Comparing Canon’s New RF 85mm f/1.2 Against the Old EF Version

Photography Gear

The guys over at DPReview TV recently set out to test the new Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L lens. But instead of simply shooting some samples and talking about sharpness, they decided to pit it against the classic EF-mount version of this same lens so they could see “how far this lens has come.”

The video covers all of the bases, starting with usability. The old lens was already heavy, but the new 85mm is even heavier and longer than its EF counterpart. However, as Chris explains, that additional size and weight comes with a smoother manual focus ring, a customizable control ring, much MUCH faster autofocus, and (of course) much better optics.

And that’s really the meat of this comparison. Most of the video is dedicated to showing side-by-side images captured with the old 85mm f/1.2 and the new RF-mount version using the same Canon EOS R. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a single comparison image where the RF mount version comes off looking worse. Chris describes the results well in the video’s conclusion:

The new RF 85mm lens is basically near perfect. I mean, it’s a technical masterpiece. There are no real [optical] compromises, except it’s heavy, it is bulky, and it is very expensive.

To dive deeper into this review and comparison, or if you want to see plenty of side-by-side samples with 100% crops for pixel peeping, check out the full video up. You can also head over to DPReview where they’ve published a sample gallery so you can check out the comparison images without YouTube compression.

Final verdict: there’s no doubt that Canon’s lens design, and optical technology in general, has come a long way in 15 years. The old 85mm is still an exceptional lens optically and it can be had used for a very reasonable price, but the new RF-mount version is in a class of its own.

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