canon rumors FORUM

Gear Talk => Lenses => Topic started by: willrobb on December 05, 2011, 11:27:44 AM

Title: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: willrobb on December 05, 2011, 11:27:44 AM
The last few years I've only used L series lenses, they give me everything I want image wise and moat importantly for me, they last the test of time (I always see them as an investment) and I didn't really see myself buying anything else.

Last weekend I was having a play with a canon 85mm f1.2LII in a store, like all L series glass I was really impressed with the build, but the AF and really soft manual focus ring really didn't do it for me. I do like the 85mm focal length, a few years back I had a canon 85mm f1.8 and often fancied an upgrade but the performance of the 85L and then the 85LII weren't quite what I was after. I shoot a lot of events/portraits in low light and need fast AF and a lot of reviews said that was a problem with the canon 85mm L lenses, despite the amazing IQ and sublime bokeh. I always thought I would like one, if only the AF worked a bit better. I one day hoped for a canon 85mm LIII.

After playing with the 85mm 1.2LII I noticed the Sigma 85mm 1.4 and picked it up to have a play and to be honest I wasn't expecting much, but after a few minutes I was seriously impressed. Build quality wasn't quite "L" quality, but felt pretty solid. The AF was great, the manual focus ring felt good and the IQ looked great on the back of the camera. I wasn't using my body or card, so no way of examining close up shots, but my first impression was that the Sigma 85mm 1.4 is a serious bit of glass.

I read a few reviews by photographers who used the Sigma 85mm lens for weddings/events/commercial shoots and were so impressed they ended up using it over their canon s85mm 1.2L or even 85mm1.2LII copies. They agreed that when they got the shot "right" the 85mm 1.2LII was better, but they had a much better hit rate with the Sigma 85mm.

Also, when you consider that for the price of a new canon 85mm 1.2LII you can get a new Sigma 85mm 1.4 and a new canon 135mm F2L, it does seem like a sweet option.

I can't say anything for sure as I just had a play in a store and read up a bit on them both, but would be nice to hear some experiences of others who have used both these lenses.

I'
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 05, 2011, 12:16:10 PM
but the AF and really soft manual focus ring really didn't do it for me.

It's slow because of all that glass in the front-focusing elements, and doesn't have any tactile feedback becuase of the focus-by-wire design (turning the ring doens't move any glass, it activates actuators that result in the USM motor moving the glass).  A bit annoying, and I agree that the slow AF is a problem with the lens, however, as stated - when it hits, it's wonderful!

I've heard good things about the Sigma 85/1.4, generally.  However, beware of the AF issues which seem endemic to Sigma lenses.  The TDP review states (http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Sigma-85mm-f-1.4-EX-DG-HSM-Lens-Review.aspx), "As of Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens review time, I have purchased (retail) three and returned two of these lenses. The first lens was consistently front focusing. The second lens was focusing so inconsistently that I wished for the first one back. The third lens is focusing very inconsistently, but does seem to average to the correct focus distance. I cut my losses and kept this copy of the lens."  Roger at LensRentals.com mentions (http://www.lensrentals.com/rent/canon/lenses/normal-range/sigma-85mm-f1.4-ex-dg-hsm) similar issues: "We only have a half dozen copies at this point, but I noted it has a tendency to front focus pretty consistently on a number of bodies (not badly and it’s consistent). It doesn’t seem to change much with focus distance or aperture, unlike some other lenses that can drive you crazy. But because we’ve noted it, we recommend that this lens be used on cameras that have microfocus adjustment so you can correct for it (and that you actually use the microfocus adjustment feature before rolling out with this lens)."
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: JR on December 05, 2011, 12:34:27 PM

I can't say anything for sure as I just had a play in a store and read up a bit on them both, but would be nice to hear some experiences of others who have used both these lenses.

I'

The 85mm f1.2L mkII is my favorite lens of all the L glass I own.  While AF is slower then other lenses, it has never been a problem for my use and in fact, it is the lens where my keep rate is the highest.  It is sharp wide open and the bokeh is simply beautiful.  If I only had one L lens, it would be the 85mm!

I am not familiar with the 85mm from Sigma, but all i can say is the Canon 85L II is a great lens for portraits.  If I dont want to miss a shot, it is my go to lens!
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: bchernicoff on December 05, 2011, 01:45:36 PM
I had the Canon and liked it but didn't use it enough to really justify having something that expensive sitting around so I sold it. I had read some reviews of the Sigma and decided that if I ever really missed the Canon I would give the Sigma a shot. At less than half the cost it seemed like it was probably 80% as good a lens. A few months later Abe's of Maine had it on special for $904 no tax, free shipping so I jumped on it. I really like it. It's much closer to the Canon than I guessed it would be. I would really have to do a side by side comparison to notice a difference in image quality and I greatly prefer the traditional manual focus ring over the focus-by-wire on the Canon.

I am attaching some 50% size images. This first one is ISO 200 f/1.4 1/20s (so could be some shake). Notice the dreamy look wide open.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: bchernicoff on December 05, 2011, 01:49:20 PM
This one is ISO 100 f/2 1/750:

I think it's very sharp at f/2
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: bchernicoff on December 05, 2011, 01:52:10 PM
This is a 100% crop of yours truly under studio lighting. ISO 100 f/8 1/125s
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: bchernicoff on December 05, 2011, 01:57:07 PM
Here's another f/1.4 shot. 1/6000s. Again you can see in the fine detail that it's a little soft at this aperture.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: bchernicoff on December 05, 2011, 01:59:59 PM
Last one unless you want more... ISO 100 f/5.6 1/750s. All of these are 5D Mk II by the way.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: bchernicoff on December 05, 2011, 03:04:48 PM
Oh, I would also comment that I haven't experienced any front or backfocusing that I am aware of. That being said at f/1.4, focus point placement is critical. In the picture I shared where she is wearing the winter coat you can see the sharpest focus on her coat. I probably rocked back on my feet slightly between focus lock and taking it. The depth of field really is that shallow.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: koolman on December 05, 2011, 04:28:42 PM
Let me call your attention to the Samyang 85mm 1.4 lens. Its manual focus, but for the price - awesome.

Sample:

(http://)
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: pwp on December 05, 2011, 04:59:05 PM
I have found my "hit rate" with f/1.4- f/2 lenses (50 f/1.4 and 135 f/2) improves radically if I shoot using AI focus and shot at 8 fps on the MkIV, particularly when shooting people handheld. Just that tiny rocking on your feet is enough to shift focus from the eyes to somewhere useless.

I drop the AF point on the eye, choose or anticipate the moment and hit a burst. A characteristic of AI focus when using "continuous" is the predictive focus algorithm. So maybe the first frame wont be sharp, second quite likely will be OK but from then on you should nail every one. Provided you keep the AF point on the eye.

I have the Sigma 50 f/1.4 and when used carefully it can deliver stunning results. I have no reason to believe that the Sigma 85 f/1.2 would be any different. Reviews seem to confirm this.

I'm not an 85mm user and am unlikely to buy one. It's just not a useful fit for me. But if I was in your position, I'd be asking about comparisons with the Canon 85 f/1.8 as well.

Paul Wright
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 05, 2011, 05:08:15 PM
I have the Sigma 50 f/1.2

Sigma has a 50mm f/1.2?   :o
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: pwp on December 05, 2011, 05:21:12 PM
I have the Sigma 50 f/1.2
Sigma has a 50mm f/1.2?   :o

Ha! You're right. That lens doesn't exist.
My typo. Of course it's the Sigma 50 f/1.4
Thanks for picking that up...I've edited my erroneous post!

Paul Wright
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: ejenner on December 05, 2011, 05:58:13 PM
I don't have both, but wonder if I should have splashed for the Canon instead.  Consistent front or back focusing is one thing, the problem for me is slightly inconsistent focusing that may depend a bit on distance (tested on a tripod in good light, center AF from min and max focus distances).  I don't think I would trust this if I was being paid, but I also don't have experience with other 1.4 or faster lenses so perhaps all factors considered the hit rate would be similar.  It also looked from the reviews that the sigma doesn't have quite as much OOF blur as the Canon at the same aperture.

Flare could also be a concern.  I was taking shots around a campfire in the dark and quite often ended up with large red blotches in the image.  I wondered if it was really flare or something else, so went over to the car and pointed the camera at the car door light and indeed it was (and compared with a 17-40L and 24-105L).  I haven't had a problem with 'normal' situations eg. indoors with lights ect..

On the other hand, getting this lens has meant that I no longer plan on getting any more zooms and made me realize how soft my L zooms really are, it's definitely no slouch.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: Aetius on December 05, 2011, 06:18:28 PM
I work for a Norwegian camera review site (akam.no, the one Craig mentions here (http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=194.0)), and reviewed the Sigma 85 mm f/1.4 (vs the Canon 85 mm f/1.2L II) a while back, and found it a very capable lens for the money. Here's a google-translated version of the review (http://tinyurl.com/bp8cc48).

Never mind the linguistic mangling though - the pictures are more interesting. The Canon 85 mm I used is my own, so I already bought it before the review. If not, I might very easily have gone for the Sigma instead.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 05, 2011, 06:54:31 PM
I am looking into a fast 85 but really cant decide, there is also the zeiss f1.4 to consider which looks soooo sweet. I was also if anyone has used any of these lenses with a teleconverter and what sort of results you get
say an 85mm with tc stopped down to f2 vs the 135 f2 native?
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: dtaylor on December 05, 2011, 06:55:27 PM
I have found my "hit rate" with f/1.4- f/2 lenses (50 f/1.4 and 135 f/2) improves radically if I shoot using AI focus and shot at 8 fps on the MkIV, particularly when shooting people handheld. Just that tiny rocking on your feet is enough to shift focus from the eyes to somewhere useless.

I think it's more than just front/back movement, though that's an important point. I get the feeling that one shot AF quits a split second too soon with fast primes, or at least with Sigma fast primes. AI Servo keeps trying even if you and the subject are stationary. I get a higher hit rate if I use AI Servo and wait to fire until the AF has settled.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: Axilrod on December 05, 2011, 07:43:20 PM
I personally like the way the focus ring feels on the 85L when I shoot video, it's alot easier to keep someone in focus with that as opposed to the 135L.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: elflord on December 05, 2011, 07:54:20 PM
I am looking into a fast 85 but really cant decide, there is also the zeiss f1.4 to consider which looks soooo sweet. I was also if anyone has used any of these lenses with a teleconverter and what sort of results you get
say an 85mm with tc stopped down to f2 vs the 135 f2 native?

The teleconverter takes away a stop -- so you get f/2 wide open with the teleconverter.  Check compatibility -- I don't think the teleconverter is compatible with the 85.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 05, 2011, 08:31:06 PM
I am looking into a fast 85 but really cant decide, there is also the zeiss f1.4 to consider which looks soooo sweet. I was also if anyone has used any of these lenses with a teleconverter and what sort of results you get
say an 85mm with tc stopped down to f2 vs the 135 f2 native?

The teleconverter takes away a stop -- so you get f/2 wide open with the teleconverter.  Check compatibility -- I don't think the teleconverter is compatible with the 85.

the kenko one works with everything i think with the 1.2 it will be 1.7 wide open so f2 will be stopped down half a stop which should sharpen thing up a bit. I should try borrow these off friends and try it out :)
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: willrobb on December 06, 2011, 12:12:27 AM
Nice to see some photos in the replies as examples of what the Sigma (and Samyang) can do.

I found this review on a blog of a wedding/portrait/commercial photographer who used the canon 85mm 1.2L and then used the Sigma 85mm 1.4 that is pretty interesting.

http://hofferphotography.com/2010/11/16/my-sigma-85-f1-4-vs-canon-85l-review/

I liked what he said at the end about how we "need to throw aside the idea that the most expensive thing is best."
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: sarangiman on December 06, 2011, 12:39:13 AM
One thing I like better about the Sigma 85/1.4 lens is that its aperture stays circular all the way to f/2, & almost circular all the way to f/2.8.

The Canon 85/1.2 II is already non-circular by f/1.6 & pretty offensive (to my eye) by f/1.8. OOF highlights just don't look very good anymore as they have distinct shape to them.

Sigma has 9 aperture blades; Canon has 8. I'm surprised this isn't mentioned more often.

In my side-by-side tests, though, it appeared to me that at any given f-stop, the Canon lens had a wider actual opening than the Sigma (looking thru the front element). This could explain the slightly underexposed images from the Sigma as well as the lower amounts of background blur of the Sigma as opposed to the Canon.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 06, 2011, 12:54:11 AM
http://www.thedigitalpicture.com/Reviews/Sigma-85mm-f-1.4-EX-DG-HSM-Lens-Review.aspx

for anyone that hasn't alreay seen the review :P

does anyone know if this AF issue with the sigma is a continuing thing or if its been resolved in newer releases?

such a hard choice

canon 85 f1.2L II - most expensive
Zeiss 85 f1.4 MF only - higher middle cost
sigma 85 1.4 - lower middle cost
canon 85 1.8 - lowest cost

the sigma is looking like a very attractive option
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: shermanstank on December 06, 2011, 03:33:45 AM
YMMV but I find that among all the 85mm primes, the color rendition, bokeh, and sharpness of the 85L 1.2L II are magical.  Here's an example taken using my 35mm film camera  CANON EOS 1V-HS with KODAK EKTAR 100 and my baby 85mm 1.2L II -- scanned by an EPSON PERFECTION V700   ;D 
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: alipaulphotography on December 06, 2011, 04:57:53 AM
(http://alipaul.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/KatieDan-209-CL-LR.jpg)

I'm a user of the sigma. It is superb and gets the thumbs up from me.

Shot wide open at f/1.4 and still sharp.

Click to see the 800px wide resolution.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: elflord on December 06, 2011, 07:27:23 AM
http://www.thedigitalpicture.com/Reviews/Sigma-85mm-f-1.4-EX-DG-HSM-Lens-Review.aspx

for anyone that hasn't alreay seen the review :P

does anyone know if this AF issue with the sigma is a continuing thing or if its been resolved in newer releases?

such a hard choice

canon 85 f1.2L II - most expensive
Zeiss 85 f1.4 MF only - higher middle cost
sigma 85 1.4 - lower middle cost
canon 85 1.8 - lowest cost

the sigma is looking like a very attractive option

FWIW, TDP reviews seem to have a lot of problems AF on Sigma lenses (perhaps more surprisingly no problems with AF on Canon's lenses which autofocus perfectly out of the box). They are good reviews, but if they are your only source of information, you will come home with the impression that you should never (or almost never) buy non-Canon lenses.

I needed to micro adjust mine (+6) but once I did that, it is pretty consistent (and doesn't seem to change with different apertures)
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: sarangiman on December 06, 2011, 04:15:29 PM
Yeah my Sigma also needed a +3 microadjustment but, then again, so did my Canon 35L.

After that, center point focus was dead on. It consistently hit my test chart at a 45º angle at the right spot.

But when using the right-most AF point on my 5DMkII, focus was rather erratic. Dead-on, back-focused, front-focused, you name it.

However, same performance with my Canon 35L, so I doubt the Sigma lens is at fault here and, rather, it's the low precision of the outer AF points on the 5DMkII that render it nearly impossible to nail focus with such shallow DOF.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: alipaulphotography on December 06, 2011, 04:39:31 PM
I only ever use center point. I dont trust the others. After recomposing I refocus manually.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: elflord on December 06, 2011, 09:23:40 PM
However, same performance with my Canon 35L, so I doubt the Sigma lens is at fault here and, rather, it's the low precision of the outer AF points on the 5DMkII that render it nearly impossible to nail focus with such shallow DOF.

That's the kind of thing I was getting at. I've had some issues with the Canon  50mm f/1.4 focusing accurately at longer distances (I ended up using manual focus and live view -- thankfully subject was very still) but it works like charm most of the time.

What strikes me about TDP is not just the issues he has with Sigma, but the fact that he never has any trouble with AF on Canon lenses.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: JR on December 06, 2011, 10:18:26 PM
Yeah my Sigma also needed a +3 microadjustment but, then again, so did my Canon 35L.

After that, center point focus was dead on. It consistently hit my test chart at a 45º angle at the right spot.

But when using the right-most AF point on my 5DMkII, focus was rather erratic. Dead-on, back-focused, front-focused, you name it.

However, same performance with my Canon 35L, so I doubt the Sigma lens is at fault here and, rather, it's the low precision of the outer AF points on the 5DMkII that render it nearly impossible to nail focus with such shallow DOF.
I only ever use center point. I dont trust the others. After recomposing I refocus manually.

Am the same, I only use the center AF point with my 5D mkII and it has been working very well.  The only time it struggle a bit is when I have a moving subject in Servo mode ... but I keep getting told the 5D was not designed for that  ;) ... so this is why we need a 1DX!
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: elflord on December 06, 2011, 10:27:31 PM
I only ever use center point. I dont trust the others. After recomposing I refocus manually.

How do you use manual focus ? I take it you are using phase detect AF and therefore not live view (?) Which focusing screen do you use ?
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: sarangiman on December 07, 2011, 12:34:08 AM
Yeah anyone that can manually focus with an 85mm lens < f/2.0 & still get critical focus with hit rates >50% is a magician to me :) Unless you have stationary subjects & have a lot of time... in which case I might just use live-view.

A loupe on the viewfinder might be nice...

I guess since focusing & recomposing will always lead to back-focus one could try & compensate by firing off a number of shots while slowly leaning backward (I think I got that right?). Seems a little funny to me though.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 07, 2011, 11:49:31 AM
What strikes me about TDP is not just the issues he has with Sigma, but the fact that he never has any trouble with AF on Canon lenses.

Excerpts from some of the TDP reviews:

"That is except in some of the medium-low light situations I encountered when using this lens. I found a couple of situations that the Canon EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM Lens would not lock focus. These were situations I felt should have been adequate for the 28-200 (on a Canon 1-Series Digital SLR using the center focus point only) to obtain focus lock."

"The Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens features a rear focusing system driven by Canon's excellent USM (Ultrasonic Motor). ... I am getting excellent AF hit rates in my real world shots, but strangely had some inconsistencies in my comparison testing."

"The Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 With Softfocus Lens...also proved to be difficult to get accurate focus with. While it nailed autofocus on most of my close portrait shots, other subjects proved to be difficult for it."

I'm never the first to believe internet forum complainers...but when multiple independent reviewers with good track records (TDP, Lensrentals.com, PZ, etc.) make mention of AF issues with Sigma lenses, it becomes reasonably believable. 
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: elflord on December 07, 2011, 06:13:24 PM

Excerpts from some of the TDP reviews:

"That is except in some of the medium-low light situations I encountered when using this lens. I found a couple of situations that the Canon EF 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM Lens would not lock focus. These were situations I felt should have been adequate for the 28-200 (on a Canon 1-Series Digital SLR using the center focus point only) to obtain focus lock."

"The Canon EF 14mm f/2.8 L II USM Lens features a rear focusing system driven by Canon's excellent USM (Ultrasonic Motor). ... I am getting excellent AF hit rates in my real world shots, but strangely had some inconsistencies in my comparison testing."

"The Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 With Softfocus Lens...also proved to be difficult to get accurate focus with. While it nailed autofocus on most of my close portrait shots, other subjects proved to be difficult for it."

I'm never the first to believe internet forum complainers...but when multiple independent reviewers with good track records (TDP, Lensrentals.com, PZ, etc.) make mention of AF issues with Sigma lenses, it becomes reasonably believable.

I hadn't seen all of these before. The complaint about the 135mm is pretty damning. The issue with the 28-200 strikes me as relatively minor (it's not a complaint about AF accuracy) and it's not clear if there are any real world implications for the reported problems with the 14mm.

Regarding the Sigma 85mm, Photozone describe it as "spot on", lensrentals describe it as consistently front or backfocusing (also my experience).  lenstip are unequivocally positive in their review for the 85mm.

Curiously, photozone had a lot of trouble with the Canon 24-70L whereas TDP's review for it reads like an advertisement.

TDP is a great resource but it would not be my first choice of resource for assessing the relative merits of brand vs third party lenses.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 07, 2011, 07:19:47 PM
TDP is a great resource but it would not be my first choice of resource for assessing the relative merits of brand vs third party lenses.

I don't disagree with that.  But then, I don't use 3rd party lenses. They certainly fill an important niche - mostly, that of cheaper alternatives to brand lenses.  Nothing is free, so often the reduced cost results in quality tradeoffs I'm unwilling to make.  Granted, there are 3rd party lenses for which no brand alternative exists, and the competition is certainly good for all of us!
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: sarangiman on December 07, 2011, 07:42:15 PM
Yeah competition is good & I hope Sigma's 9-blade much-more-circular aperture forces Canon to rethink their 85/1.2 II. This is one aspect in which the Sigma lens is not only as good as, but, better than the Canon 85L. As one of the previously posted reviews itself states.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: alipaulphotography on December 07, 2011, 07:48:56 PM
I only ever use center point. I dont trust the others. After recomposing I refocus manually.

How do you use manual focus ? I take it you are using phase detect AF and therefore not live view (?) Which focusing screen do you use ?

Focus as you would with the center point, recompose with the finger still on the shutter, twist the focus ring on the lens so focus is on the eyes.

I use the super precision matte focusing screen. EE-S maybe?

I have a 5D - so no live view. Ideally I'd use back button focus if I owned a 5D mk II.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 07, 2011, 07:56:30 PM
I only ever use center point. I dont trust the others. After recomposing I refocus manually.

How do you use manual focus ? I take it you are using phase detect AF and therefore not live view (?) Which focusing screen do you use ?

Focus as you would with the center point, recompose with the finger still on the shutter, twist the focus ring on the lens so focus is on the eyes.

I use the super precision matte focusing screen. EE-S maybe?

I have a 5D - so no live view. Ideally I'd use back button focus if I owned a 5D mk II.
doesnt the 5D let you reconfigure the * to be back button focus? i'm pretty sure it should
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: Ryusui on December 07, 2011, 09:44:18 PM
I have a 5D - so no live view. Ideally I'd use back button focus if I owned a 5D mk II.
doesnt the 5D let you reconfigure the * to be back button focus? i'm pretty sure it should
Yup.  C.Fn-04.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: skitron on December 08, 2011, 10:50:42 AM
I have found my "hit rate" with f/1.4- f/2 lenses (50 f/1.4 and 135 f/2) improves radically if I shoot using AI focus and shot at 8 fps on the MkIV, particularly when shooting people handheld. Just that tiny rocking on your feet is enough to shift focus from the eyes to somewhere useless.

I think it's more than just front/back movement, though that's an important point. I get the feeling that one shot AF quits a split second too soon with fast primes, or at least with Sigma fast primes. AI Servo keeps trying even if you and the subject are stationary. I get a higher hit rate if I use AI Servo and wait to fire until the AF has settled.

Interesting, i will definitely try this. Thanks for the info!
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: brando72 on December 08, 2011, 03:46:29 PM
I only ever use center point. I dont trust the others. After recomposing I refocus manually.

How do you use manual focus ? I take it you are using phase detect AF and therefore not live view (?) Which focusing screen do you use ?

Focus as you would with the center point, recompose with the finger still on the shutter, twist the focus ring on the lens so focus is on the eyes.

Is there a problem using the center point, recomposing and then taking shot? Why do you need to focus again after you recompose assuming shutter is still 1/2 pressed?
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: brando72 on December 08, 2011, 03:48:26 PM
sorry,

Is there a problem using the center point, recomposing and then taking shot? Why do you need to focus again after you recompose assuming shutter is still 1/2 pressed?
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 08, 2011, 04:08:37 PM
Is there a problem using the center point, recomposing and then taking shot?

With fast lenses shot wide open with a reasonably close subject, you're guaranteeing a back-focused shot.  See this article (http://visual-vacations.com/Photography/focus-recompose_sucks.htm).  It's enough of a problem that some Hasselblad cameras use a gyro sensor to detect the degree of angular motion when you recompose, and adjust the focus to compensate...
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: brando72 on December 08, 2011, 04:18:05 PM
Thanks Neuro. I will read up on this.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 08, 2011, 06:28:30 PM
Is there a problem using the center point, recomposing and then taking shot?

With fast lenses shot wide open with a reasonably close subject, you're guaranteeing a back-focused shot.  See this article (http://visual-vacations.com/Photography/focus-recompose_sucks.htm).  It's enough of a problem that some Hasselblad cameras use a gyro sensor to detect the degree of angular motion when you recompose, and adjust the focus to compensate...

you can focus on their nose and recompose then the eyes are pretty sharp... unless they have a gigantic honker that is....
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: MazV-L on December 08, 2011, 11:24:24 PM
Is there a problem using the center point, recomposing and then taking shot?

With fast lenses shot wide open with a reasonably close subject, you're guaranteeing a back-focused shot.  See this article (http://visual-vacations.com/Photography/focus-recompose_sucks.htm).  It's enough of a problem that some Hasselblad cameras use a gyro sensor to detect the degree of angular motion when you recompose, and adjust the focus to compensate...

you can focus on their nose and recompose then the eyes are pretty sharp... unless they have a gigantic honker that is....

I favour the focus-recompose method when using my 85f1.2ii on my classic 5D, to overcome the back-focus problem with this method I decrease the aperture to f1.6 for a slightly wider DOF, also find this aperture helps me to nail more shots of my children who won't keep still for a photo!
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 11, 2011, 11:24:23 PM
Well I bit the bullet and picked up a Sigma 85 f1.4!
my first sigma lens, I tested it out in store against the canon

boy that canon looks good but the cost difference was massive and the store had the sigma on sale
$999 which is only $90 more than getting it from digital rev off ebay and I get the ability to take it in if i hae any issues with it.
immediate impressions were that the AF speed is ALOT faster on the sigma than on the canon 1.2
build quality is quite nice too
I can't wait to give it a workout later on
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: branden on December 12, 2011, 01:02:55 AM
So it didn't explode into a fiery ball of scrap metal the instant you attached it to your camera? That's what the internet has led me to believe Sigma lenses do
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 12, 2011, 01:16:40 AM
So it didn't explode into a fiery ball of scrap metal the instant you attached it to your camera? That's what the internet has led me to believe Sigma lenses do

strangley enoguht NOT YET!

AF is FAST on this puppy
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: willrobb on December 12, 2011, 05:35:48 AM
Well I bit the bullet and picked up a Sigma 85 f1.4!
my first sigma

I think you've done a good thing. Despite the reports that some of the Sigma copies have wonky AF, there are a lot more people saying it's a top notch lens. There are a few dodgy 7D and 5DmkII copies out there, we all know they arerhe minority and it doesn't put us off, so we shouldn't be put off by any reports about third party lenses that seem to be in the minority either.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: alipaulphotography on December 12, 2011, 05:50:42 AM
So it didn't explode into a fiery ball of scrap metal the instant you attached it to your camera? That's what the internet has led me to believe Sigma lenses do

Haha - People do say some nasty things about sigmas! I just think most users struggle with focus at wide apertures and feel like blaming it on the lens and exclaiming that the canon 'must' be better. I've got the 50 and the 85 sigma, both bought 2nd hand without trying them out first. Haven't noticed a single problem shooting wide open. Not one bit. I think they are both fantastic.

Personally never agree to listen to others when buying lenses - What is good for some people might not be good for others. Know what you want/need and get it regardless of what others say.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 12, 2011, 07:02:13 AM
when i tested the copy in the shop on their body i noticed it was front focusing it was definately off compared to their demo but not massively

after micro calibration on my cameras ended up +13 on the 5D mk2 and +6 on the 1D mk3, it was the last new copy they had at that price, i could take it back and exchange it for the store demo copy which seemed to be less off, doesnt really bother me as all my cameras have micro adjust but i think if anyone tried this lens on a camera without micro adjust it would upset them

would you swap it out for the demo which would most likely need less adjustment? as it is on my cameras I have the focus bang on now, pretty impressed, it is really really sharp
i even put the kenko 1.4 tc on it and a f2 (wide open) it is insanely sharp just adds a bit of CA in certain light
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 12, 2011, 10:07:18 AM
when i tested the copy in the shop on their body i noticed it was front focusing it was definately off compared to their demo but not massively

after micro calibration on my cameras ended up +13 on the 5D mk2 and +6 on the 1D mk3, it was the last new copy they had at that price, i could take it back and exchange it for the store demo copy which seemed to be less off, doesnt really bother me as all my cameras have micro adjust but i think if anyone tried this lens on a camera without micro adjust it would upset them

would you swap it out for the demo which would most likely need less adjustment? as it is on my cameras I have the focus bang on now, pretty impressed, it is really really sharp

If you had a 60D, you'd be screwed.  Thus, the complaints about Sigma lenses.  With some exceptions (like the Sigma 50/1.4 with focus shift), AFMA can correct many of the problems (at least the systematic ones, reportedly there are inconsistent issues with some Sigma lenses, too).

As for taking it back, +13 is a pretty hefty adjsustment.  You are running the risk that if you get another body someday which is further off in the other direction, +20 might not be enough to correct the mismatch.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 12, 2011, 05:18:37 PM
when i tested the copy in the shop on their body i noticed it was front focusing it was definately off compared to their demo but not massively

after micro calibration on my cameras ended up +13 on the 5D mk2 and +6 on the 1D mk3, it was the last new copy they had at that price, i could take it back and exchange it for the store demo copy which seemed to be less off, doesnt really bother me as all my cameras have micro adjust but i think if anyone tried this lens on a camera without micro adjust it would upset them

would you swap it out for the demo which would most likely need less adjustment? as it is on my cameras I have the focus bang on now, pretty impressed, it is really really sharp

If you had a 60D, you'd be screwed.  Thus, the complaints about Sigma lenses.  With some exceptions (like the Sigma 50/1.4 with focus shift), AFMA can correct many of the problems (at least the systematic ones, reportedly there are inconsistent issues with some Sigma lenses, too).

As for taking it back, +13 is a pretty hefty adjsustment.  You are running the risk that if you get another body someday which is further off in the other direction, +20 might not be enough to correct the mismatch.

yeah this is my concern its a big difference between the 2 bodies though especially considering i have done it for all my other canon lenses and they are almost spot on at 0 on both bodies, so close its hard so say if moving the micro adjust 1 or 2 either way would make a difference. maybe i should take it in and try the demo on my cameras and see what the adjustment would be on that copy, they also have a 1 yearold second hand one they are selling pretty cheap.

AF is extremely responsive though and it is very sharp, significantly sharper than my canon 50mm f1.4, the build quality feels very nice and the focus ring is quite stiff so if using manual focus you dont accidently bump it off focus when you take your hand away, the canon 50mm f1.4 the focus ring is quite loose i feel.

overall value for money it seems pretty good so far, i mean you can buy 2 and half of these for what a canon 85 f11.2 costs and the AF on the canon was really really slow in comparison (I tested the sigma out first)
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: elflord on December 12, 2011, 08:45:33 PM
If you had a 60D, you'd be screwed. 

You can ship it off to Sigma and have them calibrate it to your body. Not convenient, but not screwed either.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: torger on December 16, 2011, 03:45:29 AM
I've looked at the Canon 85/1.2 and Sigma 85/1.4. I'm mainly interested in shallow DoF photography of people.

The Sigma 85/1.4 seems nice, but concerning shallow DoF it seems like the Sigma does not at all go out of focus as much as the Canon, even at the same aperture.

Look at the girl at the fence in this review:
http://www.thedigitalpicture.com/Reviews/Sigma-85mm-f-1.4-EX-DG-HSM-Lens-Review.aspx
and compare f/1.4 - f/1.8, look at the fence behind the girl.

For Sigma f/1.4 to f/1.8 the "out of focus look" is almost the same, just with different vignetting. For Canon f/1.2 and f/1.4 are rather similar, but there are much clearer differences in out of focus look f/1.2 - f/1.8. f/1.4 on Sigma looks similar to f/2.0 on the Canon, that is the Canon can give much more of the desired buttery background. Sigma's bokeh is nice, it is not just as smeared as the Canon.

Since getting shallow DoF -- kind of a medium format look -- is the main reason for me to get a 85/1.2 or 1.4 instead of the low cost Canon 85/1.8, I've become a bit skeptical about Sigma. It is indeed much cheaper than Canon 85/1.2 but if it still is a half-measure concerning shallow DoF, why not just go for the cheap 85/1.8 instead?

I've read that the auto focus of the Canon 85mm/1.2 is not really fast. Anyone who knows how slow it is? For people I'm sure it's ok, you don't need fast focus there, but is it possible to shoot indoor sports for example? Today I use a 70-200/2.8 II for that purpose.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: MazV-L on December 16, 2011, 06:31:43 AM


I've read that the auto focus of the Canon 85mm/1.2 is not really fast. Anyone who knows how slow it is? For people I'm sure it's ok, you don't need fast focus there, but is it possible to shoot indoor sports for example? Today I use a 70-200/2.8 II for that purpose.

I'm not into action/sport photography but I once tried to use my 85 f1.2 to take photos of children using a slip and slide at a party my kids went to- didn't work too well, not many keepers :'( Focus definitely not fast enough! However, is DEFINITELY my favourite indoor portrait lens!
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: alipaulphotography on December 16, 2011, 07:47:11 AM


I've read that the auto focus of the Canon 85mm/1.2 is not really fast. Anyone who knows how slow it is? For people I'm sure it's ok, you don't need fast focus there, but is it possible to shoot indoor sports for example? Today I use a 70-200/2.8 II for that purpose.

I'm not into action/sport photography but I once tried to use my 85 f1.2 to take photos of children using a slip and slide at a party my kids went to- didn't work too well, not many keepers :'( Focus definitely not fast enough! However, is DEFINITELY my favourite indoor portrait lens!

Depth of field at 1.2 and even 1.4 is paper thin if doing a head & shoulders portrait. I wouldn't rely on the autofocus that much in those situations and manual focus for the eyes. Even recomposing slightly will move the focus right off.

I wouldn't want depth of field any thinner than my sigma 1.4. Bokeh is dreamy gorgeous.

(http://alipaul.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/KatieDan-141-BW-LR1.jpg)

Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 16, 2011, 09:24:07 AM
I've read that the auto focus of the Canon 85mm/1.2 is not really fast. Anyone who knows how slow it is? For people I'm sure it's ok, you don't need fast focus there, but is it possible to shoot indoor sports for example? Today I use a 70-200/2.8 II for that purpose.

I'll second what MazV-L stated.  I have charitably described the 85L's AF speed as 'ponderous'.  It's a front-focusing lens (i.e. the front elements extend outward from the barrel when focusing), and that's a lot of heavy glass to move. 

I did a quick test this morning, comparing the 85L to the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, since you mention using that lens.  The time to rack the AF from the minimum focus distance to infinity was ~0.7s for the 70-200mm, and ~1.6s for the 85L.  If you're shooting something where the focusing distance changes rapidly or you need to switch from subject to subject at different distances (both of which would seem likely in many indoor sports), the AF speed of the 85L is going to be a real handicap.  Most other fast primes in around that range (85/1.8, 100/2, 135L) focus very fast.

Depth of field at 1.2 and even 1.4 is paper thin if doing a head & shoulders portrait. I wouldn't rely on the autofocus that much in those situations and manual focus for the eyes.

If you're going to manually focus at apertures wider than f/2.8, you'll want a high-precision focusing screen.  The stock screens in current cameras show the DoF of ~f/2.5 even if the lens is wider than that (stop a fast lens progressively down while looking through the VF and holding the DoF Preview button, and you'll notice that the VF doesn't get any darker until you get to f/2.5).  Focusing at f/1.2 or f/1.4 while viewing the DoF of f/2.5 is not that accurate (AF may very well be better), but the precision screen (Eg-S for the 5DII, for example) will show the true DoF of a fast lens.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: shermanstank on December 16, 2011, 10:00:43 AM
Different strokes for different folks. But the 85 1.2L II is pure magic especially on film's excellent dynamic range  The dreamy bokeh would make you drink some more.  :D

The image below was shot on a very cloudy/overcast day using my Canon 1V-HS and the 85 1.2L II.  Wide open of course  ;D

KODAK EKTAR 100
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: torger on December 16, 2011, 10:32:39 AM
Depth of field at 1.2 and even 1.4 is paper thin if doing a head & shoulders portrait. I wouldn't rely on the autofocus that much in those situations and manual focus for the eyes. Even recomposing slightly will move the focus right off.

I wouldn't want depth of field any thinner than my sigma 1.4. Bokeh is dreamy gorgeous.

I'm doing some fairly deep water speculation here, since my shallow DoF photography experience is not as good as landscape photography (which is my main interest). Anyway - with my limited experience so far it seems to me that the difference between f/1.2 and say f/2.0 concerning focus placement is not big at all - in both cases you need to nail right it within say 5mm. The thing is that already at f/2 the DoF is short enough for you to see on exactly where in the face the focal plane sits so you already have the problem, and it does not get much worse at f/1.2. Am I right or wrong about this? Someone more experienced could comment.

Concerning focus-and-recompose, I've done some calculations and the only time you get issues is when you change your angle really much, which typically only occurs with a wide angle lens. Head-and-shoulder portraits is no problem, with a typical 85mm headshot you change the distance with ~1.6mm by recomposing. The longer tele lens you have the less of an angle is (typically) required to recompose and the lesser is the problem. I don't think 85mm in typical use will have much of this problem.

Still, Hasselblad has a feature for this, "True Focus", so the problem exists in some conditions, here's an illustration I found on the web:
http://akelstudio.s3.amazonaws.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/true_focus_illust.png
it shows the angle of view of a 24mm lens though, and in that particular example the focal plane will move about 130mm.

So far I have shot short DoF with 70-200/2.8 and 50/1.4 using autofocus central point only and I'm quite pleased with the hit rate, so I think autofocus and recomposing will work.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 16, 2011, 01:46:02 PM
Nice image, which also happens to show the bane of the 85L - longitudinal CA.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: bchernicoff on December 16, 2011, 03:12:33 PM
Adorama has just taken $100 off the Sigma: http://www.adorama.com/SG8514EOS.html?EmailPrice=T
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: branden on December 16, 2011, 04:40:55 PM
Look at the girl at the fence in this review:
http://www.thedigitalpicture.com/Reviews/Sigma-85mm-f-1.4-EX-DG-HSM-Lens-Review.aspx
and compare f/1.4 - f/1.8, look at the fence behind the girl.

For Sigma f/1.4 to f/1.8 the "out of focus look" is almost the same, just with different vignetting. For Canon f/1.2 and f/1.4 are rather similar, but there are much clearer differences in out of focus look f/1.2 - f/1.8. f/1.4 on Sigma looks similar to f/2.0 on the Canon, that is the Canon can give much more of the desired buttery background. Sigma's bokeh is nice, it is not just as smeared as the Canon.
Keep in mind, that that specific example is not a fair test of out-of-focus blur, since the repeating pattern of the fence is creating constructive interference as the out-of-focus blur of each fence post overlaps that of the neighboring posts. You can see this factor come into play between the f/2.8 and f/2 photos, as the fence appears blurrier at f/2.8, since at f/2 the constructive interference is affecting the bokeh quality.

The bokeh comparison further down the page will give a more straightforward comparison.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: thepancakeman on December 16, 2011, 05:01:56 PM
Nice image, which also happens to show the bane of the 85L - longitudinal CA.

It does?  Great!...what is it?   ???

In other words, looking at the picture can you describe what longitudinal CA looks like for those of us who don't know what that is?
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: torger on December 16, 2011, 05:32:16 PM
Nice image, which also happens to show the bane of the 85L - longitudinal CA.

It does?  Great!...what is it?   ???

In other words, looking at the picture can you describe what longitudinal CA looks like for those of us who don't know what that is?

It is magenta cast in the out of focus blur, particularly visible at large apertures, like this, at f/1.2:
http://www.photozone.de/images/8Reviews/lenses/canon_85_12_5d/loca_f12.jpg

all lenses have it though, more or less.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 16, 2011, 05:50:54 PM
Comparing them side by side I would say the sigma AF Is 3 times faster than the canon 1.2
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: DW on December 16, 2011, 06:55:37 PM
I just had to weigh in on this conversation as I shoot most of my portraits using the Canon 85 1.2L on the 5d MKII. I LOVE the lens and the bokeh is just simple gorgeous. The razor thin DOF at 1.2 is something to master. Women are the main subjects I use wide open at 1.2. There's just the dreaminess that goes with shooting at that aperture.

When I first bought the lens, I didn't realize how thin the DOF was going to be until I seriously used it for some shoots. I would get as close up to the face as I could so I would get noses in focus but not the eyes but I was aiming for the eye, shifted a bit most likely. Now I work pretty well with it after using it for over a year. Just wanted to share some clear examples of it.  I can't say how well the Sigma is as I haven't used it before but until the 85 III comes out, I wouldn't trade this slow, big, beautiful baby.

PS. definitely not for action as focus is too slow, its more of a portrait lens but the low light capability is astonishing. For film/video, I stick with the Nikkor AI-s 85mm 1.4 for manual aperture ring and easier manual focusing.

http://dawen.smugmug.com/Cosplay-Photography/Saber/i-sLtTxnm/0/XL/IMG6659-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Cosplay-Photography/Saber/i-CzBMwZZ/0/XL/IMG6646-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Cosplay-Photography/Leigh-Anne-Brittany/i-drLgCx6/0/XL/IMG6564-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Cosplay-Photography/Leigh-Anne-Brittany/i-rq9LK7r/0/XL/IMG6548-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Events/Conceal-Her-Rehearsal/i-Lpsjm2h/1/XL/IMG6381-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Events/Conceal-Her-Rehearsal/i-zm5ndPF/1/XL/IMG6349-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Portraits/Johnny-Wu-Soho-Suit/i-H95Rfq4/1/XL/IMG7316-2-Edit-XL.jpg

-DW
Canon 5d Mark II
Canon 7d
Canon 30d
Canon 24-105mm 4L IS
Canon 50mm 1.8 II
Canon 85mm 1.2L II IS
Canon 70-200 2.8L II IS
Sigma 28mm 1.8
Nikkor AI-s 20mm 2.8
Nikkor AI-s 50mm 1.2
Nikkor AI-s 85mm 1.4
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: shermanstank on December 17, 2011, 01:05:45 AM
NEUROANATOMIST----  Thanks for pointing out the Purple Fringing. I overlooked it.  :o  I edited the picture and is now a lot better!   ;D   The 85 1.2L II is just one beautiful, monstrous lens. 

Sherwin
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: torger on December 17, 2011, 04:57:21 AM
[Keep in mind, that that specific example is not a fair test of out-of-focus blur, since the repeating pattern of the fence is creating constructive interference as the out-of-focus blur of each fence post overlaps that of the neighboring posts. You can see this factor come into play between the f/2.8 and f/2 photos, as the fence appears blurrier at f/2.8, since at f/2 the constructive interference is affecting the bokeh quality.

The bokeh comparison further down the page will give a more straightforward comparison.

I think the f/1.2 - f/1.8 range is most interesting. You can look at the tree in the background instead.

For f/2 and up there are cheaper alternatives. The test further down the page show f/5.6, and there Canon 85/1.8 is a great lens too.

I don't think Sigma is bad, but if I buy a lens primarily for shallow DoF it seems like the canon has an edge, even at f/1.4

Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: willrobb on December 17, 2011, 10:14:58 AM
I just had to weigh in on this conversation as I shoot most of my portraits using the Canon 85 1.2L on the 5d MKII. I LOVE the lens and the bokeh is just simple gorgeous. The razor thin DOF at 1.2 is something to master. Women are the main subjects I use wide open at 1.2. There's just the dreaminess that goes with shooting at that aperture.

When I first bought the lens, I didn't realize how thin the DOF was going to be until I seriously used it for some shoots. I would get as close up to the face as I could so I would get noses in focus but not the eyes but I was aiming for the eye, shifted a bit most likely. Now I work pretty well with it after using it for over a year. Just wanted to share some clear examples of it.  I can't say how well the Sigma is as I haven't used it before but until the 85 III comes out, I wouldn't trade this slow, big, beautiful baby.

PS. definitely not for action as focus is too slow, its more of a portrait lens but the low light capability is astonishing. For film/video, I stick with the Nikkor AI-s 85mm 1.4 for manual aperture ring and easier manual focusing.

http://dawen.smugmug.com/Cosplay-Photography/Saber/i-sLtTxnm/0/XL/IMG6659-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Cosplay-Photography/Saber/i-CzBMwZZ/0/XL/IMG6646-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Cosplay-Photography/Leigh-Anne-Brittany/i-drLgCx6/0/XL/IMG6564-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Cosplay-Photography/Leigh-Anne-Brittany/i-rq9LK7r/0/XL/IMG6548-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Events/Conceal-Her-Rehearsal/i-Lpsjm2h/1/XL/IMG6381-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Events/Conceal-Her-Rehearsal/i-zm5ndPF/1/XL/IMG6349-XL.jpg
http://dawen.smugmug.com/Portraits/Johnny-Wu-Soho-Suit/i-H95Rfq4/1/XL/IMG7316-2-Edit-XL.jpg

-DW
Canon 5d Mark II
Canon 7d
Canon 30d
Canon 24-105mm 4L IS
Canon 50mm 1.8 II
Canon 85mm 1.2L II IS
Canon 70-200 2.8L II IS
Sigma 28mm 1.8
Nikkor AI-s 20mm 2.8
Nikkor AI-s 50mm 1.2
Nikkor AI-s 85mm 1.4

Some brilliant shots there, really beautiful portraits.

I think you have summed up the canon 85mm f1.2LII with your photos and your comments about the AF not being for action shots. Your shots show just how good this lens is, when it hits the mark other lenses don't come close, but it's not one for fast moving action. There the Sigma f1.4 or even the canon 85mm f1.8 probably wins.

I guess it's a matter of what someone will be shooting that dictates Whig lens to buy.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 18, 2011, 07:53:18 PM
well after shooting a wedding on the weekend with the sigma 85 f1.4, 1 thing that was really annoying is how protruding the AF/MF switch is, it was constantly getting knocked from AF to MF other than that it performed extremely well very fast AF and accurate too.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: willrobb on December 23, 2011, 07:18:08 AM
Went to my usual lens store for a final play with the Sigma 85 and the canon 85mm 1.2LII. Part of me hoped I would get a Sigma with a wonky AF and the canon would be spot on, the lure of another red ring was calling me....but for the third time in a row I was pretty impressed with the Sigma AF and build quality....and price (hard to see much IQ difference when doing test shots in a store). So, I bought the Sigma, spent more of the left over money on my wife's Christmas and I think I've ensured household festive harmony for another year. Result.

Haven't used the Sigma for work yet, maybe use it next week venue permitting, but from a few test snaps on the street I am thinking I got a good deal with the Sigma.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: JR on December 23, 2011, 08:35:06 AM
So, I bought the Sigma, spent more of the left over money on my wife's Christmas and I think I've ensured household festive harmony for another year.

+1!  This might be off topic but you made me laugh with this comment.  As they say:  Happy wife, happy life!  Good move willrobb.   8)
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: AprilForever on December 23, 2011, 08:38:03 AM
I'ma gonna have to get me a 85 1.4... at some point...
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: cdang on December 23, 2011, 05:32:06 PM
Does anyone here use AI Servo to help nail the focus ?
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: Enrico on December 28, 2011, 03:32:44 PM
I have been reading up o these lenses til my eyes were bleeding...

Went to the store today and tried them both on my 5D2. The siggy has quicker AF, yes. The Canon has better bokeh and much better build.

However, I have read tons on complaints about the canon being slow... I have just realized it is as with all other things in life, it is relative - relative to what you compare it with... For me coming from a rebel with 50/1.8 it the canon 85/1.2 actually feels quick... and when it comes to portraits of a child moving its head it is ok. For sure it is slow going from 1.5 m to 10 m... but hey... that's not what these 85's are for, at least not for me. I could easily follow focus on my sons eyes when in the bathtub an hour ago.

My summary was that the siggy will give really good pictures for a decent price. The canon is twice as expensive, but it will for sure add more dreamy bokeh and pop, then whether that's worth double the siggy price or not that is up to you to decide.

I had the money saved so I went for the Canon and I am not regretting it (as I am sure I would if I have gone with the siggy, since there is one beats that is better... not perhaps better per dollar... but simple just better...)

Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: wickidwombat on December 28, 2011, 07:17:12 PM
good decision! get the lens that works for your purpose :D, I'm sure you will get amazing shots with it

the canon f1.2 is such a work of art i had a hard time deciding to go with the siggy instead but my primary use was going to be for weddings and I just knew the AF speed wouldn't keep up. as you say the f1.2 is quite quick as long as you arent jumping between distances, as soon as you do that though it falls over. still so far very happy with the sigma, it being smaller and lighter is also a nice side benefit.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: briansquibb on December 29, 2011, 02:11:32 AM
If the AF isn't fast enough then an old school shooter would use the focus ring - it is a mighty quick way to get it close, and then let the AF do the final adjustment.

I suspect it is why Canon leave the full time focus on these big lens ....
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 29, 2011, 09:57:23 AM
If the AF isn't fast enough then an old school shooter would use the focus ring - it is a mighty quick way to get it close, and then let the AF do the final adjustment.

Except that in this case, that wouldn't help the old school shooter at all.  When you rotate the focus ring of the 85L, it activates actuators which cause the ring USM motor to move the focusing elements.  So, MF is no faster than AF with the 85L.  Another consequence of that is the lens requires power to focus - if you want to store the lens with the front element retracted, you need to do that with the lens mounted and the camera on. A bit annoying, but it becomes a habit.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: briansquibb on December 29, 2011, 12:19:46 PM
If the AF isn't fast enough then an old school shooter would use the focus ring - it is a mighty quick way to get it close, and then let the AF do the final adjustment.

Except that in this case, that wouldn't help the old school shooter at all.  When you rotate the focus ring of the 85L, it activates actuators which cause the ring USM motor to move the focusing elements.  So, MF is no faster than AF with the 85L.  Another consequence of that is the lens requires power to focus - if you want to store the lens with the front element retracted, you need to do that with the lens mounted and the camera on. A bit annoying, but it becomes a habit.

My mistake - didn't realise it was a fly by wire focus.

The 85 f/1.2 is on my possible list for the 1D4 so am interested in this thread. Have the f/1.8 version but not that keen on the background from it.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 29, 2011, 02:03:06 PM
The 85 f/1.2 is on my possible list for the 1D4 so am interested in this thread. Have the f/1.8 version but not that keen on the background from it.

It's quite a bit nicer, both in build quality and background blur.  On FF, I usually shoot at f/1.6-1.8, but on APS-H the wider aperture would be a big benefit. The 85L has less longitudinal CA than the 85/1.8 (still has some, though).  Also, even at f/1.8 I found that the 85L delivers better background blur than the 85/1.8:

(http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4122/4743753884_72aef2de35_z.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dr_brain/4743753884/in/set-72157624587295692/lightbox/)

Focal point is on the bloom in front.  The crops below are ~1:3 pixels of the blossom that is vertical to the focal point (the right one of the pair).  To me, the bokeh of the 85L at f/1.8 is smoother and softer than the 85mm f/1.8.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: kbmelb on December 29, 2011, 02:47:59 PM
Does anyone here use AI Servo to help nail the focus ?

Yes. I find it helps compensate for my subtle movements, such as breathing, before I squeeze the shutter. I do this with the 50 1.2 and occasionally with the 135 2.0 also.
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: briansquibb on December 29, 2011, 03:56:25 PM

It's quite a bit nicer, both in build quality and background blur.  On FF, I usually shoot at f/1.6-1.8, but on APS-H the wider aperture would be a big benefit. The 85L has less longitudinal CA than the 85/1.8 (still has some, though).  Also, even at f/1.8 I found that the 85L delivers better background blur than the 85/1.8:

(http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4122/4743753884_72aef2de35_z.jpg) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dr_brain/4743753884/in/set-72157624587295692/lightbox/)

Focal point is on the bloom in front.  The crops below are ~1:3 pixels of the blossom that is vertical to the focal point (the right one of the pair).  To me, the bokeh of the 85L at f/1.8 is smoother and softer than the 85mm f/1.8.

Many thanks for that - it is very useful info
Title: Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
Post by: sarangiman on January 21, 2012, 09:29:13 PM
Interesting, Neuroanatomist. As I mentioned in a different thread, I've found that the Canon 85/1.2 has a shorter DOF at f/1.4 than the Sigma at f/1.4. In fact, at f/1.6 it has a similar DOF to the Sigma at f/1.4. I wonder if Canon actually underestimates its max f-stop value (or Sigma overestimates it... which'd also imply that the Canon 85/1.8 overestimates it according to your results).