Canon EF 85 II USM Review

Photography is an art that requires the right tool for each shot. As a result, It is important to determine how these tools stand out to become a lion among lambs. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this review is for all the photography enthusiasts out there. I will be reviewing a few of the lenses I own and use. Sorry Nikon users but I’m a Canon and Leica user, so I won’t have a review of any Nikon Lenses. Let’s start off the review with what some might consider the king of Canon lens, the Canon EF 85f/1.2L II USM. So let’s get started with the specs.

Focal Length & Maximum: 85mm 1:1.2

Lens Construction:  8 elements in 7 groups

Diagonal Angle of View: 28°30′

Focus Adjustment: AF with full-time manual

Closest Focusing Distance: 3.2 ft. / 0.95m

Filter Size: 72mm

Max. Diameter x Length,Weight: 3.6 in. x 3.3 in., 36.2 oz. / 91.5mm x 84mm, 1,025g

The Good

Image Performance: Top of the line performance. You won’t find a better EF lens from Canon. Anyone who is in to photography knows that specs don’t mean anything, unless you back it up with high quality glass. The lens is incredibly Sharp, it would be hard to find any other lens with the same kind of sharpness. With a maximum aperture of 1.2 this fast prime delivers outstanding bokeh (background blur), which is second to none.

Bokeh (Blur Quality): Non distracting bokeh, making your subject stand out. The Bokeh produce by this lens is also second to none, clean and creamy all at the same time. You’ll also get nice rounded bokeh balls with this lens.

The lens is perfect for subject isolation, which makes it perfect for portraits. Also, the depth of field of the lens makes it easy for portraits since it instantly tells people viewing your image what to look at without being distracted by the background. The bokeh rendered by this lens just perfect. It’s not distracting and is pleasing to the person viewing the photo. This means the viewer knows exactly where to focus his or her attention on the image.

f/1.2: Low light performance for this lens is amazing, it’s almost magical. The fast aperture really helps in low light situations, which reduces the need to use a higher iso setting.

Sharp: This lens is incredibly sharp with high detail on the subject being captured.

Build quality: This lens is built like a tank. The lens feels solid. It is able to withstand some abuse thrown at it, but I wouldn’t recommend dropping the lens.

The Bad

Ergonomics:: The ergonomics of this lens is defiantly not its strong point. The lens is to wide for people with smaller hands. This is of course if you’re planning to its manual focus ring.

Focus Ring: To focus the lens, you must have your Canon DSLR switched on, as focusing requires power from the DSLR. This could be a deal breaker for some. In addition, the lens focus speed is incredibly slow when compared to other prime lenses and you will defiantly have a hard time capturing fast moving objects. This is understandable since it has 8 huge elements in which the lens has to move in order to focus on the image.

Mounting and Changing the Lens: This is personally my only gripe with this lens. The back element is so close to the mounting bracket that you might scratch it. Also the size and weight of the lens makes hard to switch lenses on the fly with any kind of speed.

Weather Sealing: To my surprise this lens doesn’t have weather sealing, which can be an issue if you plan to use this camera in various weather conditions.

Weight: Weighing in at 1,025 grams (2.25 lb), paring this lens with the Canon 5D Mark II makes the total weight of the combo come to almost 2kg.


As you might have noticed, I have yet to talk about the price of the lens. The retail price set by Canon for this lens is set at $3,500. However, you could find this lens easily for around $2,000. I don’t find the price to be a negative considering the image quality, built quality, and fast aperture associated with this lens. The Canon EF 85f/1.2L II USM is defiantly not targeted for the mass market. There is niche to fill for people who want superior lens performance. This type of lens is meant to be used at f/1.2. If you are planning to shoot at any other aperture setting, then you might have to consider a different lens that will suit your needs.

Furthermore, Canon also makes a cheaper 85mm, The Canon EF85 f/1.8 USM. The 85f/1.8 might be a great lens for anyone who is serious about photography and doesn’t want to break the bank. The Canon EF 85 f/1.2L II USM, is worthy of its red ring and “L” status. You will know that this is a flagship lens from Cannon when you are holding the lens in your hand. If you have a passion for photography and you are willing to invest, then this lens is for you. You won’t regret spending $2,000 or more to have best lens that Canon currently makes.

Canon EF 85 f/1.2L II USM Review by Hyperzine