Canon’s White 85mm f1.2 IS ‘Kemono’

Canon 85mm f1.2 White

It's Japanese codename is Kemono (in English Brute/Beast). This menacing, snub nosed monster is an 85mm f1.2 IS. Rumored to have been a stealth project of the Utsunomiya design center, the 3.9 lb medium telephoto marries the sublime optical quality of the 85mm f1.2 L with the lightening fast AF and best-in-class IS of the 200mm f2.

Canon had to solve some significant optical problems to create this piece of glass but it's going to quickly find its way into our gear bags. So who's going to use this beast. Team lead Unoji Notru sees this as a sports lens for commercial photographers, particularly well suited to dynamic portraits, practice, and outdoor lifestyle action where the shooter can position him/herself at the appropriate range. So much of the print collateral and feature photography out there is done with athletes in controlled situations. We wanted to bring the power of our "White" lineup to a shorter focal length.

With superb low light performance, and the convenience of the same drop-in polarizer and nd filters as its longer reach brethren, it will find plenty of support from those who'd like a little more prime performance than the short end of the 70-200mm IS II can deliver.

Wedding and event photographers should snap it up. No price information has been released yet, but expect this to land in the neighbor hood of $4000. When it starts shipping I'll be first in line to get one. How about you?

The lens is shown without its hood. A new design featuring a bold graphic designation of the focal length is in the works according to Notru. This is clever marketing but I like it because it may cut down on the number of times I have to answer the eternal question "what's that lens" Now I can just point at the hood ;-)

14 Responses to Canon’s White 85mm f1.2 IS ‘Kemono’

  1. Irv says:

    Wow, what a lens. I love the cycling photography mix on Velodramatic. One of my favourite sites.



  2. Josh says:

    OK, where do we pre-order?!??

    LOL :-)

  3. Eye candy! I won’t ask the price.

  4. Jon Moss says:

    Whoa. That is one helluva’ lens. It would go very nicely alongside the 200 and 300 2.8LIS :-)

  5. The Rev says:

    That is one formidable looking piece of hardware. It would be kind of lost on me though, I will leave that to the pros. Looking forward to what you create with it.

  6. Eye Candy this is, in Spades, can you imagine trying to use this 4 lbs of glass hand held? attached to a heavy Canon camera? This is a must lens for the collector of lenses photographer. We would all love one, but justify the weight and cost, difficult in the extreme. I know you love to work wide open and have a very slim depth of field, do you really need the Dragon? or is it just “I want to have it”?
    Answers on a postcard to me, if you want to tell the truth…


    • Douglas,

      I’ll pulling everyone’s leg, no such lens exists but I wish it did. I hand hold the 200 f2 (5.6lbs) for long stretches. All the Sea Otter and Cat’s Hill stuff was hand held. You can’t shoot cycling with a monopod, or at least I can’t.

      I’m hoping Canon sees this and get’s some ideas. My 85mm f1.2 (the real thing) is completely unusable for anything other than stationary targets.


  7. Jon Moss says:

    Well you had me there! Doh :-)

  8. Gavin says:

    Ha, that’d be really nice, but back- and wallet-breaking.
    My shoulders are killing me from a wedding last night, 8 hours of carrying a 5D/grip, 1DmkIII, 24-70L, 35L, 70-200L 2.8IS, 16-35L, 135L, flash, extra batts etc…

    So many lenses I need to get my hands on still!

    • Gavin,

      However you carry the gear that’s a load. If you haven’t looked at Think Tank Photo’s modular belt system you should consider it. It makes a big difference for me, and I tune the pouches to what I need on the day.

      And the lens in the post is just a bit of fakery (wishful thinking) from me ;-)

      • Gavin says:

        I actually was using a Think Tank Speed Racer, though I will be adding a couple pouches to spread the weight around.
        Pretty good fakery, though I did wonder how such a lens would’ve gotten released without me hearing about it beforehand!

  9. Josh says:

    It’s obviously fake. Doesn’t even have a red ring. ^_^

  10. BiocheMiker says:

    Great mock-up but you did leave out the red ring. Still time to put it in… ;-)

    In retrospect, I think this kind of lens would be right up Canon’s alley. It’d solve the focus speed issues with 85L while providing a 1 stop advantage over the 85 f/1.8. It’d be perfect on the 1D Mark IV for things like basketball, hockey, dance, etc. where you can get fairly close. Still, with another 85L out there already (and significantly cheaper than $4000), it seems unlikely that Canon would make such a lens. On the other hand, if the lens was only f/1.2 it wouldn’t be significantly bigger than the current 85L and may only cost 50-100% more than the current 85L. What you should have done is make it the 85 f/0.85 which would give it an aperture of 100mm like the 200 f/2L or the 85 f/0.765L (like the 200mm f/1.8) with an 111mm aperture. In combination with the 200 f/2L, it would be pretty much perfect for a lot of low light, fast movement photography as long as it was actually reasonably sharp.