Thoughts: Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM Lens

This is my 2nd rental from the Camera Rental Centre. This copy shows some signs of aging. The rubber coat on the lens body never does well in our humidity; the hood is gaffer’d, and there seems to be some dust inside the lens.

This piece of glass is impressive! HUGE front element, and by far the heaviest lens I’ve ever mounted on my camera.

f1.2 produces beautiful bokeh. But this can be quite tricky. At 95cm (minimum focus distance of this lens), the DOF is just 8.1mm. This doesn’t give much margin for error, handheld or otherwise.

As a result, not many of the shots I took while shooting wide open came in well focused. This is exacerbated by the horribly slow focus speed.

Lastly, the raw images exhibit quite a lot of CA. Most of the lenses I’ve played with did have some CA. Mostly correctable in Lightroom – just check the “Remove Cromatic Aberation” checkbox. This is the first lens that I have actually had to muck around with the slider to get it right.

Some pics…

What I liked:

  • This is a GREAT portrait lens. If you have a cooperative subject. Sleeping babies are cooperative.
  • Sharp! If you get it right. Expect soft images if you’re just millimeters off.
  • Creamy, thick bokeh

What I didn’t:

  • Heavy!
  • Focus is slower than a drunk sloth. Great if your subject isn’t moving at a zillion mph.
  • I’m used to much closer minimum focus distances. 0.95m is far away in close quarters.
  • Too much bokeh wide open? If you stare long enough at it… it kinda sucks you in and makes you wanna throw up.
  • The amount of bokeh can make you forget where, or how the picture was taken. You’re left with an expression on a face. As I said, GREAT portrait lens.

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