ARTICLE

It's the DS coating effect: the first shoot with the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens

A night-time bridal portrait, with soft-edged bokeh on a row of lights in the background. Photography by Félicia Sisco.
In Canon Ambassador Félicia Sisco's night-time shots with the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens, the DS (Defocus Smoothing) coating in the lens turned dazzling lights into soft-edged bokeh discs from the centre of the frame to the very edge. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens at 1/60 sec, f/1.2 and ISO1600. © Félicia Sisco

Capturing natural and intimate bridal portraits is something that in-demand wedding photographer and Canon Ambassador Félicia Sisco has refined to a fine art – and the lenses she uses play no small part in the romantic results.

A long-time user of Canon's L-series prime lenses, Félicia particularly loves the classic portrait focal length of 85mm. It's no wonder, then, that she was one of the first photographers to put the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM to the test. She was also the perfect pro photographer to be the first to shoot with the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS, an RF lens with Defocus Smoothing coating that makes it even easier to achieve the sophisticated, cinematic look loved by clients.

A model in a frilly wedding dress, photographed against a blurred background of tangled greenery.
Félicia loves using 85mm focal length for portraits, and this atmospheric image was taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/4000 sec, f/1.2 and ISO500. © Félicia Sisco
A model in a frilly wedding dress, photographed against a blurred background using the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens with Defocus Smoothing.
Spot the difference! This version of the image was shot with the new RF lens with DS coating, at the same aperture. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens at 1/1250 sec, f/1.2 and ISO500. © Félicia Sisco

What does Defocus Smoothing coating do?

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS is the ultimate lens for portrait, wedding and fashion photographers, blending exceptional sharpness in the in-focus areas of an image with an enhanced level of silky blur that isolates the subject beautifully. This is emphatically not a 'soft focus' lens! Instead, the Canon-exclusive Defocus Smoothing coating progressively smooths the edges of out-of-focus areas, producing even smoother bokeh and softer edges of out-of-focus highlights. Depth of field appears deeper, and the subject 'pops' more than ever before.

Canon Professional Services

Canon kamera setiniz var mı?

Uzman tavsiyesine, ekipman servisine, ilham verici etkinliklere ve Canon Profesyonel Hizmetleri’nin (CPS) sunduğu ayrıcalıklı özel fırsatlara ücretsiz erişmek için Canon setinizi kaydedin.

The DS lens shares the same high-end optical and build quality as its non-DS stablemate, the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM, but marks the debut of a specially developed Defocus Smoothing lens coating. Applied to the front and back surfaces of two lens elements in this lens, the Defocus Smoothing coating allows the light transmission to gradually tail off from the centre of the lens to its periphery. The end result? Bokeh with softer, more diffused edges, and portraits that have greater depth and character.

Félicia used the new DS lens paired with a Canon EOS R during a fashion-style bridal shoot in Paris. The grey autumn day proved to be quite a contrast from the assignment she had just come from, in the Moroccan coastal city of Essaouira, where she had been "shooting in a desert landscape with amazingly strong light". But the lens's large maximum aperture – coupled with the full-frame 30.3MP CMOS sensor and high ISO performance of her Canon EOS R – allowed Félicia to make the most of the less dramatic lighting on the streets of the French capital.

A diagram comparing a soft-edged circle of light, created by the Defocus Smoothing coating on a lens, with the sharper circle from a lens without DS coating.
Canon's proprietary Defocus Smoothing lens coating has high transmittance at the centre of the lens and lower transmittance at the periphery, with the result that off-axis light is more diffused and out-of-focus areas appear softer.

The effects of Defocus Smoothing are more pronounced at wide apertures, where the blur is its largest and smoothest thanks to the nine diaphragm blades. At apertures narrower than f/2, the effects disappear.

The Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens really shines in low light too, rendering out-of-focus bulbs, candles and other point sources of light as velvet-smooth discs that melt into the background or foreground. As night drew in, Félicia took a series of pictures on a balcony, where the DS technology turned the dazzling headlamps of cars on the street into distinctive, soft-edged bokeh discs.

A schematic view of the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens showing the DS coating on two lens elements.
Because the Defocus Smoothing effect is achieved using a lens coating rather than added lens elements, the technology can potentially be applied to any lens and optical performance can be maintained, although reducing light transmittance does mean that the overall brightness of the lens at maximum aperture is reduced.
A model in a frilly wedding dress and top hat, photographed against a brightly-lit shop front in evening light.
From tangled greenery to brightly-lit shopfronts, backgrounds melt away pleasingly, giving portraits greater depth and character. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens at 1/640 sec, f/1.2 and ISO800. © Félicia Sisco

The beautiful quality of the blur captured with the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 USM DS can help to make distracting backdrops dissolve in daylight too, something that Félicia appreciated when shooting her model against a tangle of branches in the garden: "The backdrop looked so smooth and the blur was more delicate than I would normally be able to achieve," she says.

"The effect on the image is something that really complements my style of photography. I love art and paintings, and the elegant, artistic way that this lens draws its images at f/1.2 made the trees look like something out of an Impressionist painting. Or, given the rain, perhaps a watercolour!

A model in a cream-coloured wedding dress, photographed in evening light against an out-of-focus background.
A classic romantic portrait taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/200 sec, f/1.2 and ISO800. © Félicia Sisco
A model in a cream-coloured wedding dress against an out-of-focus background with creamier bokeh.
This version of the image, shot with the DS lens, has even creamier bokeh and softer edges on out-of-focus highlights. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens at 1/125 sec, f/1.2 and ISO800. © Félicia Sisco
A woman with red hair lies on a bed.

Bridal portraits with the RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens

Wedding photographer and Canon Ambassador Félicia Sisco talks about shooting editorial-style bridal portraits with the RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens.

"I had also taken the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens with me on the shoot, which meant that I could take pictures of the same setup with the two different lenses to compare the results. I must confess that for the scenes and situations on the day, the DS lens was more suited to the style of pictures that I like to create.

"For example, we took some beautiful shots that featured a building in the background, where the model was illuminated by the light from a shop window, and you can see a clear difference between the shot taken on the original lens and the DS version.

"The colours that the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 USM DS lens captured were natural and rich, despite the awful weather. Given the flat light I was working with for most of the day, I was genuinely surprised at the excellent level of contrast in the images."

Félicia Sisco holding a Canon EOS R with Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens outside.
Félicia loved the results she achieved with the Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens.
A model in a cream-coloured wedding dress and top hat poses in front of a blurred background of greenery.
"The elegant, artistic way that this lens draws its images at f/1.2 made the trees look like something out of an Impressionist painting," says Félicia. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens at 1/1600 sec, f/1.4 and ISO640. © Félicia Sisco

The RF advantage

No stranger to the Canon EOS R, Félicia has spent the past year using Canon's flagship full-frame mirrorless camera for her wedding and bridal work. She says the clear image in the electronic viewfinder is one of the camera's key advantages. "Being able to view the image as the camera sees it, without having to check the rear screen, is something that I have found very useful," she explains. "The autofocus also responds quickly and accurately, even in low light, and enabling touch-and-drag AF on the touchscreen makes it really easy to position the AF point while I'm looking through the viewfinder.

"Initially, when I changed from a DSLR to the EOS R System, it felt strange not having a thumbstick to move the AF point around, but now, when I pick up the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II or Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, I instinctively start moving my thumb onto the screen!"

Félicia also finds the Lens Control Ring of an RF lens to be advantageous, and she sets it to control exposure compensation while shooting in Aperture Priority mode. "Being able to see the result without taking my eye from the viewfinder means that I can quickly make adjustments," she says.

A head-and-shoulders portrait of a model with an ornate ruffled collar, photographed against a blurred shopfront.
Félicia was delighted with her images' rich, natural colours and good contrast, even when her model was lit only by the ambient light from shop windows. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens at 1/50 sec, f/1.2 and ISO1600. © Félicia Sisco

Despite the cloudy conditions throughout the day on her bridal fashion shoot, Félicia didn't add any flash, relying only on the available light. "We were mainly shooting outside in a little park and on the streets, using natural light during the day and the artificial ambient lighting at night," she says. "The shoot lasted almost seven hours, but it was very overcast and the rain meant that we had to frequently stop and take shelter. To compensate for the conditions, and the slight loss of light that comes from the DS coating, I increased the ISO just a little and shot at f/1.2 as much as possible."

While its DS coating, focal length and fast maximum aperture make the Canon RF 85mm F1.2 USM DS a natural fit for portrait photography, this is a versatile lens, suitable for a whole range of subjects, from food photography to video work. "With the quality of this bokeh, I'm confident I could get beautiful results while capturing the details of a wedding – the flowers, cake, shoes and so on," Félicia says.

"The 85mm prime will forever be my favourite type of lens, and the way that DS enhances photographs taken at this focal length means that this is the lens for me. Once you see what's possible, it's a lens you want to use as much as you can, especially wide open at f/1.2."

Yazar Marcus Hawkins


Félicia Sisco's kitbag

The key kit pros use to take their photographs

A Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM lens and RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS lens side-by-side on a table, with a Canon EOS R behind.

Camera

Canon EOS R

A full-frame 30.3 Megapixel sensor with impressive detail, ISO performance and Dual Pixel CMOS AF. Alongside the new RF lenses, Canon EOS R offers the ultimate shooting experience to take your storytelling further. "Being able to view the image as the camera sees it, without having to check the rear screen, is something that I have found very useful," says Félicia.

Lenses

Canon RF 85mm F1.2L USM DS

Specialist L-series portrait lens offering stunning sharpness, high performance AF, legendary build quality and a new DS coating for the ultimate in silky smooth bokeh. "Once you see what's possible, it's a lens you want to use as much as you can," says Félicia.

Related articles

View All

Get the newsletter

Click here to get inspiring stories and exciting news from Canon Europe Pro

Sign up now