A shallow depth of field is something that portrait photographers use quite often to separate their subject from the backdrop.
When the subject is all in the same plane, it is most-definitely advantageous to shoot this lens wide open. It really helped with this photograph to have an aperture that large (for more about apertures click here) for this shot because the model was standing, just like me. If we were lines, we would be parallel. But what if our lines bisect? Is this aperture still the best choice? Sometimes. Sometimes not.
This is my new favorite lens, mostly because of the background blur capabilities, and it is SHARP SHARP SHARP! However, it is quite tricky to get used to at first.
So... first the bad news.
It is very slow to focus, even when doing it manually. It uses Electronic Manual Focusing (EMF) which means that you have to have the camera body on in order for the focus ring to change. I personally don't mind it, but it is just different from most lenses. It is not a good lens for sports that require a fast focus-tracking, and it takes a while for people to learn how to use it without back-focusing.
The lens is very heavy and fat. However, I have come to appreciate the weight of the lens because it is easier to keep it still for shots with longer shutter speeds.
This lens is the KING of flare! I have come to appreciate this as well, because it adds to the art of some of my shots, but if you don't want flare in your photograph, be careful! The lens hood actually does help alleviate the flare problem (for sun but not other lights). The hood wobbles a bit, but it is easy to get on and off the lens.
Vignetting is relatively-noticeable at f/1.2 and not as noticeable by f/2 (on a full-frame camera.) I have never noticed any chromatic abberation.
Let's talk about FLASH! This lens does not provide the camera with distance information if the flash is used on E-TTL. You can still use E-TTL, but it is much harder to optimize.
The price tag is outrageous for this lens. Quite honestly it is ridiculous that you can purchase four 85mm f1.8 lenses for the price of one 85mm f1.2. Come on, Canon!
Now for the good news...
Like I stated before this lens is SHARP! This is very important for my portraiture. In fact, I would recommend this lens above any other for wedding or fashion photography.
It is also the fastest EF lens Canon makes! If you open the aperture all the way, the background disappears completely, which is great for minimizing distractions. (Of course the depth of field is very thin when the lens is open that wide.)
I use this lens for landscapes too!! I love being able to create a dreamy telephoto-esque feel with this lens on landscape photographs by shooting wide open. (Ordinarily, this is a portrait lens.)
I can hand-hold a shot with this lens wide open in low light and get great results.
The 72mm filter size is convenient as it is a common size.
This lens used to be my favorite. It focuses very quickly, quietly, and accurately. The focus and zoom rings are sized well and turn correctly. The movement is completely behind the filter threads, which is nice for those who intend to use filters. Filters attach to a fixed lens barrel, or attachments can be purchased for a square or rectangular filter. This attachment is best purchased for those intending to utilize GND filters. I like the 77mm filter size because it makes it pretty easy to use the same filters as other lenses. When a UV filter is applied to the front, this lens is completely weather-sealed. The lens resists flare quite nicely, and colors and contrast are good. Chromatic abberation is controlled well, but you will see some in the corners when you're wider than 24mm. There is very little vignette, but you can only use one round filter at a time if wider than 24mm or else the outer part of the filter will show in the frame. Some distortion should be expected. I see a moderate barrel distortion at 17mm and a mild pincushion distortion at 40mm. I find that 24mm is the focal length where distortion is minimal.
Compared to the 16-35mm f/2.8 lens, this one is much more affordable. It has the same minimum focal distance of eleven inches, and is a few ounces lighter than the 16-35mm.
I will complain that the lens is not as sharp as I would expect from an "L" lens, even when stopped down to f/11 or smaller. Also, the EW-83E lens hood does almost nothing for the image quality in my experience. It is very wide and very short, and really doesn't even protect the lens much. I often have to use my hand to block the sun flares even when the hood is on.
As far as uses go I would recommend it as a general-purpose lens if you can deal with the unsharp factor, especially if you are using it on a crop-sensor camera. It is mostly used for landscapes and architecture. I have used it for portraits on occasion, but I often have to sharpen the image to feel satisfied with the outcome - especially if using it at f/5.6 or smaller. Also, it is not good for head shots because of the distortion, as it is an ultra-wide lens. It's really best to just invest in a portrait lens if you are photographing people.
This blog is a response to a very well-known photographer and teacher who, in one of his photo shows, declared some truths about photography he thought were unpopular. He said, "well, someone had to say it, and it might as well be me." One of the "truths" he stated was that no professional-quality photograph was made with just a combination of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed settings, and that if people say that they are lying. He stated that photography is not about the camera, but more about the software the photographer has. Personally I think this is ludicrous, and he has lost his mind! I understand that some of my opinions in this blog post may not be popular with some of my photographically-inclined peers who love software, but someone had to say it. I figured it might as well be me.
As a photojournalist, it is important for things to look as realistic as possible. Some photojournalists prefer to use black and white (James Nachtwey for example), and some like to use color (Remi Ochlik). I shoot both black and white and color because I believe there is a time and place for both.
HDR, retouching, etc. have traditionally been considered taboo in the photojournalism field, but are they wrong? Again - my standpoint on this issue is that there is a time and place for everything. Have I composited a more interesting sky into my images? Yes. Have I used HDR? Yes. Have I retouched someone's face? Yes. Have I sold an image straight out of camera? Also yes. A few times.
Wait... what? Am I crazy? (Click read more if you can't see rest below.)
It's been a while since my blog has had a dose of humor, so I decided to incorporate some. Those who know me know that I'm definitely joking around far more often than I'm being serious. Life is supposed to be fun!
Here's something for my photographer friends. Have you ever been asked? Have you ever wanted a great reply?
To a photographer: That is a great photograph. You must have a nice camera!
To a chef: That was a fine meal. You must have some great pots!
To a chef: That was a nice dinner. You must have a good cookbook!
To a parent: This is a nice house. You must have a great maid!
To a mother: Those are some great children. You must be a good breast feeder.
To a parent: You have some great children. You must have a great parenting book.
To a model: You have a nice body. You must have a great plastic surgeon.
To a make up artist: Wow your eyeshadow is nice. You must have a great q-tip.
To a hairdresser: Wow your hair looks great. You must have a fantastic brush.
To a writer: Wow this is a great story. You must have a nice keyboard.
To a designer: Wow this is a cool dress. You must have a nice sewing machine.
To a musician: This song really speaks to me. You must have a great guitar.
To a decorator: Wow you made this room look nice. You must have a great paintbrush.
To a painter: Wow this painting is awesome! You must have a great brush.
To an architect: Wow that design is so cool! You must have a great pencil.
To a minister: Wow that was a great sermon. You must have a very good bible.
To a doctor: Wow I feel so much better. You must have a great stethoscope.
To a fireman: You put out that fire? You must have a great firetruck.
To a gardener: Your yard looks awesome! You must have a great lawnmower.
To an athlete: You run so fast! You must have some great cops back home.
J. Rae Chip is a professional photographer based in Southern California and the owner of J Rae Chip Productions.