The 85mm is the favorite lens of many portrait photographers. The 85mm f/1.2 RF was introduced last year, and it has become a choice of those who switched to Canon’s EOS R mirrorless system. But can it beat the good old EF version of the 85mm f/1.2? Chris and Jordan of DPReview were eager to find out, so they made a comparison test of the two versions of this lens.
One thing that is a drawback of both lenses is that they’re pretty bulky and heavy. The RF version is even heavier that the EF and it’s very front-heavy, which Chris says feels pretty weird on a smaller mirrorless body.
Chris tested it out for backlit portraits and noticed that the RF doesn’t create flare, unlike the EF version which creates a lot of it. Still, it’s not necessarily bad if that’s the look you’re going for.
When it comes to the minimum focusing distance, there’s a slight difference between the two lenses. The 85mm f/1.2 RF lens allows you to get 100mm closer to the subject than the EF version. When it comes to the AF speed, the RF version has an advantage here. The AF speed is very slow in the old EF lens. The RF version is much faster, although there’s still room for improvement. Also, nailing focus with the EF lens is more difficult at wide open aperture, while Eye AF solves this problem with the RF lens. However, using the EF lens with an adapter on the Canon EOS R body gives you the same Eye AF capabilities, although it’s still a bit slower.
When it comes to chromatic aberration, you’ll see some more of it with the EF lens, while the RF variant is virtually free from it. Bokeh rendering is overall pretty neat in both lenses, and you can get a DS version of the RF lens for even smoother bokeh. But note that it will cost you some $300 more. Both lenses are considered sharp, and RF is incredibly sharp edge to edge even at f/1.2
Jordan briefly tested the lens for video, but he didn’t compare it to the EF version. Overall, the Canon 85mm f/1.2 RF is incredibly sharp and the AF is neat. However, it has some focus breathing and a few other minor drawbacks.
According to Chris, the newer RF lens is basically “near perfect.” Indeed, the image quality is truly high, as you can see from the examples. The main drawbacks are that the lens is heavy and bulky and that it’s very expensive. So, if you’re on a budget, the EF version with an adapter should still do a great job. But if you have enough cash to buy the RF version – you should go for it.
[Canon RF 85mm F1.2 Review (vs. EF Version) | DPReview]