This 85mm f/1.2 Canon RF lens is just $709!

This 85mm f/1.2 Canon RF lens is just $709!
(Image credit: Shoten Kobo)

Want a lightning-fast f/1.2 portrait lens for the Canon EOS R system, but don't have two and a half grand to spend on the Canon version? Well you're in luck, because the Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2 has just been announced – and it's almost a quarter of the price!

The new Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2 clocks in at only ¥73,800, which converts to $708.90 / £552.05 / AU$976.09 at current exchange rates. Compare that to the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM, which sells for $2,599 / £2,799 / AU$3,599. And of course, the bokehlicious Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS is a whopping $2,999 / £3,219 / AU$4,500, making Zhongyi's option even more appealing – especially if you're a Nikon shooter, as the lens is also available for Z-mount cameras. 

• Read more: Best Canon RF lenses

Of course, the two Canon lenses are heavyweights in more ways than just just the price (or, indeed, their significant size!) as they're two of the best portrait lenses you can buy right now. So how does the Chinese-made Zhongyi Optics offering compare to them? 

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The Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2 is a ridiculously cheap $709 for Canon RF and Nikon Z mounts (Image credit: Shoten Kobo)

There are some key differences, of course – namely that Zhongyi's lens is fully manual, meaning that autofocus is not supported and you will need to adjust the aperture ring by hand (though possibly not very much, since you're probably going to use an f/1.2 lens wide open most of the time). 

Neither does the lens feature weather sealing, so you will need to be much more considered when using it in wet, dusty, or excessively cold conditions. Still, Zhongyi lenses are built like absolute tanks – as with the highly enjoyable Zhongyi Mitakon Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95, its all-metal construction feels strong enough to beat down a door, so sturdiness isn't an issue.

The Canon RF and Nikon Z versions both possess the same optical formula, with 9 elements in 6 groups (2 of them ED lenses, and 4 of them high-refractive-index, low-dispersion lenses), with 11 aperture blades and a 77mm filter diameter. 

However, the Canon lens is marginally shorter and lighter, at 83 x 118mm and 950g compared to the 83 x 120mm and 955g of the Nikon. 

Both lenses are currently only available in Asia, and have yet to reach the big retailers in the west, though existing DSLR versions are available from B&H for Canon EF, Nikon F and Sony A mounts. 

Read more: 

The best Canon lenses: go longer, wider and closer with your Canon camera
Best Nikon Z lenses: the best lenses for the Nikon Z5, Z6, Z7 and Z50
The best lens for portraits: our pick of the best 85mm lenses right now

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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.