Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM DS Lens Review Canon's softest 85mm lens Bokeh

In this video, photographer, Christopher Frost, takes a look at the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM DS lens and its performance on the EOS R camera.

Canon describes this lens as an exceptional portrait lens with a “new DS coating (Defocus Smoothing) for the ultimate in silky smooth bokeh” and according to the companyThe benefit of the DS effect is most noticeable at the widest aperture, and is reduced as the aperture is stopped down. Out of focus highlights are rendered as soft discs of light, and are instantly recognizable as characteristic of the DS lens“. You can see the way the blurring of the light circles is different in the sample image below (from the Canon website as well).

Canon’s example of the DS lens vs. the non-DS version (look at the light circles)

The special coatings on the elements in this lens (similar to apodization technology see our review of the Fujifilm 56mm APD lens from a while back) reduce the amount of light that passes through so instead of about f/1.2 you are getting around f/2 in terms of light gathering capability (for both lenses having the actual T values would have been much more helpful) but the background separation is not effected and as you can see from the images above the background separation is actually what makes this lens so unique.

Canon’s video on the Defocus Smoothing technology

YouTube player

This lens is essentially identical to the non-DS version – made from very sturdy plastic and is very well made and is fairly large and heavy, the AF system on this lens seems to work fine (better than other lenses with similar technology which is good to hear but it does make some noise). The front control ring is useful but it comes with soft clicking which you can pay Canon to remove if they bother you enough.

Performance is really exceptional as you can expect. Super sharp wide open corner to corner. There is a lot more darkening of the corners with this lens than with the non-DS version (this is common in these types of lenses) but you can combat that in-camera or in post. The lens doesn’t handle flare too well so you should use the hood at all times and of course, the Bokeh is – as we have seen truly spectacular.

As for pricing, the official price for this lens on its own is $3000 compared to $2600 of the non-DS version. we would say that compared to the non-DS lens this version is really a specialized specimen designed for very picky shooters looking for the smoothest bokeh possible and willing to make a few sacrifices in price and performance to achieve that.

You can find many more previews and reviews on our Photography review section here on LensVid and you can find more of Frost’s videos here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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