Canon 85mm 1.2L II - Impressions and questions

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Neil S., Jul 27, 2010.

  1. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    For about a week now I have been testing my new 85mm 1.2L II, and wanted to give you my impressions.

    I also have some questions that hopefully can be answered by the more experienced members.

    Impressions:

    Good news:

    - The lens is extremely sharp, even when wide open. This was an important factor for me, and it does live up to the reputation in this aspect. :thumbup:

    - The color and contrast are both excellent, and overall I am pleased with the image quality.

    - Build quality is quite good, definitely lives up to L lens standards.

    - The large maximum aperture provides a very bright viewfinder.

    - The bokeh is so beautiful, make no mistake this lens is one of the best portrait lenses available. I am 100% pleased with this aspect of the lens. :thumbup:

    UPDATE: In the interest of a fair review, I am posting 3 pics that display the beautiful bokeh this lens creates. I want everyone to understand that this is an outstanding lens despite its flaws(which are numerous).

    These were all shot wide open handheld. I was able to(and required to) use extremely fast shutter speeds due to the large aperture.

    1.
    1/8000th sec
    [​IMG]

    2.
    1/8000th sec
    [​IMG]

    3.
    1/4000th sec
    [​IMG]


    Bad news:

    - The AF is quite bad. I knew this before buying it though, so it’s not that big of a deal to me. It was however worse than I expected. It is very slow and hunts a lot, even in good light. This lens is NOT suited for indoor sports/action photography, trust me on this one.

    - It is quite heavy for an 85mm. This is to be expected for the speed of the lens though.

    - It shows pretty significant chromatic aberration (my copy at least) in certain lighting situations. It seems to be especially bad when shooting reflective surfaces such as metal or high gloss plastics. It may be called purple fringing, as this is what it looks like to me. :(

    - The "fly by wire" manual focusing system is garbage in my opinion. I don't like it at all, and I wish it was the standard type. This may be a necessity due to the large aperture and lens design, I don't know.

    - It is scary to mount because the rear glass is about exactly flush with the mount. No quick lens changes in the dark for this one.


    Questions:

    - Is the chromatic aberration I am experiencing due to the very large aperture, or the 85mm 1.2 lens design itself?

    - Is it possible that I have an especially bad copy?

    - Do lenses of this large an aperture usually experience bad chromatic aberration wide open?


    - Could an UD element or two fix the chromatic aberration, and if so why didn't they use them for this lens? It is expensive and L glass, so I don't see why they wouldn't.

    CA Example Pics:

    Attached are some images that show the chromatic aberration at its worst. The CA present in these images is not typical, these were cherry picked specifically to show the CA issue the lens has.

    These pics were all shot wide open, and handheld. Stopping down some virtually eliminated the CA in these same shots.

    1.

    [​IMG]
    2.

    [​IMG]
    3.

    [​IMG]
    4.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I don't think many folks around here use that lens, it's an expensive one. Although, there are a few, and the photos I've seen from it, are usually pretty sweet, with great sharpness and nice bokeh.

    I don't think I've ever seen CA as bad as this, not on images that are otherwise very sharp & well exposed etc. I'd certainly be concerned about it.

    You might want to try a broader search (Google) to see if others are experiencing the same thing.
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with Mike - for the cost of that lens, that amount of CA/purple-fringing is unacceptable. My cheapie 70-300 "emergency" zoom does a better job.
     
  4. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike. :thumbup:

    Ya I am concerned about it, and I plan on doing more research.

    The review on the-digital-picture mentions this lens has CA issuse, and even specifically with reflective surfaces. He didn't post pictures of it though, and I am not sure exactly how bad the CA was.

    I did cherry pick these based on their terrible CA. Most of the shots I took with it had very little to none, even wide open.

    And like I said before stopping it down totally eleminated the problem. You don't buy this lens to shoot at f/8 though lol.

    It seems that shooting reflective surfaces, especially when its into light is the problem. The one from the backside of the fan into the light is by far the worst.

    Maybe I should talk to Derrel about this, he seemed to know quite a bit about the specifics of this lens and the CA issues it has. Maybe he can tell me if this is a normal level of CA for this lens in these situations.

    I just want to know if I should be sending it to Canon for being defective or not.

    What I find so strange is the massive CA on the white letters of the book. They arent even reflective as far as I can tell...this one stumps me. It is only part of the letters too, quite strange.
     
  5. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    Well what I was mostly asking was if ultra fast lenses like this tend to have this problem.

    Like is it something specific to this lens design (or my copy), or do all lenses this fast struggle with CA problems. Thats where I am in the dark.

    I do believe that the 85mm 1.2 by nature has CA problems, since I read a lot of reviews stating this.

    It is situational though, and as long as you arent shooting something reflective its pretty much a non-issue.

    It is still dissapointing for the price though, I will admit.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The bad chromatic aberration of both the 85mm f/1.2-L and the L-II versions is pretty disappointing to many people who shell out that kind of money for premium glass.What you've encountered in your tests is pretty much expected from the lens.

    The 50/1.2-L has a similar degree of CA. As you've found, not "all" subject matter will create the problem in such an obvious manner. I've seen it most on backlighted subjects, or subjects with strong,clear highlighted edges, and on bright subjects that have a lot of reflections, like the surface of ponds or lakes at wedding reception areas, or in seaside family portraiture,where there's bright sun reflecting on water or other surfaces. I tried to bring this point up a couple of weeks ago, about the 85/1.2-L II having a bad bokeh "signature" under a few very specific conditions, and got jumped on by a Canonista who couldn't accept that such a high-ticket, desired lens had any problems, whatsoever. But, as you've found out, when you look at ALL of a horse's teeth, there might be one or two bad ones...but hey, if he can still chew, right? Does one or two bad teeth make a horse totally useless?

    This kind of a lens issue is one of the things that really, under "Most" situations, is not a big deal. Nikon's 180mm f/2.8 AF-D has a very similar propensity toward strong purple fringing when shot in the same circumstances...it's there, and normally it is not noticeable--BUT, when shooting shiny, smooth-edged metalwork, like the fan grilles, well, if a lens fringes like that then, well...that's the way it does its thing...so you need to either stop the aperture down to where the CA is less-pronounced, or use another lens. Like you said Neil, "it is still disappointing for the price though, I will admit." Yes, Neil, the same sentiment is expressed in reviews of both 50 and 85 1.2-L lenses...by most reviewers and owners....but, it's just one of those things that Microsoft would call a feature! A 600 horsepower engine usually gets lousy gas mileage..but has killer power...85mm at f/1.2 is a bleeding edge design...it's a bit hairy on the bleeding edge...

    There are many shooting scenarios where the chromatic aberration of the 85/1.2-L II is quite unnoticeable...like you said, these samples come from lots of tests, and are the worst...so, you have to decide if this degree of CA is okay, or if the 85/1.8 isn't a better choice..I am impressed by Canon's 85/1.8 EF...I think it's a very good lens.
     
  7. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    Thank you so much Derrel, I really appreciate it.

    This is by far the most helpful post I have seen here. :thumbup: You are a true source of valuable knowledge to us.

    Ya I guess this lens will be a love/hate thing for me. I am on the fence now if I think it was even worth the money or not. Its unique at least, Ill give it that.

    My god its got a large aperture though, and it produces some serious bokeh.
     
  8. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    I wanted to thank you Derrel, but I can't. :mrgreen:

    Is there a limit to the number of thanks you can do in a day or something? I am still a nooblet on this stuff.

    Another question.

    Do you think that the CA problems the lens has is mostly a result of the large aperture, or a design flaw?
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes, there is a maximum number of thanks, and it is on a per day limit. Not sure what the limit is.

    I think the CA issues with the 85/1.2 are mostly due to the extremely large aperture at that focal length; however, that said, I think Canon could have reduced the CA problems with some wild rare-earth type glass and an aspherical design implementation, but that might have added another $500 (or more!) to the retail price. Lens design is always a series of compromises. Either way, it is what it is...
     
  10. bentcountershaft

    bentcountershaft Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I see similar issues with the 85 1.8 in very harsh circumstances although I don't know if it's quite as pronounced as the above examples.
     
  11. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    Ya this was what I was thinking too.

    I looked the lens up in my Lens Work III book, and it has no UD elements. Methinks that if they added one or two it might solve the problem.

    Whats $500 more on a $2000, very special purpose lens anyways? It would be so worth it to me, and id shell out $500 right now to totally eliminate the problem.

    Canon should have thought about this, especially since the version II wasn't released that long ago. I am starting to think this was just a bad decision on their part.

    I know they have UD elements that big, because they use much bigger ones on the big telephotos.

    I am not very happy with Canon right now, shame on them lol. :grumpy:

    Ill get over it though, I got a lot of love for them. :mrgreen:
     
  12. Neil S.

    Neil S. TPF Noob!

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    I wouldn't think so, I am guessing this lens is one of the worst of the high end lenses for CA.

    As Derrel said it seems to be mostly caused by the massive aperture.

    Canon really should have taken steps to control the CA though, for the price of this lens. I cannot believe that it was not possible for a modest price increase.

    Maybe they will make a version III that will correct the issue. If they did I would have a hell of a time selling mine for a descent price to upgrade though lol. Everybody would want the new one.
     

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