June 19, 2018, 10:01:15 PM

Author Topic: Review: Canon 85mm f/1.4L IS. Is it a Better Option Over the EF 85mm f/1.2L II?  (Read 5195 times)

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Jared Polin has completed his review of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS, and finds out if this is a better option over the Canon classic, the EF 85mm f/1.2L II.

Personally, I sold my EF 85mm f/1.2L II after using the EF 85mm f/1.4L IS for a few weeks. The advantages of the new 85mm lens such as IS, faster AF, better built quality, and lighter weight were just too much for me to overlook.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS  at B&H Photo

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ahsanford

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One error in that video:  f/1.2 to f/1.4 is not a full stop, last I checked.   ::)

But I largely agree with Jared -- I rented this lens for Christmas and it was a treat.  The new lens is a comprehensive upgrade to the f/1.2L II (IS, focusing speed, focusing consistency, internal focusing design, etc.) other than maximum background isolation, where the f/1.2 wins... if it nails focus at f/1.2.

In particular, this lens' AF was absolutely rockstar solid shot wide open (handheld on stationary targets, but I did move away from center on the AF frequently on my 5D3 and it nailed everything).

This lens is still plagued with the mirrorbox clipped bokeh, but that's the price of the EF mount more than this lens' design, it would appear.

Highly recommended!

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stevelee

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One error in that video:  f/1.2 to f/1.4 is not a full stop, last I checked.   ::)

My calculator suggests it is about 0.445 stop.

cpreston

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One error in that video:  f/1.2 to f/1.4 is not a full stop, last I checked.   ::)

My calculator suggests it is about 0.445 stop.

I would bet that it is quite a bit less from a light transmission standpoint.

stevelee

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One error in that video:  f/1.2 to f/1.4 is not a full stop, last I checked.   ::)

My calculator suggests it is about 0.445 stop.

I would bet that it is quite a bit less from a light transmission standpoint.

I would guess that the reason someone might want the f/1.2 would be for the shallower DOF and maybe a little fuzzier looking background. An online DOF calculator tells me that at 12 feet the f/1.4 would have 6" DOF, and the f/1.2 would have 5".

Having seen the review and these figures, but never having used either lens, I certainly wouldn't pick the somewhat heavier and more expensive lens for such small advantages.

In film days I had a 55mm f/1.2 lens. My 85mm lens was f/1.8, as best I recall. It was just about my favorite all-around lens. For some years back then my travel trinity was it, the 28mm, and the 200mm. Now I don't have a prime in any of those lengths. My 100mm f/2.8 macro acts as my portrait lens for now.

sanj

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Very basic (useless) review.
If someone is shooting wide aperture lenses, they should shoot in low light and post those photos.

I sold my 1.2 long before the IS version came out. Am happy with the new lens. It DOES have focus issues and in my rough calculation 10% photos at full open are not perfectly sharp.

Hector1970

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That’s interesting Sanj.
The 85 1.2 is a bit frustrating but when it nails it, it nails it.
I’m reluctant to move but if I were a new buyer I’d go 1.4
1.2 would be great advantage if it were good at focusing in low light.
But for shallowdepth of field it’s great

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hendrik-sg

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One error in that video:  f/1.2 to f/1.4 is not a full stop, last I checked.   ::)

My calculator suggests it is about 0.445 stop.

f=1.2 is either 1/2 or 1/3 stop faster than 1.4. Here is helpful to look at 1 digit more. So, f=1.4 is 1.41, 1/3 stop faster is 1.26, 1/2 stop faster is 1.19.

So, correctly rounded, 1/3 stop faster than 1.4 would be 1.3, half stop faster would be 1.2. But of course, the marketing department has it's own rounding rules :)

sanj

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That’s interesting Sanj.
The 85 1.2 is a bit frustrating but when it nails it, it nails it.
I’m reluctant to move but if I were a new buyer I’d go 1.4
1.2 would be great advantage if it were good at focusing in low light.
But for shallowdepth of field it’s great

1.4 is sharp to when it nails it. But it does not nail it as frequent as I hoped it would. I guess this is a feature with such wide lenses. I have no big issues. Just sometimes feel bad when I check on large screen and the shot is not perfect sharp.

jolyonralph

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The 85 1.2L has a characteristic "look" that I don't know if the 1.4L IS would match. I haven't shot both, but I own the 1.2L and I'm pretty happy with it.
Jolyon Ralph

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stevelee

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One error in that video:  f/1.2 to f/1.4 is not a full stop, last I checked.   ::)

My calculator suggests it is about 0.445 stop.

f=1.2 is either 1/2 or 1/3 stop faster than 1.4. Here is helpful to look at 1 digit more. So, f=1.4 is 1.41, 1/3 stop faster is 1.26, 1/2 stop faster is 1.19.

So, correctly rounded, 1/3 stop faster than 1.4 would be 1.3, half stop faster would be 1.2. But of course, the marketing department has it's own rounding rules :)

Yes, I took 1.4 way too literally, when of course it should be the square root of 2, (1.4142...). So using that real (theoretical) value and taking literally 1.2, my calculator gets it to be 0.47393... of a stop. As suggested above, the t-values are probably closer, and who knows what the real differences are in optical properties. My guess is that they could be influenced as much by peculiarities of each design as much as by whatever the real difference in lens opening sizes. And I would assume that 85mm in each case is the result of rounding. So theoretical DOF lookup amounts may not have much to do with reality when you are looking at such small differences. But the point is that even in theory, there is not that much difference.

ken

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This lens is still plagued with the mirrorbox clipped bokeh, but that's the price of the EF mount more than this lens' design, it would appear.
...

If this lens were used on a (mythical) mirrorless FF camera with an EF mount, would mirrorbox clipped bokeh still be an issue? (I'm guessing not, but haven't read much about this topic.)
6D, EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II, EF 24-105mm IS, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II,  Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II, Canon 50mm f/1.8, Lensbaby Composer Pro w/ Edge 80, Lensbaby Sweet 35, ST-E3-RT, 600EX-RT (x2), Sony a6000 and various Sony lenses

ahsanford

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If this lens were used on a (mythical) mirrorless FF camera with an EF mount, would mirrorbox clipped bokeh still be an issue? (I'm guessing not, but haven't read much about this topic.)

I've been waiting for folks to adapt it to answer that very question.  Surely, the matter would improve, but I don't understand the physics of it -- the mirrorbox is (I thought) wider than the sensor, so we're seeing something that should be out of frame affecting something within the frame.

I believe this has to do with the wide open aperture of the lens (the physical diameter of the aperture the blades makes when wide open) is bigger than some of the mechanicals inside the body.  I just don't know if once the mirrorbox is removed, does something nearly that size inside of the body (some external housings of the shutter?) become the next thing that clips things?

I defer to folks who know this better than I do, but a test of this lens on an A7 would be great (though the adaptor design itself may play into it).

- A

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stevelee

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The 85 1.2L has a characteristic "look" that I don't know if the 1.4L IS would match. I haven't shot both, but I own the 1.2L and I'm pretty happy with it.

And what I should have added to my previous post is that the real choice between the two should be which one you like better for the pictures it makes, rather than small numbers on one's calculator. Up to a point, a little softness in a portrait lens is often considered a feature, not a bug.

On my Rebel I used the 50mm f/1.4 as my portrait lens. Now with my 6D2, I consider the 100mm macro to take that role. I have made some rather nice portraits with the 24-105mm STM, but it opens just to f/5.6 in portrait range, so no extreme background separation. Early in the spring I was taking some macro shots of flowers in the front yard and got into a discussion on lenses with a neighbor. I took some shots of her and her cats that turned out well. In the pictures she does seem to have more freckles than in real life, and one of the cats looks fiercer with her fangs bared. In real life she looked more like she was smiling. She certainly was not acting threatened or aggressive.

Later I needed to send a recent picture to my alma mater for an "annual" they are making for our class reunion. So I set up the tripod. Took the dead batteries out of the flash. Decided to use ambient light rather than taking time to clean out the corrosion from the dead batteries. Set a 2-second delay for me to pose after I hit the infrared remote, and made a series of pictures as I stood in front of an empty neutral wall in the hallway as I looked into the flippy screen for positioning. My that macro lens is sharp! It made me look like an old man, mainly because I am one. I can see more detail in my skin in the pictures than I can see in the mirror after cleaning the mirror. The diffuse light did soften the bags under my eyes, and Photoshop helped a little more. In posing I opened my eyes more than I do in real life even as I smiled gently.


ahsanford

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And what I should have added to my previous post is that the real choice between the two should be which one you like better for the pictures it makes, rather than small numbers on one's calculator. Up to a point, a little softness in a portrait lens is often considered a feature, not a bug.

That's why a macro is a great short tele for kids running around, but for portraiture it's almost too clinical, bracingly crisp -- and you may not want that look.

Yes, this fact is why folks love the 50L and 85 f/1.2L II for portraits.  Sharpness isn't everything depending on what you shoot.

- A

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