A Tale of Two Lenses, July 2004

I have recently been shooting with two new Canon lenses: the EF 85mm f/1.2L and the EF 400mm f/4.0 DO IS. By any measure, both could be considered "exotic" lenses.

The 85mm is the world's fastest lens in its focal length, and enjoys a reputation for high optical quality. Held in your hand, it feels like a near-solid chunk of glass encased in smooth metal and plastic. Its very wide maximum aperture gives images an evocative look for both people and product photography. Of course, I've always been a fan of high speed lenses, so the 85mm Canon is hard to resist.

The 400mm features Canon's "diffractive optics" technology, which results in a physical product that is 30% lighter and smaller than a conventional lens of the same focal length. For me, this translates into the ultimate travel lens for telephoto work. At just 4.5 lbs, the 400mm f/4.0 DO is roughly half the weight of the 500mm f/4.0L. Though it has a bit less reach, for me the tradeoff is worth it. This lens has received somewhat mixed reviews, but I am happy to say that my sample is sharp and contrasty even wide open.

Here are a few images made with these new lenses. I hope you enjoy them!


Above right: Canon EOS-1D Mark II, EF 400mm f/4.0 DO IS

 

Canon EOS-1D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L

 

Canon EOS-1D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L

 

Canon EOS-1D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L

 

Canon EOS-1D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L