyes are tack sharp and I don't have to worry about the auto focus finding something else. And it's a 1.4 rather than a 1.2.

    Whatever!

    Just thought I would mention it to you.

    Have a wonderful summer if you're located on that part of our earth.
     
  21. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

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    I have the 85L, and I never worry about the AF sensor finding "something else". Our EOS bodies have many focus points to manually choose from, so picking and choosing the one to put on an eye is as easy as ABC-123...so not sure what you're talking about ;-) With AF there is no error, as you need only place a sensor over the subject's eye....but with manual focus, a less then bright view finder, and human error, you can be sure this introduces a much wider margin for error.
     
  22. clayne

    clayne Member

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    BS. It almost always takes longer to compose and focus with AF than it does with MF - unless the composition is dead simple or the subject matter has a lot of contrast. Obviously there are cases where AF excels, but it is not the pillar of perfection.
     
  23. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    You mean Zeiss users are God?!??? :D
     
  24. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Blind faith and technology worship...

    I've always found MF to be more accurate (at least with a decent viewfinder) than AF, even if one of the 19 gazillion "magic focus points" is dead on the subject.
     
  25. SilverGlow

    SilverGlow Member

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    You call the fact that myself and tens of thousands of pros that use and rely VERY HEAVILY on AF blind faith?!?

    Why is it that I have shoot 100,000+ wedding pictures using AF and all of them are tack sharp? AF often works a heck of a lot faster then focusing manually, and it is very, very accurate especially on the later EOS 1 series bodies.

    You use your computer to post your ill thoughtout responses, so then that means you're participating in "technology worship"? Of course not! That car you drive probably has several CPU chips so does driving it mean you worship that technology?

    If the technology is there and it benefits the photographer, why not use it? To say that users of technology are "worshipers" is ill conceived to say the least.

    Hey if you prefer manual focus, that is cool. But to suggest that users of AF are somehow wrong is irrational at best.
     
  26. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Sorry I have been away, but in response to some of the questions:

    I cannot compare it to the FD lenses as I have only used EOS canon kit.
    I use mine on film alone. I only use digital to copy darkroom prints.

    As for the weight, it is not too bad if you are not carrying too much other kit, but if you are it makes its presence felt. My other kit is normally a pair of Ms (sometimes three) with 24 lux, a 35 and ZM 50 planar in the bag. If one compares that outfit with the weight with the Eos 1n and 85 1.2 included it does make it very much heavier. Still, it appears to be worth it...