85mm f/1.2L II (left) 85mm f/1.4L IS (right)

Canon’s Wide Aperture 85mm Lenses Compared (Podcast 626)

Today we're going to pitch the old Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens against the new Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM lens, to see if it's worth trading in the old lens for some shiny new glass, even with one-third of a stop smaller aperture. I also hope that this will give you an idea of the quality of the new lens, regardless of how it compares to the old lens. The angle I've taken for this review is that an L lens from Canon lens being tack-sharp when stopped down to say f/5.6 or f/8 is...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Greg Bee
    Posted at 21:17h, 27 July Reply

    Thanks for the review. Looks like there a few people around that prefer the 1.2’s softer rendering for portraiture though.


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:55h, 28 July Reply

      Hi Greg,

      The difference between f/1.2 and f/1.4 is so small that in my opinion, the better image quality of the f/1.4 lens outweighs any benefits gained from that third of a stop wider aperture. I’d say that the main reason some people will continue to prefer the f/1.2 version is that it looks very impressive. That’s their choice of course, so it’s not for me to say what’s right or wrong. My job is to provide information for others to make up their own mind. 🙂


  • Sobanski Wojciech
    Posted at 07:39h, 07 January Reply

    By accident I came here, I entered the 85mm canon in Google and here I am. Thank you for the interesting test but from my point of view the new 85mm did not impress me. There is a slight difference but I like to make portraits on F1.2 and have these soft photos, this effect adds charm, there is no difference but F1.2 it’s not F1.4. However, I will stay with my old Canon 85mm F1,2 L II, best regards

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