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Author Topic: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8  (Read 5465 times)

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Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« 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]


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Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« on: December 30, 2013, 09:47:38 AM »

Dylan777

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #1 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
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 10:08:11 AM by Dylan777 »
Body: 1DX -- 5D III
Zoom: 24-70L II -- 70-200L f2.8 IS II
Prime: 40mm -- 85L II -- 135L -- 400L f2.8 IS II

mackguyver

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #2 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.
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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #3 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.
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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #4 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.

Haydn1971

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #5 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 ;-)
Regards, Haydn

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #6 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.

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2013, 01:44:49 PM »

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #7 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'.
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mackguyver

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #8 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:
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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #9 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.

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #10 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.
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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2013, 01:10:30 AM »
I love my 85/1.8..

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #12 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.
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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2013, 04:52:02 AM »

Maximilian

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #13 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...
sometimes you have to close your eyes to see properly.

mackguyver

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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #14 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.
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Re: Review - Canon EF 85mm f/1.8
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2013, 09:30:47 AM »