Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM II review

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM II is something of a legend in its own lifetime

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM II
(Image: © Canon)

Digital Camera World Verdict

It’s not a massively sharp lens but that’s not really the point. The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM II is famous for its beautiful bokeh and its ability to isolate the main subject within a scene. Coupled with an ideal focal length, this makes it a long-standing favorite with some of the world’s greatest portrait photographers. There’s sufficient sharpness on tap to give full detail to the eyes, while the roll-off makes for smooth, beautiful skin tones. However, the ultra-shallow depth of field demands very precise focusing, which can be a struggle for DSLRs.


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    Great for portraiture

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    Super-tight depth of field at f/1.2

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    High-precision focus ring


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    Axial chromatic aberration

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    No weather-seals

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    Pretty weighty and pricey

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The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM II is a favorite of the most demanding professional portrait and wedding photographers worldwide. It’s ideal if you want to literally focus all of the attention on the eye, thanks to its incredibly tight depth of field. The quality of bokeh is especially alluring and the lens has the ability to beautify skin tones giving them a sublime softness without drawing attention to every tiny blemish.

Read more:
The best portrait lenses
The best lenses for wedding photography

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.