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Author Topic: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4  (Read 44293 times)

willrobb

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Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« 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'

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Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« on: December 05, 2011, 11:27:44 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #1 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, "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 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)."
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JR

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #2 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!
1DX, 24mm f1.4L II, 35mm f1.4L, 50mm f1.2L, 85mm f1.2L II, 135mm f2L, 24-70mm f2.8L II, 70-200mm f2.8L IS II :  D800, D4, and a whole bunch of Nikon lenses

bchernicoff

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #3 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.
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bchernicoff

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #4 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
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 01:58:30 PM by bchernicoff »
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bchernicoff

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #5 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
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bchernicoff

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #6 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.
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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2011, 01:57:07 PM »

bchernicoff

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #7 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.
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bchernicoff

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #8 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.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 03:33:47 PM by bchernicoff »
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koolman

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #9 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:

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pwp

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #10 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
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 05:22:58 PM by pwp »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2011, 05:08:15 PM »
I have the Sigma 50 f/1.2

Sigma has a 50mm f/1.2?   :o
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pwp

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #12 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
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 05:23:57 PM by pwp »

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2011, 05:21:12 PM »

ejenner

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #13 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.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 06:14:58 PM by ejenner »

Aetius

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2011, 06:18:28 PM »
I work for a Norwegian camera review site (akam.no, the one Craig mentions here), 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.

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.

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Re: Canon 85mm 1.2LII vs Sigma 85mm 1.4
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2011, 06:18:28 PM »