The EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM is so fast that... How fast is it? Shooting outdoors
on a sunny day at ISO 100 with a Canon EOS 30D and the lens wide-open, the required
exposure exceeded the camera's maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec. I
had to stop down to f/1.6 to get proper exposure with the least possible depth
of field. On a cloudy (really cloudy, not a "cloudy bright") day
I was able to shoot wide-open at ISO 100 and get good exposures at 1/1600 sec,
which produced tack-sharp images with a delightfully shallow depth of field.
Even at f/1.6, the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM delivers good bokeh. This
characteristic is generally considered to be a product of the aperture's
shape (note the almost perfectly circular out-of-focus highlight)
and spherical aberration that's inherently produced by a lens.
Bokeh is an optical buzzword derived from the Japanese word for "fool"
(as in it's not nice to fool Mother Nature) and is used to describe the
pleasing quality of an image's out-of-focus areas. A little more subjective
than the Richter scale, most photographers know good bokeh when they see it,
even if they don't know the term. At f/1.2, the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
produces a pleasant bokeh.
For a while I stopped being a fan of Skylight, UV, or even protection filters,
but putting a scuff mark on the front of my (expensive) EF 10-22mm zoom convinced
me otherwise. Similarly, you'll want to invest in a high-quality 72mm
Skylight (or whatever) filter to protect the front element of a $2000 lens like
this one. While filter shopping you might also want to pick up a Neutral Density
filter to let you use the lens at its widest aperture on sunny days. A lens
hood is also a good idea, but while there's a nice pouch included in the
box, the (ES-79II) lens hood is a $50 option.
To create this faux cyanotype I photographed Lorie using only the
window light coming through my back door. (The cyanotype was invented
by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and was the first successful non-silver
photographic printing process. It's blue, hence the name.)
Image was captured directly in monochrome using the Canon EOS 30D's
blue toning capabilities. Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/2.8 at ISO
320. Camera was in Shutter Priority mode and deliberately underexposed
by 1/3 stop to increase shadows and blue saturation.
To paraphrase Speed TV's Tom Hnatiw (www.dreamcargarage.com):
Do you need a lens like this? If you are a professional photographer the stunning
image quality Canon's EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM delivers is what you want
and your clients expect. If you shoot weddings and portraits, the ability to
capture luminous low-light portraits gives you an edge in capturing that decisive
moment, and can make the different between a good shot and a great one. Do you
want a lens like this? Oh yeah, but it's still heavy.
Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 85mm, f/1.2
Lens Construction: Eight elements in seven groups
Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time Manual
Closest Focusing Distance: 3.2 ft
Filter Size: 72mm
Max. Diameter x Length: 3.6x3.3"
Weight: 36.2 oz (2.26 lbs)
For more information, contact Canon U.S.A., Inc., One Canon Plaza, Lake Success,
NY 11042; (800) 652-2666, (516) 328-5000; www.canonusa.com.