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Thread: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

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    Deucalion's Avatar
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    85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    I feel blessed to be continually offered equipment that I may either have no use for at the moment, or just too much for a beginner like me. recently a friend of mine offered me some of his equipment as he is migrating to a new country in a few weeks, I would have thought he would just bring all that equipment along, but apparently he has decided to offer it to his friends kind of like a going away sale.

    being a good friend to him apparently gives me first crack at his setup that according to him must all be sold before he leaves, he has offered me the aforementioned lens at a ridiculous price that I thought he was joking, the cost of that lens brand new in my country, well lets just say, I wouldn't even dream of it, too rich for my humble means. but at the price he was offering... less than half of its original price brand new (I checked with Canon website)... makes me think of actually taking him up on the offer...

    but since I only have experience in using two lenses, the 70-200 F2.8 and the 17-55 F2.8 and the range of the 85 as a fixed prime lens is already covered by my long telephoto lens... my question is barring any problems with the lens (still looks new... focuses kind of slow tho, as I am use to the fast focus of my tele) is it actually worth getting it?

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    There's a lot of difference between f2.8 and f1.2 at that focal length. You'll be able to take completely different pictures.

    And shoot in far lower light if you wish.

    And now I'll retreat before the fast prime bashers come out to play, as with every other f1.4 and faster 'debate'!!!!

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Having recently purchased one, I heartily recommend it. Whilst its uses are limited, it can achieve remarkably shallow depth of field and incredible sharpness. if the price is good, you have no real risk as these lenses always sell well.

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Though you'll be able to take completely different photos, that won't matter if you don't actually take them. In other words, if you have no need for the lens and don't plan to take advantage of its larger aperture, consider letting another person buy it who can take full advantage of it.

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Better than listening to all the pros and cons, why not get your friend to allow you to use it for a couple of weeks....'on approval' and see what YOU make of it. No point in buying because everyone tells you to (or otherwise). But you will notice a difference in the f1.2 aperture.

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    85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    I've got one, but it rarely sees the light of day (or night).

    Most shots need to have the lens stopped down for DoF considerations, so it's normally the EF70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II that's on the camera due to its stabilisation - faster focusing speed - and versatility of focal length.

    Nice lens though.

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    He actually let me borrow it yesterday, never experienced shooting a F1.2 before, first time I used it wide open I thought it was broken as everything I shot was a blurred image, took me awhile to figure out how to use it properly and funny thing was I keep using F2 to keep my subject in focus.

    Im a little hesitant in getting it, on the one hand my tele 70-200 is like Colin says is quite versatile and it has IS altho its the mark 1 version to his mark 2, on the other hand at the price its being offered its well, I dont know if I will ever get the chance to get one at the price offered, one thing tho, my camera is not full frame, its a crop and upgrading to full frame has not entered my mind...yet.

    Lack of IS is a concern, but the images it produce are amazing, once I figured out how to use it, does seem to focus slowly for a prime lens than my long tele lens and the manual focus feels weird too, will it be faster on the 5D mark 3 with its better auto focus than on my 60D?

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    He actually let me borrow it yesterday, never experienced shooting a F1.2 before, first time I used it wide open I thought it was broken as everything I shot was a blurred image, took me awhile to figure out how to use it properly and funny thing was I keep using F2 to keep my subject in focus.

    Im a little hesitant in getting it, on the one hand my tele 70-200 is like Colin says is quite versatile and it has IS altho its the mark 1 version to his mark 2, on the other hand at the price its being offered its well, I dont know if I will ever get the chance to get one at the price offered, one thing tho, my camera is not full frame, its a crop and upgrading to full frame has not entered my mind...yet.

    Lack of IS is a concern, but the images it produce are amazing, once I figured out how to use it, does seem to focus slowly for a prime lens than my long tele lens and the manual focus feels weird too, will it be faster on the 5D mark 3 with its better auto focus than on my 60D?
    One one hand, you'll probably find that shooting at < F2.8 creates DoF issues that in turn means you probably won't be doing it for the "creative effect" that often (it gets old), but on the other hand, if the price is right, you can probably sell it and perhaps even make a profit when you find you're not using it.

    Just be sure it IS the Mk. II version though -- the original are much cheaper.

    PS: I think it "focuses slowly" because I suspect the focusing is "geared down" for precision -- at F1.2 there is ZERO room for focusing error. You'll find the manual focusing is slow but ultra precise too.

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    I find the slow focussing that reviews often talk about to be a complete non-issue. This is a special purpose lens - and it is fantastic at what it does. I tend to use it on a tripod and take time with both focus and composition. It will deliver superbly crisp shots at f1.2, but DOF will be paper thin. It is not really a walk around lens in my view (but that may be my lack of skill!)

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian View Post
    I find the slow focussing that reviews often talk about to be a complete non-issue. This is a special purpose lens - and it is fantastic at what it does. I tend to use it on a tripod and take time with both focus and composition. It will deliver superbly crisp shots at f1.2, but DOF will be paper thin. It is not really a walk around lens in my view (but that may be my lack of skill!)
    It IS a non-issue, but only if it's being used for it's intended purpose (eg it would be hopeless as an action sports lens, IMO). DoF at F1.2 on a FF camera at minimal focusing distance is ...

    ... 8mm

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Deucalion View Post
    . . . but since I only have experience in using two lenses, the 70-200 F2.8 and the 17-55 F2.8 and the range of the 85 as a fixed prime lens is already covered by my long telephoto lens... my question is barring any problems with the lens (still looks new... focuses kind of slow tho, as I am use to the fast focus of my tele) is it actually worth getting it?
    Not really: not unless you get a 135 format camera (aka "full Frame") to get the most out of the 85/1.2LMkII - if you are ONLY going to use an 85 Prime on and APS-C camera, then it is better value for money to get the 85/1.8

    WW

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    I've only used a Canon 85mm f1.2L II once. It is a true beast of a lens, and to my mind, very application-specific. If you're a full-frame portrait shooter, it's the creme de la creme. Everyone else? I'm not sure. f1.2 is only occasionally practical, and the slow focus makes it a non-starter for the action I'd probably want to use it for. My Canon 100mm f2.0 fills that role rather nicely, and for what it's worth, that's my favorite lens at the moment. The 85mm f1.8 is comparable, and more popular.

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    If you're a full-frame portrait shooter, it's the creme de la creme.
    Not really, it's a bit on the short side for head and shoulders (I use 135 to 200mm range), and usually something in the 24 to 50 range for full length.

    It's one of those lenses that one WANTS to like because of the sheer quality of it, but in reality I just hardly ever use it. I think the last time I used it was about a year ago when my 70-200 was on the blink.

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    thank you for your thoughts everyone, I really wanted to have that lens and at the price it was offered... practically a steal, but well, I don't own a full frame camera and if I will not be able to take advantage of the strengths of this lens using my 60D, might as well hold out until I actually have a use for it or if at some point I'd be able to get a full frame camera. Still it was a joy to use and I will part with it reluctantly tomorrow and let someone else who may have a use for it have a go.

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    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    It's one of those lenses that one WANTS to like because of the sheer quality of it, but in reality I just hardly ever use it. I think the last time I used it was about a year ago when my 70-200 was on the blink.
    I was mainly referring to the lens's image quality, which is among the best I've ever tried. You're probably right about the focal length - I used it for a few head-and-shoulders portraits on a crop frame, which puts the multiplied zoom (1.6 x 85mm = 136mm) in the range you recommended.

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    I was mainly referring to the lens's image quality, which is among the best I've ever tried. You're probably right about the focal length - I used it for a few head-and-shoulders portraits on a crop frame, which puts the multiplied zoom (1.6 x 85mm = 136mm) in the range you recommended.
    It's certainly a pixel-peepers dream come true

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    Re: 85mm F1.2L USM II is it worth it?

    Oddly enough, since buying it, although I have tried it for portraits, I agree with Colin that it is a bit short. However, I have found it absolutely fantastic for doing product type shots where we want very precise DOF control and superior sharpness. Its uses are limited and it is pretty heavy so not a lens I want in my bag to lug around really.

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