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Old Dec 27, 2010, 3:49 PM   #1
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Default 70 200mm 2.8 & 85mm 1.8

I had been researching the 85mm 1.8 so my wife bought it for me as a Christmas gift, but I am not sure I want to keep it. I already have a 70 200mm 2. 8 and am not sure that the 85mm 1.8 gets me anything that I do not already have. I would use the 85mm for indoor court sports or portraits on a 7D or 40D crop frame body.

It seems like the only benefit the 85 has over the 70-200 is lower weight. Looking at the blur charts (not sure I completely understand the charts?) and reading other reviews it seems like the 85 does not perform great at 1.8 needs to be stopped down to 4.0 to get really sharp images.

Am I missing something? Does the 85mm 1.8 get me anything more than the 70-200mm 2.8 already does?
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Old Dec 27, 2010, 7:56 PM   #2
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Well, the 85 is a much better indoor portrait lens than the 70-200. I usually shoot mine at f2.0 or so. It's sharper than the 70-200 2.8 - not sure who told you it needs to be stopped down to f4 to be sharp. As for sports, again it saves you a stop of ISO - with the 7d that's no longer necessary - with the 40d it certainly can be.
But my 85 1.8 is plenty sharp at f2.0:
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Old Dec 27, 2010, 8:51 PM   #3
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Where their ranges overlap, the Sigma 70-200/2.8 and the Tamron 70-200/2.8 are as good or better than the Canon 85/1.8. Where the Canon becomes valueable is the 1-1/3 stops of extra light and the shallower DoF you can get with it.
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Old Dec 29, 2010, 3:21 PM   #4
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Well, the 85 is a much better indoor portrait lens than the 70-200. I usually shoot mine at f2.0 or so. It's sharper than the 70-200 2.8 - not sure who told you it needs to be stopped down to f4 to be sharp. As for sports, again it saves you a stop of ISO - with the 7d that's no longer necessary
I started to question the sharpness looking at the blur chart at slrgear.com. Looking at the chart for the Canon 85mm 1.8 compared to my Canon 70-200mm 2.8 it looks like the 70-200 would be sharper. I am guilty of buying equipment thinking it is the answer to correct image issues when it may just be a problem with my technique, so I am trying to avoid repeating the mistake.

I attached a couple test shots with the 85mm and 7D, still not sure it get me anything more than the 70-200? Thought it would be sharper, but maybe it's just the high ISO. Shot at 1/500 sec, f 2.2, ISO 2000 with noise reduction in Lightroom..
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Old Dec 29, 2010, 3:26 PM   #5
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I attached a couple test shots with the 85mm and 7D, still not sure it get me anything more than the 70-200? Thought it would be sharper, but maybe it's just the high ISO. Shot at 1/500 sec, f 2.2, ISO 2000 with noise reduction in Lightroom..
No, in practical purposes, the 85 isn't going to be sharper for sports. The limiting factor is the ability for pin-point AF accuracy and it's just not going to be perfect. The 70-200 2.8 flexibility trumps the 85 for basketball IMO. The only benefit of the 85 is the ability to shoot at lower ISOs. But the framing restrictions are a negative and with the high ISO performance of the latest cameras, that benefit isn't there anymore IMO.
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Old Dec 30, 2010, 6:23 PM   #6
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85 1.8 is normally a sharp lens, dont know who told you any different. I can say that the newer 70-200 2.8 IS MKII is just as sharp as the 85 1.8 but not the older version. Ive used the 85 1.8 many times for indoor sports on a MKIII, focus should be better on the 7D than the 40D. The 40D is not a good body for sports when you look at the AF and frame rate. Looking at your exif from the shots you posted the shutter speed could use a little bump. I usually dont let it go below 1/800. The 7D is capable at a higher ISO than 2000.

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Old Dec 31, 2010, 3:30 AM   #7
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Not a sports expert like Justin and John, but it looks to me like your biggest problem with those sample shots is that you have missed the focus slightly.

It looks to me like on the first one you have actually focussed somewhere between the two main subjects and the second image towards the back of the furthest subject.

Have you tried checking your AF microadjustment for the distances and aperture you are working at? I have heard no reports of focus shift on the 85 f1.8, but doing your AF adjust whilst shooting at your most favoured aperture cannot do any harm.

Using AI Servo mode I presume, might be worth experimenting with one-shot under these conditions.

If those were my pictures I would operate under the assumption that the problem was with my technique, not my lens. Or alternatively if you think the camera AF should do the work for you (and why not) then it might be worth renting a 1DMkIV for a game or two; you might be better off spending extra cash on the camera's AF system rather than extra lenses.

Are these shots representative of the best or the worst you are getting out of your current setup?
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Old Dec 31, 2010, 12:58 PM   #8
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Good point with checking the focus of the lens. Unfortunately a good deal of them come out of the factory front or back focusing. This is the first thing I do when I get a new one and Ill use MA if needed until I get a chance to drop it by Canon Jamesburg for calibration. My experience has been 50/50 on any lens. Its easy enough to check it and you dont need to buy a lensalign to do it. Just a static target with a high contrast fosuc point and a ruler or yard stick. Set up on a tripod with a straight shot to your target (both vertical and horizontal). Here is a sample image checking focus on my 300 3.8L, nothing fancy. The focus is on the red knob and the yard stick was aligned with it on the 14 inch mark. Very slight back focus here.

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Old Dec 31, 2010, 2:05 PM   #9
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I was looking at the lens because it is often recommended for sports like basketball with the 1.8 aperture and great sharpness. I already have a Canon 70-200 2.8 plus a Canon 17 55 2.8.

I got some very sharp stills from the 85 1.8 but I am not seeing it add that much to my bag that my current lenses will not already do. As John mentioned, I think the flexibility of the 70 -200 offers more than the 1.8 aperture that the 85mm offers. I liked the lens but do not see it adding much to what I already have so I have sent it back.
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Old Jan 1, 2011, 4:59 AM   #10
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The shallow dof at wider apertures is not easy to deal with. very fast lenses aren't always as useful as one thinks they might be.
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