Follow by Email

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Canon's 85mm 1.2L Quick Review...

Well folks!  I finally got my hands on one of these beasts!  First impressions of this lens start with just how heavy this lens is!  Right out of the box your first words will be Wow!  This thing is no light weight!  At 36.2 oz (1025g) you know its there!  The reasoning for this is Canon put some very high quality glass into this Lens, and the better the glass, and wider the aperture, the heavier things usually get!

Included with this "L" series lens is the usual lens hood, which is a snap on version, and works pretty good.  I think I like this design better than the standard twist and lock!  It also comes with the standard leather lens pouch, that if you are like me never gets used!

One thing that amazes me is that while the lens is weather sealed it does lack the seal on the mount...  Because of the lens mounts design, this was left out..  No a big deal but something I wanted to mention..

This lens gives the photographer the true freedom of shooting at the f1.2 aperture and being able to get outstanding images!  I have shot with lenses such as the 24-70mm 2.8L Mark I, and almost always the wide aperture 2.8 was soft and basically usable for most print needs.  The 85L is simple stunning wide open, and 1.2 is fully usable for print work.  To the right and below are 3 shots to illustrate it's wide f1.2 capabilities...

The real nice thing about being able to shoot sharp images at f1.2 is the ability to isolate the subject from the background!  Any background becomes a creamy heaven in an instance, while the subject is left to jump out of the image!  Shooting wide open with this glass also allows lots of light in, which can give you lightning fast shutter speeds!  The shot to the right was shot at 1/8000, and it was an overcast day!

Shooting at f1.2 has it's limitations...  Depth of Field is very very thin, so great care with focusing must be made.  This shot of the dog illustrates how effective f1.2 can be.  This eyes are in good focus plane, but notice how the nose is blurred?  this is because of the narrow depth of field up close to the subject...  Either opening up the aperture or stepping back further from the subject is all you can do to correct this from happening.  In this shot it was my intention, but always keep this in mind when shooting wide open with this lens.  Some care and fore thought should be taken with this lens, to avoid focus disappointments!  That said it is a terrific lens for anyone who wants to get creative!

The shot below is opened up a bit to demonstrate just how razor shape this lens can be...  At f5.0 things sharpen up really nice!  Background blur is still very pleasing, and I find that shooting any more stopped down for me will rarely be needed with this lens.
CONCLUSION:  If you seriously want a high quality lens that can produce stunning images this is the work horse for you!  The only downsides for this lens is it is very heavy, seriously..  That said you soon don't mind the weight once you start seeing the results on your LCD screen.  The only other negative is the speed of the AF on this lens, it is slow, with all that heavy glass inside it takes it's time to move it, which for staged "people" photography is not a problem.  You may find that focusing on moving or fast action to be a bit of a problem.  Not a use I purchased this lens for, but something to consider if you have other ideas..  Lastly is the price point, at $2100 dollars it is a significant investment.  Compared to the non "L" series 85mm 1.8, you are paying the extra for a wider aperture f1.2, better glass elements, weather-sealing, and build quality.  The 1.8 is still a very capable lens and should also be highly considered if $$$ is a factor...

Photofroggy Rating

Build                ★★★★★
Optical quality  ★★★★★
Price                ★★★
Performance     ★★★★  Only because of the sluggish AF speed!!!

1 comment: