Friday, November 21, 2008

Canon EF 85mm 1.2L II - Lens Review

An Unscientific Review by Morten Byskov -

When I decided to go to a full frame sensor with the Canon EOS 5D, a natural companion to this camera would be the EF 85 1.2L II. I had tested the original Mark I version a couple of year prior to taking the plunge for the Mark II.

Going back to the film days I’ve had different portrait lenses over the years; the Canon FD 85 1.8, Nikkor 105 2.5, Zeiss 85 1.4, Zeiss 135 2.8. I have also had a couple of Canon EF 85 1.8s. The 85 1.2 can be a tricky beast to shoot with especially when shot wide open. You have to know its strengths and limitations. The difference really comes in to effect when shooting at f/1.2 – 1.4 -1.6. In this range the 85L really shines. It creates a distinct look which is very appealing to me.

Many photographers often find themselves debating the EF 85 1.2L versus the EF 85 1.8 due to the exuberant price difference. I like the 85 1.8 but once you have used the 85 1.2L there is no looking back. It is a piece of photographic equipment in a league of its own. Also photographers often debate the Canon EF 135 2L versus the EF 85 1.2L. The 135L has faster focusing and works better for close ups or candid. You can also add the 1.4x converter to the 135L which makes it quite versatile. I rarely use the 135 with a teleconverter. Then why the 85L? It is a pleasing focal length for portraits and the look of your f/1.2 will have you wondering – how did I do that?

I have used this lens for a huge variety of topics, from portraits to landscapes - from weddings to travel - from product photography to tourism. It is easily my most often used lens.

Check out shot taken with the EF 85mm 1.2L II in this SmugMug Gallery:

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