Classic SLR Series :
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. Credit: Image courtesy of Benny Kit Lui. whose PORTFOLIO can be accessed at PBase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
Background and Version History
Aspherical lenses are not a new breed of glass-type but simply lenses that have curvative that correct the aberrations Difficult to process by conventional grinding and polishing but modern molding technologies have enabled to be carried out in mass production. Lenses with incorporation of aspherical glass element(s) also helps to realize aspiration of lens designer in coming out with better lenses. Commercially, it has always cast a magic spell to consumers and much due to its commercial implication, many camera/lens manufacturers have claimed each to be the leader in this field as to whom was the first to adopt aspherical lens manufacturing process. While Canon claimed the early Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 AL introduced back in 1971 was the world's first 35mm interchangeable lens with use of aspherical glass element in its optical design; well, Nikon answer and claimed theirs (the aspherical glass OP-Nikkor 10mm f/5.6) was marketed as early as 1968; anyway, such lens type, was usually employs with hand polished aspherical lens element(s) to achieve sharp definition at corner to corner even when maximum apertures are used. The much acclaimed Canon 55mm standard AL lense, first debut back in the early '70, was actually developed together with original professional Canon F1 system camera. The ground and polished glass aspherical lens makes central and peripheral light converge on a single focusing point to correct aberrations.
5 years later (1976), an aspherical glass powered fixed focal length medium telephoto lens was also being introduced by Canon; at the time of introduction, Canon did has a fairly larger aperture FD 85mm f/1.8 in the FD lens group, but Canon decided since aspherical glass can considerably improves performance of an even larger aperture lens, a 85mm f/1.2 fast speed lens type was chosen instead. The use of aspherical lens element has enabled the Canon FD 85mm f/1.2 AL S.S.C. to be realized. It virtually compensates for common aberrations previously hindered development of fast speed, bright lenses, which then offers high-contrast definition without flare even at the use of maximum apertures. When it was eventually released in 1976, this lens was hailed as the world's brightest telephoto lense.
Further, the lens was also the first 85mm telephoto lens to incorporate a compensation mechanism or floating lens element design within; avoiding deterioration of optical quality due to aberration changes when shooting at close distances. The S.S.C., Canon proprietary super spectra coating multiple layers lens coating was treated to ensure optimal color balance - combining all these values, seemingly Canon has found a new classic FD lense during this era. However, it was not until Canon next generation of professional system upgrade with New Canon F1 in 1981 and a series of high performance automatic / semi-auto SLRs that offered clear distinctive advantage over the competitions (in able to offer shutter priority AE); further, Canon new revision of the FD lens group with a series of professional class of the FDN lenses was a hit then for sports photographers. Other than the white lenses which began to mushroom at the many sports arena, the red-lined L-series lenses have also began to attract photographers with their superior on field performance. The Canon FDn 85mm f/1.2L with its exceptional light gathering capability for low ambient light shooting and superior optical image resolution was a favorite among photojournalists and news reporters. Although its existence was much earlier, but it was during this time, it confirmed its status as a true classic lens type.
Canon Original EF 85mm f/1.2L USM Medium Telephoto Lens
Announced 1987 Marketed 09.1989 Discontinued: 2005/6
The EF version of the Canon 85mm f/1.2L has quite a radical change both in its optical design as well as physical appearance from the earlier FD equivalent. With a large maximum aperture of f/1.2, even after more than two decades after it was first announced, this is still the fastest 85mm telephoto lens in its class. Instead of 8/6, the EF version has 8 Elements in 7 Groups optical formulation with one aspherical glass elements placed at the 3rd element. It actually comprises of an aspherical lens element and two high-refraction elements which gives sharp images with little flare even at its maximum aperture(s). To ensure its exceptional image resolution be extended down to its minimum focusing distance, a floating lens element system is also incorporated as to correct coma as well as it high image quality be retained for such close focus distance.
Generally, medium telephoto lenses from focal length of 80-135mm are often referred as "portrait lenses" because their natural perspective and blur effect makes them ideal for this purpose. Depends on photographer's aspiration in how to make good use of these lenses, they can be used for full-length photos to head-and-shoulder kind of portraits. So, be it for stage, normal portraiture in door or outdoor, scenic, traveling or even sports - you can find it handy when the circumstantial factors demand for its usage. Canon actually offers two alternatives at this 85mm focal length, each with different configurations and budget to cater for individual needs. For larger aperture lens such as this f/1.2, you can have ore control on depth of field, accentuate the subject by setting it off from the background without losing grip on the subject and its natural feel. The brightness offers also permits shooting in naturally lit dusk and low ambient light such as indoor shots. Overall, this kind of advantage is appealing capability unavailable with most zoom lenses which usually have smaller maximum aperture to take a f-stop or two higher shutter speed to deliver sharper shots.
As one of the few "status" lens since the early days of Canon EOS system, this Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L has incorporated some of the best in Canon optical innovations. Looks awesome on its own and even more fearsome when mounted on to camera, it has an rather oversize, large-diameter front element, the ground and polished aspherical glass element hosted within was designed to correct spherical aberrations, and the two high-refraction glass elements in its optical composition was aimed to optimize power distribution in the optical system resulting n extremely low flare and high contrast image reproduction at all apertures. The comatic aberration which tends to increase at close and medium shooting distances is further corrected by a floating lens element construction. The ring-type USM (Ultra Sonic Motor), other than providing silky smooth AF, it is quiet as well. Besides, it separates from comparing lenses f other makes it is ability to offer full-time manual focus for subtle focus adjustments even during its autofocus operation. Although most people would settle for a more versatile zoom lenses, this lens separate itself from others as it permits the photographer to explore possibilities and dealing with natural light photography to its full extent.
Even if I owned an older Canon FDN 85mm f/1.2L which only weighs 680g but my first encounter was still gave me a visual shocker. Its added weight (weighs almost double at 1.025g !) and huge dimension projects an instance impression that this is a valuable piece of optical glass. The lens barrel was excessively large and that was why the rear section has been "sliced" off at each side in order to let user to have a firmer grip during lens interchanging. Even the rear lens element was large. The overall solid, rigid feel of the lens makes you think more hot to take care of it rather than the camera, haha .. (In fact, while shooting the images shown in this site, its extra ordinary eye catching appearance of the lens did caught some attention of the passingby to pause for a moment to have a look at the lense). To the owner, perhaps it carries more meaning than just what the lens can offer - it also instill a layer of confidence, I guess...
Credit: I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Poon of Poon Photo, IPOH for his generosity in lending me his treasured "glassware" for me to take some pictures for this site.
The filter attachment size is 72mm. The distance and depth of field index window also is a little unusual with its gentle, flat top panel which generously provides visual guide on four different apertures of f/4.0, f/8.0, f/11 and f/16 - a rare treat on a EF lens. The display widen could have been designed larger with easier readout but this is not so important as it is an autofocus lense. Similarly, the manual focusing ring should also be made wider for an easier hand grip (especially when using glove or others such as operates inside a housing). Due to its limited depth of field when set at its maximum aperture (refer to the depth of field chart below), the latter should be more practical as fine-tuning on focusing point with manual override could be a constant affair on full time manual focusing*.
A mini showcase of Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM telephoto lens CLICK FOR EXPLOSIVE VIEW(s) Credit: ALL image(s) displayed herein courtesy of Digitize-Future@EBAY® from Taiwan who maintains an online EBAY STORE. The Company also has a website on their own at shueido.com Image(s) copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
Due to constraint on lens design, the idea of a feasible built-in lens hood was not included and neither too practical as the large front lens element is hard to provide an effective shield; Canon offers an optional lens hood lens hood ES-79 II, which can serve for such needs. Technically, although the lens carries best possible elements to claim it as a perfect medium telephoto lens in this package, but it also demands photographers to make use of own skill and technique in enabling best utilization for this lens. I would think countering the combine weight is an issue, but modern photographers have been force to train to handle heavy equipment (hehe ...) and I think those who has living in such state should able to deal with this negative aspect on the physical. Although the lens is an USM designated lens, but somehow, I felt the unit that I test drove earlier has its autofocusing not truly entirely silent as claimed; next, possibly due to the large lens elements inside, the AF speed is not as fast as the EF 85mm f/1.8 USM either. Nevertheless, the photos shown here told another story - this showcased unit was not a working model, Mr. Poon, who lend me the lens for shooting told me, he encountered this strange problem twice. I am supposed to send the lens back for a throughout physical check and identifying the problem. I would think this could be an isolated case, and hopefully you don't get the impression there is something wrong with this optical marvel from Canon.
Technical Specification for Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM (ORIGINAL version) Telephoto: -
Type: - Autofocus lens type with manual focusing mechanism
Focal Length: Fixed focal length 85mm
Focus Adjustment:- Autofocus ; USM with Inner and rear focus design
Manual Focusing:- possible via AF/M switch and electronic full-time manual focusing* possible during autofocus
Zoom Adjustment:- Nil. Fixed Focal Length Lens
Closest Focusing Distance:- 0.95m (3.1ft)
Maximum Magnification:- 0.11X
Drive System:- ring type USM with full-time manual focusing
Distance Scales: Provided via window on metres/feet.
Angle of View:- 24° 16° 28° 30' (horizontal, vertical and diagonal)
Aperture range:- f/1.2 - f/16
Number of Diaphragm Blades: - 8 blades
Minimum Aperture: - f/16
Filter rotation: No
Filter Attachment Size:- 72mm front mounting
* ".... First of all I have to say I have been reading your fantastic web since the 90's. In fact I think it is one of the firsts I saw in my life. I have just read the specifications of the Canon EF 85mm f: 1.2 in its original version and I have to say this was one of the few lenses which, even when it had Ultrasonic Motor, cannot perform Full-Time Manual focussing. The original version of this 85mm have manual focussing by wire, like the 28-80mm f: 2.8-4 L; only the new mkII version have FTM. Thank you...". - Jose F. Fraile (from Spain) <email@example.com> -
Credit: Image courtesy of Eldor Gemst from Montreal, Canada. where you can access his PORTFOLIO for some exccelent series of high quality glamour and fashion shots. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
Photographer's Comment: " .. Trying some different (for me) processing here. I liked the image (believe it or not, it's Victoria) but in the original color I felt it was lacking something. I was trying for a much more dramatic result. Does it work? Lighting was classic "beauty" lighing... 5' Octodome high directly in front of the model, and 42" soft-gold reflector low, also directly in front. (Also called "clamshell" lighting.) I used a 15" x 39" Halfdome with 40 degree fabric grid on the hair and side as a kicker light. - Eldor -
Lens construction:- 8 Elements in 7 Groups with one ASPHERICAL glass elements (at 3rd element)
Extenders: not advisable
Others: - Extension Tube EF12 (II) 0.25X~0.15X; EF25 (II) 0.42X~0.33X
Diameter:- 91.5mm x 84mm (3.6" x 3.3"); Weight:- 1,025g (2.3 Ibs)
Accessories:- Lens Cap/pouch E-72U ; lens hard case: LP 1219; lens Hood:- ES-79 II; Gelatin Holder II/IV (hood): 4
In case you are a Nikon folk who may never expose to this lens type before, I give you a rough idea how big is this lens - Comparing physical dimension between a 580g, highly acclaimed MF Nikkor 105mm f/1.8s and this EF 85mm f/1.2L
Depth of field chart of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L for various apertures on distances.
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L MK II (perhaps later..or you can sufe the web for other resources, don't wait)
Other Canon Telephoto lens alternatives: The high speed Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM; Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L | 300mm | 400mm | 500mm | 600mm | 1200mm |
Relative: - Canon FD Telephoto Lenses FDn 85mm f/1.2L FD 85mm f/1.2 AL SSC + Main Index Page on Canon FD lens Resources
Suggestive External Link:- Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM (linked to William L. Catleman Review with evaluative MTF analysis); Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM (linked to collective reviews); Digital picture (linked to collective reviews); optical visual comparing the two Canon 85mm f/1.2L and f1.8 USM
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