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Gear Talk => Canon General => Topic started by: Canon Rumors on December 30, 2013, 09:47:38 AM

Title: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Canon Rumors on December 30, 2013, 09:47:38 AM

Justin has completed our review of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 lens. The small and much less expensive little brother of the magical (but not perfect) EF 85mm f/1.2L II. I personally love the 85 f/1.8, as it’s light, inexpensive, focuses fast and is optically very good.


Says Justin

“I’ve had a long and difficult time trying to place this lens. I’ve borrowed it, rented it, and used it on and off for almost 3 years. I want to love this lens; I want to tell myself it’s a viable alternative to the 85mm f/1.2L II when that  just simply isn’t true. It lacks the magical “feel” of the images that the 85 1.2L II produces. Of course, “Magic” comes at quite a cost. It’s more of a companion lens, something to accompany a tightly controlled prime kit.”


Read the full review | EF 85 f/1.8 at B&H Photo


cr


[image credit: The-Digital-Picture]


Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Dylan777 on December 30, 2013, 10:02:06 AM
"I want to tell myself it’s a viable alternative to the 85mm f/1.2L II when that  just simply isn’t true. It lacks the magical “feel” of the images that the 85 1.2L II produces. Of course, “Magic” comes at quite a cost"

100% agree with statement above. Still, this is a good lens for those want to try Canon primes. Wish my 85L II has same AF speed as f1.8
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: mackguyver on December 30, 2013, 10:58:10 AM
the results are very useable wide open.
Personally, I didn't find that to be the case when I tried it.  The sharpness at f/1.8 is okay for portraits, but I found the CA to be terrible until you stopped down.  I ended up going with the 50 f/1.4 at the time which I found to be a better fit for my crop sensor and was sharp and contrasty at f/2.  I've seen some great shots with the 85 f/1.8, but it just didn't impress me.  I'm glad I waited and saved up for the 1.2 II, it's in a whole other league despite it's many quirks.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Quasimodo on December 30, 2013, 11:02:44 AM
Wish my 85L II has same AF speed as f1.8

I was a little surprised that AF speed difference was not mentioned. Being able to focus quickly in low light was a major point to chew on when I was looking at the 85mm 1.8, and it has a lot to do with why I am keeping it. Well, that, and the focal length plays well with what I do, it doubles as a portrait lens on FF, and the results are very useable wide open.

I agree totally, the AF speed is non-surpassed of the 85 for Canon I have tried. It is actually super fast. Mine, the Sigma 1.4 is not that quick, and I quite like it. However, after having borrowed the 1.2 for quite a while, I have to say that I regret using it, as it made my Siggy 1.4 less of a lens afterwards....

Interestingly, the comments about the chromatic abborations are true, but what he fails to mention is that (although not as prominent as the 1.8) the 1.2 also has its fair share of CA.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: noncho on December 30, 2013, 11:31:16 AM
The problem with this lens is purple fringing, CA too. This is the main reason why Canon needs to upgrade it (and 100/2), they are 20+ years old and should be updated for digital cameras.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Haydn1971 on December 30, 2013, 12:01:13 PM
Given the progress made in the last 10 years with digital and the smaller steps made with optic design, I'm starting to ponder if a step change in primes is due for the canon range.

We have the entry level non L primes with IS, 24mm, 28mm & 35mm currently, but I'd expect a 50mm, 85mm & one in the 16-18mm range soon.  Would it be a great stretch to add non-L versions of the 135mm & 200mm with STM & IS

We already have the start of a f1.4-2.8 range of primes, led by the 14mm & 24mm, the 35mm replacement has been expected for a while now, but what about an extended range with a f1.4 50mm L, an f1.8 85mm L IS, f2 135mm L IS

Then perhaps a stellar range of f0.95 L lenses at 35mm, 50mm & 85mm to replace the f1.2 lenses ?

Too much ?  ;-)  I've often thought that something like a 85-135mm f2 portrait zoom might go down well too ;-)
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: neech7 on December 30, 2013, 01:44:49 PM
Wish my 85L II has same AF speed as f1.8

I was a little surprised that AF speed difference was not mentioned. Being able to focus quickly in low light was a major point to chew on when I was looking at the 85mm 1.8, and it has a lot to do with why I am keeping it. Well, that, and the focal length plays well with what I do, it doubles as a portrait lens on FF, and the results are very useable wide open.

Of course they won't. It's human nature to not make oneself look dumb by saying that a lens they paid many times more is actually worse in some aspect. They grill the cheaper lens for its weaker points, which the 1.2 also suffers from to a lesser extent, but fail to mention the 1.8's lightning fast AF or non extending front element.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: mrsfotografie on December 30, 2013, 02:01:58 PM
The problem with these 'portrait' primes (this, and the 100 f/2) is that no matter how much I want to love/find the need to get them, it doesn't seem reasonable to buy these lenses because the 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II beats them image quality-wise straight from f/2.8. Portability/discretion is another thing though, when comparing these lenses to the zoom.

So I agree it is 'more of a companion lens, something to accompany a tightly controlled prime kit'.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: mackguyver on December 30, 2013, 02:24:48 PM
The sharpness at f/1.8 is okay for portraits, but I found the CA to be terrible until you stopped down.  I ended up going with the 50 f/1.4 at the time which I found to be a better fit for my crop sensor and was sharp and contrasty at f/2.  I've seen some great shots with the 85 f/1.8, but it just didn't impress me.  I'm glad I waited and saved up for the 1.2 II, it's in a whole other league despite it's many quirks.

Heh. We're on opposite sides of the good lens copy table then. I got this to replace my 50mm 1.4 because of the extra reach, and because I don't like how the 50 looks down at F2 (where I need it to be - wish I could afford the 50 1.2 but not happening right now). I'm a lot happier with the 85mm results. I'm going to be selling my 50 soon because of this actually, and because I have other 2.8 lenses that can do a far better job than the 50 can wide open. I just need this 85mm for when I occasionally need that additional stop (and a bit) and a bit more reach than the 50mm can provide. I have other lenses for portraits, this is largely for low light use.

I've heard many good things about the 1.2, especially for portraits. But quick focusing in low light is non negotiable for me. Perhaps one day I'll get a 1.2 and experience the magic for myself for portraiture. Until then, I think this guy will serve me well, though I will be keeping an eye open for the (rumored) new 50mm 1.8 IS.
I'm glad to hear it's working so well for you and it's funny how each lens (and lens+body combination) can yield such different results.  The 85 1.2 II focuses very accurately, but it is painfully slow, no matter the light.  Maybe I didn't give the 1.8 enough time, but the copy I used had horrible CA to point of the circling the retina/cornea border until about f/2.8.  My 50 f/1.4 on the other hand was great at f/2 as you can see in the example below:
(http://www.ianandersonphotography.com/photos/i-bHTq5VG/0/L/i-bHTq5VG-L.jpg)
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Sporgon on December 30, 2013, 02:40:02 PM
What's all this talk of CAs ? You guys don't know your DxO. In their wonderfully condensed measurement rankings the 85 f1.8 has less CAs that all the rest.

OK so they test in the dark, but hey so what !? It's a 1.8 lens.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: mackguyver on December 30, 2013, 02:44:50 PM
What's all this talk of CAs ? You guys don't know your DxO. In their wonderfully condensed measurement rankings the 85 f1.8 has less CAs that all the rest.

OK so they test in the dark, but hey so what !? It's a 1.8 lens.
More specifically I meant purple fringing, and from the sound of it, I must've had a really lousy copy.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: tianxiaozhang on December 31, 2013, 01:10:30 AM
I love my 85/1.8..
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: vscd on December 31, 2013, 04:52:02 AM
I replaced the 85mm 1.8 with the 1.2 and I never regretted it. But, the 85mm 1.8 is one of the best lense Canon ever made for the given money. I would recommend everyone the small portrait lense, even on APS-C.

The fact that the 1.2 produces some very magic pictures is really true, but I guess this is nothing a starter would need for nearly 2 grands. The 1.2 catches a lot more light than some people may think and the shallow depth of field is even useable for landscapes (try to isolate a tree with a normal lense). From 1.8 to 1.2 you got 2,25 times more light... this is more than a stop. As I still work with film, this is something which sometimes saves a lot of situations.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Maximilian on December 31, 2013, 07:03:12 AM
I personally love the 85 f/1.8, as it’s light, inexpensive, focuses fast and is optically very good.
In my personal opinion the 85 f/1.8 is a decent compromise, but I can't say that I love mine and I wouldn't call it "optically very good" but just "optically good to very good for its street price".
I really love that optical range and the size of F/1.8. It was one of the first lenses I ever bought from Canon and I don't need that extra speed of the L, but...
Quote
Says Justin
“... it lacks the magical “feel” of the images that the 85 1.2L II produces. ...”
I haven't tried out the  85 f/1.2 L II personally because of its downsides, especially in price, size and weight.
But I would love to see a  85 f/1.8 II or  85 f/1.8 IS from Canon with a little bit of its "magic".
And of course I know, that it will cost much more, than the actual  85 f/1.8, but I would be willing to pay some price in the middle of those two Canon lenses, maybe at 900 USD/EUR.

I have also considered third party options like the Sigma, but here I am also willing to wait for a redesign and an "A" version from Sigma.

So I will have to wait and see if and what the future brings...
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: mackguyver on December 31, 2013, 09:30:47 AM
I love my 85/1.8..
Great work and proof that what's behind the lens has WAY more to do with the quality than the lens itself. Take a look at what Steve McCurry carries most of the time and what he used to shoot the "Afghan Girl" photo for further proof.

I haven't tried out the  85 f/1.2 L II personally because of its downsides, especially in price, size and weight.

The size & weight aren't as bad as they seem, the AF is fine for portraits, the frighteningly exposed rear element can be managed, but the price, yes, that one's just brutal.  As someone who doesn't specialize in portraits, my heart skipped a few beats when I hit the "Submit Order" button for this lens.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Albi86 on December 31, 2013, 10:01:26 AM
I totally agree with Justin's take. I had it and it was good in many ways but nothing special in any way, so I sold it pretty quickly.

The Nikon is better in every way but suffers from the same limitation: it has nothing special that makes me pick it. I find it great for B&W though.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Dylan777 on December 31, 2013, 10:20:12 AM



As someone who doesn't specialize in portraits, my heart skipped a few beats when I hit the "Submit Order" button for this lens.

+1....same here, but on 400mm f2.8 IS II ;D

Back to 85 f1.8 Vs 85L II. Compared to TWI by Dustin Abbott, my PP skill is no where near him, but still, the 85L II brought me quite amazing photos. The creamy bokeh of 85L II is priceless. Another Canon lens that can really match that creamy bokeh is 200mm f2.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Zv on December 31, 2013, 11:19:42 AM
What's all this talk of CAs ? You guys don't know your DxO. In their wonderfully condensed measurement rankings the 85 f1.8 has less CAs that all the rest.

OK so they test in the dark, but hey so what !? It's a 1.8 lens.
More specifically I meant purple fringing, and from the sound of it, I must've had a really lousy copy.

Not just you, the copy I had was the same. F/2.8 and above was better.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: jdramirez on December 31, 2013, 12:58:51 PM
I'm really quite fond of Canon 85. It couldn't replace my 100 L, but I like it so much that I didn't want to sell it... and I'm more than happy to sell my gear.  I know the 85 isn't magic, but it does a very nice job.  I didn't like my 50 f1.4 because I wanted to be able to shoot wide open and the fifty was soft.... but the 85 wide open is sufficiently sharp. 

So yeah. 
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Maximilian on December 31, 2013, 05:53:11 PM
I haven't tried out the  85 f/1.2 L II personally because of its downsides, especially in price, size and weight.

The size & weight aren't as bad as they seem...
Of course the price is the biggest issue.
And of course I am also used to carry heavier and bigger lenses, but I use the 85 f/1.8 at events, parties, etc. and here I prefer the more stealthy appearance of this lens compared to the L.
For studio like work I totally agree with you. But that's not my field of application.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: vscd on December 31, 2013, 08:52:27 PM
Quote
Great work and proof that what's behind the lens has WAY more to do with the quality than the lens itself. Take a look at what Steve McCurry carries most of the time and what he used to shoot the "Afghan Girl" photo for further proof.

...of course the lense is just a fraction of the whole picture, but sometimes you need a tool to get something done. And don't underestimate the equipment of the picture you mentioned, it was taken with a Nikon FM2 camera and a Nikkor 105mm F2.5 lens. This combination is not that bad ,)

Greetings.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Marsu42 on January 01, 2014, 05:59:46 AM
I'm really quite fond of Canon 85. It couldn't replace my 100 L, but I like it so much that I didn't want to sell it...

The results of similar threads and discussions as far as I remember always was that 85mm too near 100mm to justify a purchase just for the focal length. The 85/1.8 lacks IS but gains a lot of CA - and if stopping down is needed there's really little reason to get it as it's pretty far from the unique f1.2 look that might generate more "money shots". Obviously you feel different as you use both, it'd be nice to know what you use both 100L & 85/1.8 for.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Sporgon on January 01, 2014, 06:09:19 AM
What's all this talk of CAs ? You guys don't know your DxO. In their wonderfully condensed measurement rankings the 85 f1.8 has less CAs that all the rest.

OK so they test in the dark, but hey so what !? It's a 1.8 lens.
More specifically I meant purple fringing, and from the sound of it, I must've had a really lousy copy.

Not just you, the copy I had was the same. F/2.8 and above was better.

I was poking fun at DxO. Everyone knows that the 85 1.8 as really bad CAs wide open in bright light, yet on the DxO lens 'scores' it has one of the least CA of any lens. In fact for a long time the 85 1.8 was the highest placed of  any Canon lenses !!!

However those CAs are the result of the lens's smooth brokeh - which is also why it isn't a critically pin sharp lens ( in theory - it is in practice ). Nowadays the lens manufactures seem to be able to give good brokeh without too much CA and loss of resolution, so maybe an series two version will be interesting - but it will be more expensive too.

Also neither the review or anyone else has mentioned what I suspect is a big failing of the lens. I'm not at all sure that the focusing mechanics of this lens is able to keep up with the very shallow DoF when at a moderate distance at f1.8. In this area the 135L is definitely more reliable.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: Zv on January 01, 2014, 09:39:50 AM
What's all this talk of CAs ? You guys don't know your DxO. In their wonderfully condensed measurement rankings the 85 f1.8 has less CAs that all the rest.

OK so they test in the dark, but hey so what !? It's a 1.8 lens.
More specifically I meant purple fringing, and from the sound of it, I must've had a really lousy copy.

Not just you, the copy I had was the same. F/2.8 and above was better.

I was poking fun at DxO. Everyone knows that the 85 1.8 as really bad CAs wide open in bright light, yet on the DxO lens 'scores' it has one of the least CA of any lens. In fact for a long time the 85 1.8 was the highest placed of  any Canon lenses !!!

However those CAs are the result of the lens's smooth brokeh - which is also why it isn't a critically pin sharp lens ( in theory - it is in practice ). Nowadays the lens manufactures seem to be able to give good brokeh without too much CA and loss of resolution, so maybe an series two version will be interesting - but it will be more expensive too.

Also neither the review or anyone else has mentioned what I suspect is a big failing of the lens. I'm not at all sure that the focusing mechanics of this lens is able to keep up with the very shallow DoF when at a moderate distance at f1.8. In this area the 135L is definitely more reliable.

That's an interesting point you've hit upon. Yeah the 85 1.8 had some really creamy bokeh and according to Canon it was designed with that purpose in mind. Wide open it wasn't pin sharp but still acceptable IMO. I guess if you want sharpness and low CA, you have to pay for it. (Or do you?? 135L was my solution).

Also I agree with what you said about the focusing issue too. I tried in vain to AFMA it. A pointless exercise as the lens seemed to front focus wide open then back focus when stopped down. Focused fast though I'll give it that. Maybe the fastest focusing lens I think I've ever owned. Makes for an excellent street lens on a 7D btw. You can get nice tight shots quickly without anyone noticing. For that purpose this lens excels!


Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: jdramirez on January 01, 2014, 10:22:05 AM
I'm really quite fond of Canon 85. It couldn't replace my 100 L, but I like it so much that I didn't want to sell it...

The results of similar threads and discussions as far as I remember always was that 85mm too near 100mm to justify a purchase just for the focal length. The 85/1.8 lacks IS but gains a lot of CA - and if stopping down is needed there's really little reason to get it as it's pretty far from the unique f1.2 look that might generate more "money shots". Obviously you feel different as you use both, it'd be nice to know what you use both 100L & 85/1.8 for.

Since I picked up the 100l (for about a month), I'm not sure I used the 85.  But I would use the 85mm at a campfire or laser tag... along with 6400.  The extra stop and change is something I don't want to give up. 

I don't like the 50mm wide open at 1.4 and I don't like the focal length of 35mm... so I might be willing to go with the 85mm f1.2, but I'd rather have a $ 300 occasional lens rather than an $1800 occasional lens.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: slclick on January 01, 2014, 11:02:31 AM
I enjoyed reading the comments as this seems to be one of those lenses people have pretty strong convictions about. It is also imo, a stepping stone lens for many, just as the 50 1.8 and the 35 f/2. I owned a copy once but sold it when I discovered it wasn't a focal length I cared for as much as I initially thought I would plus I have a 70-200 which out performs it and a sharper 100. Still when I first had it I did like the head portrait length on a crop and the bokeh it produced with the 7D.
Another thing is that there is one of the largest price differences between it and it's 1.2 sibling, not making an upgrade path an easy thing.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: noncho on January 01, 2014, 01:04:51 PM
For FF there are good options, but I really miss good small 60-70 1.4 EF-S or EF-M...
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: neuroanatomist on January 01, 2014, 01:39:56 PM
I think the 85/1.8 is a one of the best values in the Canon lineup in terms of IQ/dollar.  It's excellent for tight portraits on APS-C, good for indoor sports on both formats.

I bought this lens as part of my 'starter kit' - T1i/500D, 17-55/2.8 IS, 85/1.8, and 430EX II.  I eventually upgraded to the 85L II, but liked the 85mm FL on APS-C so well that after getting a 5DII, I also got the 135/2L.

Here's a shot with the 85/1.8.  There is some longitudinal CA (purple/green fringing) evident in the sunlit hair.  The OOF background is actually a dirt path - the thin DoF is great for outdoor portraits!

(http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4124/5047278975_71a1a88f0d_z.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dr_brain/5047278975/in/set-72157624462568231/lightbox/)
Rebel T1i, EF 85mm f/1.8, 1/2000 s, f/1.8, ISO 100
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: iP337 on January 02, 2014, 08:16:29 PM
Wish my 85L II has same AF speed as f1.8

I was a little surprised that AF speed difference was not mentioned. Being able to focus quickly in low light was a major point to chew on when I was looking at the 85mm 1.8, and it has a lot to do with why I am keeping it. Well, that, and the focal length plays well with what I do, it doubles as a portrait lens on FF, and the results are very useable wide open.

Of course they won't. It's human nature to not make oneself look dumb by saying that a lens they paid many times more is actually worse in some aspect. They grill the cheaper lens for its weaker points, which the 1.2 also suffers from to a lesser extent, but fail to mention the 1.8's lightning fast AF or non extending front element.

Exactly and in my opinion there are too many biased "reviews" and comments based on that fact when it comes to the 85/1.8.  They are meant for two different jobs; 85/1.8 is perfect for sports and event coverage, it's also the best bang for your buck in Canon's EF lens lineup, it's one of (if not) the fastest auto focusing lens ever made.  The 85/1.2 on the other hand is one of the sharpest and thinest DoF lenses you can get (without standing a mile away) but it's also one of the most outrageously priced lenses.  It's apples and oranges, one doesn't replace the other, it's what you need to do with it that counts.  Also CA and fringing is so easily fixed now a days in post and even in camera that it is a non issue and good portraits are usually taken at 2.8. 

Ken Rockwell has a great in depth review on this lens where he doesn't talk about magic and feelings lol: http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/lenses/85mm.htm (http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/lenses/85mm.htm)
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: discojuggernaut on January 07, 2014, 01:14:24 AM
Had it, liked it as a portrait lens on crop.  Upgraded to FF, sold it, got the 135L.  Loved it, Got the 70-200 mkII, couldn't justify keeping both those lenses.  Sold it, got the sigma 85mm 1.4. Really like it.  Nice wide open.  Ok focus in low light (it's accurate but hunts in steps).  Great color and bokeh, pretty decent value.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: vscd on January 07, 2014, 06:38:54 AM
The 85/1.2 on the other hand is one of the sharpest and thinest DoF lenses you can get (without standing a mile away) but it's also one of the most outrageously priced lenses.

I don't think it's outrageous, it's just complex to build. Just check the prices of the new 56mm 1.2 Fujilense for the small APS-C sensors. Or check some other fast lenses... on Zeiss you won't even get an AF on it.

The point is to decide wether you need it or not. To build a sharp f1.2 lense is nothing you can simply calculate and throw into the market.

Here you could get a glue about the complexity of the Canonball: http://www.gletscherbruch.de/foto/85er/objektiv.html (http://www.gletscherbruch.de/foto/85er/objektiv.html)    Especially check the 72 balls to hold the glass.
Title: Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
Post by: mackguyver on January 07, 2014, 09:35:58 AM
The 85/1.2 on the other hand is one of the sharpest and thinest DoF lenses you can get (without standing a mile away) but it's also one of the most outrageously priced lenses.

I don't think it's outrageous, it's just complex to build. Just check the prices of the new 56mm 1.2 Fujilense for the small APS-C sensors. Or check some other fast lenses... on Zeiss you won't even get an AF on it.

The point is to decide wether you need it or not. To build a sharp f1.2 lense is nothing you can simply calculate and throw into the market.

Here you could get a glue about the complexity of the Canonball: http://www.gletscherbruch.de/foto/85er/objektiv.html (http://www.gletscherbruch.de/foto/85er/objektiv.html)    Especially check the 72 balls to hold the glass.
+1 - and from what I've read - the huge ground glass element in the front is finished by hand.  In a world of mass production, anything done by hand increases cost exponentially.