October 24, 2014, 05:01:59 AM

Author Topic: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8  (Read 9874 times)

Canon Rumors

  • Administrator
  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2705
    • View Profile
    • Canon Rumors
Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« on: December 30, 2013, 09:34:42 AM »
canonrumors.com

canon rumors FORUM

Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« on: December 30, 2013, 09:34:42 AM »

Rey

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 4
    • View Profile
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2013, 11:45:35 AM »
First of all, this is an old lens, why are you bothering to review it?
Second of all, where are the charts and maths that quantifiably prove that there is more magic in the 1.2 than the 1.8? My informal testing only indicates a 20% increase in magic that hardly justifys the price increase.
Also, why do you say it pairs with the 24/2.8? Everyone knows that the Canon budget triforce is the 28/1.8, 50/1.4 and the 85/1.8.

I like the 1.8 better than the 1.2 and the 1.2II. I've used all three over the years, and there are three things that I like about the 1.8 that you did not touch on in your review.
I will reiterate, I am not saying the 1.8 is better, and if you are looking for raw pixel-peeping image measurbating, get the 1.2II. However, because of the type of photography I'm paid to do, the 1.8 is better for my purposes.

1. Focus handling is generally better on the 1.8. The AF snaps quicker in general, and when I'm shooting people on stage or other people in motion in dodgy light, the 1.8 yields more keepers than either 1.2. Not to mention that while Justin mentions that you could do the same with the 70-200/2.8ISII by shooting at 1/13th, the people in motion part of the equation pretty much means that doing that isn't practical. Well, not practical if you want the people to be in focus. In fact, anytime you have moving people, the 1.2 lags behind the 1.8 The 1.8 is the better choice on the sidelines of a tennis or basketball game.
And while we are talking about the focus handling, the 1.8 is worlds better when using follow focus or otherwise using manual focus. Split-prism, live-view and video shooters know what I'm talking about. If you are constantly using the AF ring(5DII shooters I'm looking at you), 1.2II is fussy and annoying, while the 1.8 just works.

2. Minimum focus distance. Let me run some numbers by you; the 1.8 has a minimum focus distance of .85m, the 1.2II has a minimum focus distance of .95m, and the 70-200/2.8ISII has a minimum focus distance of 1.2m. This doesn't mean much to most people, and again, for 98% of the shooters out there, this does not matter. However, I frequently do tight headshots. (Just above the head to just below the chin with a little bit of collar showing) So, what does this have to do with minimum focus distance? Well, first of all, because of the minimum focus distance, this is not something that you can frame up in camera with the 70-200, because it will be too close to focus. You have to step back and zoom to 135 to get the same composition in camera. So, in this instance, you can't use the 70-200 @85 for the same shot. So, why use 85mm? Because your perspective comes from your distance to the subject, and your field of view comes from the focal length, and as soon as you back up and zoom with the 70-200, you have changed perspective vs what you would get with an 85.
So, anyway, with a minimum focus distance that is closer on the 1.8 than the 1.2, you have quicker fall-off in focus. (Macro photographers and focus stackers know what I mean) This means that if you get closer in with the 1.8 wide open, you can get both eyes in focus while the tip of the nose and the ears are out of focus, while the 1.2 pushes you back slightly, and you have to open up the aperture to get that same fall off, and it means that you typically only get one eye in focus on the 1.2 if you also want the ears and nose out of focus. If you want the medium format look on your tight headshots, the 1.8 does better, although you could probably get the same results by using a macro extension tube with the 1.2. That is, if you get a tube that doesn't kill the 1.2's focus by wire.

3. Borkeh and flare. So, I saw on dpreview a few months ago where someone did side-by-side comparisons between the 1.8 and 1.2 and said that the 1.2 had 35% better bokah. Really? You have chartable maths that tell you quantities of texture of out of focus areas? That's junk. The simple fact is that different lenses have different out of focus textures, and someone might like some textures over others. The 50/1.8 is known to have chunky bokeh texture, and in my opinion, the 70-200/2.8ISII has sterile borkeh. I don't like either.
So, in terms of bokeh, the 1.8 tends to smear the focus transition areas while the 1.2II has a more circular (rigid?) transition. When you combine this with the fact that the 1.2 tends to flare a bit more than the 1.8, it makes medium format looking tight headshots with a rim light crazy-making in post. What happens is the hair just behind the ears is out of focus, and the 1.8 will just smear and kind of pop it off the background. The 1.2II tends to flare the tips of the hair that is getting hit with the rim more than the 1.8, and you get these tiny little circular bokeh balls that are distracting. So, I end up having to go in post and clone out tips of hair. Really, nobody has time for that.

JVLphoto

  • Administrator
  • EOS M2
  • *****
  • Posts: 221
  • Whatever clicks
    • View Profile
    • JVLphoto
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2013, 11:55:24 AM »
lol - perfect Rey, from someone who's used all of these lenses more than I have.

drmikeinpdx

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 325
  • Celebrating 20 years of naughty photography!
    • View Profile
    • Beyond Boudoir Photo
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2013, 11:57:56 AM »
Nice to see a review of my favorite lens by my favorite reviewer!

I'd have to say his observations match mine regarding performance at various apertures, fast autofocus, light weight, etc...

The funny thing about this lens is how people always compare this great all around portrait lens to it's very specialized 1.2 L cousin.  Rather than a technical comparison, we end up discussing feelings, intagibles, magic and other vague things.

I have no doubt that under some conditions, the L version will give more contrast and more saturated colors.  (I have the 135 L and that is certainly a good example of the L effect.)

The thing is... in Lightroom, I have sliders for saturation, clarity and sharpness that will give me any look I want.  I can make images from the light, cheap 85 look just like the ones from the heavy, expensive 85, for all practical purposes.

So in my mind, the only advantage of the L lens is the 1.2 aperture.  Would I use that if I had it?  Considering that I normally use my 85 around F/2.5, I'd say not.

What we are really seeing here, in my opinion, is a victory for the Canon marketing department.  Many photographers buy the 85 L as a prestige symbol and very few of them really use it to any advantage that could not be more easily and cheaply accomplished with the 85 F/1.8.   Or the 135 L, if your goal is to wipe out the background and create dreamy bokeh.

I think this review is a good example of how most people think about these two lenses.  They can tell the 1.8 is a nice, useful, practical lens, but they are just sure that the extreme price of the 1.2 L and the magic red ring must symbolize something very important.

Your mileage will certainly vary!  :)
Current bodies:  5D3, 7D, 550D, S100
Favorite lenses: 135 f/2.0 L, 85 f/1.8 200 f/2.8 L, 50 f1.4 Sigma, 40mm pancake, 24-105 L.
blog:   http://www.BeyondBoudoirPhoto.com

JVLphoto

  • Administrator
  • EOS M2
  • *****
  • Posts: 221
  • Whatever clicks
    • View Profile
    • JVLphoto
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2013, 12:01:04 PM »
Nice to see a review of my favorite lens by my favorite reviewer!

I'd have to say his observations match mine regarding performance at various apertures, fast autofocus, light weight, etc...

The funny thing about this lens is how people always compare this great all around portrait lens to it's very specialized 1.2 L cousin.  Rather than a technical comparison, we end up discussing feelings, intagibles, magic and other vague things.

I have no doubt that under some conditions, the L version will give more contrast and more saturated colors.  (I have the 135 L and that is certainly a good example of the L effect.)

The thing is... in Lightroom, I have sliders for saturation, clarity and sharpness that will give me any look I want.  I can make images from the light, cheap 85 look just like the ones from the heavy, expensive 85, for all practical purposes.

So in my mind, the only advantage of the L lens is the 1.2 aperture.  Would I use that if I had it?  Considering that I normally use my 85 around F/2.5, I'd say not.

What we are really seeing here, in my opinion, is a victory for the Canon marketing department.  Many photographers buy the 85 L as a prestige symbol and very few of them really use it to any advantage that could not be more easily and cheaply accomplished with the 85 F/1.8.   Or the 135 L, if your goal is to wipe out the background and create dreamy bokeh.

I think this review is a good example of how most people think about these two lenses.  They can tell the 1.8 is a nice, useful, practical lens, but they are just sure that the extreme price of the 1.2 L and the magic red ring must symbolize something very important.

Your mileage will certainly vary!  :)

Yeah, I kept going back to my (in focus) images from the 1.2 being like "ooooh that's really nice" and while I had some good photos with the 1.8 they just weren't as much of a hit. Same difference between the 50 1.2 & 1.4 in my opinion.  There IS something there, maybe even un-quantifiable, but it will almost certainly cost you that much more for a marginal quantifiable difference... and not necessarily "improvement," but aesthetic difference which is really what this is all about right?

mackguyver

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *******
  • Posts: 2999
  • Who Dares Wins
    • View Profile
    • My Personal Work
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2013, 12:23:02 PM »
Nice to see a review of my favorite lens by my favorite reviewer!

I'd have to say his observations match mine regarding performance at various apertures, fast autofocus, light weight, etc...

The funny thing about this lens is how people always compare this great all around portrait lens to it's very specialized 1.2 L cousin.  Rather than a technical comparison, we end up discussing feelings, intagibles, magic and other vague things.

I have no doubt that under some conditions, the L version will give more contrast and more saturated colors.  (I have the 135 L and that is certainly a good example of the L effect.)

The thing is... in Lightroom, I have sliders for saturation, clarity and sharpness that will give me any look I want.  I can make images from the light, cheap 85 look just like the ones from the heavy, expensive 85, for all practical purposes.

So in my mind, the only advantage of the L lens is the 1.2 aperture.  Would I use that if I had it?  Considering that I normally use my 85 around F/2.5, I'd say not.

What we are really seeing here, in my opinion, is a victory for the Canon marketing department.  Many photographers buy the 85 L as a prestige symbol and very few of them really use it to any advantage that could not be more easily and cheaply accomplished with the 85 F/1.8.   Or the 135 L, if your goal is to wipe out the background and create dreamy bokeh.

I think this review is a good example of how most people think about these two lenses.  They can tell the 1.8 is a nice, useful, practical lens, but they are just sure that the extreme price of the 1.2 L and the magic red ring must symbolize something very important.

Your mileage will certainly vary!  :)

Yeah, I kept going back to my (in focus) images from the 1.2 being like "ooooh that's really nice" and while I had some good photos with the 1.8 they just weren't as much of a hit. Same difference between the 50 1.2 & 1.4 in my opinion.  There IS something there, maybe even un-quantifiable, but it will almost certainly cost you that much more for a marginal quantifiable difference... and not necessarily "improvement," but aesthetic difference which is really what this is all about right?
I'm with Justin on this one, and it's not just unsubstantiated magic - the 1.2 lenses are sharper and have more contrast (yielding better color as well) wide open than their 1.4 and 1.8 lenses respectively.  They also have (physically) larger apertures at all f stops, giving smoother bokeh, even at the same aperture as their 1.4 and 1.8 equivalents.  The 50 1.2 is also considerably more flare resistant than the 1.4, and I think the 85 is as well, but I can't remember off hand.  The CA in the 85 1.2 is handled much better than the 1.8, though the same can't be said of the 50 1.2.

I agree that you could probably tweak images in post to make them look pretty similar, but you can't adjust the bokeh and being able to use a lens wide between f/1.2-2 to get results that would require stopping down to f/2 for the 50 1.4 and f/2.5 for the 85mm is the primary difference.  If you nail a shot at f/1.2 with the associated shallow DOF, it has a look that can't be duplicated in any program.  Finally, build quality is another difference, and there's no comparison between the L and non-L lenses.

All that being said, the 50 1.4 in particular is a great lens and I used it with great results for many years.  I didn't like the 85 1.8 as much, but both lenses give excellent results in the right hands.

dickgrafixstop

  • Canon 70D
  • ****
  • Posts: 272
    • View Profile
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2013, 08:53:11 PM »
My favorite 85mm lens of all time is the Zeiss Planar f1.4 used on a Contax RTS and I could never figure out why
Canon wouldn't build an f1.4 (other than to protect the f1.2 profit margin).  The 85f1.8 is however a real price
performer and a great lens for the price.  Now they'll probably screw it up with an IS version at twice the price
and "better" optics.  I find it indispensible at indoor performances and even on a crop body it works well for
grandchildren's recitals, indoor sports and birthday parties.  I've stopped lugging those back breaking zooms and
my travel kit is a 35/85 combination which has worked well all over the world.   

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2013, 08:53:11 PM »

drmikeinpdx

  • Canon 6D
  • *****
  • Posts: 325
  • Celebrating 20 years of naughty photography!
    • View Profile
    • Beyond Boudoir Photo
Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2013, 12:04:39 AM »
Personally, I like the background to be smoothly blurred, but not wiped out entirely.  I'll offer some examples for your entertainment:

Here's a shot with the 85mm 1.8 at F/2, 1/1250, ISO 100



Let's zoom in on the hair.  Sharpness is at Lightroom's default, 25.




Here is one at F/2.2, 1/250, ISO 200, hand held in very soft light.

Current bodies:  5D3, 7D, 550D, S100
Favorite lenses: 135 f/2.0 L, 85 f/1.8 200 f/2.8 L, 50 f1.4 Sigma, 40mm pancake, 24-105 L.
blog:   http://www.BeyondBoudoirPhoto.com

kevl

  • PowerShot G1 X II
  • ***
  • Posts: 53
    • View Profile
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2014, 04:43:03 PM »
I have to LOL at this review.

I just purchased this lens for $319 at B&H. I shoot with a 5D3, 70-200 2.8L, 24-105L, and a 50 1.4. My verdict on this lens? It is brilliant.

I don't expect it to match a lens that costs nearly SEVEN TIMES AS MUCH. The fact that there is so much debate on this subject tells me I'm not just drinking the koolaid the lens it truly brilliant.

The guy in the review can say that his images with the 1.2 are more magical... OK.. thanks. I wonder how one would quantify that. Could it be that when one drops $2,200 on a lens that they feel obligated to feel it is full of magic?

The 1.2 lets in more light for sure, I'm not convinced it is sharper, and if focuses slower.

As the reviewer put it the only cons to the 1.8 are no hood included and it doesn't have a red ring on it. I've got two red rings, one is brilliant the other is OK (guess which? lol). I'm not sure I have thought about the ring on either of them in more than a passing way ever.

I don't mean to be rude but this is one of the least helpful reviews I've ever seen on a reputable camera website.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 04:44:38 PM by kevl »

clartephoto

  • SX60 HS
  • **
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
    • Clarte Photography - Melbourne Wedding Photographer
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2014, 01:42:23 AM »
The 85 f/1.8 is a very solid lens but the 85 f/1.2 is a distinct step up

Many of you guys above are quite adamant you can't see a difference in shots from the 85 f/1.2 vs the 85 f/1.8 for the samples provided so far  - below are some shots I have taken on the f/1.2 which in my opinion just can't be replicated using the 85 f/1.8 (but I accept I may be wrong, so very happy to be proven incorrect):








« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 01:45:41 AM by clartephoto »
Melbourne Wedding Photographer:: www.clartephoto.com

mackguyver

  • Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II
  • *******
  • Posts: 2999
  • Who Dares Wins
    • View Profile
    • My Personal Work
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2014, 09:29:37 AM »
clartephoto, more great shots, thanks for sharing.  It's nice to have you on CR.

The guy in the review can say that his images with the 1.2 are more magical... OK.. thanks. I wonder how one would quantify that. Could it be that when one drops $2,200 on a lens that they feel obligated to feel it is full of magic?
Have you used the 1.2?  If not, how can you say he's right or wrong?

The 1.2 lets in more light for sure, I'm not convinced it is sharper, and if focuses slower.

I don't mean to be rude but this is one of the least helpful reviews I've ever seen on a reputable camera website.
LOL back at you - the old "I don't mean to be rude" preceding the rude statement.  Saying that doesn't make it any less rude.

JVLphoto

  • Administrator
  • EOS M2
  • *****
  • Posts: 221
  • Whatever clicks
    • View Profile
    • JVLphoto
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2014, 10:50:55 AM »
I have to LOL at this review.

I just purchased this lens for $319 at B&H. I shoot with a 5D3, 70-200 2.8L, 24-105L, and a 50 1.4. My verdict on this lens? It is brilliant.

I don't expect it to match a lens that costs nearly SEVEN TIMES AS MUCH. The fact that there is so much debate on this subject tells me I'm not just drinking the koolaid the lens it truly brilliant.

The guy in the review can say that his images with the 1.2 are more magical... OK.. thanks. I wonder how one would quantify that. Could it be that when one drops $2,200 on a lens that they feel obligated to feel it is full of magic?

The 1.2 lets in more light for sure, I'm not convinced it is sharper, and if focuses slower.

As the reviewer put it the only cons to the 1.8 are no hood included and it doesn't have a red ring on it. I've got two red rings, one is brilliant the other is OK (guess which? lol). I'm not sure I have thought about the ring on either of them in more than a passing way ever.

I don't mean to be rude but this is one of the least helpful reviews I've ever seen on a reputable camera website.

I was hoping your "LOL's" were because those cons were mostly jokes (sarcasm) but I see it was lost on you. No problem, you're right in your observations and I certainly *don't* think the 85 1.2 is worth the extra money (I haven't bought one) but I do compare the two because focal length is an obvious comparison tool. I did mention I compare it more in line with the 50 1.4, 40 2.8 and other "like-class" lenses.

And hey, thanks for not meaning to be rude.

JVLphoto

  • Administrator
  • EOS M2
  • *****
  • Posts: 221
  • Whatever clicks
    • View Profile
    • JVLphoto
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2014, 10:53:26 AM »
The 85 f/1.8 is a very solid lens but the 85 f/1.2 is a distinct step up

Many of you guys above are quite adamant you can't see a difference in shots from the 85 f/1.2 vs the 85 f/1.8 for the samples provided so far  - below are some shots I have taken on the f/1.2 which in my opinion just can't be replicated using the 85 f/1.8 (but I accept I may be wrong, so very happy to be proven incorrect):

"Step Up" vs. step... different? I think people need to evaluate what they need. If it's fast or good AF then the 1.2 isn't a step up at all. But I do agree with you, as I wrote, there's something in the files right out of camera with the 1.2 that I couldn't compare to the 1.8 (trust me, I tried).

Great shots.

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2014, 10:53:26 AM »

JVLphoto

  • Administrator
  • EOS M2
  • *****
  • Posts: 221
  • Whatever clicks
    • View Profile
    • JVLphoto
Re: Review - Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2014, 10:54:03 AM »
clartephoto, more great shots, thanks for sharing.  It's nice to have you on CR.

The guy in the review can say that his images with the 1.2 are more magical... OK.. thanks. I wonder how one would quantify that. Could it be that when one drops $2,200 on a lens that they feel obligated to feel it is full of magic?
Have you used the 1.2?  If not, how can you say he's right or wrong?

The 1.2 lets in more light for sure, I'm not convinced it is sharper, and if focuses slower.

I don't mean to be rude but this is one of the least helpful reviews I've ever seen on a reputable camera website.
LOL back at you - the old "I don't mean to be rude" preceding the rude statement.  Saying that doesn't make it any less rude.

Ha ha - WORD!

JVLphoto

  • Administrator
  • EOS M2
  • *****
  • Posts: 221
  • Whatever clicks
    • View Profile
    • JVLphoto
Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2014, 11:16:26 AM »
Personally, I like the background to be smoothly blurred, but not wiped out entirely.  I'll offer some examples for your entertainment:

Looking good and yeah, nice and sharp. It's definitely a great lens (especially for the price).

canon rumors FORUM

Re: Canon 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2014, 11:16:26 AM »