85mm f/1.2 all the way

One of my favourite lenses is the Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens. 

A prime lens forces you to think about composition. It also allows you to blur backgrounds beautifully. And to shoot in low light. It is also consistent: prime means “set up one shots and all similar shots are the same w.r.t. things like depth of field and tolerance of motion blur”.

85 is a short telephoto lens, which is great for portraits. You can get close without getting too close, and you need no great big spaces. Perfect length.


You can make images with extremely shallow depth of field. Especially when you choose to get close:


This lens is great for outdoors portraits, but also indoors.

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You get a typical compressed telephoto look—without it being extreme.


The 85mm f/1.2 is sharp, very sharp.

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It is very sharp, with beautiful bokeh, and the manual focus mechanism, being electronic, is the smoothest I have used, ever. Yes, it autofocuses also.

This is my favourite lens now, I am safe in saying. For many purposes: not just portraits. More later.


PS I am doing a studio lighting workshop tomorrow, Sunday 1 May. Just saying. I need signups to go ahead, but not many—it is limited to 4 participants.


3 thoughts on “85mm f/1.2 all the way

  1. Michael , These photo’s are fantastic , I also love my 85 but it is a 1.4 (Nikon) . Still all in great photos to be made with it . I will take one lens with me on a day trip and just use that one lens , it makes for an interesting day .

  2. Hi Michael, first I must say how much I have appreciated all your teachings over the years. I continue to grow as a photographer and can honestly say you have helped me so much over the years, thank you. Also, I just got this lens for Mother’s Day and I have fallen madly in love with it!

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