Canon RF 85mm images are phenomenal – is the EOS R now a legitimate pro tool?

Canon has unleashed the latest optic for its full frame mirrorless system: the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM. And not only does it rank as one of the best portrait lenses we've ever used, it might be the lens that single-handedly legitimizes the EOS R as a professional tool. 

Available at the end of June for the cool price of £2,800 / $2,700, it's not just the price tag that's hefty when it comes to the RF 85mm. This lens weighs a whopping 1,195g – more than double the weight of the Canon EOS R itself. 

The Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L is razor sharp wide open, with sumptuous falloff and creamy bokeh (click gadget at top-right of image to see full size)

The reason for both is the same: the lens features some of the best optical design that Canon's engineers have ever put into a lens – not least of which is the group aspheric element, an exotic feature that eliminates spherical aberration in ultra wide-aperture lenses. 

We've got a full breakdown of the optic in our Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L review, but after some additional time putting the lens through its paces (including some situational low light testing) we've been left blown away by the images that it produces.

In fact, we're so impressed by the results that we now have to seriously consider the EOS R as a professional camera. 

Capable of autofocusing down to -6EV, the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L is a superb low light performer (click gadget at top-right of image to see full size)

No, it doesn't have the second card slot or the sports-ready burst shooting. No, it doesn't have image stabilization. Yes, it does have a severe crop for 4K video. And yes, most people would still rather have the joystick than the M-Fn touch bar.

However, if you're somebody who takes pictures of people for a living, the staggering image quality produced by the RF 85mm and EOS R means that it absolutely qualifies as a pro setup. 

The f/1.2 aperture gives the RF 85mm stunningly shallow depth of field (click gadget at top-right of image to see full size)

It's not just the images themselves, but the phenomenal performance that this tandem offers in low light environments. Like the other RF showcase lens, the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L, the RF 85mm unleashes the EOS R's ability to autofocus down to -6EV. 

In our opinion, if you're a professional portrait, wedding or event photographer, this lens (and the Canon R system) not only merits but demands your attention. 

Read more: 

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L review
Canon RF lens roadmap
Canon EOS R review

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.