LensTip.com

Lens review

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM

17 March 2018
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality and image stabilization

The following chart presents a comparison between the parameters of the Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM and other 1.4/85 lenses designed for reflex cameras plus a bit slower, aperture-wise, but also stabilized Tamron. As you see, despite the lack of any stabilization unit, the Sigma’s construction is the most complex of all. Also both the Sigma and the Zeiss are noticeably heavier and bigger than the Canon. The Nikkor is the most compact device here but also its optical construction is the simplest.

In the photo below the Canon 1.4/85 IS stands next to another 85 mm instrument of the same system so the EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM and the Canon EF 35 mm f/2 IS USM.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The tested lens starts with a metal mount surrounding a contact plate and a rear element with a diameter of 38 mm. Still there was no need to glue the contacts directly on the lens like in the EF 85 mm f/1.2 USM model. The rear element, which doesn’t move, is situated on the same level as the mount and the area around is properly blackened and matted quite well.

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Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The proper casing starts with a black ring which doesn’t move and features a red dot, making an alignment with a camera easier. Further on you see a focal length marking inscription, ’85 mm’, and above it a distance scale, expressed in feet and meters, hidden under a window. Below that you get a depth of field scale but it is not especially useful as it contains just two markings: by f/11 and f/22.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

On the left side of the scale there is a focusing mechanism mode switch (AF/MF) and on the other side – the serial number of the lens and information that it was produced in Japan, along with an inscription “IMAGE STABILIZER” and “ULTRASONIC”.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The next part is a manual focus ring as wide as 33 mm. Most of its surface is covered by rubber ribbing and above it you see a red stripe characteristic for L series. The ring moves smoothly and is well damped; going through the whole distance scale needs a turn through an angle of about 130 degrees. Behind the focus ring you find another ring, immobile this time, with the name and parameters of the lens.

The convex front element of the tested instrument doesn’t move as well and is 71 mm in diameter. It is surrounded by a non-rotating filter thread, 77 mm in diameter, and a hood mount.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

The optical construction of the tested Canon consists of 14 elements positioned in 10 groups. Among them there is just one aspherical element. Such a construction seems to be quite modest, especially when you compare it to the construction of e.g. the Sigma A 1.4/85 which additionally featured two low dispersion glass elements or the Tamron 1.8/85 VC, also a stabilized lens, which had one LD element and one XLD glass element inside.

Inside the Canon you can also find a round aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to a value of f/22 at the maximum.

Buyers get both caps, a hood and a soft lens pouch in the box with the lens.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization

Optical stabilization

The stabilization unit efficiency of the Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM is rated to 4 EV. Of course we had to verify these declarations. We took several dozen photos with exposure times ranging from 1/100 to 1/2 of a second with the stabilization switched on and off. For every set of photos was determined a percentage of out-of-focus shots; then we presented it in a form of a graph of exposure time which was expressed in EV (with 0 EV being an equivalent of 1/80 of a second). The said graph you can find below.

Canon EF 85 mm f/1.4L IS USM - Build quality and image stabilization


The maximum distance between both curves, measured by us, reaches 4 EV exactly so remains in perfect accordance with the declaration of the producer. A round of applause!