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Wednesday, 08 May 2019


I've heard that the old EF 50mm f1.0L was mostly just a showpiece for Canon to highlight what their new EF mount was capable of compared to Nikon's dedication to the F mount during the autofocus transition era. I'm wondering if the forthcoming Nikon 58mm f0.95 is something of a similar showpiece. Either way, it would seem that the lens engineers for both companies are thoroughly enjoying the liberties that the new mount geometries are affording them.

For me, I'm just hoping at some point there'll be some trickledown to lenses of lesser specifications that are still improvements over DSLR era counterparts. While lenses like the 58mm f0.95 will undoubtedly get all of the press, I'm interested in what lenses like the 50mm f1.8 S can do. Thom Hogan seems to like it a lot more than the older f1.8G, for instance:


I wonder how much of the specs of this lens can be attributed to in-camera software correction. Maybe none and it stands alone on the optical bench as the FL lenses did but I somehow doubt it.

I have the similar lens for the DSLs. It’s an astonishing lens.

Canon's 85mm f/1.2 RF seems to be for pixel-peepers. I'd need at least a Tiffen #2 Double Fog filter for portrait use (maybe with a Pro-Mist filter as well). Either that, or a heavy dose of Plastic Skin when retouching.

Hopefully Canon will make an R mount version of the venerable EF 85mm f/1.8. If not, there is always Canon's superb EF/EF-S to R adapter.

For my use the RP is purrfect. From my POV the P stands for Pro—it's not encumbered with useless, but Ad-Am loved features 8-)

"(That would have been $330 in 1964 and $430 in 1971. Sounds better if you think of it that way.)"

I bought my first car in 1967, an Austin Healey Sprite Mk 2 (the one after the bugeye but before external door handles and windows!)... it cost £200! So, I think it sill sounds pretty expensive... (:-)

It's comparatively easy to build something striking if you can throw tons of cash at it. Cameras and cars alike. I'm personally far more impressed by a manufacturer that can get just the right balance and make something very good at a reasonable price and still make it worth the manufacturer's while.

[Then you must love Mazda.... --Mike]

Mike, you know in your heart that the 85 to get for portraiture will be the Pentax DFA*85/1.4, corrected enough to satisfy the interweb experts for sharpness, but with delicate rendering to make the subjects pop with 3D and bokeh to die for. For sure it will be biggish, for sure it will be heavy, for sure it will be reassuringly expensive (but not Canon or Zeiss expensive). Pentax have always been kinda good at this sort of lens, see your comments over the years about the FA77/1.8 Limited, FA*85/1.4, A*85/1.4 :)

Basing my expectations for the 85 on having and loving the big, heavy, expensive(ish) DFA*50/1.4.

IMHO razor-thin DOF was a fad created by lens manufacturers so they could plumb a new high priced market. Their other lens while good just weren't showing any increases in revenue. The "influencers" were compensated to get on board and then the rest as they say is history. Whatever happened to getting the nose, ears and BOTH eyes in focus?

Save yourself a few thousand: don't go for a razor-sharp, state-of-the-art, probably characterless portrait lens. Instead, buy a Soviet Jupiter 9 (a 2/85 Zeiss Sonnar) either in M42 with preset apertures (for Zenit SLRs) or in M39 (LTM, Zorki) without presets (they would have been pointless on a rangefinder camera). Pretend that you're shooting portraits of 1940s film stars, and you'll get the soft, glowing appearance of such portraits from that era. 85 mm is first and foremost a portrait lens, and using a lens that reveals every pore, pimple, and hair on the subject's nose isn't flattering. See:


[That's a really neat post. Thanks for the link. --Mike]

The historical aspect is interesting since every time previously Canon was the challenger, trying to impress compared to the top dog at the time. Now, Canon is the market leader trying to hold on to market share (and profits) when the market itself is undergoing big changes.

Personally, I'm not lusting for an 85/1.2; in fact an 85/1.8 has been entirely sufficient for me! But I'm left to wonder whether I'm the outlier or if the buyer of f1.2 lenses is.

That's a sweet-looking lens!

But it's a Plymouth Barracude, no?

Having had the Canon 85mm f/1.2 for the EOS 1DMkIII and trying it for Sports in gyms - it is way too slow for following action. The 85mm f/1.8 is much faster with AutoFocus.
Did do some work with the big fast lens wide open and for that use it was excellent. Since I was shooting a lot of newspaper sports I got rid of it for the smaller lens.

If the mirrorless 85 is as slow to focus it will be nice, heavy and probably produce beautiful images but be nearly useless for any type of action work. Big glass elements don't AutoFocus that quickly.

New Canon lenses to work with the new bodies surely won't have the compatibility problems the Aftermarket makers run into. They should work well from the start.

Canon always liked these fast 85mm lenses. As a side note, I have an old book called "Living Tribes", by Collin Prior. Lots of shots in there with the original EF 85 f/1.2 lens.

[The EF wasn't the original! I'm no expert on the minutiae of Canon lenses, but I'm pretty sure there was an S.S.C. version of that lens back in the '70s. --Mike]

Here in Europe that lens is 3049 euros. That's 3411 US dollars. More than 700 less! I am not a Canon RF shooter, but if I needed that lens I would fly to New York to buy it there.

The faster the lens, the more you can get out of focus and you pay considerably more for this privilege. Doesn't that sound a bit odd? How many great photos rely on stuff being out of focus?

Spectacular lens, but, like many of these new uber-lenses, is huge. If I am going to drag something like this on an outing, I may as well take my Hasselblad lenses and do medium format film photography.

One more point to put things in perspective. You can buy a Sony A7riii body with a Tamron 28-75 f2.8 lens for the same price as this Canon lens.

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