With the announcement of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM, many of those previously considering purchase of the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM may be now wondering which of Canon's L-series 85s is right for them. As such, we are going to take a look at how these lenses differ to hopefully make the decision making process a little easier.
Advantages of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM over the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
Advantages of the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM over the EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM:
Who should opt for the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM
If you need the absolute widest aperture in your 85mm lens, either for action-stopping purposes or for maximizing separation between your subject and your background, then the EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM will ultimately be the best choice.
Who should opt for the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM
In two words – "everyone else."
The benefits of the EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM over the 85 f/1.2L II are both numerous and substantial. First and foremost, the lens' 4-stop IS system will enable you to shoot static subjects in significantly lower light while maintaining tolerable ISO levels. This is a huge benefit that should not be underestimated.
Next, the traditional manual focusing design will be welcomed by nearly every photographer who ever handled the 85mm f/1.2L II USM (or the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM, for that matter). The traditional design promises to be a much more responsive, akin to what we've come to expect from most L-series lenses.
The 85 f/1.4L IS's weather sealing further increases its versatility over the f/1.2 model. While we always advise taking precautions when inclement weather is expected, the 85L IS's weather sealing enables you to keep shooting without interruption in moderately wet or dusty conditions.
The EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM's lower cost will certainly be a universally-appreciated feature, as will the benefits of an extra aperture blade in creating a smooth background blur.
Unless you absolutely need or want an f/1.2 maximum aperture, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM will likely prove the best investment for most photographers because of its overall greater versatility and lower price.