Sunday, March 18, 2012
The Incredible Canon 85mm f/1.2 L
A friend of mine, Rick Horowitz, stopped by the location house I was shooting at last week. Rick had rode his bike, a very cool Victory touring motorcycle, down from Fresno to attend some sort of lawyer's conference in Los Angeles. American made Victory motorcycles, if you're not familiar with them, are V-twin muscle bikes similar to Harley Davidsons. Design-wise, they look a fair amount like Harleys only their not; not Harleys that is. No problem. Victory bikes are cool. At least Rick didn't ride down on some rice-burning crotch-rocket.
Anyway, yeah, Rick's a lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer. He's also a photographer. And while Rick was down here in LA attending a gathering of criminal defense attorneys, Rick cruised on over to Samy's Camera and bought himself a Canon 85mm f/1.2 L prime. If you've never heard of Samy's, think B&H... but in LA.
I'm guessing there's plenty enough crime and criminals in Fresno to keep Rick fairly busy. After all, he just plunked down over two-grand on a piece of glass. But what a piece of glass! And Rick, being the cool guy that he is, offered to let me shoot some with his brand-spanking-new, two-thousand-dollar-plus lens. I mean, Rick hadn't yet shot with it himself and he was willing to let me bust its cherry! Like I said, Rick's a cool guy.
So, I popped Rick's new Canon 85mm L prime on the front of my more than 3-year-old Canon 5D and started snapping. I have two words to say about that lens: "Holy shit!"
The two, side-by-side, photos at the top are from the same capture. I didn't do much of any processing on the images. They're pretty much how they came out of the camera. Obviously, I re-sized them for the web. You can see I shot my model, Anna, in a 3/4 body shot for that one. I then cropped it only to reveal her face in close-up. Click it to enlarge it and check out the detail in her face. Is that freaking lens amazing or what?
But it isn't just about the detail. I was shooting Anna under an overhang attached to the house. As a result, she was standing in the shade. Dark shade. I had the modeling light switched on on my main light but it wasn't making much of a dent. With all that bright mid-day sun in the background, Anna looked like a silhouette in my viewfinder. Did that have any impact on the 85's ability to auto-focus? Not even a little bit. I could barely make out Anna's features in my viewfinder but that lens effortlessly, silently, and quickly locked focus.
Like I said: "Holy shit!"
Do I want one of those Canon 85mm f/1.2 L primes? You betcha I do! Can I afford one? Not at the moment. Unless, perhaps, I become a criminal... in which case I'll probably need Rick's services because I'm pretty sure I'd make a fairly inept criminal. You know, what with me not having attended some prestigious business school and gone to work on Wall St. or having some similar background. But if I suddenly find myself able to justify spending a couple of grand on a lens, by becoming a successful criminal or otherwise, that 85mm L prime is now on the top of my wish list.
Thanks again, Rick! It was fun having you on my set for a few hours. And thanks much for letting me try out your new lens. I hope it does for your photography all you hope it will. And to everyone else, let me say something I've said before: Forget about every new camera body that comes along. You want to seriously upgrade your images? Spend your money on glass. Good glass. Awesome glass if you can afford it.