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Canon EF 85mm/f1.2L II initial impressions

I sold my EF 85mm/f1.2L prior to buying the improved 85mm/f1.2L II. Therefore, I won’t be doing a side-by-side comparison, though I might offer more comments from time to time. Please see the thorough review at

I like to shoot the 85mm/f1.2L wide-open to f2.8. The new version shows pleasing contrast wide open, with an impression of great sharpness. The only problem is that pinpoint focus is even more important, since a “hit” looks terrific, and a “miss” is a throwaway. At 85mm and f1.2, depth of field is essentially non-existent on a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, and so you had better get it right. I can’t yet say whether the autofocus accuracy is always up to the task.

Below is a real-world example which used autofocus, ISO 1600, f2 @ 1/250 sec and “a monkey on speed” (4 year old child). I “cheated” and used f2; whether focus at f1.2 would have been adequate can’t be said with certainty.

85mm/f1.2L II, handheld f2 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 1600
processed using Digital Photo Professional
Unsharpened Sharpness = 2

The 85mm/f1.2L II can’t be characterized as a high contrast lens, but it offers high resolving power with a desirable contrast for a beautiful effect at wider apertures. The contrast in the above example is awfully good for such a fast and unique lens. Or at least it satisfies me, and I’m one picky customer. If you shoot portraits using Canon EOS, you simply must own this lens (sorry).

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