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:

My name is Nicole and I'm a photographer, author, & educator living in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. When I'm not making photos I'm writing books and tutorials for my online store, Learn more about me and my story here.


  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 "Mini-Review: Canon 85mm f/1.2 Lens" […]

  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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