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Author Topic: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?  (Read 9203 times)

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Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« on: February 19, 2018, 10:13:24 AM »

Which Canon 85mm lens is for you?

Kai W breaks down the trio of current 85mm offerings from Canon, the classic EF 85mm f/1.2L II, the brand new EF 85mm f/1.4L IS and the bargain EF 85mm f/1.8.

If we had to choose only one? I think it would be the EF 85mm f/1.4L IS, though I wouldn’t have any problems owning it alongside the other two 85mm options, because they can all fit different shooting situation.

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Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« on: February 19, 2018, 10:13:24 AM »

danfaz

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2018, 11:13:20 AM »
I've owned all three, and the new 1.4 is my favorite. Not quite the same bokeh as the 1.2, but you still get 3D effect, and its speed, IS, and weather-sealing is just no contest. Way more versatile.

StoicalEtcher

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2018, 11:28:35 AM »
I've also had all three (still have 1.4 and 1.8).  I'd add my 2p to danfaz view and agree the 1.4 is the one to choose. 

I think the 1.8 has it's place as a great economy lens, and the 1.2 I loved for studio work, and would still have if it hadn't broken irreparably after a drop!

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arthurbikemad

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2018, 11:30:11 AM »
Sold my 1.2II, waiting for the 1.4IS  8)

AvTvM

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2018, 11:40:32 AM »
easy! choose age-old Canon EF 85/1.8 for strong bokeh fringing all the way from f/1.8 to f/4.0 ... otherwise go with Tamron 85/1.8 VC for excellent IQ, IS, compact size and reasonable price.  :)

or forget mirrorslapper lenses altogether and get an EF-M 85/2.4 IS STM ... excellent IQ, IS, super compact size, very affordable price ... ooops, not available yet.  ;D
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 11:45:08 AM by AvTvM »

aceflibble

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2018, 12:42:33 PM »
I'm on the Tamron 85 for now. Not terribly happy with it, but still preferable to any of the Canon ones. I've had the 1.8 and 1.2 several times before and was never happy with either of them. The 1.2's focusing is trash and the 1.8 is just a downgraded 100mm f/2. The 1.4 interested me at first, but after giving it a test, it became apparent very quickly that—at least the two copies which were made available to me—it's got an inconsistent rendering across the frame, with the center nice enough but the outer third having noticeably much less contrast. The colour rendering was also a touch cooler than the standard for Canon, which cause an inconsistency within a shoot. So I've ended up with the Tamron, which while having the lowest transmission and not terribly great focusing, is at least better both for manual and auto focus than the 1.2 and has mire consistent rendering and neutral colour than the Canon 1.4.

In truth, the very best 85 for me is actually the Nikon 105mm  f/1.4. I sorely wish Canon would make a 100mm f/1.4L (and a 28mm f/1.4L, which they already filed the patent for; another lens Nikon has but Canon lacks) or I could adapt that Nikon to a Canon body with full functionality. (Or it'd be nice if Nikon bodies weren't so horribly cramped to hold; either way around works for me.) But since that's not on the cards, I'll keep slumming it with an 85 for now.

peterzuehlke

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2018, 01:51:37 PM »
Tamron 85mm 1.8  (i need IS or VC or whatever) for performance shooting and did want to pay twice as much for the Canon and from what i have seen, maybe not get as good bokeh.  The Canon shots i have seen, from the 1.4 IS seems to have more astigmatism.

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2018, 01:51:37 PM »

stevelee

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2018, 02:57:53 PM »
I had assumed that I would some day buy one of these now that I have a FF camera. I had been using the 50mm f/1.4 on my Rebel for that approximate crop range and DOF. I really liked the 85mm f/1.8 (I think it was) on my FT-QL, and my trinity in those days when zooms were not very good consisted of the 28, 85, and 200mm lenses when I was away from the rest of the arsenal.

Last week I was out taking shots of tiny crocuses with my 100mm non-L macro, when I got to talking with my neighbor who was washing her car, and the subject naturally turned to photography (which she had taken a course in at college). I told her the lens was good as a small telephoto as well as a macro, and said that it should be good for portraits. So she posed for me to take a head and shoulders shot, everything just set on auto. The results were good enough that the 100mm is now my portrait lens for the foreseeable future, and my GAS will be directed to focal lengths other than 85mm.

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2018, 03:54:44 PM »
Tamron 85mm 1.8  (i need IS or VC or whatever) for performance shooting and did want to pay twice as much for the Canon and from what i have seen, maybe not get as good bokeh.  The Canon shots i have seen, from the 1.4 IS seems to have more astigmatism.

I love that lens. I took it to Rwanda and shot gorillas with it, it never let me down. I recommend it to everyone who will listen.
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YuengLinger

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2018, 04:11:48 PM »
I think the biggest problem with keeping the 1.2 after buying the 1.4 is the risk of very high repair costs for the 1.2. Having that slight little difference in creaminess is not worth exposing myself to a bill of 800 or $1,000 or $1,200 for a lens that will be used so rarely now that I have the 1.4.

mjg79

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2018, 07:11:37 PM »
An interesting video. I was surprised to see how much better the bokeh looked from the 1.2 though - I wonder how scientific the test was, perhaps he focused half an inch closer with it?

Almost every review/comparison I've seen has said the 1.2 remains the best rendering in terms of bokeh but that the 1.4 is so close as to be almost irrelevant. Yet in Kai's comparison the 1.2 looks miles better.

Here's an alternative take I found:

https://neilvn.com/tangents/bokeh-canon-ef-85mm-f14l-is-lens/

From this comparison again I would agree the 1.2 is the nicest rendering and has the nicest bokeh, partly due to the fall off in focus, partly due to the lower contrast and partly due to the softer bokeh balls. But there you can see the 1.4 IS is very close, at times hard to distinguish. Indeed Canon appears to have made a conscious decision not to chase Sigma and Zeiss on sharpness (Dustin Abbott found the Canon softer than the Sigma 85Art and Zeiss 85) but to try to achieve a best of both, being sharper than the 1.2 while keeping most of the rendering and avoiding the harsh Sigma bokeh.

Has anyone found any more direct and scientific comparisons? Or anyone lucky enough to own both keen to do some comparison shots? I have an 85 1.2 II and I use it almost exclusively for portraits so the IS and faster auto-focus isn't a huge deal to me but would be nice to have as long as I don't have to give up *all* of the magic the 1.2 II gives. I can't make up my mind whether to move to the 1.4.

If nothing else I feel videos like this show just what an amazing piece of engineering the 85/1.2 is. If I have been informed correctly it dates back in fundamental design to the FD mount 85/1.2. It's astonishing really that it still hangs with the latest lenses, indeed if one isn't looking at 100% it is perhaps still the best 85 there is for portraits. Astonishing for a decades old design.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 07:39:31 PM by mjg79 »

Quarkcharmed

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2018, 07:15:45 PM »
To be honest, Kai's reviews are fun (Top Gear style), I like them, but they have very little useful information. :) Not that there is no information at all, but not too much. First part of this review, for example (and in the previous ones as far as I can remember) he's comparing lenses by shots taken from different locations/angles.

Sharpness comparison is somewhat useful but isn't much detailed (you wanna see what happens in the centre vs corners), also vignetting and CA.
Bokeh comparison should've been done with different backgrounds, bokeh isn't only about highlights.

I'm looking at getting 85 f1/4L but haven't decided yet, my 70-200 f2/8L IS II works fine for portraits, although it's very heavy.
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michi

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2018, 07:53:33 PM »
I have had a EF 85 1.8 since the 90's paired with a Canon A2e back then.  I never used it too much because results were always hit and miss, going from Digital Rebel to 7D and 5D II.  AF wasn't reliable until I got a 5D IV which finally seemed to get about 85% of the shots in focus.

Finally shelled out the big bucks and got the 85 1.4.  AF is always spot on.  Images compared to the 1.8 pop and look amazing even wide open.  The only thing I don't like is the really terrible purple and green fringing.  When, for example, hair is lit by the sun from behind, it's a green and purple mess which even DPP can't fix.  Not impressed at all with this.  All in all, I do like the lens, but I don't think it's worth the current $1,600.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 09:47:30 AM by michi »

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2018, 07:53:33 PM »

slclick

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2018, 10:02:04 PM »
Tamron 85mm 1.8  (i need IS or VC or whatever) for performance shooting and did want to pay twice as much for the Canon and from what i have seen, maybe not get as good bokeh.  The Canon shots i have seen, from the 1.4 IS seems to have more astigmatism.

I love that lens. I took it to Rwanda and shot gorillas with it, it never let me down. I recommend it to everyone who will listen.

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YuengLinger

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2018, 10:29:38 PM »

Has anyone found any more direct and scientific comparisons? Or anyone lucky enough to own both keen to do some comparison shots? I have an 85 1.2 II and I use it almost exclusively for portraits so the IS and faster auto-focus isn't a huge deal to me but would be nice to have as long as I don't have to give up *all* of the magic the 1.2 II gives. I can't make up my mind whether to move to the 1.4.


For me, being able to lower my ISO and still get sharp shots at lower shutter speeds (because of IS and quicker AF) more than makes up for difficult to perceive lost "magic." 

You make a good point about the 1.2 holding up for so many years, but another point:  Canon has made an excellent follow-up with IS, quick AF, and better ergonomics for about 25% less sticker price.

I am not seeing any serious purple/green fringing--though it is there at f/1.4.  And it cleans up completely  in LR Classic CC.  (At least "completely" enough for even very picky real-world use.  In other words, it is an insignificant negative factor.)

An earlier post referred to "bragging rights" with 1/3 stop larger aperture.  That gave me a chuckle as I tried to imagine a bride, a business person, an athlete, or a family member bragging to a friend, "Well, your portraits are fine, but MINE were taken with a lens that could go to 1.2.  Of course the photographer used f/2 to get enough of my features in focus, but, WOW, that lens COULD have gone to 1.2."

Or how about a photographer, just as a session begins, bragging, "By the way, you are about to be photographed with a lens that can do f/1.2!  Do you know how AWESOME that is?"

Yes, I had some brief moments of sentiment.  I bought the 1.4, used it for a few days heavily, compared images taken with the 1.2, and knew right away there was no point keeping both.  I really was fond of the 1.2, but I had an excellent copy in perfect working order that would get a good amount for resale.  In time, not only would resale value go down, but a repair would really be frustrating to deal with, as I'd either have to sell very cheap or pay hundreds of dollars to get it working again.  Now I'm stoked to have a very fast 85mm with quick AF and IS that works great for either sitting subjects or environmental portraits with some movement on location.  Not to mention low-light events.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 10:37:23 PM by YuengLinger »

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Re: Which Canon 85mm Lens is for You?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2018, 10:29:38 PM »