Mini-Review: Canon 85mm f/1.2L Lens

By | 2016-12-18T17:01:19+00:00 June 9th, 2010|6 Comments


Canon 7D, Canon 85mm f/1.2L lens ISO 100
Left side: 1/1250 sec at f/1.2
Right side: 1/125 sec at f/4

Today I tested out the Canon 85mm f/1.2L and 50mm f/1.2L lenses. I thought I’d share some initial thoughts on the 85mm (I’ll post more on the 50mm tomorrow).

My first reaction to the lens is that it’s pretty heavy and it’s got a lot of glass in it. Looking straight at the front of the lens it almost looks like there is nothing BUT glass in the lens, which is always a good thing.

I wanted to use the lens in an environment that I shoot in often, so I styled a sandwich and put the lens to the test. I shot this photo on a tripod and wanted to see the difference between it’s widest aperture (f/1.2) and the aperture I shoot most often (f/4). The depth of field at its widest aperture was way too shallow for my taste when shooting food (see the two images on the left) and it also introduced a significant amount of chromatic aberration (a.k.a. “purple fringing”) around the in-focus area.

Another thing I noticed was that I couldn’t get in close enough. I like be able to get in tighter on my food shots and the image above shows the closest distance I could get in on this subject. I don’t want to get in “macro” close, but just enough so I can highlight different parts of the food instead of showing the entire plate.

Now, this isn’t a complete and scientific review, it’s just a few observations I made while shooting today. I’ll share my thoughts on the 50mm f/1.2L in tomorrow’s post.

About the Author:

Nicole S. Young is a professional photographer and published author whose love of photography and teaching has grown into an online business where she creates training materials and resources for other photographers. Nicole is best known for her books on food photography, but is widely versed in a variety of photographic genres, including landscape, travel, lifestyle, and even underwater photography. You can learn more about Nicole's work on her website, nicolesy.com.

6 Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nicole S. Young, Justin Van Leeuwen. Justin Van Leeuwen said: Also, hella-expensive RT @nicolesy: New at NicolesyBlog.com: "Mini-Review: Canon 85mm f/1.2 Lens" http://j.mp/d960l8 […]

  2. Sean June 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Good to know. I didn’t expect ca though. Can 85mm 1.8 get closer?
    Did you eat the sandwich afterwards?

  3. Matt June 9, 2010 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    For what the 85mm f/1.2 costs, I would expect it to have no CA. That’s somewhat disappointing. Not that I’m in a position to drop that kind of cash on an 85mm right now…

  4. Bartek June 9, 2010 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    I use 135 f/2 for portrait. 85mm seems to by much more useful, but it costs too much:(

  5. […] I wrote a mini-review of the Canon 85mm f/1.2L lens, and today I’m going to share my thoughts on the 50mm f/1.2L lens. This is not a scientific […]

  6. Moritz January 13, 2016 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Lovely sandwich shot and very useful lens review! Thank you for sharing your experience.

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