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  1. #1

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

    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. #2

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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. #3

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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. #4
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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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! ).
    .::Gary Rowan Higgins

    One beautiful image is worth
    a thousand hours of therapy.


    "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government
    to save the environment."
    .::Ansel Adams






  5. #5
    DanielStone's Avatar
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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. #6
    AgX
    AgX is offline

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    Tom, can you compare it to the FD version?

  7. #7

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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. #8
    clayne's Avatar
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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.
    Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.

    http://www.flickr.com/kediwah

  9. #9
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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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.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  10. #10
    benjiboy's Avatar
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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 benjiboy; 06-14-2010 at 02:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Ben

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