That Guy with Glasses Reviews the Canon 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens

16 Jan 2017

Slayer of Portraits & Proprietor of Souls

If you are using a full frame DSLR camera, the Canon 85mm F1.2 is in my opinion, the go-to portrait lens. It hits that sweet spot of neither too wide or too long. It allows the photographer to stay within a reasonable distance from their subject, whereby they can still hear you giving instructions & feedback (without having to use a walkie-talkie like at 300mm). You can capture perfectly sharp full length shots at low F-stops, blurring the background and highlighting your subject.

There is a reason every photographer starts with a “nifty fifty” on their cropped lenses and loves it… because a 50mm lens on a crop is basically the equivalent to of a 85mm lens on full frame camera (56mm to precise). And speaking of low F-stops, this beast of a lens provides crystal sharp images from F1.2 upwards! It might be a little tricky to hit focus at F1.2, particularly with a moving subject, but hey, when you do… damn that bokeh is sexy.

This professional-series lens is definitely geared towards studio use or in controlled outdoor environments as it doesn’t have weather sealing. WHen shooting sporting events or concerts, you would be better off using the Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS II. That said, I have used the Canon 85mm F1.2 lens at a festival or two and came home with amazing results.

When using the Canon 85mm lens, every shot has its own unique quality to it. This flagship L-series lens ensures your images are not only sharp, but the lens gives amazing contrast and the raw colours provided are vibrant, straight out of camera.

The only real drawback to this lens is that you must be extremely careful when mounting it on and off of the camera body since it has a protruding lens element coming out the back. It’s a bit slow to focus due to the massive amount of glass it has to shift inside – 8 elements and 7 groups in total!

Now, you might be wondering if it is really worth it? “Shouldn’t I just buy the more affordable Canon 85mm F1.8?” NO! Please, for the love of Ansel Adams please don’t get this lens unless you are on an extremely tight budget. The plastic build in combination with the chromatic aberration (purple and green colouration around the photos edges) on every photo and soft focus at F1.8-F2.5, will make you wish you had never wasted your precious moola. Overall, the Canon 85mm F1.2 L is a top-class lens that looks great when you whip it out in front of a client and bang out images that are worth its price point.

Photograph of beer ons grass Charl took using his Canon 85mm lens perfectly showing the lens's depth of field capabilities
Photograph of young and in love couple
The crowd enjoying the show at Parklife
Photograph of a security guard at Parklife Charl took using his Canon 85mm lens perfectly showing the lens's depth of field capabilities
Photograph of a musician with the crowd in front of him
Photograph of a musician playing his guitar on stage
Photograph Charl took of a little girl using a Canon 85mm lens
Photograph Charl took of a little boy on his father's shoulders at a show
Photograph Charl took of a musician on stage using a Canon 85mm lens
Photograph Charl took of a a band rocking out on stage

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