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Thread: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

  1. #1
    Alis's Avatar
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    Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

    Hi everyone,

    As you guys may know (!), I am trying to get rid of a lens (Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS L) I bought less than a year ago, and switch to either Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L or Canon L 85mm f/1.2. I will need one of these to basically take indoor portraits. At some point and when it is warmer and I can go out , I will buy both of them anyway, but right now, what do you guys think has priority, considering the price and heaviness vs. quality for what I will be using it for. I have seen the sample pictures taken with the 85mm indoor and they are quite incredible.

    Although I have heard that Canon 70-200mm was named in 2008 one of the things "we should thank God for!" So it is hard for me to argue against buying any of them. Do I need both of them? I have also Canon 24-70mm f/2.8.

    Any suggestions appreciated as always.

    Thanks,
    Last edited by Alis; 24th February 2009 at 12:33 AM.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    Hi sedali,

    Bear in mind I don't know the hardware, but just on paper alone;

    One lens gives you nothing you don't have already other than one setting lower on the ISO - ok that may be an over simplification, but if they're both genuine Canon L series, what's the difference, aside from the obvious?

    Whereas the other takes you to new places; a prime lens, better IQ, 3 and a half stops faster, smaller, lighter.

    It seems a simple choice to me, especially if you envisage both anyway, keep what you have and buy the Canon L 85mm f/1.2.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    I've got both ...

    For portrature the 85/1.2 is technically sharper with better colour and contrast - BUT - (<- and you can see that it's a BIG but), never in a million years would I buy it in preference to the 70-200/2.8L IS if I could only choose one.

    Why?

    Because for portraiture, the 70-200/2.8L IS is more than adequate - easily more than adequate - vastly more than adequate!

    If you you get the 70-200/2.8L IS you get a great portrait lens - but you also get a great lens for so so many other things (this weeks "award winning challenge shot" was shot with mine) (I can say that 'cause I'm entitled to bragging rights for the week!) - and with 30 seconds post-processing the results between the two lenses are indistinguishable at regular viewing sizes.

    If you get the 85/1.2 you get the ability to open up all the way to F1.2 - BUT - (<- theres that BIG but again), you just can't use those kinds of apertures for everyday portraiture or you'll have issues like the tips of eye lashes in focus whilst the other end of them is soft (and you can forget about the rest of the face). The DoF really is that tight (I'll post a shot at F1.2 if you like)? So in reality - for most portraiture - I STILL end up shooting at around F5.6 (which the 70-200/2.8L IS can do.

    So there you have it - get the 70-200/2.8L IS!

    PS: You might be wondering why I even bought the 85/1.2? - 2 reasons: (1) It's a great lens, and (2) Because I can

    Hope this helps!

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    BUT, But, but .... if shooting at f5.6, then the f4 IS L can do it too!

    so, buy something completely different?

    Glad you're making full use of the bragging rights Colin

    Cheers,

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    BUT, But, but .... if shooting at f5.6, then the f4 IS L can do it too!

    so, buy something completely different?

    Glad you're making full use of the bragging rights Colin

    Cheers,
    If all you're shooting is portraits then the F4 version would also do the job. Also - the F4 IS version has a later generation IS unit that's (supposedly) good for one more stop - so if you're getting the F2.8 version for the extra light in relation to higher shutter-speeds when hand-holding then the advantage is effectively cancelled out by the more advanced IS on the F4 version.

    Personally, I'm happy with the F2.8 IS version I have - won't be looking to "cross-grade"

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    Thanks guys. So I see it is not a straightforward decision. I think when I say portrait I have to clarify that I mean portraits of my-always-jumping-son and not a subject like Colin's daughter. I have to wait a few more years for that kind of model I guess, so the shallow depth of field should be a big problem for me right now.

    I actually did not think of it as a big problem before, what made me think about the 85mm was these pictures from Ken Rockwell:

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/ryan/2008/2008-04.htm

    Most of them are so sharp and bright, makes me drool

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    Thanks guys. So I see it is not a straightforward decision. I think when I say portrait I have to clarify that I mean portraits of my-always-jumping-son and not a subject like Colin's daughter. I have to wait a few more years for that kind of model I guess, so the shallow depth of field should be a big problem for me right now.

    I actually did not think of it as a big problem before, what made me think about the 85mm was these pictures from Ken Rockwell:

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/ryan/2008/2008-04.htm

    Most of them are so sharp and bright, makes me drool
    Hi Sedali,

    From what you've said, forget the 70-200 (and 85/1.2) - what you need is the EF24-70 F2.8L USM. In the world of Canon Zooms this lens has a VENERABLE reputation - it's my "walkabout" lens without hesitation. Considered by many to be as sharp as a prime.

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Sedali,

    From what you've said, forget the 70-200 (and 85/1.2) - what you need is the EF24-70 F2.8L USM. In the world of Canon Zooms this lens has a VENERABLE reputation - it's my "walkabout" lens without hesitation. Considered by many to be as sharp as a prime.
    Yep, the Nikon equivalent of this lens is held in the same regard.

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    Well, so no lens for me! I already have the 24-70mm

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    The 24-70 is easily capable of matching those Ken Rockwell snaps. A good "trilogy" of lenses are the EF16-35mm F2.8L USM II; EF24-70mm F2.8L USM and EF70-200 F2.8L IS USM.

    Perhaps it's time for the 70-200 afterall? (great for when kids are further away (like the one I posted of my daughter in the first weekly challenge).

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    The 24-70 is easily capable of matching those Ken Rockwell snaps. A good "trilogy" of lenses are the EF16-35mm F2.8L USM II; EF24-70mm F2.8L USM and EF70-200 F2.8L IS USM.

    Perhaps it's time for the 70-200 afterall? (great for when kids are further away (like the one I posted of my daughter in the first weekly challenge).
    OK, Now we are talking.

    Interesting that 16-35mm was my next choice. Correct me if I wrong, but if I have one of those, it will be for landscape photography or architecture? Also for a tourist standing in front of a skyscraper in downtown? Right? Any other reason one should have a 16-35mm? I am asking this because if you don't use it indoor, why pay for extra wide aperture and not go for a 17-40mm f/4 (almost US1000)?

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    OK, Now we are talking.

    Interesting that 16-35mm was my next choice. Correct me if I wrong, but if I have one of those, it will be for landscape photography or architecture? Also for a tourist standing in front of a skyscraper in downtown? Right? Any other reason one should have a 16-35mm? I am asking this because if you don't use it indoor, why pay for extra wide aperture and not go for a 17-40mm f/4 (almost US1000)?
    Pretty much. I think that a lot of people mis-understand how to use WA lenses - if you simply point them at the horizon with nothing in the foreground then all you'll capture are things like hundreds of miles of mountain ranges that are so small you can hardly make them out - and in terms of landscape photograpy, that's about as mundane as it gets. Where they come into their own is that they allow you to get unnaturally close to something, without it appearing like you are that close - and you can get some dramatic perspectives because of that.

    They are of course used for architecture as well - but - you have to know how to use them as it's easy to get bucketloads of distortion if you don't get it right.

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    A different view:

    Considering: "I will need one of these to basically take indoor portraits." and assuming shooting under available light, sometimes?

    I find the 70 to 200F2.8L too restrictive for informal & formal portraiture, inside. Also the 24 - 70 F2.8L is restrictive. Regarding both lenses, their max aperture is too slow for indoor work & the both lenses are physically too big - especially the 70 to 200, and, moreover it is White.

    Depending on the camera format being used and the size of the room, I choose from: 24F1.4L; 35F1.4L or F2; 50F1.4 or 1.2L; 85F1.8 or F1.2L & 135F2L.

    In that set, I do not own the 50L and 85L: that is simply a budget decision.

    I would buy the 50L to replace the 50F1.4, before buying the 85L to replace the 85F1.8, as, comparative to its counterpart, the 85F1.8 vs. 85F1.2 is better value for money, than the 50F1.4 vs. F1.2, IMO. – but that might not be of consequence to you, as you own neither 85mm, yet.


    WW
    Last edited by William W; 20th February 2009 at 04:53 AM.

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon L 85mm f/1.2

    . . . and I think I might be missing some information in the original question?

    Whilst I can understand wanting to trade a 70 200F4 for a 70 200F2.8, for many reasons.

    But is the F2.8 really warranted for your uses? Maybe consider not selling your 70 200F4?

    I think the 70 200F4 would be a great (light-weight) lens to lump around, outside when chasing kids for candid portrait capture?

    In fact this exact reason (and also hiking and holidaying) etc is why some have both an F4 and F2.8 version of the 70 to 200L.

    On the other hand, as pointed out already, the 70 200 F2.8 IS, is a wonderful lens, for many uses just not my choice if it is only being bought to swing around all day at the family picnic, and used outside at similar uses – I would keep what you already have.

    Just food for thought.

    WW

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

    Thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions. I decided to go with the 70-200 f 2.8 L lens. I will buy the EF16-35mm F2.8L USM II and for now I have changed my mind regarding the 85 1.2. I am about to order the lens, but just noticed that I was originally released in 2001! Just wanted to check with you guys to see if there is any update in the work that anyone knows and I should wait. I can wait until until the weather is a little bit warmer and wanted to make sure I am not rushing.

    It would be terrible to buy this lens today and suddenly there is a Mark II of the same lens out in two month. I just do not know where to get that kind of information about Canon's pipline...

    Thanks,

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

    As a rule, Canon keep these kinds of things VERY secret. Case-in-point, we were all getting excited about the possibility of a 24-70/2.8 IS - and they instead release a 17mm tilt & shift - and - update their 24mm tilt and shift. So you just can't 2nd guess them.

    On the other hand - if you get the 70-200/2.8L today, and they update it tomorrow, it won't make your new one any worse (and frankly, it would be hard to improve upon it).

    The 85/1.2 is a great lens - but in my opinion - if people are wanting the best bang for their bucks for the widest range of general photography, I'd still suggest getting the 16-35/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8 IS first (not necessarily in that order), and then start thinking about adding specialist primes - so I think you're making good decisions there.

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    Alis's Avatar
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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

    Thanks a lot, Colin. It makes sense. I will hopefully have it by the weekend.

    Of course, I can sell the one I have if something more exciting comes out. I jsut sold the 70-200 f/4.0 for $40 less the price I paid for it more than 8 month ago. So, they retain their value very well. I would say much better than Canon stock!

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

    Congratulations

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

    I bought the 16-35mm L to complete the "trilogy" but not sure about the lens filter. Does anyone know what thickness the lens should be for best image quality?

    I am looking at Heliopan filters and almost ordered it but then saw a review which warns about the thickness of the lens.

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    Re: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L vs. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

    Hi Sedali,

    Not sure what they mean by "thickness", but you need one that's 82mm diameter. I use a Heliopan SH-PMC UV (Slim) on mine for protection. Perhaps they're referring to the possibility of vignetting if you don't get the slim varient?

    Is this what you're meaning?
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 1st March 2009 at 07:17 AM.

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