Canon’s 85mm F1.4 L Has the Best Optical Quality of Any EF Mount Lens

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After somewhat of a break from testing camera lenses, DXOMark has returned with a bombshell. The Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM, an EF mount lens for DSLRs, is a certified banger! In fact, it’s so good, it beats the stellar Sony 85mm f1.4 GM in every category. Also, for Canon RF mount users, the new 85mm f2 IS STM did very well during DXOMark’s tests. If you’re a portrait photographer who shoots Canon, head past the break for all the juicy details.

85mm f1.4 L

The new reviews from DXOMark bode very well for portrait photographers who use both Canon DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras. Now, along with the stellar Canon 85mm RF f1.2 L and the older EF mount equivalent, you have another brilliant and much cheaper 85mm L series lens to choose from in the Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM. For portrait photographers on a budget, the new Canon RF 85mm f2 is also an appealing option.

The Canon 85mm F1.4 L IS USM Is a Stunner

85mm f1.4 L

We have reviewed both of these lenses out in the real world. Real-world tests are always better than those conducted in lab settings, but we have to agree with DXOMark on all counts regarding both lenses. The Canon 85mm f1.4 L blew us away with its overall sharpness, great color rendition, chromatic aberration control, and the bokeh it produces. This lens also works well when adapted to Canon’s new EOS R series cameras. We noticed no issues with focusing, and it works like a charm with eye AF. In terms of how it scored in DXOMark’s tests, here’s the breakdown:

  • Sharpness: 42
  • Transmission: 1.6
  • Distortion: 0.1%
  • Vignetting: -1.8 ev
  • Chr. Aberattion: 4

The Canon 85mm f1.4 L IS USM was tested on a Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon’s highest megapixel DSLR (50.6MP). The scores give the Canon 85mm f1.4 L an incredible overall rating of 49. This puts the lens against the very best 85mm lenses ever tested by DXOMark. Still, it’s bested by the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM (test camera Nikon D850) and the Carl Zeiss Milvus 1.4/85 ZF.2 (Nikon D850). These lenses scored 53 and 50, respectively. At $1,599, the Canon 85mm f1.4 L is a compelling Canon DSLR and Mirrorless option.

The Canon RF 85mm f2 Is No Slouch Either

Canon’s newest 85mm lens for their Mirrorless platform has also been tested and reviewed by DXOMark. The Canon 85mm f1.8 for DSLRs is a classic. Sure, it has its issues, but it was still a fantastic lens. Still, Canon has aimed to make the new RF 85mm f2 a worthy successor. In our review, our new Reviews Editor, Hillary Grigonis, said:

“While the f2, of course, won’t get the same backgrounds as Canon’s f1.2 lens for the RF mount, considering the lens’s price, the blur is fantastic. Even stepping the lens down for a sharper subject, the focal length and Full-Frame mount mix for excellent soft backgrounds.”

Hillary Grigonis – Reviews Editor

During our real-world test, we were also impressed with the autofocus performance, sharpness, color rendition, and how well the lens handled thanks to the image stabilization. Here’s how the lens scored in DXOMark’s tests:

  • Sharpness: 26
  • Transmission: 2.2
  • Distortion: 0.3%
  • Vignetting: -1.4 ev
  • Chr. Aberattion: 2

DXOMark tested the Canon RF 85mm f2 IS STM on the 30.3MP Canon EOS R. Overall, the lens scored 39. However, DXOMark did state that they believe the lens would have scored much higher on the EOS R5. The results from DXOMark matched up pretty well with what we found. Overall, it’s a great lens for the price ($699), and it’s certainly a great option for those who simply cannot reach for the faster 85mm primes on the platform. What do you think about these findings from DXOMark? Let us know in the comment section below.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.