Certainly, all lenses are softer when wide open, and this lens is no exception. However, the blurry background plus the pleasing bokeh (if any) make the softness for this lens not unpleasant at all. Against blurry background, the subject almost always stands out tack sharp to our eyes. The technically slight softness when wide open is actually complementary to the overall mood of the shot made at f1.2... as if a soft filter were used to enhance the overall beauty of the subject.
Actually, it is that mood created at f1.2 that is unique to this lens, and that cannot be simulated by almost all other lenses ever made in history. Also, it is that mood that makes this lens a beauty in itself for shooting portraiture, especially for shooting full-body shots.
The only other lens that I know of can seriously compete with this one for portraiture is 135 f2L, but f2 and f1.2 don't yield the same mood, and also a 135 lens always feels harder to capture a full body than a 85mm can. Additionally, 200mm f1.8 (or its f2.8 version for practical reasons) is another contestant for the throne of the king of lens for portrait shots. Best of all, it does not have the same softness that 85 f1.2 has when wide open. However, it's so heavy and so different that it simply isn't in the same league as a 85, 100, or 135 lens.
All that said, a lens is just a tool. It does not automatically create anything interesting. For example, 85mm f1.2 loses its uniqueness and beauty as soon as it's stopped down: in this case, even a 85 f1.8 non-L lens that costs merely a small fraction of the f1.2 lens can easily trump it due to the f1.8 lens' significantly faster AF speed. However, in real world, 85 f1.2's slower AF speed does not matter much for portraiture, as f1.2 typically creates paper thin DOF and the shooter has to slow down even if its AF had been super fast.
Thread: Let's Talk Lenses
Results 21 to 26 of 26
01-07-2016 08:31 PM* * *
Canon 5D III & 7D, 8-15L, 16-35L II, 24L II, 35L, 40STM, 50L, 85L II, 24-105L, 70-200 f2.8L IS, 100 macro, 100-400L
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01-08-2016 11:01 AM
Henry, i like the way you think.
Softness of the lens wide open can be a very nice thing. It seems difficult to replicate with filtration. Of course, wide open characteristics vary from lens types and companies, but there is invariably one that will give the appropriate effect.
For much of my work, i prefer f2-f4 in the 28-85mm range. So, those 35mm f2 lenses are really nice for me. With a perfectly round wide open iris and f2, i get the benefits of beautifully smooth and subtle bokeh and a workable dof range. I hate 35mm 1.4 lenses because i have to stop down to f2 anyways, and my bokeh goes to nasty with iris blade signatures.
I know there are some lenses with nice rounded iris blades, but they are usually cinema, and the focus throw is so long it is a pain to use since i pull and operate for most of the small things i shoot.
but this whole notion of sharp 1.2 wide open lenses is amazing,and i could see myself using that kind of lens, but it is not always exactly what we prefer. I love a lens for what it does for me, not what it can do for a chart. And if i am being honest, i am not asking myself for a 1.2 99% of the time. I could buy a million lenses and love them all. There is a place in my heart for f2 35mm lenses, for allowing my to shoot with a perfectly round iris and workable dof (motion capture not stills). There is also a place in my heart for 1.2-1.4 lenses that are ethereal wide open. And when that day comes, that i have a lens that shoots tack sharp at 1.1, i am sure i will love it too. Anyway, i am happy to pick up cheap slow lenses that are sharp wide open. They actually ended up being better for what i do.
Last edited by James0b57; 01-08-2016 at 11:10 AM.
02-05-2016 12:06 AM
- Join Date
- Jun 2013
Im going to add another + for the 135mm f2 L. Ive only used it a few times for head shots but there is something about that lens that so dreamy. I have an A7s now so I picked up a cheap 135mm FD 2.5, so far Im content with it. Doesn't blow my mind ( I hate the stiff focus ring on mine) and images are soft wide open (to be expected) But it does the job. Im currently saving up for that EF 135L..
Since if a Sony FE version eventually comes out it would probably cost an arm and leg ;)
01-24-2017 07:40 AM
- Join Date
- Dec 2016
- Toronto, Canada
Old thread, but I thought I would throw my $0.02 in...
Seems to be a lot of love for Canon 85 f1.2, 135 f2, and also their 180 Macro. I've never been a Canon shooter, but I've had a long time love for Nikon's 85 f1.4 D lens, as well as their 200 f4 Macro. I sold my D700 last year to go to Fuji X system but truly miss those two lenses; just something magical about their character and the way they drew wide open and stopped down.
On the Fuji X system I'm loving the 56 f1.2 and 90 f2 (similar FOV to 85 and 135). I'm sad that they canceled plans for a long macro. Looking forward to using them for video when I get my XT2.
Also a shout out to my beloved Hasselblad/Zeiss 80 f2.8 CF lens and my Rodenstock 135 f5.6 Sironar-S for film work. Just love love love shooting big film formats and looking at transparencies on a light table.
01-24-2017 11:19 AM
Not of fan of compression rendered by longer lenses, & the EF 85mm f/1.2 is my preferred lens for portrait, or beauty. Also like Canon's 50mm f/1.2, & 24-70mm f/2.8. None of these are the sharpest optics, but have a certain mojo when used wide-open.
02-23-2017 07:35 PM
Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art
Stiched (the lens normally doesn't have that distortion)
Here's what is normally
And on the other end of the spectrum....Sigma 150-600 C:
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