REVIEW: The Canon 6D with Sigma 35 1.4 and Canon 85 1.2L
A Canon DSLR with POW, WHAM, BANG and two lenses with a little bit of Magic Dust Included.
Yes I know this Canon 6D camera and the mentioned lenses have been reviewed by many others and is old news, but I had an opportunity to try these out for a week and decided to give it a whirl. So what you will read here is my experience using and shooting a DSLR after not really seriously shooting with one for a long time. The Canon 6D has intrigued me and I am happy that I was able to test it out with these two stellar lenses. Below is my experience.
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DSLR’s are STILL hot
It has been said by more than one photographer in this ever growing mirror less world that “DSLR’s are still hot”. Yep, even with the rise in smaller and powerful mirrorless camera creation and sales, the DSLR still outsells the little mighty ones by a good margin. I saw it first hand while visiting New York City for a 2 day trip to a special Olympus event. I would say that 85% of those I saw on the street were using a DSLR of some sort, mainly Canon Rebels. Why is that? Well, there are many reasons, one being is that many newbies to Photography and those upgrading from little P&S cameras want to look “pro” and to do so requires they get a new Canon Rebel or starter Nikon DSLR..or so they think.
The Canon 6D and incredible Sigma 35 1.4 ART series lens
Yep, that is the mindset of many who are delving into photography and 95% of them know nothing about the smaller and sleeker mirrorless offerings that brings with them a similar image quality in a fraction of the size. Why is that? Because they want a large DSLR so they look pro or look cool. This is a fact. I speak with many newbies every day who email me for advice and they want to know if they should get a Rebel or a Nikon D whatever to start out with. I ask why they want a DSLR and they usually say “my freind has one and I love it” or “it is professional and I want to be a pro” or “The Best Buy guy said the Canon Rebel is the best for quality”. Etc, Etc. I now tell them to check out this steal of a deal which is a starter DSLR style camera with an APS-C sensor called the Sony Alpha 3000. $399 with lens. But even that won’t do it for some because they want a Canon or a Nikon.
So yes, many people out there are getting into serious photography and they feel that to be serious they need a DSLR, the camera that their neighbor or friend has or the one that Best Buy told them was the best, which is usually a Canon Rebel.
But this is only the beginning of why DSLR sales remain strong.
The Canon 6D and the 85 L 1.2 II at 1.2 in a low dimly lit restaurant. One color, one B&W (both from RAW) Low light is NO problem at all for this combo. Click it to see the clarity at 1.2 and its ability to suck in the light.
Others buy DSLR’s for pro work, which I agree with. If I was shooting pro work day in and day out every single day (depending on what the work was) a DSLR would make its way into my kit for those times when the Leica M or RX1 just would not work or when an OM-D body would not work (macro or long tele). At that time I would then have to decide if I wanted a Canon, a Nikon or a Sony DSLR. Yes, Sony is an option as they make some cutting edge cameras, including some pretty nice DSLR’s. In the past I have owned a Canon 5D and a Nikon D700. I loved both but to be honest, I enjoyed the D700 more because at the time I preffered the Nikon color and rendering but I always went back and forth on that.
DSLR’s are a hot item even today and there are benefits to using them (as well as the cons of weight and huge size) depending on what it is you shoot. They are well established with a plethora of lenses available from macro to tilt shift to extreme fast telephoto primes to exotic superfast primes. Long story short, they offer everything anyone could ever need for creative photography. The new Mirrorless cameras of today that are so hot can also offer this in a much smaller package but even years after their inception, the lens choices, while great, are not as plentiful as they are with a Canon or Nikon or even Sony DSLR and DSLRS can be had from $300 and up to $8000 or more. So there are choices.
Canon 6D and Canon 85 L 1.2 II wide open
But to be honest, these days I know that it is ALL ABOUT THE LENSES! Nikon and Canon have some amazing stellar glass in their DSLR lineup but Canon has one or two (expensive) jewels that Nikon can not compete with (in MY opinion) due to the unique looks these Canon lenses give. In fact, there are insane amounts of lenses available for the Canon and Nikon systems including some damn good Zeiss options and now Sigma. But in the Canon lineup there are a few jewels for sure..well, MANY jewels but one has always had a spot in my heart and another lens in the L lineup is close behind and it does not come cheap.
The main lens I speak of is the Canon 85L 1.2 (version 1 or 2) and the Canon 50 L 1.2.
Being full frame lenses with HUGE front elements and a light sucking 1.2 aperture, these lenses are HUGE, FAT, HEAVY and loaded with abilities that can make almost anyone with an ounce of skill into an abstract artist. NOTHING renders like an 85L 1.2 lens and it is more like a big fat paintbrush than a camera lens. Many have nicknamed it “THE KEG” because it looks like a mini keg of beer. It is large but it sure can pull off a special and one of a kind look.
The way it can “paint” your subjects is quite remarkable and while not everyone enjoys this look, when used sparingly or in certain portrait conditions it can be jaw dropping and sometimes even haunting. Not even a Leica Noctilux can render like a Canon 85L and when I say that I am not discounting the Noctilux, as I prefer the Noctilux look by a slight margin (as it is quite different) but when we put things into perspective, the Canon 85L is a $2000 lens. The Canon 50 L 1.2 is under $2000. The Leica Noctilux is $10,995 just for the lens alone.
Canon 6D and 85 L 1.2 II at 1.2 – Beautiful.
Late night in Times Square – Canon 85L II and 6D at 1.2 – I love the bokeh this lens creates but Bokeh is a personal thing..some may love it, some may hate it. I like the 3D pop this lens gives and it is sharp wide open at 1.2.
and the same, wide open but I did crop this one a bit
So for $4000 today one can buy a Canon 6D full frame sensor DSLR which is equal in IMAGE quality to a Leica M 240 (just larger, bulkier and heavier especially when these lenses are attached) and an 85L 1.2 lens. For $18,000 one can buy a Leica M 240 (if you can find one) and a Leica Noctilux 0.95 lens. A difference of $14,000. Take another $3500 for the Canon setup and add in a Canon 24L and a Canon 50 L 1.2 and you are at $7500, still less than HALF of the Leica M and Nocti combo. Of course if Leica is in your blood and brain, as well as in your heart and soul, none of that matters. Just putting into perspective. Also, never underestimate the power of a smaller, lighter, more discreet camera as it will make you want to shoot more and take it with you everywhere. Something a DSLR does not do for me.
But keeping it 100% real, while Leica is a true beautiful work of art in itself, and performs amazingly well, the Canon 6D with a lens like the 85L 1.2 is just as capable if you do not mind lugging around a DSLR and HUGE lens attached, and let me tell you..it is HUGE and slow to AF. But HEAR THIS:
from 2005 with a 5D Mk I and 85 1.2 (original V1)
The 85 L 1.2 II is one reason alone to jump into Canon if you are eyeballing a full frame DSLR and if you have the cash to spare at $2000 for the lens alone, I highly doubt you would be dissapointed. The lens has a perfect 5 star average review rating at B&H Photo with over 500 reviews written. Pretty damn impressive, and I agree with those reviews, it is a 5 star lens without question. Remember, I owned one for a long while years ago. If I owned a Canon 6D or 5D today I would own this lens without hesitation. It’s one of my top two fave lenses ever made, by anyone. A Leica 50 Summilux ASPH is the other 🙂
The Canon 85 1.8 is MUCH cheaper, why would I buy the 85 1.2 II?
Do not let those who say the Canon 85 1.8 is just as good as the 85 1.2 II L fool you, as it is not. PERIOD, END OF STORY. IN fact, it is not in the same ballpark in the ability to render a “UNIQUE” image in the style of the L. As I said, no lens on the market for 35mm renders like a Canon 85L. There is a reason it has achieved legendary status. The only problem is the cost, weight, size and slow focus. But to those who own and love the lens, these things do not matter as it is the output that counts and if you want that “look”, the 85 1.8 will NOT give it to you. I should know, I owned both back in 2005 and struggled when I clearly saw the differences in each shot as I wanted the 1.8 to be just as good so I could save some cash.
I kept the 85L back then, owned it for a year or more and sold it because it did not get enough use. Even though it was amazing, it was too large and heavy for me so it was only brought out for certain occasions. Never was it a daily shooter. That is the one drawback of the lens. It is a BEAST but what a beautiful beast it is. If I could afford just to buy one and hang on to one for those moments where it would come in handy, I would.
Wide Open this lens renders like nothing else. These two images were shot at night and the 6D with the 85L never failed to AF, it just was a bit slow to AF. Still, worked every time.
Yes, the 85 1.8 will be smaller, lighter, faster and much less expensive but it will not match the 85 1.2 in sharpness wide open, color rendition, build quality or light sucking ability. Take a Camera like the 6D and 85L 1.2 into a dimly lit room and you can still shoot. Your images will look like they were shot during the day, even without a flash and the Bokeh will be mind numbing in some situations, but in a good way. It’s an amazing hunk of glass and there is a reason many buy it even when already owning the much cheaper 85 1.8.
It may be a surprise to many of you to hear me praise a huge and heavy DSLR lens, but I have always loved the 85L when used on a full frame Canon. While I have not owned a DSLR in many years, I still know that they are amazing tools and with the right set of lenses, hard to beat.
That 85L has some serious MOJO at 1.2 and can suck in the light to make it appear there is much more light than there really is on the scene. It’s one of the few magical pieces of glass that does this very well, with nice Bokeh and sharpness even wide open.
Remember to click each image to see the larger and better version! Another three shot at 1.2 from a distance, at night!
DSLR’s. Don’t you HATE DSLR’s Steve?
No, I do not hate DSLR’s but for me they are a no go in my personal life just due to the size, weight and yes, even high cost involved if you want “the best of the best”, which I always do (Certain cameras have spoiled me over all of these years). But mainly, the SIZE is the killer for me. Carrying around a bag with just a Canon 6D, Sigma 35 1.4 and Canon 85 1.2L is NOT pleasant for a casual stroll or day out with the family but at the same time, a DLR such as the Canon 6D can make incredible photos while being smaller than the larger 5D series, so for many the weight and size may be worth it. Yep, the 6D is a almost mini 5D in my opinion with excellent ergonomics, easy controls, simple menus and fast operation (though I find the normal AF no faster than my old OM-D E-M5) but it is still large as it is indeed a DSLR. This problem could really be solved with smaller and much less expensive lenses but me, if I go for a full frame DSLR, I would want the 85L and 35 1.4. End of story.
The 85L 1.2 has some very intense Bokeh. The shallow DOF possibilities are intense with this lens.
Yes Indeed! The Canon 6D is a Jewel in the DSLR World
It takes a lot for a DSLR to grab my attention and the 6D has done just that due to many reasons. It’s smaller size, it’s amazing sensor, it’s ergonomics and controls, and of course, the amazing glass possibilities.
The Canon 6D is feature packed with a 20.2 MP full frame sensor, Digic 5+, ISO from 100-25,600 and 12,800 video ISO, 97% optical VF, 4.5 FPS shooting, 11 Point AF, Dual layer metering and even WiFi built in. Canon included it all in this one and the good news it that the camera is easy to use, set up and even hold. No manual needed as it was easy to navigate the menus, easy to change settings, and overall a joy in the usability department.
The Canon 6D comes in a slightly smaller package than the 5D MkIII while retaining the same image quality with some improvements in low light. It looks nice, feels nice and has everything I would ever want if I were to go for a DSLR. Nikon has its comepeting camera, the D600, which I have yet to try, but I know the differences between Canon and Nikon and for me, it comes down to COLOR. Canon has always had a unique way of rendering colors and their L prime lenses have a “Canon Look”, which believe it or not, is indeed there. I can always spot an image taken with a Canon DSLR. I used to have a thing for Nikon color but today I like them equal 50/50.
Liberty Text – 85L II wide open
Many of you who have followed me for years know that I have only reviewed a small handful of DSLR’s. The Nikon D90, Canon 5D MkII, and Nikon D700 with a quick look at the D800. I also took a look at the Sony full frame A99 offering and the older Canon 7D and the Sony A57. That is about it but I may be forgetting one or two.
BUT, I am one who will tell you right now that you can achieve the same or similar IQ as what this 6D gives you (with say a 50 1.4 lens) from a Sony RX1 or Leica M 240 (using a 35 1.4 lens) which are MUCH smaller, MUCH lighter and just as easy to use. You can achieve what a Canon 7D gives you with a Sony NEX or Olympus E-M5 with the right lenses. All in much smaller packages that are just as well made, with amazing lens choices. You can even use the 85L on a Leica M 240 or Sony NEX with the right adapters so if you want an amazing lens but shoot Leica, it could be worth trying out the 85 on a Leica 🙂 For some special fun, if you own a Canon DSLR try THIS lens out.
The Sigma 35 1.4 ART series lens on the Canon 6D. Under $1000 and IMO beats the Canon 35L in just about every area.
A DSLR such as the Canon 6D is hard to ignore for what it offers the enthusiast or pro photographer. Smaller than 5D Size, Speed, Full Frame Performance, Low Light Abilities, and choice of glass. Cheap to Expensive. If you love your lenses then choosing a Canon DSLR can be exciting due to all of the choices out there. My 1st Canon was the very first Canon D30 with an old 24-85 Standard Zoom. Back then it was the only game in town beating all others to the punch. I loved that camera but it was my only real choice. The Canon 6D kind of gave me that nostalgic feeling again but what comes out of the 6D destroys what came out of that very 1st Canon D30 many years ago.
I am not going to do a long detailed techie in depth review on the 6D as there are probably hundreds of them online, mostly all will give you a better DSLR review than me as A: I only have the 6D setup for 7 days and B: I have been out of the DSLR loop for years. What this post is mostly about is the glass, the two lenses I used with the 6D as well as my real world thoughts on using a DSLR after shooting smaller cameras for the past 4-5 years. I can tell you this though: I much prefer this 6D to the old 5D and 5DII as well as ANY of the APS-C sensor DSLR’s. I also prefer it to my old Nikon D700. It’s a special DSLR that gets just about everything right, but I was only able to just scratch the surface in my 7 days with it, and to be honest, on two occasions I had the 6D and Sigma 35 1.4 along with the 85L in my Amazon cart just to own for the 85L alone. I know a good thing when I see it and the Canon 6D, if you do not mind the DSLR size and weight, is amazing. I was thrilled with the IQ, responsiveness and resulting files.
The Sigma 35 1.4 Art Series
The Sigma 35 1.4 Art Series is SUPERB and under $1000 is well worth it especially since when I compare real world images, it is right up there in quality with a 35 Summilux ASPH, just MUCH MUCH larger.
This was shot from the hip at night with the 35 1.4 at ISO 4000 without NR – click it to see the real world noise result
Sigma has come a long way since the last time I shot with some of their DSLR lenses. Many years ago I owned a 15mm lens from Sigma and it was large, looked kind of ugly and performed well though was loud when focusing. Today with the new Art series Sigma has stepped it up 10 notches and now competes head to head (and in some cases surpasses) with Nikon and Canon at their own game.
This 35 1.4 ART lens is superb on the full frame 6D. Corners are sharp, color is rich and saturated and right, bokeh is very nice and beautiful, the lens is built VERY well and looks sweet. In fact, if the Sigma and Canon L 35 were the same price, I would still buy this Sigma. It is that good. In fact, it delivers images just as nice as the $5000 Leica 35 Summilux (though 5X the size) when I look at them and compare qualities side by side. THAT is impressive.
When reviewing images for this quick review I was blown away by the rich files, the sharpness and micro contrast coming from this combo of 6D and Sigma 35 1.4 (be sure you click on them for larger, and those with large high res displays you will see what I mean). It really did remind me of shooting a Leica M9 or M with a 35 Lux ASPH (the image quality). While the setup was on the heavy side and hurting my back after 7 hours of carrying it, I could not fault the image quality or performance of this setup.
Below is a FULL size from camera image with the 35 1.4 at 1.4 – click it for full size
Size Comparison: SIgma 35 1.4 next to a Nikon V1 with 18.5 1.8 Attached
Just for fun I put my V1 next to the Sigma. They are about the same size with a lens on the V1. 🙂
My final word on the Canon 6D and Sigma 35 1.4 and Canon 85L 1.2 II
You guys know me..I love my small but high quality mirrorless cameras. The Sony’s, The Leica’s, The Fuji X100’s, the Olympus, The Panasonics, and even the Nikon 1. I love them because they are small at a fraction of the size of a DSLR, a fraction of the weight and they offer sensors from Micro 4/3 to APS-C to full frame. In most cases, these new high powered and good looking mirrorless cameras compete head to head with DSLR’s even though DSLR owners will say otherwise (they refuse to believe it).
DSLR’s have their place as they are polished and refined. They have been around for much longer and manufacturers have been able to tweak, improve and build DSLR’s that are quite amazing when you think about it. For under $2,000 the Canon 6D is now the DSLR I would own if I decided to purchase a DSLR. It is not as large as the NIkon D800 or Canon 5D series and it feels great in my hand. In fact, if I plopped on a slower non L lens that was thin and semi fast, I would not have any issue with the weight or size. It is these nice premium lenses that really jack it up.
The camera is a winner, but most of you already knew that. But it is the 1st DSLR in a while that got my attention enough to want to review it, and I am glad I did. I loved shooting it around NYC and came away with some cool shots. So if you are looking for a DSLR that performs just as good as the big guys (5D, etc) then take a long serious look at the Canon 6D. I think it offers the most for the money in the full frame DSLR Canon world.
As for the lenses, both of these are AMAZING. The jaw droppingly beautiful 85 L 1.2 II is expensive but a fraction of what a modern day new Leica lens costs and it has a 92% MOJO rate. By that I mean, it has character galore and there is no other lens like it and no other lens will do what it does. There are some that are close and some that are similar but nothing renders like an 85L 1.2 II. Ask any of the tens of thousands of owners of this lens and they will tell you the same.
The Sigma 35 1.4 has given me a new respect and outlook on Sigma. They mean business and this is evident in this new Art series of lenses. Just like their tiny 30 2.8 lens for the NEX system that I reviewed, the 35 1.4 ART lens is a killer 35mm option that offers speed, design, and IQ that is mouth watering good. I’d buy this lens in a nano second if I splurged for a DSLR like the 6D because I enjoy the 35mm focal length.
So all in all I had fun with this setup and while it did kill my shoulder after a few hours and I did hesitate to pull it out of my bag a few times due to the intimidating size and I did get looks when shooting on the street with that 85L, the results were fantastic. If I had more time with it, or took it on a portrait session in a nice wooded area with some nice misty lighting the results would be breathtaking. 🙂
If I did not have so many cameras now I would seriously consider this set. I was tempted quite a few times over the past week as it was. Great stuff. My question to you is, would you like to see more DSLR reviews like this on the site? If so, let me know. 🙂 I have a trip to Dublin Ireland in 3 weeks, maybe I can review the next in line.
WHERE TO BUY
You can buy a 6D almost anywhere but as always, my preferred shop is going to be B&H Photo or Amazon. I have shopped with both of these establishments for YEARS and they never let me down.
Buy the Canon 6D Body:
Buy the Canon 85L 1.2 II:
Buy the Sigma 35 1.4 ART Series Lens:
A few more shots from the Sigma 35 1.4, most direct from camera. Enjoy!
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It was truely an honest helpfull review. I already have 6D + 50mm 1.8 + 24*105 L + tamronda 70-300 VC
Was trying to find out which lens should be next? 35mm Sigma art and 85mm but which one?.. Now this review solved The troubles. Thanks and greetings from Turkiye
on a A7R II…. Canon 85mm f1.2 LII vis Batis 85mm 1.8 ?
3D pop out with Bokeh on 1.2 vs Color on 1.8
how big is the diferent in terms of Bokeh and 3D pop out / color ?
Your choice please and why 🙂
Id take the Batis 100%. Smaller, lighter, no huge adapter needed and the AF of the Canon is MUCH slower. IQ will be a tad different as the Canon renders in its own unique way. You will get a Canon look vs the Zeiss look. But for me, the Batis wins as it is native FE mount, made for the Sony A7 series, lighter, smaller and less expensive while giving that beautiful color, bokeh and zeiss pop.
Thanks for the great review. After reading your review, I’ve purchased Sigma 35mm f1.4.
Canon 6d + sigma s5mm f1.4 test shots here: http://eugeneatlee.com/2015/06/28/summer-retreat/
Great! Thanks and hope you enjoy it!
I want to buy a new camera setup. Primarily I like to shoot natural light portraits. I want to be able to shoot low-light without a flash. I currently have an OM-D E-M5 (mk1) with 20mm f1.7 Panasonic lens. I love it…but want to get more versatility with DOF and higher ISO range.
So I have narrowed down what I would like and here in South Africa they all come in to roughly the same price…
Olympus OM-D E-M5 mk2 + Panasonic 42.5mm f1.2 lens
(Good = small and a system I know…Bad = not as much DOF usability as a FF)
Canon 6d + 85mm f1.2 LII USM lens
(Good = seems to be a heck of camera lens combo… Bad = new system and bigger than what I like)
Nikon DF kit with 50mm f1.8 G lens
(Good = the looks and great sensor plus cheapest setup of the 3..Bad = mixed reviews and not such a great lens)
Any insights would be really appreciated!
Yet again Steve another great review with one of the two lens I would be looking at getting when possibly purchasing the new Canon 5DSR later in the year, I will have to save a little more for the otus 85mm lens. It would be great if you are able to review the Canon 5DSR in the near future.
Splendid and helpful reading, Steve, tnaks a lot for your words and work!
I liked the results in low light.
My understanding is the 85mm f/1.2L has a floating element which helps it counter the focus shift issue the fast lenses have.
I have the 50mm f/1.2L and it does not have the floating element. Mine is a late copy and doesn’t have the early issues with the 50mm f/1.2L (which I suspect are by users who don’t understand the narrow DOF).
I just purchased the Canon 6D and I like it a lot. I’m looking for an external flash. Do you have any recommendations? Canon Speedlite 90EX Flash? Canon 270EX II Speedlite Flash?
Thank you for your great reviews.
I’ve purchased the Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash and I love it!
Well, I will tip my cap to Sigma on this 35mm 1.4 DG HSM Lens. I read some very early reviews on this which were mostly quite positive and decided it was time to purchase a 35mm prime for my Nikon D700 full frame body. I am *NOT* disappointed in the slightest bit. This lens is delivering everything I had hoped for and more. Having owned several of Nikon’s professional lenses (24-70 2.8, 80-200 2.8, etc) I was surprised to see build quality to be as good as it is. I feel I’ll own this lens for 20 years; it’s built like a tank. I would advice you all to research well before buying read my review at http://bit.ly/1gHIDZx
Fantastic review of 85L and 50L from a respected Leica photographer. I have the 85L and 50L but Leica is out of my reach. As amazing the 85L and 50L, I still long for Noctilux f/1.0 (yes the f/1.0, not the f/0.95), because it draws a dreamlike imagery. Noctilux f/0.95 is too sharp to draw dreamlike imageries. Maybe someday I will be able (or crazy enough haha) to buy it. Maybe pairing it with Sony A7. Thanks again for the excellent 85L and 50L review Steve.
That is an interesting viewpoint. I remember when I started into photography for real, I thought that having a DSLR was absolutely necessary. But hey, more options for cameras and more styles is good, right? Now that I’m more comfortable with myself as a photographer, I feel like I could move to whatever suits me best for my next camera.
Of course, where should you get your cameras and lenses? One option, if you’re using Canon, is a dedicated Canon store, or shopping directly on their website. Or there’s Ebay. Or, you can visit an all-around online store with tons of deals on all sorts of cameras and equipment at http://BestCameraSolutions.com. It’s a great place to look around and see what you may want, or to look for good prices on what you already want!
Great review Steve. I’m not a DSLR guy at all (I shoot a Leica Monochrom), but based on what I learned in this review, I’ve concluded that this is the camera for me for the things a Leica does not do well, specifically very wide lenses, very long lenses and macro photography.
Hi Steve, and thanks for the review, i really enjoyed reading it.
In your review you say you didn’t have any problems using the autofocus with both lenses at maximum aperture. Have you used center focus point only? Is it possibile to achieve good autofocus with the outer focus points with such a thin DoF?
I always and only use center point with any and all cameras I have used, owned and tested for the past 15 years. If using AF and all points at that DOF you will lose many images if the camera decides to focus on something outside of your subject.
I think what he meant was ‘single point focus’ other than the centre point. When using centre point focus at wide open apertures – 1.2 for example – on something close up like a portrait headshot, recomposing after acquiring focus lock shifts the angle of the plain of focus, leading to the original focus point – say the closest eye – being out of focus. People often use single point focus of one of the outer focus points to avoid this as less recomposing after locking focus is required. If a camera like the 6D only has one good focusing point, and the others are not so good, this technique might be compromised and a camera like the MKIII might be more suitable. I think this was the reason for questioning of the original post, but could be mistaken.
I myself use a different technique. I’ll use centre point focus and then NOT recompose – usually leaving too much headroom in the shot. I will then crop the image to the proper dimensions after. I find this technique beneficial in that the centre of the frame is always the sharpest – especially at wide open apertures – and it should fall on the focal point where focus is locked. It also doesn’t subject the plain of focus’s angle to being shifted after locking focus.
This of course only applies to a very limited set up circumstances – super wide apertures, and close up subjects. In most cases ‘centre point focus lock then recompose’ is fine to use in 95% of situations.
Now Giovanni, back to you. If the 6D’s outer focus points are in line with the 5D MKI and MKII – and not the much improved MKIII – then I would only recommend the centre point for focussing. In the menu of the MKIII for example, I only activate the ‘cross type’ focus points as they are the only truly reliable ones to use.
Yes, i meant using a single outer af point. I agree with you, cropping in post production will ensure a better focus accuracy than focus and recompose; 20 Mpx are far more than an amateur like me needs, i’m not going to print big anyway.
The great thing about your reviews: you are a GREAT photographer. I like your reviews because I enjoy looking at your photos! Then your reviews just has more weight to it. I think, before being a reviewer of photo equipment, you have to be a good photographer. So that should put 80% of the reviewers on the web out of business.
Thanks for the kind words my friend 🙂
I need some advice The Geat Steve Huff or anyone else.
So recently someone offered to trade me a 5dk2 w/24-70 f2.8 or a Sigma 35 f1.4 for my Leica M8 w/ voightlander 35 f2.5. Would it be worth the trade?
Thanks in advance.
Did you took these photo’s in RAW?
If so, was it developed in lightroom? Did you use adobe standard color profile?
Ow sorry already asked this question, but not about the lightroom department 🙂
These were from RAW using the latest version of ACR.
Steve & all,
One thing to keep in mind when testing or comparing any Canon lenses against others is that with the Canon lenses you can set each to it’s own MFA (micro focus adjustment) to the body (in my case 5DII). Henceforth the canon body will recognise the attached lens and apply the MFA automatically. I have done this with mine and can tell you that it makes a remarkable difference. Any canon lens e.g. the 35mm/1.4L before and after MFA is performed is like chalk ‘n cheese. Really. Try it.
Hi Steve, thanks for your fantastic review; only a question if I can: why do you prefer the 6D over your old D700?
Because the Canon 85 1.2 doesn’t fit the D700 🙂
Well, its just a more mature camera. The D700 is just as capable though and as Mako said, its about the lenses 🙂 The 50L and 85L are my faves from Canon and Nikon does not have anything like them. But I also adore the D700 for what it does, in many ways moreso than the D800.
Thank you very much! Also to Mako :). I have D700 plus 85 1,4 afs, 14/24, 24/70, 70/200 2,8; it makes sense switching to 6D + 16/35, 50 1,2 + 20/200 2,8? Colours are really different? 🙂
The nice thing about Canon’s, you can use Nikkors but not the other way around. But who wants to forego AF these days (not at my age! :- )
If Canon did have a 20/200 f2.8 zoom, then yes, but since they don’t, no, stay with your fine package
ihih, 20/200 f 2
Good one! 🙂 Last week on our Ford commerce we used the 18/85 t2.0 Fujinon zoom on our APS sensor Arri Alexa
Amazing photo’s and colors, are these out of camera, or taken in RAW format?
Greetings from Belgium 🙂
All were RAW and thank you!
Mako: Yeah I know. I have thought about that. I used an X100 on my last tour and loved it… but it was limiting and I got tired of the slowness. And I just can’t bring myself to go down in size on the sensor… even if the speed/focal length of the lenses make up for it. I will look into the OMD though. Here are a couple of examples of photos I was taking on my last trip:
I agree with your point about having a long lens… for wildlife and such, but that 135 is calling my name (for candid people shots and shots of other riders). I could be wrong though. I put together these spec kits and weights for the fun of it:
$5543 6d / 24-70 f2.8 / 70-200 f4 – 2190g
$5283 6d / 24-70 f2.8 / 135 f2 – 2235g
$4532 6d / 24-105 f4 / 135 f2 – 2100g
$4242 6d 24mm f2.8 / 50mm f1.4 / 70-200 f4 – 1955g
$3982 6d 24mm f2.8 / 50mm f1.4 / 135mm f2 – 2000g
Nice work … which I frankly don’t think you would really improve upon by going to a larger, heavier bulkier 6D package. In fact I think that perhaps because of the need for better protection and thus slower access, it might impinge on your picture taking. I would think you would be better served with something like a compact FujiFilm X-M1 and the very sharp 18/55 2.8 zoom. I love the orientable screen for waist and overhead shooting. I would add the 23 mm F1.4 as your low light lens (Amazon is taking pre-orders) … and an iPhone 5s as your panorama camera.
I’ve been shooting since the ’60s, and have always found the 135 to be an awkward focal length. I AM looking forward to the results of whatever you end up with!
@Logan, my buddy says his X100 is like a new camera after the latest firmware update
Hi Steve. Nice review! I am on the verge of pulling the trigger on a 6D for an upcoming trip in Africa. I’ve been shooting with the X100 primarily for the last year and while I love the size, I am ready for FF IQ and some speed. I love the idea of the 85L, but it is just a little too big and heavy (for a bike tour especially). Are there any other lenses you’d recommend? Others I was considering were the 135 f2, the 50 f1.8 and the 24-70 2.8 (which is also big but it would provide some variety). Thanks!
50 1.4 is a superb lens, 135L is exceptional. The 24-70 is huge 🙂 Id go 28, 50 and 135
Bike tour, cool, but wrong time to go FF?! Have you read Steve’s new OMD experience in Ireland? I would think you’d want something “handy.” Please let us know what you decide to go with. If you want to deal with the bulk of a 6D, then the lighter, range’ier 24/105 & the 70/300, because … Africa
Whoops… see below (posted reply on main line instead of under this comment)…
I’d love to see one of your crazy image quality comparisons – the 6D with 40mm/2.8 (or 50mm) against your Leica rig or other combos
Well, I no longer have the 6D – was just in for review. I think it would be VERY close, and possibly the 6D edging out the M. I still am in love with that 6D and 85L. Just too large for me to enjoy using. The M is amazing to use. Feels perfect, nice size and weight, balanced, tiny lenses. That helps quite a bit.
For a lot of us Image Quality is more important than small and convenient, especially if we frequently print very large images. Otherwise, sure, it’s nice being able to slip your kit into a jacket pocket or fanny pack.
I agree. That’s why i’ve bought & sold Canon G1x, Sony RX100, Fuji X100S and am now back with my 5D2. You cant beat full frame. But….it sure would be nice to have a small full frame (& I wont be able to afford a Leica in this lifetime 🙂
Lloyd Chambers really likes the Sony RX1r, but he and I both wish there were more or different focal length options. For example, I would want a 25mm, a 40/50mm, and 70/80mm to cover the likely landscape situations I’d be working, BUT . . . that would set me back close to $10 GRAND including view finders and grips. Yikes! As it is, I’m staying focused on acquiring a D800e and a 24-70 2.8 zoom instead (in the next year) at a (relatively) manageable $5K, instead. That would be a big change for me, coming from a film 67 and six primes.
Nah, the RX1 series is fine as is. The D800 is just so huuuuuge and heavy and with that zoom, especially so. Ouch. Great camera but not a daily shooter, the RX1 is amazing but there are also rumors of something special coming soon. Who knows 🙂
I’ve read online rumours that Sony will bring out a successor to the Nex 7 – but with the full frame sensor – interchangeable lenses (hopefully some fast apertures). Flip screen, quiet….maybe we’re getting closer to the ‘ideal’ 🙂
Well, it certainly seems like the next six months will give us all some interesting new options.
A very different kind of review. Liked it a lot. Specially the pictures. However, after reading the complete review, I thought of putting my experience here. I have 6D and Sigma 35/1.4. The Sigma is one of the BEST optics I have used so far. At 1.4, it is unbelievably sharp at center and impressively sharp at corners. The build and feel is definitely very solid. But, my experience with AF accuracy of this lens has been not up to the mark. I wish it would able to focus a bit more consistently. And it is not just one copy. I tried with 2 copies (with tripod mount, remote shutter, so no scope of manual mistake here). It simply can’t focus consistently. The USB dock will not help here as it misses the same object from same distance in a random manner. And the hit rate is around 60%. I would anytime keep this lens even with a 80% hit rate.. yes, it is that good optically. I will now try my luck with a third copy.
Just wanted to know if any one of you have faced this kind of AF issues?
I think Sigma just has issues with good focusing. I have the 30mm f1.4 for Canon. Focus is horrible on it. The lens is great. But to get the full potential, you need to use manual focusing using live view. Then, the lens is a joy to use. The manual focus is stiff but secure. At f1.4, the images on the screen really pop in and out of focus clearly, but you do need to magnify. Another bonus, I put the focusing point at the 1/3 rule for framing. Place the subject on the focus point, frame, magnify, focus and click the shutter. For good measure, use a handheld light meter for exposure. You get nicely exposed, focused, framed photo. At f1.4, nice bokeh.
@Danny, I’m imagining at lot of boring static shots, however well exposed and sharp.
Nice review and nice pictures.
I own the Sigma 85mm sine over 2 years now. I didn’t get the 85L – though being able to afford it – just because the Sigma was in comparison equally good. F1.2 vs. f1.2 is not significant enough and I compared images carefully before I purchased. What a great lens (!) and I compared with my 16-35II, 35L, 50L, 135L. So I really think one should look at the much more affordable Sigma option as well.
I agree on the 35 Sigma as being a great if not the best choice out there for 35mm.
I think if anyone out there really wants FF and is conscious about weight and money (to some degree) then I would highly recommend to look at the 6D and the Sigma 35/85 combo. This would then even work with a Nikon body if there is a preference towards Nikon.
Just my 2 cents.
I’ve got the 6D and a leica 50mm adapted to it. Amazing combination! Was wondering if you could comment on the new canon 35mm f2 lens. It’s half the size of the sigma for 2/3 the price.
Also, is the 6D really much heavier than the M240? Online the M is 680grams and the 6D is 770g. The leica 50mm 1.4 lens actually weighs more than the 50 1.4 from canon (335g vs 290g). So with 50mm 1.4 on both these cameras they should be almost identical in weight.
But MUCH MUCH MUCH more bulk and size from the 6D.
I know that you just asked Steve. But if I may chime in here – any format less than full frame is not going to render smooth out-of-focus areas…just look at work that is made on 8×10 or 4×5 (I could provide example links. Or google Lydia Panas or Judith Joy Ross for a start) to really see the relative difference. APS & 4/3 may have fast apertures and that is great for light transmission, but it isn’t going to give you what I assume you’re looking for
Steve, what would be the s m a l l e s t combination of camera and lens that would give a nice bokeh…
Take a look at the 40mm F2.8 with the 6D samples. Thats what I use.
Sony RX1, Leica M9 or M 240…
Thanks for confirming everything I’ve been reading on the Sigma 35mm. Just got mine from Amazon. My Olympus 17mm f/1.8 is wonderfully convenient, but it can’t match this look. The sharpness, the bokeh-liciousness, and the flare resistance would give Leica a run for it’s money…beefy bulk notwithstanding.
I’ve been using the 20mm F3.5 Voigtlander with 6D and love the small and light combo. I have a preference for wide angle lens.
Don’t forget you had a brief love affair with Pentax DSLRs, too. Hopefully they can come out with a new camera soon to capture your heart and eye again 🙂
I still love the Pentax DSLR’s due to their size. No way I could own a Canon 6D and these lenses (in reality) as they would just never get used enough to justify for me. Great setup, just too much of a good thing at the end of the day. Pentax is one of my fave companies.
Hi steve I love your blog … Blah blah blah … I am writing from Paris …
I quickly tried on my M240 (with a ring that can lend my Photodiox the brand because I expect mine) + the evf viewfinder, but it shall not work because you must have electricity between the objective and the case for it to work on this goal …) would you devised to make it work?? thank you so much …
For those who love manual lenses and mirrorless camera’s, you can also think to combine the formar generation Canon Lens FD 85mm 1:1.2 S.S.C. Aspherical with your mirrorless body. Mine is a Sony NEX-7 and I’m so much looking forward to the full frame NEX, that is to be expected soon, and use this lens on it without crop factor. This new NEX will probably have a 32MP sensor, which for sure will produce stunning images with this very sharp lens, that, to my knowledge, has most specs in comon with the new generation 85 1.2L of this article. But, like I said, the FD version is manual.
Steve has been so kind to publish a contribution of mine on this website, around the NEX-7 and this beautifull FD 85mm 1:1.2, under the title “The Pursuit of an Ultra Shallow depth of field”. And I published more pics of this combination on Flickr.
I love this site! Thanks Steve for opening my eyes to a world beyond Canon and Nikon. Even though I shoot with a Canon 5D3, this Sigma 35 1.4 and a bunch of L glass (not yet this lovely looking 85 1.2) It’s been an education and thoroughly entertaining reading your articles from such a wide variety of brands and camera styles. Kudos also for the overwhelmingly positive and knowledgeable forum / comments community – makes a refreshing change.
One negative though – you’ve infected me with a potentially bankrupting desire to get a Leica.
I have the 85mm/1.8 and have always wanted to upgrade to the 1.2 for all the reasons you write about and then I saw this – he disagrees about the iq difference and has examples of side-by-side tests –
This is for the 85mm 1.8 & 1.2
He also has side by side for the 50mm f1.4 vs f1.2 & others (just back up on the url)
That test is not so hot – it’s photos of a mannequin in a room. Go out and take real shots. Again, I will state, I have owned BOTH. The 1.8 does not even come close to what you get with the 1.2 at 1.2, the only reason you buy a 1.2. No one buys the 1.2 to shoot at f/8 or even f/2. You buy it for the 1.2 performance, which is what it is all about. IN that regard, the 1.8 can not even come close in the unique rendering and effect the 1.2 gives.
So it’s the 1.2 at 1.2 period. Thereafter, say from f2 onwards the difference is almost imperceptible ?
Which is exactly my point. You can’t then compare it to f2 lenses on full frame let alone mft lenses for the look. If it takes this lens at 1.2 to get there. The other lens analogy makes no sense.
Out of curiosity. Why do you say that the f2 35mm lens in an rx1 can give similar iq to a 50mm 1.4. Aside from the obvious framing differences the dof is already well different at the focal length before considering the faster speed of the 50.
Same question for the mft. Even their great fast lenses can’t offer the same look While sharpness and rendering are unique to lenses the bottom like is someone looking for wide open performance of a 50 1.4 on full frame is not getting that from mft or the rx series. I love my rx1 and even though it’s a stop slower prefer it most times to my 35l 5d2 combo but there are shots I’ve made f2 couldn’t have done and that’s apples to apples with focal length.
Seems a strange comparison to say equal iq to me. Especially toward mft where you double both fl and speed.
I tried over and over with nex and various lenses mft and various lenses and asp-c but for the Look you talk about. Full frame is pretty necessary. IMO. Especially for the awesome fast wide shots.
Good post. Steve has shown a number of instances where the selective focus ability of the 85 f1.2 really shines. It is tempting to get one just to shoot butterflies and street scenes. It is also important to understand that these f1.2 lenses are very specialized and not useful for many purposes.
I tried the 85 f1.2 in the past and found it too limited for my needs (this applies only to me). Mostly I wanted to use it for shots of family. The 85 f1.2 didn’t focus fast enough to keep up with an energetic grandson. The closer you get the more that is a problem. The other thing I found was that the depth of field was too shallow for many shots. You have to back off to avoid getting a sharp eye with a blurry nose. I like to get close (and sometimes have no choice) so I usually end up shooting at f2 or 2.8 or even 4.0 for that reason. Another thing to mention is that these lenses have issues if you want sharp edges. Both the 85 f1.2 and the 50 f1.2 have almost useless corners. Wide open the corners of the 50 f1.2 don’t even register on some resolution tests I have seen. That may be intentional since these lenses are meant to be shot wide open with very selective focus, but it limits their usefulness.
For those who need more versatility, it is worth mentioning that Canon’s new 24-70 f2.8 II zoom is a remarkably good lens, especially for a zoom. It has much of the same pop as a Leica. The crisp details and colors really grab. I recently shot mine side by side with a Leica M240 and 50mm Summicron and the two are virtually identical at f5.6. Canon’s telephoto zooms are equally good, particularly the 70-200 f2.8 and f4 IS. What the Canon lineup lacks for now is a 16-35 or 12-24 zoom with good corners.
I would like more dslrs reviews, they help balance out your blog and the responses. I love my dslr and I love my x100 and my omd and my gf3. They all give a different shooting experience that I find leads to me taking different photos with each. My favourite post on this site was a daily inspiration of someone shooting leica r glasss on a 5d mk ii. Impressed me so much I bought a couple of summicrons on ebay and haven’t looked back.
it’s all good but Canon 6D has limited shutter speed of 1/4000 which is not fast enough for 85 1.2 shooting wide open outdoors. Big, big bummer and a deal-breaker to me !
!? Which is why we use Variable ND’s to be able to shoot video wide open with these lenses
Note some of the cheap variable ND’s are … cheap in quality
Nope! the variable ND filter is not a solution. It will degrade IQ down to $100 lens. Even the best one. I know because I’ve tried almost all of them.
BTW, the video in the 6D is not impressive. Even 5DII is a better choice.
How about using Kodak Wratten ND Gels? They’ve gotten very expensive but we even use them In-Camera with motion picture cameras … whose images get blown up larger then most any still photo. 🙂 We use the 2.0 gel … 6 & 2/3rd stops … when we’re doing time lapse during the day when we need long exposures to keep people/cars, etc from popping on and off the screen.
Wow, what a meaty review! Outstanding!
Having owned Canon as well as Leica – There is something about that Canon Bokeh that I find quite harsh compared to Leica Bokeh. The spectral highlights in particular look rough as hell. Though price comparison justifies it.
I dropped the Canon system and went all Leica 2 years ago and I haven’t looked back. Even for the most demanding of my work it just works perfectly and looks incredible. Some clients give e a sideways look when I pull it out though!
Yes, a few more DSLR reviews would be good, but your focus should stay with smaller lighter combinations. I’m interested in everything being a Canon DSLR, Leica M, M4/3, NEX, RX1 and Nikon 1 user .
ZERO disappointment my friend, no matter what camera I’ve tested against my RX1R and I’ve spent a small fortune on Leica M, 5D Mark III, D800E and all the top rated lenses to compliment – NONE and I repeat NONE of them have pleased me as much as the RX1R. Sure, the Leica, Canon and Nikon Full Frames produce brilliantly sharp highly detailed images as much and in some instances more than the RX1R but make no mistake about it; the RX1R’s rendering and lens signature simply produces the most pleasing photographs I’ve ever seen…PERIOD. You really need to spend a great deal of quality time with the RX1R getting to know all of its little secrets BEFORE making informed comments relative to it’s capabilities.
The Sigma is a good lens if you can find a good copy.
It has severe auto-focus problems – I went through 3 copies and gave up.
The 50 1.2L also has severe focussing problems and is a pig to get to work correctly.
You are paying for the 1.2, which is soft and dreamy. By F2 it is the same as a $300 lens.
I sold my 5D MK3 and all my L glass and bought a Leica M 240.
No comparison in image quality, the Leica is way ahead of it…
Love getting your emails in my inbox. Funny I just bought a 6D, it was time to change my 5d2 and thought that the 5d3 at $3500 was just to much to pay for a camera that is going to be out dated in a years or so. I have canon gear for work, 6D, 7D and L lenses speedlites, etc. But I see them as working cameras. I was waiting for the nex FF, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I actually love the 6D now that I have it. I was shooting some enviro portraits today on a job in low light. I just pumped the 6D up to 1600 even 3200 iso and there is no problems, beautiful images. It really has given me a freedom to shoot differently. I used the wifi to email an image to a newspaper for a client on the second job I used it on, great results.
I would never take this system out when I wasn’t working with it, much to heavy and to much like work. On your recommendation I bought the RX100, love it. I will probably buy the NEX 7 replacement if it ever comes out, I will use it as a travel and fun camera and maybe day time events when I have to carry equipment around all day.
i realise that I can have different cameras for different uses. After all that is what it was like in the old days. I miss my Nikon FM2s and my blad cm500. never mind. I love the digital gear as well.
Anyway, love your stuff keep it up.
I would have bought this instantly if Canon made a stabilized body.
Anybody knows about flange distance, could it be used manual focus on some stabilized bodies from other companies. At least APC-sized Pentax you can dial in focal length manually, not sure about Sony FF though.
awww man now I miss my DSLR 🙁
I think it’s important to say that if you are an actual pro….maybe unfortunatly, to be taken seriously you MUST use Nikon, or Cannon. In the same way as the “design” industry, clients REALLY want to see Macs in the office…and Brides to be REALLY want to see Cannon or Nikon.
Once you’ve “made it” your history of work will allow you to use a more varied range of gear because people will trust you.
You put 2 photographers side by side…one with a (future) Sony Nex FF, and one with a 6D…and I GUARANTEE you, with 100% certainty, every Bride/Model/Company will pick Mr. 6D.
and thats where the big white lenses come in as well 🙂
Elephants have tusks to show and teeth to chew with
The bling factor also is important, it may cost cost you a juicy wedding photography deal when you have to pay those bills.
Even if a Leica M240 costs more…..heck, an old classic 5D with the white zebra lens looks more like a photographer’s tool to a bride.
I thought pros get jobs based on their portfolios? Do you ask a carpenter to see his/her tools before hiring them instead of their work? I think most people will want you to create the same or similar look of the work you show regardless of the gear that you use.
Yes mirror-less are great and all, but how will a working pro use a pro-grade flash on top of one of those mirror-less cameras?
Ever seen someone using a SB900 equivalent on a Nex or OMD cameras?
Of course they want to look pro. Don’t kids want to be like their heroes? Didn’t we all have little toy cars and wished one day we’d own our real cars?
Ever seen a pro photojournalist with a mirror-less camera? and that’s why people go for canons and nikons because we see people like McNally, McCurry, Nick Nichols, Arthur Morris, Art Wolfe and Yervant use them.
It would be wrong for best buy or local photographer to recommend a mirror-less instead of a DSLR because that beginner will never learn to use flash as an important photographic tool (and that rules out career as a photojournalist, sports, fashion,tabloid, event photographer, wedding photographer among others) maybe they can have a career as a in a few areas, but the DSLR kid just needs to switch off their flash to get the same effect.
When the light levels go low enough DSLR users still see pretty well, then mirror-less wedding photographer with just their EVF will have no option than to give “arty” photos to their clients or blame the venue’s lighting levels and the DJ for playing the music too loud..
But mirror-less cameras make a perfect travel photography camera, they are incredible for macro photography,possibly even birding and wildlife and street photography as well.
But if it cannot hold a pro flash -its not much help when you job at the end of the day is to produce consistently exposed photographs for your newspaper and paying clients.
Nikon and canon are in pro camera business for last 50 years and there is a reason why they put so much effort into producing powerful and reliable flash systems even though their sensors are more sensitive and lenses are faster than any mirror-less cameras can offer just because of the basic laws of physics. This is the reason pros don’t use Pentax and this is why pros wont be using mirrorless but the will own one for their own private use and yes I also own one and i love it!
The Zeiss 80 F1.4 for Sony A is also very good! Interessting to see if Sony comes up with a Amount mirrorless FF. In My opinion it can even be hard to use it om 1.4. Almost to much is out of focus.
A year ago I switched from a Nikon D300 + lenses to an OM-D + 12-50, 25, 45 and 45-175 and still don’t regret it. I started to follow your site every day and enjoy it very much. Now I’m struck by the 3D effect of this Canon 85 1.2 lens. Do you know any MFT lens that can deliver this effect?
I am not Steve but can tell you the answer, none.
The 85L or 50L are specialists in a photographic niche. It’s the sensor size and the wide aperture that create this effect. On M4/3 you need extreme apertures and would still not come very close to a similar effect (just physics).
The Nokton 42.5/0.95 might be somewhat close at about &1k.
I use M4/3 and FF but reduced my FF lens park a lot to only 2 lenses. Shallow DOF photography is nice but not everything. I use more of my M4/3 gear lately.
Steve- another vote for more dslr and slr reviews. Over the last year I’ve sold out of my 5d gear into a leica me / m7 set up and love the leica…. But in my experience you really need both. I’ve had to buy back into a d7100 set up for sports and low light family pictures. The canon sl1 or even the nikon d7100 seem to me to be very similar in size to the new Olympus , and there is no way the sensor size of the Olympus can keep up with the the canon or the nikon.
I would like to see more DSLR reviews on your website. I like both, the mirrorless world and the big DSLR guns. Great review, I personally own a Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART, itś a amazing lens for its price.
Hey Steve, great review, as usual.
The only time I ever get an itch to go full frame is when I see images made with that 85mm. I’ve yet to be disappointed. I’ve heard it called the Magic 8 Ball, and it really is, especially in skilled hands. A 6D + the 85mm would run $4k, though. I can’t justify it on my budget, but if I could I would.
By the way – you mention that mirrorless isn’t great for macro. Maybe you’re forgetting your own review of the Olympus 60mm macro? I love that lens, I believe you did too 🙂
Cheers for this review I have the 85LII & 35L the 85L II is the reason I own a DSLR as well. The 35L is disappointing in comparison, I have had it calibrated by canon & it is pretty sharp at 1.4 not as sharp as the 85L at 1.2. I do prefer the colours of the canon over the Sigma 35 Art lens. I recently compared them to the 5DIII 24-70L & 70-200IS the primes were far better skin tone & way less post production, just tweaking exposure & colour temp slightly. I have 2x 5DII with EG-S screens precision focus for manual focus as the low light focusing with the 5DII is crap. I think the 6D would suit most needs except when shooting a lot of sport. Once again nice job enjoyed the read. http://www.flickr.com/photos/dves/sets/72157633082954223/
New month – new hype. BTW, the weight of the Canon 35mm/f2 and the Canon 100mm/f2 together is 670g. Add a 6D and you have a quite lightweight street shooting combo. Of course without f1.4 or f1.2
The above post was a response to Dave at 31. Not sure why it ended up at the bottom.
I never knew of this lens. Looks great! One stop faster than the Canon, better build, excellent image quality. The autofocus and price are the only two things I can see better on the Canon.
The 6D has turned out to be a fabulous camera. The fact that it is lighter and smaller than the 5D3 is a big plus. It also offers exceptional low light autofocus on its center AF point. I only wish it had a separate joystick controller like the 5D3, but that’s not a big deal.
Hi I have never bought a non nikon lens for my D800 until this 35 mm Sigma art lens came out I really needed a 35 for the D800 and I have not been disappointed. This lens and the D800 are a very special combo wide open these lenses are suprisingly awesome better than the canon counterpart in my opinion and a steal at half the price of the Nikon 35 1.4 and for my M9 I use a canon 85 1.2 LTM which is kinda hard to find but if your looking for an 85 for the leica this lens is awesome cheers
Great review Steve. To tell you how good your website is, I only shoot DSLRs now, but I still come to this site everyday because I like everything about how you run this website. Some more DSLR/lens reviews would be nice, but we all just love to see what your doing with whatever out there is new to the market.
I’ve tried mirror less (NEX, OM-D, X-E1) and went back to SLR/DSLRs. Really loved the compactness of mirrorless cameras, but it’s something about the way an SLR behaves and responds that brought me back. The only downside to them (for me) is of course weight and size.
Just picked up a D600 after selling my D700 and love it. The dust issue is annoying, but dynamic range is crazy. Also getting plenty of use with my F6 film SLR and shooing both negative and E6 with it.
I just might pick up a Sigma 35/1.4 as I’ve seen some really nice work with this lens. Also thinking about the Nikon 14-24 which has become a must have for many Nikon landscape shooters.
I had an M6 and (sadly) got rid of it when Leica kept beating the ‘we-can’t-make-a-digital-rangefinder drum at the dawn of the digital age. I then got the Digilux 2 which convinced me that digital had finally come of age. Unlike others I actually liked the EVF on the D2 and that experience stuck with me. DSLRs, on the other and, had always struck me as being like albatrosses around people’s necks (much as you observed). They were frequently bulky and heavy and the idea of lugging them around all day simply didn’t appeal to me.
When Panasonic’s G1 came out the first thing I thought was, “Wow that’s the thickness of an M!” Finally a ‘DSLR’ that didn’t have the heft or bulk of a DSLR. And so I snapped it up and had been happily snapping with it (with just the 20mm f1.8…until last year. When YOU (yes, YOU Steve) brought my attention to the Sigma DP2 Merrill. Now I had been a fan of the ‘idea’ of the Foveon approach but never pulled the trigger because up to last year either the sensor was not quite there or Sigma just put in waaaaay too slow a lens on their compact camera. Your DP2M review (despite your misgivings) got me to put my money down for one and I’ve been delighted ever since. Yeah it’s slow and all that but I get around that…most of the time. (Interestingly enough, with the new SPP software, I shoot BW at ISO 3200 with amazingly low noise results!)
The thing is, because of the DP2 M, I developed a new thirst (or yen?) for higher quality IQ: The ability to print VERY large razor sharp prints with that Foveon 3D like look (best under highly diffused lighting conditions I’ve found by the way) I wasn’t always getting to the extent I wanted with mFT Panasonic. Clearly, the next step was to now consider the realm of FF.
I have considered the RX1 as a compact with it’s sweet 35mm f2 Zeiss (the FOV I prefer) but I also wanted to work on a technique developed by NYC wedding photographer, Ryan Brenizer, who came up with the idea of stitching a pile of images shot wide open with a fast medium telephoto (like 85mm) to create wide angle images that have crazy bokeh that would be otherwise impossible with a wide. So I definitely wanted something that could give me the option of interchangeable lenses.
Enter the Cano 6D, a FF DSLR with a bright OVF that wasn’t as hulking as beasts like the Nikon D700, D800, D3 etc or even Canon’s own 1D’s and 5D’s. While I liked the D600 I felt it was a bit too chunky for me. Plus I simply wasn’t wild about either their menu experience nor their button layout. Canon seems to have done a better job of simplifying ergonomics. In addition, having a sensor with slightly fewer pixels also enabled higher ISO capability and even Wi-Fi which made my iPhone work like the articulating screen I loved so much on the G1.
The two lenses I’m looking at (weight be damned!) are the Sigma 35mm f1.4 and the Samyang 85mm f1.4. After poring over thousands of images on Flickr’s Bokeh Panorama group, I determined that the Samyang’s unique qualities make it a superb candidate for the ‘Brenizer’ technique that I mentioned above. The lens is DIRT cheap and even though it’s an MF optic, it will work just fine for that use. (Ideally, I would LOVE to have the 85mm f1.2 Canon, but that simply isn’t the cards now.)
But Sigma really caught my attention with their insanely sharp 30mm f2.8 jewel they mounted onto their DP2M which received extremely high praise with many comparing it with (and some even going so far to say it even surpassed) some Leitz Summilux glass. Then Sigma announced they were going to use their proprietary Foveon sensors in their MTF equipment for all future lens development. The first lens out of the starting block was the 35mm f1.4 ‘ART’ which has taken the photographic community by storm.
Your experiences have throughly convinced me that I am making the right decision. Thanks for the review!
I think it’s a good idea to review an SLR every once in a while. I would consider you a very experienced user of smaller alternative cameras and it’s nice to hear your thoughts on how they compare to larger SLR’s. It allows us to get some insight to the gaps that the smaller formats are closing in on, and areas where SLR’s still excel at. I shoot professionally with an SLR (therefore size is an afterthought) and without a comparison like the one above, it’s hard to know how well smaller camera’s would stack up against what I’m used to without going out and trying them all.
Would love for you to try out the Canon 40mm pancake on this camera. While only 2.8 it would give you depth of field similar to the fastest m4/3 lenses and at a fraction of the size which might make up for the larger body. There is no doubt it is a super sharp lens, but would it have the character you seek? It’s price also puts it as one of the best deals around.
The 6D with the Voigtlander f2.0 40mm Ultron pancake lens is my combo for everything. Highly recommended! IQ is superb, the extra macro lens gives impressive close up results. The combo is small and versatile.
For two years I’ve been following your blog, Steve, along with a couple others, gaining perspective from every review and comment I read. I’m still 8-10 months away from transitioning to digital (I have an excellent 67 film system and six primes PAID FOR), but I wanted to say that I’m bemused by the frequent complaints about how heavy and bulky the D800, D600, 5D M-, D6 etc., body and lens combos are, so much so that their owners are driven to the tiny ASP-C (or smaller) mirrorless set-ups. I’ve handled a few of the new entry level full-frame bodies with fast lenses ranging from 28 mm to 85 mm and the impression I come away with every time is, how dainty and luxuriously LIGHT they all are. When I take off on a shoot in the mountains with my current kit (body, primes, 4-section Gitzo, big Bogen head, pola and ND filters in 67, 77 and 82 mm sizes, 20 rolls of film, cable release, first aid kit, and a water bottle, I’m packing 48 pounds. Luckily, I shed 28 pounds of “self” this spring, so the load on my feet and knees is less this year, but I can’t imagine how “naked” I’d feel heading out with a D800, a 25, 35, 85 and 135 in a shoulder bag. Keep the reviews coming — they’re all great reading — but I thought it would be good to throw in an outsider’s comment about how “easy” it is to be a serious photographer these days, CARGO-wise!
Agree. Now do that with a 4×5 camera , a bunch of lenses , darkslides and a tripod heavy enough to keep the camera steady! Compared to that the 5D2 is a featherweight! I make a living from photography and a 5d2 and a bunch of lenses are my main tools, because they are so reliable and just work well. I spend a whole day on a very windy and dusty mine the other day and shot almost everything with a 24ts lens – where else can you get such a variety of shifts but from Canon & Nikon? When I got back home there was almost no dust on the images, everything was nice and sharp and noise free even though I shot at 400-800iso to make sure camera was steady and there was no windblown movement on the images. That is a reason why so many dslr are sold…they just work!
Hi Lajo, I feel tired just reading your post. You must get some lovely images with your gear. I posted before that I really miss the days of shooting with my Blad cm/500. something about setting up and exposing and then waiting for the trannies to come back from the lab, I don’t miss waiting 2.5 mins for those bloody polariods. You won’t know yourself when you get your digital gear. Better not put that 28 pounds back on. Happy shooting.
Does your wife get tired of you always taking her picture? This month my wife and I will be married 43 years. If I point the camera at her she saids to put that thing down. I like your work and real world thoughts.
It’s Debbie, Steves fiance, on the pictures, not his wife. LOL
You are correct 🙂
That 85mm is special, outstanding results. I love fast glass but they’re always so heavy and big, even the rangefinder options, I’ve owned a few 1.2’s but after the initial novelty goes they always end up sitting at home. I’ve slowly learned that its better to have a good camera and an f/2 lens that you carry with you than a fast glass paperweight that rarely gets used.
If you need anything while in Dublin just let me know!
Nice review and a reminder of my previous love affair.
Having prior to Leica M9 been a Canon 5D and MK1 user and having had both the 85mm F1.2 and 50mm F1.2 they were certainly my jewels.
Looking back the images I took were excellent with this combination.
But after having the M9 and 50 / 35 Lux’s for the past 3 years there are no regrets.
I think the Leica inspires me to pick it and use it daily more than the previous combo did.
Thanks for the review and yes it is good to see some DSLR reviews to compare with.
As much as I love my Fuji X-Pro1, I’ve rented both the 50/1.2 and 85/1.4 Canon L lenses 3 times in the past year. Truly excellent optics/performance.
I have 2 M Leica cameras with Lux and Cron ASPH lenses but I still enjoy my Canon with 50 L and the 35 Sigma. In fact I would say that in some situations the Leicas are totally useless yes I will say it again useless, try to focus your son as he is kicking a gaol on the run with a rangefinder. DSLR will always be a great tool.
Kicking a ‘gaol’ with a rangefinder wide open (say 50 lux ) if you prefocus.
^ Rediculous! I’ve been shooting sports for over 40 years. You can’t pre-focus on a soccer player running randomly towards a goal.
Spot on Makofoto, another example is if your a pro, say wedding or sports photographer. You roll up to a gig with your X100 or RX1 after you have charged 5,000 I think your clients would tell you to put your wife’s camera back in her handbag and grab a Canon or Nikon.
I don’t know if that is exactly the cast, but if you are being paid $5000, then you better get the shots, which means you need the right equipment. I would say a fixed lens camera is not going to get all the shots, I would only use a fixed lens camera as a second camera on a wedding. but then again I wouldn’t use a fixed lens camera at a wedding personally.
keep it for your personal stuff.
Great review! And bang on.
Most of these notations also apply to Nikon’s 85mm f/1.4 lens — both ‘D’ and ‘G’ series — which are considered “legends” in the Nikon lineup. Again, on B&H, both cumulatively have almost 450 reviews written, every one positive.
The Nikon is a hair slower, but functionally identical. With both the Canon and Nikon lenses, your focus has to be bang on when you’re wide open, which can actually take practice. But as portrait lenses, nothing else comes close.
I use the 85mm f/1.4D on the D3s, and they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. 😉
It’s my go-to for certain types of shooting, because I know I will get predictable, repeatable, and stellar results (provided everything else is set up correctly as well, e.g. lighting).
Sample >> http://500px.com/photo/46073264
Of course, as Steve said, these are heavy combos and I wouldn’t want to travel with it, if I could avoid it.
But I would put both these lenses up against anything from Leica, any day of the week.
All the mirrorless cameras are so cool and I’d love to own all of them. But I’m pretty much locked into Nikon DSLRs. You know why? Because they all have that little red stripe on the grip, and therefore they all look the same, on cursory examination. That means I can buy as many of them as I want, and my wife won’t know the difference. Same thing with lenses. I have enough lenses that my wife won’t notice if I buy a new one. But if I buy a Nikon V1, or a Fuji XE-1, or a Panasonic GX7, or an E-P5, or a NEX, then bam, she’s gonna see it and she’s gonna know that I bought a new camera. And then she’s gonna give me sh*t about it. And then she’s gonna say, oh, if you can have a new camera, then that means I get to have a new dress, or a new purse, or a new Michael Koors watch, or whatever. That new camera will cost me 3 times what I paid for it.
Sorry Kevin but that all just sounds a bit sad.
You are joking, right? Please tell me that is a joke!
Nice review Steve. Too late to convince me though. I got tired of waiting for Olympus to make a new pro 4/3 camera, was not sure i wanted to go mirror less, so I got a 5D MKIII (with grip) and the 85L last winter. I love it! I will admit that this rig, often combined with an Olympus E-5 and the 150f2 for event photography, makes for a very hefty camera bag! I am heading out on a vacation to Yellowstone on Saturday and will be taking the 5D3 and 85L along with a Zeiss 21mm 2.8 and my E-5 with the ZD150 and 300 lenses. Oh my aching back! My wife will be taking her micro 4/3 kit at a fraction of the bulk and weight. Perhaps she is smarter then me!
Check out the sexy yoga shoot I did with it last weekend (NSFW!):
I enjoyed your DSLR review a lot especially with the emphasis on lenses. However, I would be careful not to overdo it and possibly dillute your unique identity as a small camera champion. On the other hand, an occasional DSLR review, for me, adds credibility to the positive things you have to say about smaller cameras because it shows you have current experience with DSLR’s for purposes of comparison. The emphasis on lenses reinforces the view that for many of us, rendering trumphs that last little bit of resolution and sharpness, and great rendering can be had in small cameras these days.
Wow – some absolutely gorgeous shots Steve!!
I’d also like to echo your experience. I have shot (and still shoot) my NIkon D700 from time-to-time, and prefer the ‘Nikon colours’ over Canon. I especially like how the Nikons render night shots.
HOWEVER… I admit it… I *have* been jealous of Canon shooters when viewing shots from that very magical lens, the 85mm f1.2! It is a very special lens, and even as a happy Nikon shooter, I’ve admired it for a long time!!
Just as a side-note, carrying my heavy FF kit became much more pleasant for me when I switched to a belt holster system (ie. B-Grip or Peak Designs) – ‘weight at the waist’ is definitely the way to go imho.
Yes, please more DSLRs! I shoot both m4/3 and Canon with a GH2 and 1DS MK2. Personally I prefer the smaller size and weight of my GH2, but that 1DS is amazing! So, more please I enjoy your real world thoughts and examples in your reviews, so a big THNAKS!
Nice review, as you know I own this camera. I picked it over the 5D3 because:
a) a bit smaller and lighter
b) wifi and remote control software on my phone
c) built in GPS (combined with Map module in LR, this is awesome (yes I know there are other ways to encode gps coordinates in the file, but it’s a lot easier when the camera just does it for you).
Forgot to say I do like the film like noise from the 6D.
I think the nicest rendition is the shot of the boy with glasses from the 5D. The 6D seems a little harsher. Could be just the choice of pics.
I think you should review whatever floats your boat. If you try to start pleasing everyone you will please no one. You will always veer towards any system that allows you to get a great image wide open. In a sense you are more of a lens guy than a body guy.
Steve, I much enjoy your site these days than I did in past; you seem to be more open to ideas. However, the premise of people getting DSLR because they are cool, I think is incorrect. But you do hit the point a bit later, the masses buy DSLRs because they think it will get them the good picture; my friend has one and takes good pictures, if I get one I can too. Most mainstream professional work is done with a DSLR; it is easy to discern why the consumer thinks this can help them. Though as for being cool, that is rarely the case. That is more the realm of Fuji, or dare i say, Leica. The doctor does not buy a Leica to take pictures. If not, why did the Zeiss Ikon or Epson RD1 never get much love? These are gross generalizations about the masses I am making, not about individual photographers themselves.
As for reviews on DSLRs, I can live without them. Lenses, sure; m43 and Leica stuff–yes. But I don’t come here for the DSLR discussion, even though that is what I use (Nikon D200).
I would highly disagree. Sigma 85mm F1.4 works even better than so called The Keg, faster focusing, just as sharp if not sharper, smaller, lighter and at less than half the price. Had 85mm F1.2 L, sold it in favor of the Sigma.
and I would highly disagree with you 🙂 The Sigma 85 1.4 is a highly rated lens but more similar to the Canon 85 1.8 than the Canon 85 1.2. The Sigma will not get you the look of the 85L, period. The reason someone buys the 85L is for the look it gives and no other Canon lens will give you that rendering of the 85 L, not the 85 1.8 or Sigma 85 1.4. Yes, other lenses will AF faster and possibly be sharper but you will not be able to recreate the look of the L. This is what sets it apart, and the only thing that does. If I did not swing for the 85L I would just go for the Canon 85 1.8 because the Sigma is getting you a slight speed increase and nothing else. Not sure why anyone would buy the 85L to use it at 1.4 or 1.8 because the magic is when it is shot at 1.2, which makes it a limited use lens in reality.
Agree that the Sigma is a good lens, I have one, and LoCas aside, it performs really well. But it doesn’t have the mojo of the Canon 1.2, and if I could afford to upgradejust to shoot f1.2 I would…….I’ll continue to use my 5Diii for when I really need that quality or longer lenses, DSLRs have their place, but in the meantime I’ll carry the OMD with me 90% of the time and enjoy it. And the Voigt 42.5 is a beautiful thing for that system.
You say “..You can even use the 85L on a Leica M 240 or Sony NEX with the right adapters so if you want an amazing lens but shoot Leica, it could be worth trying out the 85 on a Leica :)..”
Sadly, no ..unless you buy a very expensive video-shooter’s battery-powered Canon-to-other-brand adaptor, e.g: Redrock Livelens ‘Active Lens Mount’. (Approx £500 / $630).
Why? Because the Canon 85 L needs battery power in order to focus ..yes, even manual focus won’t work without power via the contacts on the back of the lens (it uses electronic “fly-by-wire” manual focus; turning the lens’ focus ring applies power to its focusing motor: if no juice from the camera, no focus, sorry).
And no Leica provides power through its lens mount to any attached lens.
But you could use the old Canon 85mm f1.8 Leica screw-fit lens with a screw-to-bayonet adaptor. Though, as you said, an 85mm f1.8 does NOT give the same results as an 85mm f1.2 ..!
Ahhhh! I did not know that, so thank you for informing me of this. Good to know! BUT I have used the 85L on a Sony NEX-7 with speed booster adapter. MF and AF worked fine.
Yep, most recent cameras DO provide power through their lens-mount contacts ..but not Leica, as you know!
Leica lenses are just metal and glass: no motors, no electronics, no auto-aperture, so no juice provided by the camera.
I’d love to see some “just for fun” comparison between the Canon 6D with the Canon 1.2L lens, and the Nikon V1 with the 28mm 1.2 lens. I love my Nikon 28mm 1.2 lens which I bought mostly on the basis of your recommendation; but I’d love to see the differences between this and the Canon setup (which I couldn’t lug around at this point in my life). I’d also like to some comparisons between the Canon 5D with the Sigma 35mm 1.4; and the OM-D M5 (or the M1 which I just bought on your recommendation) with the Lumix 25mm 1.4 lens.
I have an NEX 5N and love it. But I started to feel constrained as an available light shooter. It’s really good, mind you, but I knew I could improve and I know I wanted an extra stop of light from a full frame camera. I tried the RX1, but the AF speed was a tad too slow for me. I tried a Nikon D600 and it arrived with spots on the sensor. So, I settled on the Canon 6D. I also bought the Sigma 35. I haven’t looked back. I am getting the image quality I got with the RX1 and then some. However, it comes at the cost of extra weight. A lot. But I manage because of the image quality. I just love it. I am eyeing an upcoming FF NEX, but it’s going to take much to pull me away from my 6D and Sigma 35. I am saving for the 85/1.2L or for the switch to FF NEX and lenses. We’ll see.
Good one Steve!
When I was shopping my first dslr many many years ago, I read a comment by someone that really stuck with me. He said “buy into the system with the lenses you want, not the bodies”.
If I was shopping FF dslrs today- I would buy into Canon, solely based on 2 lenses: the canon 85/1.2 & 50/1.2. Period. End of story. Nikon can’t touch those 2 lenses. Sony can rival with the Zeiss 135mm/1.8, but that’s a special lens that’s not very useful for casual day to day shooting.
As for the 6d: I’ve shot with both the 6d & 5dmkIII. I actually preferred the 6d’s AF system better. I prefer the 11 points over the 5d3’s 51 points. Quality over quantity.
Fair enough, but I didn’t buy canon when I bought back into FF DSLR because their sensors are old tech and they do suffer in noise and DR terms in comparison with the cameras using Sony, Aptina and Toshiba Sensors. Also, although as you’ll see from my comment above I like lenses with a unique render, the 85L is almost outperformed by the F1.8G 85 I own for my Nikons (in fact DXO rates it higher)…
The 85 1.8 G may be sharper, but no way it outperforms the 85L for character, depth of field, bokeh and overall quality of image. Not possible. Ive used the 85 1.8 Canon and Nikon. Neither come close to the look of the 85L, which is why you buy the 85L. The rendering is the whole reason to buy the lens. Not the focus speed, not the size, not the sharpness. With that said the Nikon 85 1.8 is an amazingly good lens and more practical as is the Canon 85 1.8. Smaller, faster, cheaper, etc.
Steve, my comment on the 85L is a bit of Canon/Nikon banter. 😉 In fairness to the 85L, it is a lovely piece of glass and it might have a different rating if it were in front of the D800E sensor.
The comment on sensors is in all seriousness though, although fabricating their own sensors has allowed innovation in focus tech (such as used in the 70D), it has handicapped canon to the extent their APS-C cameras have lower image quality than M43s cameras with smaller sensors.
Steve, you nailed it, the 85/1.2 creates that very special creamy bokeh look which no lab test can really quantify (best lab based reviews including bokeh you don’t find on those DxO sort of sites, better check http://www.photozone.de). I guess the EF 85/1.2 is one of very few (D)SLR lens that can get quite close to a Leica Noctilux lens, but compared to that one it is a bargain. The only drawback is that it is more fat, heavier and that manual focus by wire feels a bit non-responsive, like the steering a vintage road cruiser.
You just had to publish this now, Steve.
I’ve got the EM-1 on pre-order but have been waffling between that and a 6D. Your photos are gorgeous, and there’s a richness to the files that full frame has. Ugh – agonizing dilemma.
(as Kirk would say) 🙂
Actually that was Spock, lol 🙂
Kirk. In the original.
Thanks for this thorough and thoughtful review. I’ve been on the fence about keeping my older 5DM2 and this review has given me new reason to keep the old beast… your shots with the 85L are the closest I’ve seen to what I get from my Noct that I just might have to spring for the 85L! Up to now I’ve kept the 5DM2 with the 300L and 1.4 converter for the occasional bird outing. Now I see I’ve been to Leica-centric over the past two years and need to branch out, or rather return, to my Canon.
I guess for fun you could put the 85L on the 6D up against the recently highlighted (on your site) CV 42.5 .95 lens.
Hi Steve to offer my 2 cents worth I think that these review photos certainly seem far shaper and more poptastic than other recent sets so the cannon has defo got something going for it. I’ve got the D600 and sigma 35mm and it is fantastic just a little large, I prefer the smaller 50mm primes like the Nikon 50 1.4 and the manual Zeiss zf, great character and far more affordable than other full frame options. The new OMD is intriguing and I wonder just how close it is to FF mojo now with the new sensor???? It may be time to swap back to Olympus……..
Controversially I actually prefer the Nikon 28 F1.8G to the Sigma 35mm F1.4. Why? The size and weight combined with equally stunning image quality. In the land of Nikon you’ll find plenty who think the 28/50/85 F1.8G are optically superior to the 24/50/85 F1.4G lenses too. The Zeiss lenses I’ve found somewhat disappointing with the exception of the 21mm F2.8.
That aside, my favourite lens for Nikon has to be the (old) 50mm F1.2 AI-S, which has a unique render reminiscent of medium format. The 35mm AI-S is also an excellent lens for shooting people and equally reminiscent of medium format results if shot in the right conditions.
Yeah I know what you mean about the size I have the nikon 35 f2 and thats great along with the 24mm f2.8. I Previously had an OMD and when using those 2 lenses the size thing isn’t that much different and you get full frame plus built in flash to boot. I do think the zeiss adds something that the Nikon lacks a little like the micro 4/3rds Panasonic leica 25mm did or perhaps its all in my head lol
Steve, great shots, great review!
I am really surprised and amazed to find such a DLSR review on your site now, including my fav Canon lens, the 85/1.2. It is one of the kings of creamy bokeh, it simply rocks. I use it with a 5D3 for portrait, street, recently I shot a rock concert. What I really love, too, is the amazing precision of its AF performance in combo with the 5D3. It focuses really slowly but if it is given enough time it nails an eye or whatever you select.
It is really fun to use the 85/1.2 in the street, isn’t it? In particular in the night, here is one of my street shots made with it
Keep your great site going, it is so inspiring!
No argument from me. On the Canon full frame bodies the 85mm f/1.2 L is my favorite. a killer lens!
It’s interesting that to me that in the past couple of years the third-party offerings by Sigma for DSLR’s and Voigtländer for the M mount have become VERY good. It’s like these two Japanese companies have really stepped it up a notch and a offering great quality at a moderate price.
I tried the Siggy Art on a D7100…it was gorgeous to be sure – one of the sweetest primes ever especially for the money. That said I just won’t/can’t go back to that size rig after shooting with an RX1 and now RX1R. I will however be taking a crack at the new OMD-EM1 for my other focal lengths. Great review Steve although it seemed very “throw back” seeing you with that brick up to head 🙂
I don’t want to disappoint you but I genuinely think the Sigma Art 35 on a D600 outperforms the RX1 optically. Of course the RX1 is smaller, which is its own big selling point, but it blew my mind how good the Sigma was in conjunction with the D600 (which uses the same sensor as the RX1). That said, I still prefer the Nikon 28 F1.G, because the Sigma is a beast of a lens!
Why would that disappoint me? I do not doubt that a D600 with Sigma 35 1.4 can out do an RX1 slightly, but its all about the size. The D600 and 35 1.4 is huge in comparison. But yea, that Sigma lens is quite special.
Steve, Just a comment for Scott vs his observations on the D7100. Agree the 6D or D600 are large in comparison to the RX1 (other difference is the strength of AA filter, the D600 certainly has a strong one), and I confess that I want to take the Sigma every time I take out my D600 or D800E, but all too often I put it back on the shelf because of the weight issue (because if I have 3 primes with me I dont want one to be a brick). That doesn’t change the fact it’s a stunning lens, but it is a pity.
Lovely! Were you using AF? Canon says themselves that their AF isn’t critical enough with the 50 & 85 mm 1.2’s … thanks …
Af was used for every shot you see on this page. I had 3 shots out of 200 or so mis focus with the Sigma and none with the 85.
Nice … and encouraging. I’m having fun with the dual pixel, phase detection AF with the new 70D … for shooting in LiveView/Video
I wont buy a DSLR but i do enjoy your reviews and love to look at your photos, so yes i would very much like some more DSLR reviews 😉
I’ve been out of the DSLR loop for almost 2 years. I take photography seriously, but it doesn’t pay my bills, as I only work on personal projects, where my only responsibility is self realization.
The main reason why i’ve gone mirrorless (being m43 my main kit nowadays) is that those cameras are less imposing, look kind of amateurish to most people, and have a way better portability factor compared to DSLRs. This allows me to work more comfortably in candid/reportage/street photography, which is my main interest these days. It also allows me to carry the camera to places/situations where lugging a DSLR might not be a particularly enjoyable proposition.
Now, if I had to live off photography, I guess my take would be different, and I would choose a DSLR as my workhorse. The reasons? Faster AF (although sometimes plagued with inconsistencies due to back/front focusing in my experience), faster all around responsiveness, better focusing capabilities in low light, generally sturdier/more durable construction, better battery life, more accessories, better resale value, and, last but not least, in some settings being “the photographer” gives you access and some an aura of authority that is required to get the job done.
Steve, if I may, I wonder why you switched from Nikon to Canon when it comes to DSLRs? If anything, last time I was evaluating getting a full frame DSLR, I was tempted to go the other way around. It seemed to me the Canon D6 was pretty “selfish” in terms of specs compared to the D600 (AF points and speed as well as weathersealing being at the top of my list of reasons why the D600 was better). Also, it seems Nikon offers a better range of modern mid priced quality primes. Compare that to Canon, where you either have rather old, plasticy cheapish designs, or top tier, ultra fast and ultra expensive ones, with little in the middle.
Not to be a stickler but you reviewed the Sony a57 last year and raved about it. Part of my thinking in buying it was cuz of you my friend. So unless you don’t consider it a DSLR, which is debatable, than you have reviewed a Dslr in the last four years.
Again not trolling. Just pointing it before some other lame brain does.
You are correct! My memory is getting bad in my old age 🙂 The A57 was great, and now I fully do remember reviewing that in July 2012. Thanks for the reminder!
Hahaha! It’s all good my friend. And that last one before that was the sony a33, also a gem which I also own in part because of you. so I guess it’s time one of the big two got some love from this site, as far as Dslr bodies are considered.
The a33 was indeed almost 4 years ago!!!!!! Time flies.
I think technically, the Sony transparent mirror cameras are not DSLRs….but that’s only if you want to be a HUGE pain in the ass.