I buy my lenses for specific needs, but when I do, I prefer the "what else can I use this lens for" approach. That's why I said, "all in all" it's a better lens. Sure, the bokeh of the 1.2 is creamier, but it's also less sharp, has more CA (both lateral and longnitudal) and has a slower AF, and considering I already have a MF f/1.2 lens that's sharp wide open and that I can use for portraits, I had no reason to go with the lens that has a slower AF: here's where we get to the "what else" part. If I shoot indoor sports (for leisure), I don't want to be sporting a lens that has slower AF, just because it's more expensive. No one there is going to be impressed, and I'm not going to be impressed when I go home to look at a card full of blurry images or correctly focused empty floor. The bokeh of the 1.8 is quite enough for me, I actually like it a lot. What I really don't get in the 85/1.2 is the amount of CA. It's an L series lens, supposedly one of the better ones. Really? Canon couldn't control the CA better when making that lens? It's 85mm, not 15mm! I have a $200 lens from 1978 that can do better! Part of value is "getting what you pay for". Yes, I find the 1.8 better value, but more importantly, I don't find the value of the 1.2 anywhere near its price. Not so for many other L series lenses, they are well worth the money, but this one? Not in my eyes, no way. There are a few misses in the L series lenses, and despite popular opinion, I consider the 85/1.2 (both I and II) one. I'll hold on to my 1.8 (with it's better flare control than the 1.2) until I find something better in the 85mm region with AF. By better I don't mean "better in one regard only". However, I'm perfectly happy with my 85/1.8, which is why I'm holding on to it. I didn't get it because it was cheaper, I got it because it was the best set of compromises for what I needed from this lens. I would have gotten the f/1.2L if I thought it was better all around. I don't. It's a special lens for special uses, and for those uses, it's great, the bokeh is great, better than the 1.8. If you want a special lens, the 1.2 is your choice. If you want to use your 85 for anything else (like I do), if you need a fast focusing AF, the 1.2 is not your lens. That's why I went with the 1.8, and not with the 1.2 or the Sigma 85 1.4. You're welcome to disagree with my personal opinion and I think I've given you enough of an explanation. Costing less doesn't always mean cheaper, or worse, and costing more doesn't always mean better, and then there's the question of "better at doing what". I've learned that, and if you think otherwise, one day you'll learn it too.
I agree with everything Rey said. I chose the 1.8 precisely because all things considered it's simply a better lens than the f/1.2! The f/1.2 is a special lens for those special times when you really want the DOF of f/1.2 at 85mm, but 85/1.8 is the obvious choice for portraits and normal photography! It's faster (AF, not aperture), better, and more reliable.
Couldn't disagree more. The 85/1.8 is a cheaper lens, and it focuses faster. Budget permitting, the 85/1.2 is the obvious choice for portraits - portrait subjects aren't moving fast, you have f/1.2 if you want it, and of course the 85/1.2 can be stopped down to f/1.8...and gives better bokeh with both at f/1.8. The 85L still has some axial CA, but it's nowhere near as bad as the 85/1.8.
I'm curious as to your basis for calling the 85/1.8 'more reliable' - neither lens makes Lensrentals frequently repaired lists (Sigma's 85/1.4 has made that list, though). Do you have some data to back that up, other than meaningless anecdotal info? (I've owned both, the 85L for longer, neither broke so does that mean the 85L is more reliable? No.)
While the 85/1.8 is a better value, the 85L is a better lens (unless you're shooting fast action - and even then, you're rarely racking from infinity to MFD and back, so in practice the 85L actually does ok with moving subjects).
Couldn't argue with any of your observations... In Digital Revs side by side comparison of both 85's from Canon, he definitely conceded the AF was faster in the 1.8 to the 1.2, wasn't even close... He also like the shot to shot reliability of the 1.8 vs the 1.2. He did like the build and the sexiness of the 1.2 and the focus WHEN the lens was properly focused. I have worked with neither, but an 85mm is on my list of next purchases (as well as replacing my backup 7D). I did however have similar results when I tested the 50mm 1.2 and the 50mm 1.4... When I tested the two lenses on the same cameras, the "cheaper" lens focused quicker, more reliably and a better value... The 1.2 was nice when it worked and focused good, but when it was off, it was horrid. As a working pro, i'm not interested in the sexiness factor, i'm looking at the odds and shot to shot factor... if i have a client spontaneously give me "that look" in which that shot would make or break that photo session, I need to have confidence that the focus is going to be nailed when I fire that shutter... If i cant have that confidence, it isn't going to make my camera bag.