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FD f/1.2 85 mm L

Christoph Hammann , Nov 04, 2010; 12:06 a.m.

The old Canon FD f/1.2 85 mm really is something special, isn't it? I never could set off objects against the background at far distances, but here ... .
What are your experiences with this lens. Show some pictures done with it!


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Michael McBroom , Nov 04, 2010; 01:04 a.m.

I don't own an L. But I do own an 85mm f/1.2 SSC Aspherical, which is the first of the series, and claimed by many to be the best of all Canon's 85/1.2s. I haven't had a chance to do any comparisons myself, but I've sure enjoyed mine. This is what the SSC Asph looks like:

A couple shots taken at a photo shoot last January. Pics taken with my Canon F-1, using Kodak Elite Chome 100. Besides this guy with the 4x5, I was the only one at the photo shoot with a film camera :) Both shots at f/1.2.

Gotta love those bokeh!

Tim Carroll , Nov 04, 2010; 08:29 a.m.

I absolutely love this lens. I studied fashion photography at SVA in New York City in the early 1990's and the Canon 85mm 1.2L was my go-to lens every session. Unfortunately it didn't belong to me, I was borrowing it from a friend. Sold all my Canon FD equipment in the mid 1990's and switched to Nikon for the photojournalism work I was doing. About three years ago I started shooting fashion again and searched high and low for a good example of the lens. Finally found one and picked it up. Had to go out and buy a Canon F1n to use it with. Again, my favorite piece of glass. Used it on a shoot Tuesday.

Can't say enough good things about it.


Kayam Rajaram , Nov 04, 2010; 10:16 a.m.

These shots make me want to go study fashion photography.

Christoph Hammann , Nov 04, 2010; 01:29 p.m.

Tim, clever combination of depth of field and high key. That lens sure has a style of it's own, good to know it can be bent to one's will.

Mark O'Brien , Nov 04, 2010; 05:08 p.m.

Nice! At that focal length, there seems to be a huge difference between 1.2 and 1.8. I have always enjoyed my old Nikkor 85 1.8, and though I have an AF and the old non-AI version, the older lens seems to have a different "quality."

Michael McBroom , Nov 04, 2010; 06:00 p.m.

There are various reasons that can account for a difference in image quality. Chief of them being optical formulas, number and shape of iris blades, coatings and coating formulas. With respect to the Canon 85mm f/1.2 lenses, the origina 85mm Aspherical has 9 aperture blades, whereas the subsequent ones have "only" eight. Some feel that the nine-bladed aperture provides more pleasing bokeh. Again, I can't really comment because I'm familiar with only the 9-bladed variety. All I know is, it provides a lovely smooth, creamy bokeh. But then, my FD 50mm f/1.4 SSC has eight blades, and I find that its bokeh are almost as smooth. I would attribute the "almost" more to the difference in aperture sizes than iris blades, but that's just my observation.

Carl Follstad , Nov 04, 2010; 09:33 p.m.

The bokeh on this picture always impressed me. Very "painterly" ...

Carl Follstad , Nov 04, 2010; 09:33 p.m.

The bokeh on this picture always impressed me. Very "painterly" ...

85/1.2L, Canon FTb, Ektar 100

Dean Jones , Nov 07, 2010; 04:06 a.m.

Fortunate enough to discover an old 85mm f1.2 L at a camera market, I couldn't believe my luck.
Deciding to dismantle it completely and dispose of the FD mount....as well as the scratched front element involved a fair amount of work, especially wrestling with its double helical focus mechanism. Amazingly a friend had bought a replacement front element back in 1988 and still had it wrapped in the original packageing, so for a measly $70 that was replaced.
I cannot get over this lens...its bokeh is just plain gorgeous and as its permanantly EOS mount with infinity focus (confirm) it's so much more useful.
Now there must be something more exciting than the neighbour's rose to shoot?

Excellent Bokeh..

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