The Canon RF 35mm f/1.2L USM will be announced this year [CR2]

Viggo

EOS R5
Dec 13, 2010
4,881
1,541
I continue to struggle with the usefulness of a super fast 35mm prime, at least to the extent where it makes the lens substantially larger/ heavier/more expensive. f/1.8-f/2.0 is ok as can still be done in a relatively compact size, low weight, low price. But comparatively f/1.2-f/1.4 are much larger and heavier, at higher price with limited use cases for me at least.

I tend to use 35mm as a group portrait, street photog, or environmental lens. In none of those cases would f/1.4 or below be useful frequently as I'd want more DOF, not less, for those use cases. Yeah, you can find a specialty use for every lens and justify having it by a shot here or there. Like 24mm, I just don't find 35mm to frequent f/1.4 usage.
Mine spent it’s entire life between f1.4 and f2.0. Only for studio work did it maybe occasionally see f5,6.
 
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H. Jones

Photojournalist
Aug 1, 2014
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Mine spent it’s entire life between f1.4 and f2.0. Only for studio work did it maybe occasionally see f5,6.

Same here. For portraits and weddings, I like the 35mm focal length to get physically closer to my subjects, or giver a little wider angle of view in certain situations, and while it's not the most bokeh you'll ever see, I'd rather have F/1.4 bokeh than have F/2.8 bokeh at that focal length. F/1.4 definitely makes images look a bit more special and magical.

F/1.4 is also a must when I'm shooting in extremely low light. I've definitely had assignments with my 35 and 85mm where they came out of the bag solely due to the light levels, since F/2.8 zooms would have me at ISO 12,800 or higher in some places.
 
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Ozarker

Love, joy, and peace to all of good will.
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Jan 28, 2015
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The Ozarks
Same here. For portraits and weddings, I like the 35mm focal length to get physically closer to my subjects, or giver a little wider angle of view in certain situations, and while it's not the most bokeh you'll ever see, I'd rather have F/1.4 bokeh than have F/2.8 bokeh at that focal length. F/1.4 definitely makes images look a bit more special and magical.

F/1.4 is also a must when I'm shooting in extremely low light. I've definitely had assignments with my 35 and 85mm where they came out of the bag solely due to the light levels, since F/2.8 zooms would have me at ISO 12,800 or higher in some places.
One might or might not call this a specialty use. I bought the EF 35mm f/1.4L II for a specific purpose: Photographing my then just born grandson in a small and dark apartment. I didn't want flash to startle or distract him. At the time, I was using a 5D Mark III, so cranking up ISO wasn't a good option. The lens was fast, and allowed me to fill the frame with him a lot better than a 50 or 85 at close range at f/1.4 would have. Literally 20,000+ shots the first two weeks.

Could I have used an f/1.8? Probably. But Canon don't make no f/1.8 "L" in 35mm. Had f/1.2 been available, I'd have got it.

Better to have something and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
 
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Feb 15, 2020
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I have RF 1.2L lenses and rarely shoot them at 1.2. Around 1.6 is as low as I usually need to go. Shooting wide open is not the only reason to consider these premium lenses... Canon puts the most effort into these fast prime L lenses, you get things like blue spectrum refractive optics for less CA, more aperture blades, no focus shift issues (talking RF L lenses here, some EF L lenses weren’t great for this), better internal build quality and weather sealing and amazing sharpness at any aperture you choose to use.

I had an EF 85mm 1.4L IS with my 5D IV and also tested it with adapter on my R5 - the RF 85mm 1.2L was noticeably better at 1.2 than the EF lens at 1.4. Also a very noticeable improvement in CA control with the RF lens.

These premium 1.2 lenses aren’t often needed in a strict sense, but if you have the money to spare and want the best optics (and don’t care about size or weight). They are the ones to go for in my opinion.

I will either buy an EF 35mm 1.4L ii or RF 35mm 1.2L to round out my kit for more reasons than just the wide aperture. I already had an RF 35mm 1.8 and was very impressed for the price of that lens but sold it because the focus shift on my copy was not acceptable for my usage.
 

Ozarker

Love, joy, and peace to all of good will.
CR Pro
Jan 28, 2015
5,765
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The Ozarks
I have RF 1.2L lenses and rarely shoot them at 1.2. Around 1.6 is as low as I usually need to go. Shooting wide open is not the only reason to consider these premium lenses... Canon puts the most effort into these fast prime L lenses, you get things like blue spectrum refractive optics for less CA, more aperture blades, no focus shift issues (talking RF L lenses here, some EF L lenses weren’t great for this), better internal build quality and weather sealing and amazing sharpness at any aperture you choose to use.

I had an EF 85mm 1.4L IS with my 5D IV and also tested it with adapter on my R5 - the RF 85mm 1.2L was noticeably better at 1.2 than the EF lens at 1.4. Also a very noticeable improvement in CA control with the RF lens.

These premium 1.2 lenses aren’t often needed in a strict sense, but if you have the money to spare and want the best optics (and don’t care about size or weight). They are the ones to go for in my opinion.

I will either buy an EF 35mm 1.4L ii or RF 35mm 1.2L to round out my kit for more reasons than just the wide aperture. I already had an RF 35mm 1.8 and was very impressed for the price of that lens but sold it because the focus shift on my copy was not acceptable for my usage.
As far as I know, Canon has only made two lenses with the blue goo: EF 35mm f/1.4L II and the RF 85mm f/1.2L. I never understood why it is not used in the RF 50mm f/1.2L. Maybe in the next version?
 
Feb 15, 2020
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As far as I know, Canon has only made two lenses with the blue goo: EF 35mm f/1.4L II and the RF 85mm f/1.2L. I never understood why it is not used in the RF 50mm f/1.2L. Maybe in the next version?
You’re right! I just have a strong suspicion they will use it again in the RF 35mm 1.2L... it would be odd if the EF 35 1.4 had it but the RF 35 1.2 didn’t. But hey, who knows?

As for the RF 50mm 1.2L perhaps they felt it wasn’t needed? I only ever notice very faint CA at very wide apertures with that lens (backlit situations with black and white outlines - a true torture test)
 
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Ruined

EOS R
Aug 22, 2013
932
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Same here. For portraits and weddings, I like the 35mm focal length to get physically closer to my subjects, or giver a little wider angle of view in certain situations, and while it's not the most bokeh you'll ever see, I'd rather have F/1.4 bokeh than have F/2.8 bokeh at that focal length. F/1.4 definitely makes images look a bit more special and magical.

F/1.4 is also a must when I'm shooting in extremely low light. I've definitely had assignments with my 35 and 85mm where they came out of the bag solely due to the light levels, since F/2.8 zooms would have me at ISO 12,800 or higher in some places.

Keep in mind though Canon also makes f/1.8 and f/2.0 primes at the 35mm focal length that are excellent, so f/2.8 zoom isn't the only other option.

One might or might not call this a specialty use. I bought the EF 35mm f/1.4L II for a specific purpose: Photographing my then just born grandson in a small and dark apartment. I didn't want flash to startle or distract him. At the time, I was using a 5D Mark III, so cranking up ISO wasn't a good option. The lens was fast, and allowed me to fill the frame with him a lot better than a 50 or 85 at close range at f/1.4 would have. Literally 20,000+ shots the first two weeks.

Could I have used an f/1.8? Probably. But Canon don't make no f/1.8 "L" in 35mm. Had f/1.2 been available, I'd have got it.

Better to have something and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

I have RF 1.2L lenses and rarely shoot them at 1.2. Around 1.6 is as low as I usually need to go. Shooting wide open is not the only reason to consider these premium lenses... Canon puts the most effort into these fast prime L lenses, you get things like blue spectrum refractive optics for less CA, more aperture blades, no focus shift issues (talking RF L lenses here, some EF L lenses weren’t great for this), better internal build quality and weather sealing and amazing sharpness at any aperture you choose to use.

I had an EF 85mm 1.4L IS with my 5D IV and also tested it with adapter on my R5 - the RF 85mm 1.2L was noticeably better at 1.2 than the EF lens at 1.4. Also a very noticeable improvement in CA control with the RF lens.

These premium 1.2 lenses aren’t often needed in a strict sense, but if you have the money to spare and want the best optics (and don’t care about size or weight). They are the ones to go for in my opinion.

I will either buy an EF 35mm 1.4L ii or RF 35mm 1.2L to round out my kit for more reasons than just the wide aperture. I already had an RF 35mm 1.8 and was very impressed for the price of that lens but sold it because the focus shift on my copy was not acceptable for my usage.

The thing is with me, I really try to weigh the PROs and CONs of lenses available and doubling up on primes of the same focal length is not something I like to do because it ends up just costing too much money and seems wasteful to me.

With that in mind, in my particular case I purchased both the EF 35mm f/2 IS and the EF 35mm f/1.4L II. Of the two, the one I went with long term was the f/2 IS. While it may be true the 35mm f/1.4L II can do 1.4 and has a bit better optics, it also is larger, heavier, and more obtrusive. I was not particularly impressed by the bokeh afforded by 1.4 vs 2.0 @ 35mm, and I did not find myself using either one wide open that frequently anyway. What really struck me, is that for my purposes the 35mm f/2 IS was actually *better* than the f/1.4L II. For street photography where I would mainly use this, sticking out in the crowd with a huge $2000 lens is not always the best approach and having less weight and size is definitely better. If you are just going to use the JPGs out of camera, sure the f/1.4L II has better micro contrast, less corner shading, etc, but that sort of thing can be easily rectified in post with RAWs from the f/2 IS lens. Although I haven't done extensive testing on the image stabilizer vs without, theoretically the IS in the f/2 lens should also help my motion shots of traffic come out sharper than if I didn't have IS. Yeah the L lens might have weather sealing, but I use filters to seal the front element & I am gonna do my best not to let any water touch my camera in the first place regardless, so that is of middling value to me.

When it comes to low light portrait photography at wider angles, with the desire to blow out the background, I generally use my 50mm f/1.2L . I feel this lens gives a lot more flexibility in framing people than the 35mm due to the 50mm focal length having far less perspective distortion than 35mm focal length (leading to less inadvertently awkward-looking photos), and also it does a better job of obliterating the background due to the longer focal length - and I've never found a situation indoors where 50mm was truly too long for a single person or small group. If I were to want a environmental or large group portrait, sure maybe then I'd use the 35mm- but I'd also likely be in f/8-f/11 for the environmental and f/3.5-f/4 for the group to keep things in focus. Yeah the L offers some nice specs that make it technically optically superior, but I don't find any of that as compelling as the small weight/size advantage of the 35 f/2 IS. The faster speed seems to be the true major advantage of the 35L lenses, and I just can't find a real use case for needing that speed in my photography for any focal length under 50mm.

On a similar note, after owning both the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS and the EF 24mm f/1.4L II, I also chose the f/2.8 IS as the better long term solution of those two as well for my uses at 24mm - landscape/environmental. While the L had better optics, it had worse sunbursts, unreliable autofocus, and again was much larger and heavier (important when taking landscape pics hiking) for little benefit - as again I'd be f/8+ most of the time at this focal length. So in my experience just because something is an L with technically better glass, doesn't always make it the best gear selection for everyone's use case.

Just something to keep in mind for those reading along to choose carefully as I know the L lenses can be very alluring, but very expensive! :)
 
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Darecinema

Addicted to lenses.
CR Pro
Sep 8, 2018
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The thrill of the hunt!!! Finally got my hands on the RF 100-500. Way more excited about getting it than if on the first day I wanted it had been in stock. Hahahaha. I never had many Xmases growing up so didn’t get to experience that “kid at Xmas feeling” thank goodness as an adult I can finally relate to my kids. Joking aside, if the lenses you need aren’t in stock and you aren’t attracted to the notable sensor technology improvements then definitely no need. But since my bread and butter comes from my cameras, anything that gives me an edge over the competition and makes my job easier is absolutely worth it. Do I absolutely have to have the latest tech? No. And I still have 6-8 year old cameras that work fine and do a lot of the jobs my company gets hired to do, but occasionaly I get jobs where the margin of error is so small that having whatever small edge I can get is worth the extra $ I have to spend.
 
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stevelee

FT-QL
CR Pro
Jul 6, 2017
2,312
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I bought the EF 50mm f/1.4 as a portrait lens for my Rebel. After I got the 6D2, I never used it again until late this spring.

My 93-year-old neighbor still teaches piano. Before she and the pupils were fully vaccinated, she continued to teach a small number of students via FaceTime. She held an in-person recital in her home at the end of the school year. I was invited and asked to take a group picture. I decided that the 50mm was the perfect tool for the job: a small group photo in available light. I also did a shot of her and a student playing a piano duet, recreated rather than distracting during the performance. The pictures were great. I could have used a fraction more depth of field on the group shot, but the slight bluriness of one guy’s ear, or whatever it was, was likely noticeable only to me. (I did carry along the kit lens in case we did some sort of photo I had not anticipated.)

I can’t think of any use of a fast 35mm lens for me. I have never owned or missed having a 35mm prime. I doubt my zooms are used in the 30–40mm range often at all. But for an infant in dim light, that would be a different story. Babies have cute little noses and so don’t suffer from the distortions of being photographed at close distances that affect adult portraits.
 

fastprime

EOS R6
Feb 10, 2021
24
46
Was just doing some budgeting and setting some money aside for this lens. Hope we see an announcement soon!