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Thread: Can the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II Lens be used for Sports Action Photography?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    I bought the wife a T4i with a kit lens for her trip to Florida. She texted yesterday and said she was at the beach and there were girls sunbathing naked.
    I guess I should have sent her with one of the telephoto lenses as well. All I got were crummy cell phone pics from several hundred yards away.
    What part of FL?

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith B View Post
    What part of FL?
    Jacksonville,

    girls weren't actually naked, they had skin colored bathing suits.

  3. #13
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    I have the 1DX, 5DIII, 5DII and 7D bodies and the 85mm f1.2L II. I read Bryan´s article and wondered about the same thing. I do not have any scientific equipment available to help me assess this, so I just did a subjective comparison with the 3 bodies (did not try the 5DII). To be honest I cannot really detect any significant difference between any of the bodies in good light. But the 5DIII and 1DX seems to be faster in locking AF when the light goes down.
    I agree with Bryan that this lens works well also for sports, as long as you don´t have too fast objects moving towards you. But the very shallow DOF with this lens at f1.2 is a challenge and you need to shoot more to get a fair share of keepers. But that is the case with all other use for this lens as well. I also think that the f1.2 capability is the only reason for using it. At 2.8 and above I use the 70-200, which has significantly faster AF.
    When focus is right I don´t know of any other lens that can challenge the outcome of the 85mm 1.2L II.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by HDNitehawk View Post
    Jacksonville,

    girls weren't actually naked, they had skin colored bathing suits.
    Ah. I'm 40 miles from Playalinda but would never go sniping. It's actually a beautiful beach to shoot on. The first 12 beaches aren't nude and can be pretty unpopulated and great for shoots.

  5. #15
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    Just as an 85L addict, I share my own experience with the 85L1,2II as one of my two preferred sport lens (with a 300L2,8USM) .. I am using it for a few years with a 1DMKIII, 5DII, 50D and now 1Dx ... AF is definitely accurate and reliable.
    That lens needs to be understood and user must be really trained before hoping shooting action. I would say, it's an urban legend that 85L has a defective AF ! it's fast and accurate for any action subjects (users are probably not)

    => DOF can be too small between 90cm and 2m ... I don't think you can get any interesting pictures with one eye or the nose out of focus, so you probably have to close a bit in such short distance range.
    => You have to micro adjust correctly your body not to get any error (I use -3). I even change micro adjustment on the fly depending on the subjects and if eyes are behind an Helmet
    => Action focusing can only be done wide open @f1.2, so users errors are the main difficulties. You have to get trained to be able to keep the right focus point and be able to track one eye, head, helmets for a few seconds (most people are not trained/skilled enough to manage this point).
    => You must be skilled enough to change quickly your focus points and re-frame your subject while shooting.
    => CA can be an issue and must be understood too. For some situations it can be really annoying and it's better to close @f1.8 (CS6 can correct nearly 100% of the CA).
    => AF is as fast as any other L lenses and within 3 meters to infinite. Focusing is near to instant (assuming you are skilled enough to point and shoot correctly !) ... with 1D series you've got more option to give some margin for shooting and tracking with some more users errors margin. Even with apsc like 50D, I get easily more than 80% in focus pictures. With 5DMKII, it's more tricky as DOF is even thinner, but if user is skill-full, AF is really working perfectly too (fast and accurate).
    => 85L1.2II'AF can track any subject without any difficulties at least, I can shoot till 140km/h quadbikes without any errors, I can do even panning @f1.2 (with ND filter).
    => 85L1.2II, 135L2.0 and 300L2.8 can focus and track any subject without hunting, it seems users probably can't . I use more often 85L than 135L because in the night I get more margin for AF.

    I have tons of various samples with 85L (I have already put my links quite often on some forums):


    => panning with 85L on fast erratic quadbikes mixing 5DMKII and 1DMKIII http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=bc9hkN


    => some dancers in the night with 5DMKII http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=BR39X6

    => some fast dogs indoor with 5DMKII http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=Hf3kBr

    => quadbikes in the night with 1DMKIII http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=ZKGqnT

    => some car race in the night with 1DMKIII http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=SdmSFr


    Playing near MFD with erratic playing dogs with 5D MKII (I think I got 50% with both eyes in focus, which is not that bad)
    http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=ZHDFCQ
    http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=NMvfrr
    http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=h4KzBQ


    tracking capabilities

    => panning shots ith 1DMKIII (some pictures are with ND filters to get a smoothest background as possible) http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=bc9hkN

    => Some test of a dog running indoor with 5DMKII http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=RFxNqG

    => Some test with dogs running outdoor with 1DMKII (outer focus point used) http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=ZrB55t

    => A hundred quadbikes pictures in sequences with 50D (95% were in focused) http://photos.corbi.eu/photos/swfpop...lbumKey=fbJNvC



    So in short, 85L1.2II's AF is really accurate and not hunting, assuming users can point and track subjects with F1.2 DOF ! ....

    I would say that my 300L2.8 is hunting exactly like my 85L if I miss eyes, head or helmet ...
    Such lens is really specific, but there is no difficulty to use it for action/sport.
    With 1Dx ... I would say, that I can even shot in a rocking-chair and get 80% of my shots with eyes in the focus.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by newworld666 View Post
    Just as an 85L addict, I share my own experience with the 85L1,2II as one of my two preferred sport lens (with a 300L2,8USM) .. I am using it for a few years with a 1DMKIII, 5DII, 50D and now 1Dx ... AF is definitely accurate and reliable.
    That lens needs to be understood and user must be really trained before hoping shooting action. I would say, it's an urban legend that 85L has a defective AF ! it's fast and accurate for any action subjects (users are probably not)
    That is a very impressive collection of pictures, an excellent range of that lens potential.

  7. #17
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    With a 300L2.8 the 85L is still my favourite sports combo !!!!
    Yesterday in ultra rainy low light environment .. even with a supposed slow AF's 5DII the 85L gave me pretty nice results

    All pictures best viewed in FullHD optimized size mode, by clicking once on pictures ..







  8. #18
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    I'd say the 85/1.2 is OK for sports if you're perpendicular to the action. As such, the rate of approach is going to be rather small, and therefore something the lens can keep up with.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by peety3 View Post
    I'd say the 85/1.2 is OK for sports if you're perpendicular to the action. As such, the rate of approach is going to be rather small, and therefore something the lens can keep up with.
    I disagree. I have had this lens for quite some time and, due to all the talk of it not working for sports, I took it for granted and did not use it for anything that moved at all. But after Bryan´s article, I decided to use it more frequently and, as newworld666 says, because of the very shallow DOF, it requires practice. He seems to have gone a step or two further though, by micro adjusting also in the field. I have not done that so far.

    It is true that the lens is slow from minimum focus distance out to about 3-4 meters (10-13 feet). But from there on it is no problem. Remember that the total rotation from minimum to far end is about 250 degrees, of which about 200 degrees covers minimum to 4 meters (I´m sure someone has the exact figures).

    I have lost many shots with this lens and more than with any other lens. But that is because I shoot it wide open and therefore have to live with its very shallow DOF. But again, that shallow DOF is why I use the lens in the first place. With the 1DX and 5DIII, I have not had any problems with AF hunting or inability to track moving objects (I have not had race cars driving straight at me though, which is why I am able to write these words )

    The only thing that irritates me with this lens is that it requires power for manual focus and I seem to have mental disorder which prevents me from learning/remembering to activate power before turning. IS would be nice, but who needs IS for action photography with an 85mm lens ...

    /Eldar

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by newworld666 View Post
    => You have to micro adjust correctly your body not to get any error (I use -3). I even change micro adjustment on the fly depending on the subjects and if eyes are behind an Helmet
    "micro adjustment on the fly."

    As I understand it the point of micro-adjusting is to determine the plane of focus for a particular body/lens combo. Once you've found it you're done...aren't you? For that specific body/lens combo I mean.

    I imagine certain (extreme) weather conditions could throw off the adjustment a bit and I would certainly recheck the adjustment from time to time... but what is the benefit of changing it "on the fly?"

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