Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Review

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens

The professional-grade Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS is an outstanding portrait lens, with Defocused Smoothing creating soft-edged out-of-focus highlights at wide apertures to its advantage.

  • Incredible portrait lens
  • Outstanding background blur quality featuring Defocused Smoothing
  • Ultra-wide aperture
  • Professional grade
  • Mid-sized
  • Expensive
  • Moderately heavy
  • Low maximum magnification
  • DS reduces light transmission at the widest apertures
  • Strong focus breathing
In-Depth Review

Are portraits your thing? If so, I've got an awesome lens to share with you. Among the many strengths this lens has, including incredible sharpness, an ultra-wide aperture, and excellent build quality, it is the awesome wide aperture background blur quality this lens produces that distinguishes it from the others.

What are the differences between the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens and the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens?

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens is exactly the same as the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens with three exceptions.

  1. There is a "DS" included in the name.
  2. The words "Defocused Smoothing" are present on the side of the lens.
  3. Two lens elements have a unique coating.

The first difference, an acronym, is spelled out by the second difference which is just a name for the third difference, the difference that really separates this lens from the non-DS version and most other lenses. Two lens elements in the RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens design have a coating that acts as a radial graduated neutral density filter, allowing a decreasing amount of light transmission from the center to the periphery.

The background tends to be a significant percentage of images in general and when the background is not completely in focus, quality background blur is paramount for overall image quality. As hinted, the primary benefit of the Defocused Smoothing coating is softer-edged out-of-focus highlights at wide apertures. We'll look at this effect in detail in the image quality (bokeh) section of this review.

The primary disadvantage of the Defocused Smoothing coating is, not surprising with filtration simulating a smaller diaphragm involved, reduced light transmission at the widest apertures. In the example below, the exposures were determined by an EOS R in Av mode and all appear similar in brightness.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Exposure Variance Test

Looking at the shutter speed changes relative to the aperture starting with the bottom right image captured at f/5.6, we see the camera selecting a one-full-stop faster shutter speed at f/2.8 than f/4, indicating that the DS technology is no longer having an impact (though in some testing scenarios, only a 2/3-stop-faster shutter speed was selected for f/4, showing a 1/3-stop impact remaining).

With a normal lens in use, f/2 should have required a 1/1600 shutter speed with this example illustrating a 1/3-stop loss in light transmission.

At f/1.4, the shutter speed should have been 1/3200, indicating that 1-full-stop of light transmission has been lost.

The f/1.2 aperture is about 1/2-stop wider than f/1.4 and the exposure was given the same shutter speed as at f/1.4, showing a total of about 1.5-stops of reduced light transmission, the amount Canon originally indicated we should expect.

Similar to a slightly narrower aperture being used, the DS coatings create increased depth of field and also noticeably increase the amount of peripheral shading.

As the aperture is stopped down, creating a narrower opening, the DS coatings become a lesser part of the utilized optical path and aside from the increased peripheral shading, both the advantages and the disadvantages disappear (at approximately f/4).

That rolls up the differences between these two amazing lenses. With the two lenses being otherwise identical, much of the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens review will be repeated from the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens review, including most of the product images shared on this page. In addition to impressive image quality, the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens has the professional-grade L-series build quality we have come to love along with fast, accurate AF. Combine those qualities with the outstanding image quality and the perfect-for-portraits focal length and the end result is that this will be the most-used lens in many portrait photographers' kits.

As with all RF lenses, you will need an RF-mount camera (the EOS R-series) to utilize this lens. The 85 F1.2 L DS is another lens good enough to justify the purchase of an RF-mount camera solely to use it on.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Angle View

Focal Length

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If you read the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM non-DS Lens review, this section will be a repeat and skipping this section is suggested.

With a prime lens, you get one focal length and that focal length provides a specific angle of view. That angle of view drives focus distance decisions for desired subject framing and that resulting distance provides the perspective achieved. While there are many uses for an 85mm lens, the standout use is, as already alluded to, portrait photography.

Primarily for perspective reasons, the classic portrait focal length range is from 85mm through 135mm (after FOVCF is factored in). An 85mm lens hits the bottom classic range figure on a full frame camera and, if a camera with an RF mount and an APS-C/1.6x format imaging sensor ever becomes available, the 136mm full frame angle of view equivalent is at the top of this ideal range. An APS-C format camera of course requires a longer working distance to get the same framing as a full frame camera (and therefore will have more depth of field and a less-strongly blurred background at the same aperture).

The "portrait photography" designation is a broad one that covers a wide variety of potential still and video uses ranging from moderately-tight head shots to full body portraits, with a wide variety of potential venues including both indoors and outdoors. Portrait subjects can range from infants to seniors, from individuals to large groups. Engagements, weddings, parties, events, theater, stage performances including concerts and recitals, families, small groups, senior adults, fashion, documentary, lifestyle ... all are great uses for the 85mm focal length. There is often adequate space in even a small studio for portraiture with an 85mm-provided angle of view. I have done entire senior sessions with a wide aperture 85mm lens and subjects always love the results from this focal length.

That portrait photography is one of the best revenue-producing genres out there helps justify the acquisition cost of this lens (you cannot buy stock photos of most people). I also argue that no subjects are more important than people.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Sample Portrait

The above portrait was supposed to be captured at f/1.2 but I apparently inadvertently rolled the dial one click to f/1.4 prior to capturing this image.

People in action are in this lens's capabilities. Some sports, such as basketball, can be captured with an 85mm lens, and the effectively-moderately-wide aperture (figure f/2) permits this lens to capture action in poorly-lit venues including gymnasiums.

This is an inviting angle of view for street photography. This focal length can work well for architecture, products (medium through huge), commercial, general studio photography applications and a wide range of other subjects.

Regardless of the camera format being used, like most focal lengths, 85mm can be useful for landscape photography. Though few will want to carry the weight of this lens on long hikes into the wilderness, those using this lens for landscapes will be rewarded for their efforts.

Here is an example showing where this focal length falls within the range found in a 70-200mm lens:

70-200mm Focal Length Range Example

The 85mm focal length is modestly longer than the 70mm focal length found on the long end of many standard 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom lenses and falls on the short side of what is offered by the 70-200mm zoom lenses. Here is another focal length comparison including wider angles.

Focal Length Range Example

24mm | 35mm | 50mm | 70mm | 85mm | 105mm

Hopefully those two example sets clearly illustrate the full frame 85mm angle of view.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Front View

Max Aperture

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What I said in the non-DS lens review:

What no zoom lens can touch is this prime lens's max aperture. As of review time, f/1.2 is the widest aperture available in a current model autofocus lens and there are few lenses of any kind available with apertures wider than that in the RF 85mm F1.2 L. The f/1.2 aperture is a big deal.

In an interview with Canon Europe, RF 85 lens designers shared some insight as to why an f/1.2 aperture was selected instead of the more common f/1.4:

"Although one may think there isn't much difference between f/1.2 and f/1.4 when just looking at the numbers, there is nearly a half stop of difference in brightness. Nearly 1.4 times more light is taken in, resulting in a whole new level in terms of design difficulty. A half stop difference may not seem like much, but when designing large-aperture lenses such as f/1.2 and f/1.4, this half stop makes a huge difference in terms of difficulty of design." [Satoshi]

Kaishi adds "The combination of stunning sharpness in the focused areas and the extremely shallow depth of field of f/1.2 delivers unmatched images. Portraits that use the shallow depth of field of f/1.2 have a unique beauty. The widest aperture setting on the RF 85mm F1.2L USM delivers a beautiful bokeh quality not found on other lenses, and amazing resolution, embodying a new type of imaging expression in portrait photography. That is why f/1.2 was chosen."

Use ultra-wide apertures to stop motion, both that of the subject and that of the camera, in low light levels and/or with low ISO settings. Use ultra-wide apertures to create a strong background blur that makes a subject pop from an even highly distracting background. Here is an aperture comparison example.

What needs to be remembered in the DS version lens review is that the effective max aperture is closer to f/2 which is a wide aperture for 85mm but not f/1.2.

Following is an example of the maximum blur the DS lens can produce.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Maximum Blur Example

Opening an aperture wider means larger lens elements and larger lens elements mean increased size, weight, and price. This lens incorporates those features at the f/1.2 level.

This lens's aperture changes are quiet and smooth, ideally-suited for video recording under changing lighting conditions.

Image stabilization is not featured in this lens and when f/1.2 (effectively about f/2 in this regard) is in use, it is seldom needed. Watch for in-body image stabilization to arrive in future Canon mirrorless camera models.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Top View

Image Quality

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When you buy an f/1.2 lens, you probably want to use it at f/1.2. Canon has produced f/1.2 lenses prior to the RF lineup but none have been extremely sharp at f/1.2. The RF options have been remarkably sharp wide open. Kaishi states "We hope that users who have always stopped down a bit during shooting will enjoy the photos that can now be captured when shooting at f/1.2."

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM non-DS Lens is extraordinarily sharp from the center of the frame into the extreme full frame corners wide-open at f/1.2 and the DS lens is, amazingly, slightly sharper still. There is little need to stop down aside from increasing the depth of field and decreasing the vignetting. You can use f/1.2 and be excited by the impressive contrast and resolution of the results.

Let's look at outdoor-captured DS lens examples. The images below are 100% resolution center of the frame crops from images captured in RAW format using a Canon EOS R. The images were processed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to "2" (Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens).

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

f/1.2   f/1.2

I usually share a set of results for each subject but ... this lens is so sharp at f/1.2 that it was of little value to show the rest.

Focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA), is not an issue with this lens.

Next we'll look at a comparison showing 100% extreme-top-left-corner DS lens crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. These images were manually focused in the corner of the frame.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

Again, these results are impressive and I probably didn't need to include the stopped-down results.

When used on a camera that utilizes a lens's entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected at the widest aperture settings, especially when an aperture as wide as f/1.2 is in use. At f/1.2, this lens produces a noticeable nearly-4-stops of corner shading which is about 0.5 stops more than the non-DS (a not-surprising difference). At f/2, the amount of peripheral shading drops minimally with the shading difference over the non-DS version extending to about 2x. Vignetting slowly reduces through f/5.6 where about 2.5 stops of shading remains and that amount holds through f/16, this lens's smallest aperture opening. Increased peripheral shading is obviously a byproduct of the DS coating.

One stop of shading is the amount often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely-varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting can be corrected during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. This effect is often appreciated in portraiture, though a face falling in a darker area of the frame may not be as much appreciated.

The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right software and lens profile loaded, lateral CA is usually easily corrected (often correctable in-camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. Of course, it is better to not have the problem in the first place. Color misalignment can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a worst-case DS lens example, a 100% crop from the extreme top left corner of an EOS R frame where diagonal black and white lines reveal any color separation.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

There should be only black and white colors in these images and ... this result is outstanding.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Design

This is a good point to drop in a discussion about the special optics present in this lens, specifically the "... blue spectrum refractive optics designed to greatly reduce the chromatic aberration that are common in wide aperture lenses. The BR optical element, first introduced in the EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM, is inserted into the lens and refracts blue light between the concave and convex lenses. This enables the convergence of the entire wavelength of light to one point, resulting in higher image quality from the center to the edges of an image." [Canon]

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

Bringing this point into real life, in the DS lens example below, look at the fringing colors in the out of focus specular highlights created by the neutrally-colored subjects. Any color difference is being introduced by the lens.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

While this example may not show absolutely perfect results (see the slight purple fringing in the foreground highlights?), these results are impressive. This design works exceptionally well. This lens will keep the white wedding dress its proper color in the foreground and background.

Flare is caused by bright light reflecting off of the surfaces of lens elements, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes-interesting artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image is variable and depends on the position and nature of the light source (or sources) as well as on the selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. The RF 85 F1.2 L DS features Canon's state-of-the-art coatings including Air Sphere Coating (ASC) for reduced flaring and ghosting. With a medium-count 13 elements in 9 groups (the EF 85mm f/1.2L II has 8/7), combined with a short telephoto focal length, we did not expect this lens to show itself completely flare-free. The amount of flare effects it produces with the sun in the corner of the frame is rather low, but you should expect to see these effects at narrow apertures.

There are two lens aberrations that are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point, instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). Remember that lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The image below is a 100% crop taken from the extreme top-left corner of an EOS R frame.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Coma

While the points of light in the corners are slightly streaked, these results are rather good for lenses in general.

Linear distortion can make careful framing of subjects with straight lines more challenging and when those straight lines are along the edge of the frame, the distortion can become obvious in the image. Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available for the popular image processing applications and R-series cameras have this correction available in-camera for RF lenses. While distortion can be removed using this correction, geometric distortion correction requires stretching which is detrimental to image quality. Some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions must be reduced. Fortunately, few will find this lens's images requiring any correction as there is only a hint of pincushion distortion.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Sunset Distortion Sample

The blur and quality of blur seen in the out of focus portions of an image are referred to as bokeh and this lens is all about bokeh. Here are some examples.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Bokeh Example

The f/5.6 defocused highlights (a 100% crop) are rendered round (for being stopped down this much) and exceptionally smooth. The full frame reduced f/8 example appears nice. Remember, the DS technology is not impacting these stopped-down results.

With the exception of a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the corner of the frame does not produce round defocused highlights with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the corner of the frame, the shape is not round and is the cause of the cat's eye bokeh.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

f/1.2 | f/1.4 | f/2.0 | f/2.8 | f/4.0   non-DS   Sony

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens still produces oval shapes in the corners but note how the defocused highlights have soft edges at the widest apertures. As the aperture narrows, the defocused highlights in the corner become round in shape but the positive effects of the DS coating fade away. The non-DS example was captured at f/1.2 and highlights the difference between these two lenses. While the Sony 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Lens does not have the same specs, it has features similar to the DS lens and I was interested in seeing this lens participate in the comparison.

With a 9-blade aperture count, distant point light sources showing a star-like effect have 18 points and when stopped down, this lens's 9-blade aperture produces nice 18-point stars from point light sources

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Starburst Effect Example

As we have seen, the DS coating has advantages and disadvantages, but overall, this lens produces outstanding image quality.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Top View with Hood


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If you read the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM non-DS Lens review, this section will be a repeat and skipping this section is suggested.

"The Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens uses the same ring-type ultrasonic motor (USM) as on the super telephoto lenses, which has the most powerful torque of any Canon lens, making focusing extremely fast despite the large optics." [Masami, Canon Inc.] The AF speed of Canon's EF 85mm f/1.2L II Lens was rather unimpressive, but with medium and short distance adjustments, the RF 85 focuses fast. When performing a near-full range autofocus adjustment, you will notice some minor lag.

Under extreme low light conditions, focus is also slowed. This is normal, but normal happens in darker environments with this lens, thanks to the Canon EOS R's ability to focus in extremely low light levels. It can focus, with the AF assist light blocked, in darkness levels that I cannot see to safely navigate in.

Sometimes aiding in focus acquisition speed is a focus limiter switch, enabling the focus range to be limited to 4.9' (1.5m) - ∞ or permitting the full range.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens AF System

Especially when depth of field gets shallow, the importance of the combined AF accuracy of a camera and lens system is elevated and this lens performs similarly to its RF 50mm f/1.2 sibling — impressively. I have found one-shot AF accuracy from the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens to be impressive.

In AI Servo tracking mode with eye-detect AF selected, the RF 85 DS and EOS R performed exceptionally well including at minimum focus distance.

From an audibility perspective, the RF 85 sometimes makes a light clicking/clunking sound during AF and a SHHHH can be heard amid longer focus distance changes. This lens is not as quiet during autofocusing as the Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM Lens, but it is not loud. Expect in-camera audio recording to pick up these sounds. The EOS R focuses this lens relatively smoothly (a benefit for video recording).

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Side View

The RF 85 F1.2 L DS has a focus-by-wire or electrical manual focus (vs. a direct gear-driven system) implementation of Ring USM. The manual focus ring electronically controls the focus of the lens. FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported in AF mode with the camera in one-shot drive mode, but the shutter release must be half-pressed for the focus ring to become active. Note that FTM does not work if electronic manual focusing is disabled in the camera's menu. The lens's switch must be in the "MF" position and the camera meter must be on/awake for manual focusing to be available.

Electronically driven MF enables the rate of focus change to be variable based on the ring's rotation speed. I never acclimated to that feature and with the R-series cameras, a linear (non-variable) adjustment speed can be configured. That's my preference and in this mode, the RF 85 F1.2 L DS's focus is adjusted slowly with 360° of ring rotation taking it from minimum focus distance to infinity, allowing for precise focusing capabilities.

The focus ring is not huge but adequate for a prime lens of this size. Manual focus adjustments with this lens are smooth with a light but nice rotational resistance provided by the ring. Moderate (normal) subject magnification/framing changes are seen in full extent focus range changes. The examples below illustrate a full-extent DS lens focus distance adjustment.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Focus Magnification Example

No focus distance scale is provided on the RF lenses introduced as of review time, but a digital scale can be enabled in the electronic viewfinder or LCD.

The RF 85mm F1.2 L has a 33.5" (850mm) minimum focus distance that delivers a maximum magnification spec of 0.12x, a number that no one will be excited about (few lenses have a lower number). While these numbers are lacking luster, they are normal for this lens class and slightly improved from the EF 85mm f/1.2L predecessor's 37.4" (950mm) and 0.11x specs.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens15.7(400)0.19x
Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens33.5(850)0.12x
Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens33.5(850)0.12x
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens37.4(950)0.11x
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens33.5(850)0.12x
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens33.5(850)0.13x
Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Lens13.8(350)0.50x
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens11.8(300)1.00x
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens33.5(850)0.12x
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens33.5(850)0.12x
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens31.5(800)0.12x
Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens31.5(800)0.14x
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Otus Lens31.5(800)0.13x
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Milvus Lens31.5(800)0.12x

A subject measuring approximately 11" x 7.3 (279 x 186mm) will fill the frame at the minimum focus distance. That is good enough for head shots such as this one captured at f/1.2:

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Maximum Magnification Example

Magnification from a short telephoto focal length lens can generally be noticeably increased with the use of extension tubes, hollow tubes with electronic connections that shift a lens farther from the camera. As of review time, Canon does not have RF mount-compatible extension tubes available, but third-party options are available.

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens is not compatible with Canon extenders.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens on Tripod

Build Quality & Features

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Again, the DS and non-DS lens share identical build quality and features. No need to read this section in both reviews.

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens has been designed to have the same durability as EF mount Canon L Series Lenses. Kaishi states "What we were unwilling to compromise on was the pro specifications of toughness and durability that an L-series lens should have. We want professionals and enthusiasts to be able to hold on to this lens and use it for a long time without worry."

Canon RF 85mm Compared to 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens

While Canon's RF L lenses take on a slightly updated look, those familiar with EF L lenses will immediately recognize this lens's heritage, denoted by the red ring. In a lot of ways, this lens is similar to the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Product Images

MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    Rotated        Compare »

This lens has a fixed size; it does not extend during focusing. The RF mount is relatively large in diameter and, as usual, the lens diameter bumps out just forward of the mount. The lens diameter remains the same for a short distance, the ideal dimensions to avoid contact with the camera grip fingers, before bumping outward noticeably to a rather wide diameter — it is a handful. With the lens balanced in the left palm, fingertips can comfortably be used to adjust manual focus or the control ring.

The knurled control ring is new with RF lenses. This ring is configurable for fast access to camera settings including aperture, ISO, and exposure compensation. Note that the control ring is clicked by default and this ring's clicks are going to be audible in camera-based audio recordings. Canon offers a click stop removal service for this ring (at a cost). The focus ring is separated from the control ring by a small amount of space and with the diameter increase, along with a texture difference, it is easy to tactilely find the ring you want.

The AF/MF and Focus Limiter switches are flush-mounted on a very-low-profile switch bank, but just enough raised surface area is available for easy use, even with gloves. Interesting is that changing the AF/MF switch position opens the lens aperture momentarily when the camera is powered off and that the lens makes a faint noise (ear against the lens required to hear it) when the camera is powered up.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Mount

This is a weather-sealed lens, but not a waterproof lens. Weather sealing can save the day, even indoors (perhaps a spilled drink).

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Weather Sealing

Like most other recent L lenses, the RF 85 F1.2 L features fluorine coatings on the front and rear lens elements to avoid dust adhesion and to make cleaning easier. This is one of those features that goes unnoticed until something happens in the field (like a little kid poking their finger into the lens).

This lens features a quality plastic external construction with tight tolerance between parts. The density of the optics required by the 85mm focal length combined with an f/1.2 aperture gives this lens a solid feel. Increased weight is always a penalty for an increased aperture opening. This lens has the latter and therefore has the former as well. While you will know that you are carrying this lens, the weight is moderate but manageable.

While the RF 85 appears longer than many other options (and there are a lot of 85mm prime lens options), it must be considered that most of those other options require a mount adapter to be used on a mirrorless camera and the adapter adds size and weight. The DSLR cameras are larger than the mirrorless cameras, offsetting at least some of the difference.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens33.5(950)3.5 x 4.3(89.8 x 108.0)772018
Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens42.2(1196)4.1 x 4.6(104.1 x 116.8)822019
Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens42.2(1196)4.1 x 4.6(104.1 x 116.8)822019
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens36.2(1025)3.6 x 3.3(91.5 x 84.0)722006
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens33.5(950)3.5 x 4.1(88.6 x 105.4)772017
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens15.0(425)3.0 x 2.8(7.05 x 72.0)581992
Canon RF 85mm F2 Macro IS STM Lens17.6(500)3.1 x 3.6(78.0 x 90.5)672020
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens22.1(625)3.1 x 4.8(77.7 x 123.0)672009
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens23.3(660)3.4 x 3.3(86.4 x 84.0)772010
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens39.9(1130)3.7 x 5.0(94.7 x 126.2)862016
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens28.9(820)3.5 x 4.2(89.5 x 107.5)772016
Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens24.7(700)3.3 x 3.6(84.8 x 91.3)672016
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Otus Lens42.4(1200)4.0 x 4.9(101.0 x 124.0)862014
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Milvus Lens45.2(1280)3.5 x 4.4(90.0 x 113.0)772015

For many more comparisons, review the complete Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.

Again, there are a lot of lenses on that list. Let's look at some visual comparisons, starting with Canon's current 85mm lenses:

Canon 85mm Lens Comparison

In the above image, from left to right, are the:

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM Lens
Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens

Moving on to the brand-competitive lineup:

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens
Nikon 85mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Milvus Lens
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Otus Lens
Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens to other lenses.

Don't forget the max aperture difference where applicable and again, remember that non-mirrorless lenses require a size- and weight-adding adapter to be used on mirrorless cameras.

Yes, we can add another lens to the list of those utilizing 82mm filters. Not terribly long ago, this was not a popular filter size but today 82mm is quite common among high-quality lenses including this one. Filters of this size are not inexpensive or small but they likely can be shared among the lenses in a pro-grade kit. Lenses with smaller filter threads can utilize 82mm filters using a step-up filter adapter ring.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Angle View with Hood

Canon includes lens hoods for all L-series lenses and, with few exceptions, you should always use them (and not in reversed position). The ET-89 is the hood model that comes with this lens. This is a semi-rigid plastic hood with a plastic-molded ribbed interior designed to avoid reflections. It offers a great amount of protection from both impact and from flare-inducing bright light. The round shape enables the lens to be placed upright on a trustworthy flat surface, including with a camera mounted.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Case

Canon includes the soft-sided LP1424 drawstring pouch in the box. This is the same model shipped with the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens and a couple of other Canon L lenses. This pouch offers protective padding on the bottom, but the sides are unpadded, offering primarily light scratch and dust protection.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Cap

Price, Value, Compatibility

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The old adage "You get what you pay for" has long held merit and once again applies here. Great lenses are seldom cheap and this one does not break that rule. The RF 85 F1.2 L DS has a price tag high enough to keep it out of the hands of most casual photographers, giving professionals that own it an edge in the marketplace. Professionals will appreciate how this lens can differentiate their work and many will not balk at this expenditure. This is a key lens for portrait and wedding photographers.

Can't afford to buy this lens? Or simply can't justify doing so? Rent it for those special occasions.

As an "RF" lens, the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens is compatible with all Canon EOS R series cameras. Canon USA provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens was sourced online/retail.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Side View with Hood


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The primary competitor to this lens is the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens and I've compared it throughout the review. Basically, the DS lens produces a higher quality background blur at wide apertures but gives up some light transmission, has more depth of field, and has more peripheral shading. The DS lens also costs roughly 10% more than the non-DS lens. I hope to be able to get both of these lenses in my hands at the same time to enable a direct test comparison but have not been able to make that happen to this point.

For most people, I recommend the non-DS lens. For photographers who demand the highest quality background blur and are not concerned about the disadvantages (especially portrait photographers), the DS lens is the better option.

Also check out the alternative lens comparisons shared in the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens review.

Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM Lens Front View on Camera


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Photographers who depend on their work having the ultimate quality, especially portrait and commercial photographers, should consider including the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens in their kit.

Especially at f/1.2, this lens's image quality is outstanding and the bokeh is gorgeous.

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Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens
Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens
$200.00 Savings! gives the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 L USM DS Lens an overall 5.0 rating
Manufacturer ID: 3450C002
Review Date: 2020-02-06
Last Updated: 2024-01-26
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