If you’re new to the Canon RF mount, or want to know more before making the switch, specifically when it comes to the Canon RF 85mm f1.2L USM lens, Canon Europe should have all the answers for you. In their insightful interview with the Canon lens development team, we learn why this f1.2 lens should be the go-to glass of portrait photographers, its bokeh quality, design features, and other interesting info.
First things first — why the choice to use a maximum aperture of f1.2 instead of f1.4 for this 85mm Canon RF lens? According to Kaishi Kawai of Canon’s Image Communication Business Operations (ICB) Optical Business Group, the extremely shallow depth of field the f1.2 produces, combined with the sharpness in the focused areas, provide “unmatched images” and portraits with a “unique beauty”. He also adds that, at the widest aperture, the lens delivers a bokeh quality and resolution that isn’t found in other lenses.
As for the specifics of this bokeh quality, BR Optical Element and DS Coating Design expert Tomohiko Ishibashi of the Optics Technology R&D Center said that the goal was to “create a unique lens that delivers smoother bokeh quality.” This prompted them to develop the lens with a Defocus Smoothing (DS) coating to produce “creamier” bokeh contours, despite the significant chromatic aberration correction (which tends to make sharper bokeh edges).
Canon EF mount users are probably wondering how the bokeh quality differs from the Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM? Kawai simply noted that the new Canon RF lens has closer a minimum focus distance, allowing for more bokehlicious, close-up shots.
Going back to the chromatic aberrations, Ishibashi also noted that the BR optical element plays a major role in reducing this issue, and the Canon RF 85mm f1.2L USM is the second lens to have this optical element after the Canon EF 35mm f1.4L II USM. “The BR optical element has extraordinary dispersion properties compared to conventional optical materials, offering sufficient chromatic aberration effects, making it possible to achieve our goal of amazingly high performance,” he added.
What about the sharpness? Kawai said the many performance tests ensured that shooting portraits at the widest aperture setting and using Eye Detection AF will produce outstanding sharpness. He adds that the Canon RF 85mm f1.2L USM also puts chromatic aberration at bay, all while maintaining high resolution and high contrast in focused areas.
How do all these features affect the lens design? Do they play a part in the fact that the upcoming Canon RF lens is longer than its EF counterpart? Satoshi Maetaki, Manager of Canon’s ICB Optical Products Development Center, said this nearly half stop of difference in brightness produces a huge difference in terms of design difficulty. Also, in terms of comparison to the EF mount, he noted that the lens mount is closer to the sensor on the RF mount. “Because of this the EF version of some lenses can be shorter as the extra distance is taken up by the longer distance between the lens mount and the sensor in a DSLR camera. This naturally makes the RF version longer in total length to compensate for the difference in sensor-to-mount distance.”
Do check out the full Canon Europe interview for more details, insights, and sample photos from the lens development team on the upcoming Canon RF 85mm f1.2L USM.
Screenshot image from the video by CanonUSA