Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 vs Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 DS – Is it worth the extra cost?

Tips & Techniques

Canon’s announcement of two RF 85mm f/1.2L lenses for their mirrorless camera system was quite surprising. One of them has that “DS” moniker, or “Defocus Smoothing” and the other does not. It was announced early last year, but what does it actually do? And how do the two lenses stand up side-by-side?

The DS version of the lens costs significantly more than the non-DS version, at $2,999 vs $2,599. But is it worth the extra cost? Does it really make a difference? In this video, photographer and YouTuber Christopher Frost takes a look at the two side-by-side in order to find out.

It becomes clear quite quickly that both lenses are pretty awesome. The standard RF 85mm f/1.2L is wonderfully sharp, and the out of focus areas don’t look terrible by any stretch of the imagination. But what’s also clear is that the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS has a little something extra that makes it stand out from the crowd

The out of focus areas just seem to blend together so much more cleanly, with smooth gradients and transitions between them. This is thanks to an apodization element, which is essentially like a graduated ND filter that gets stronger the further out from the centre of the lens it gets.

While the images from the RF 85mm f/1.2L DS might look a little sexier, though, and seem like it’s worth that extra $400 on the price, but it doesn’t come without its downsides. You’ll lose more light transmission at wider apertures, meaning that while your lens has that f/1.2 depth of field, you’re actually getting around an f/2.5 exposure, so you need more light. You also lose some of the advantage of Defocus Smoothing as you stop the aperture down.

Which one is right for you is something only you can determine. But if you’ve been thinking about one or the other and you’re still not sure, then have a watch of the video above, and it should help you to make your decision.

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