Is the Canon 85mm F1.2 FD SSC Aspherical Worth $23,000?

I don’t know a single photographer who wouldn’t go crazy for an 85mm f1.2 lens. But some just seem incredibly expensive. And that’s what’s making us scratch our heads about this Canon 85mm f1.2 FD SSC Aspherical lens. Various reviews and folks online say it’s one of the best lenses ever made. Of course, Canon lens users have always loved their f1.2 lenses; it’s part of what makes the system so special. But can a lens really be worth nearly $23,000 and have so much variation?

The Canon 85mm f1.2 FD SSC Aspherical for $22,999.99

Seller otani.camera.tokyo is offering the Canon 85mm f1.2 FD SSC Aspherical for $22,999.99. That’s quite a lot of money. But why is it so expensive? Well, they say it’s a mint edition copy despite there being slight scuffs. The lens was released in 1979 and sports nine aperture blades according to Phillip Reeve. Naturally, it was targeted at portrait photographers. And this lens is for the older Canon FD mount, which came before Canon EF and way before Canon RF.

Of course, that also means you can adapt it to various camera systems. I’d go for Sony E, Nikon Z, Canon Rf, or Leica L mount if anything.

What Does Everyone Say?

This is a pretty fascinating lens. Otani is selling it for a lot, but the prices vary a lot. Check out the search for the lens on eBay. Some went for only a few thousand. And of course, it’s valuable and highly sought-after. But even we are scratching our heads about the price here.

So what do other folks say about it?

Phillip Reeve said this:

“I don’t think there is a better classic 85mm lens than the Canon FD 85mm 1:1.2 S.S.C. Aspherical and I was generally quite pleased with the images I got out of it. None the less I found myself often hesitate to take it with me because of its size and weight. If you like to take images with very shallow depth of field though I wouldn’t hesitate recommending the lens.”

And on his website, he’s got beautiful images shot with the lens on the Sony a7 and Sony a7 II.

Ken Rockwell said this:

“It’s way beyond anything ever from Nikon or LEICA. It’s got more technology in it than anywhere else, and more importantly, has out-of-this world performance. This is why it’s so sought-after by astronomers; it’s super-sharp even wide-open at f/1.2.”

Usually, when Ken is that head over heels about something, he’s pretty honest. Ken can be the perfect combination of troll and serious, but not in this case.

A guest blog post by Dirk De Paepe on Steve Huff’s website said:

“Many have considered this as one of the best lenses ever made. I don’t have the authority for such a bold assertion, but I do want to state that I believe it delivers stunning performances, even to current standards. In fact, when combined with a modern high resolution sensor, like the 42MP Sony, I find it opening a whole new world of detail, sharpness and shallowness, granting me a level of satisfaction, way beyond what was possible when shooting it on an old FD film camera. However, to get access to this higher performance level, one must proceed with the greatest care. Regular, faster taken shots show this good old 85/1.2 like it’s always been known and appreciated for. But in those carefully focused shots, taken with a hi-res sensor camera, I truly believe there’s some new mojo going on.”

So if you go ahead and purchase one, take a look at the search, first.

All images from otani.camera.tokyo: the seller of this lens.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.