Nigel Atkinson Photography

Equipment review: Canon 85mm f1.2L


Before reading this review please read my general introduction to reviews here


This is probably the most hyped lens in the Canon line-up and seems to have idol status on When Canon recently introduced an updated version with slightly better focus speed the camera collectors started to sell off the old version and thus the prices on EBay dropped to what I thought reasonable. Thus the lens entered my arsenal in February 2007.

The first thing about this lens is its girth - it bulges the moment it leaves the camera body like a weightlifter's biceps. The hood adds to this impression, and this relatively short lens looks absolutely massive.

The viewfinder image tells you its good even before you take a photo. I'm a sucker for wide-aperture primes and just love the shallow depth of field. Focus on the Mark 1 is slower that every other lens I own, yet it hasn't been a problem for the sort of head/ head and shoulders shots I've done with it. Fully aware that focus is a bit 'hit and miss' I have tended to shoot short bursts and delete the unacceptably burry shots later.

In short this is an amazing lens provided you don't have to rob a bank to buy it.

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Nigel Atkinson