Prime Comparison for Low-light and Shallow DOF

I have owned or rented all of these lenses. Each lens excels for a particular use, so there is no clear "best" choice but only well defined photography needs (do not recommend the Sigma 50 f/1.4 for AF issues). Full frame bodies only! This goes without saying when discussing low-light and shallow DOF:

1) Low light: There are two factors to address, camera shake and subject motion blur. IS or wider focal lengths will take care of camera shake. Larger apertures and higher ISO will take care of subject motion blur. Unfortunately, IS is only available on the relatively slow 100 f/2.8L IS macro. So the best low light lenses are the wider/faster lenses,such as the 24 f/1.4L II, 35 f/1.4L, 50 f/1.2L and 85 f/1.2L II. The 35 f/1.4L is probably the best all around low light prime.

2) Bokeh: So many factors are at play here, such as the maximum aperture, center performance of the lens at wide apertures, focal length and min focus distance to subject. The 85 f/1.2L II has the largest aperture available for the shallowest depth-of-field and background blur even at the comparably wider focal length. The 100 f/2.8 macros fall short in this regard but their closer focus distance more than make up for the smaller aperture. The 135 f/2L is the sharpest wide open, with the 85L close on it's heals. The 100 macros are sharp wide open but at f/2.8 any of the other primes will easily match or beat the 100 macros at f/2.8, which is fairly slow for primes. The 135 has the longest focal length and with f/2 you have very shallow depth-of-field. The 100 f/2 also produces very shallow depth-of-field. With close subject focus distances, such as head only portraits, the macro 100's excel in producing shallow depth-of-field and back ground blur. The new 100 f/2.8L IS with 9 rounded blades should match or beat any of the lenses at close focusing distances. However, for overall Bokeh performance in a wide variety of conditions there's little that can come close to either the 85 f/1.2L II or 135 f/2L.

3) Macro: If you need macro capabilities then you can go with the dedicated macro lenses or use extension tubes and magnifying filters. I have not used tubes so can't comment on personal experience but many have posted on forums that tubes with any of the fast primes will produce excellent macro photos. However, I would expect the dedicated macros to be the best bet if macro is important.

4) Price Considerations: While the 85 f/1.8 comes in last here, I personally find this lens to be one of the best fast primes lenses when considering autofocus speed, size and weight. The 50 f/1.8 wasn't included in this test because of it's poor wide open performance, however, when stopped down to around f/4 it can match any lens out there and only costs $100!
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Best Value: Weighted Performance Score + Price Factor with lens hood
1) 100 f/2.8L IS $1,000: 25 + 5 = 30
1) 135 f/2L $1,070: 25 + 5.25 = 30.25
2) 35 f/1.4L $1,400: 26 + 7 = 33
2) 85 f/1.2L II $1,840: 24 + 9.25 = 33.25
2) Sigma 50 f/1.4 $500: 31 + 2.5 = 33.5
3) 50 f/1.4 $390: 40 + 2 = 42
4) 85 f/1.8 $400: 42 + 2 = 44
4) 100 f/2.8 $640: 41 + 3.25 = 44.25

Total WEIGHTED for Low light and Overall Optics Performance Score
1) 85 f/1.2L II: 2x3 + 1x2 + 1x2 + 1x2 + 2x2 + 3 + 5 = 24
2) 135 f/2L: 4x3 + 1x2 + 1x2 + 1x2 + 1x2 + 3 + 2 = 25
2) 100 f/2.8L IS: 3x3 + 2x2 + 3x2 + 2x2 + 1x2 + 1 + 1 = 25
3) 35 f/1.4L: 1x3 + 4x2 + 2x2 + 3x2 + 1x2 + 1 + 2 = 26
4) Sigma 50 f/1.4: 2x3 + 2x2 + 3x2 + 3x2 + 2x2 + 2 + 3 = 31
5) 50 f/1.4: 2x3 + 5x2 + 4x2 + 1x2 + 3x2 + 2 + 6 = 40
6) 100 f/2.8: 4x3 + 3x2 + 5x2 + 3x2 + 1x2 + 1 + 4 = 41
7) 85 f/1.8: 3x3 + 5x2 + 4x2 + 3x2 + 1x2 + 3 + 4 = 42

Total Unweighted Performance Score
1) 135 f/2L: 4 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 3 + 2 = 13
1) 100 f/2.8L IS: 3 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 13
2) 35 f/1.4L: 1 + 4 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 = 14
3) 85 f/1.2L II: 2 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 5 = 15
4) Sigma 50 f/1.4: 2 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 + 3 = 17
5) 100 f/2.8: 4 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 4 = 21
6) 50 f/1.4: 2 + 5 + 4 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 6 = 23
6) 85 f/1.8: 3 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 1 + 3 + 4 = 23
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Comparison Details

Most hand-hold-able in Low-light
1) 35 f/1.4L at f/1.4
2) Sigma 50 f/1.4 at f/1.8
2) 85 f/1.2L II at f/1.2 or 1.4
2) 50 f/1.4 at f/2
3) 100 f/2.8L IS at f/2.8 with IS
3) 85 f/1.8 at f/2.2
4) 135 f/2L at f/2
4) 100 f/2.8 at f/2.8

Best DOF Subject Isolation between 3 and 10 feet
1) 135 f/2L at f/2
1) 85 f/1.2L II at f/1.4
2) 100 f/2.8L IS at f/2.8 with close focus
2) Sigma 50 f/1.4 at f/1.8
3) 100 f/2.8 at f/3.2 with close focus
4) 35 f/1.4L at f/1.4
5) 85 f/1.8 at f/2.2
5) 50 f/1.4 at f/2

Best Wide Open Performance
1) 135 f/2L at f/2
1) 85 f/1.2L II at f/1.4
2) 35 f/1.4L at f/1.6
3) Sigma 50 f/1.4 at f/1.8
3) 100 f/2.8L IS at f/2.8
4) 50 f/1.4 at f/2
4) 85 f/1.8 at f/2.2
5) 100 f/2.8 at f/3.2

Best Optimal/Peak IQ Performance at f/5.6
1) 135 f/2L
1) 50 f/1.4
1) 85 f/1.2L II
2) 100 f/2.8L IS
3) Sigma 50 f/1.4
3) 85 f/1.8
3) 100 f/2.8
3) 35 f/1.4L

Best AF Speed and Accuracy
1) 135 f/2L
1) 100 f/2.8L IS
1) 85 f/1.8
1) 100 f/2.8
1) 35 f/1.4L
2) 85 f/1.2L II
2) Sigma 50 f/1.4
3) 50 f/1.4

Shortest MFD
1) 100 f/2.8L IS at 1 ft
1) 100 f/2.8 at 1 ft
1) 35 f/1.4L at 1 ft
2) 50 f/1.4 at 1.5 ft
2) Sigma 50 f/1.4 at 1.5 ft
3) 85 f/1.8 at 2.8 ft
3) 135 f/2L at 3 ft
3) 85 f/1.2L II at 3.2 ft

Best Build Quality
1) 100 f/2.8L IS - the only sealed lens
2) 135 f/2L
2) 35 f/1.4L
3) Sigma 50 f/1.4
4) 100 f/2.8
4) 85 f/1.8
5) 85 f/1.2L II - the manual focus by wire and free rotating front
6) 50 f/1.4
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Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO comparison

Light Level 1
f/1.4 = 1/60
f/2 = 1/30 or double ISO
f/2.8 = 1/15 or triple ISO

Light Level 2
f/1.4 = 1/125 or half ISO
f/2 = 1/60
f/2.8 = 1/30 or double ISO

Light Level 3
f/1.4 = 1/250 or third ISO
f/2 = 1/125 or half ISO
f/2.8 = 1/60
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Low-light hand-hold-ability comparison

35 f/1.4L
-sharp at f/1.4
-requires 1/30 second shutter speed
-ISO 100 = 6

Sigma 50 f/1.4
-sharp at f/1.6
-requires 1/60 second shutter speed
-ISO 100 = 7

50 f/1.4
-sharp at f/2
-requires 1/60 second shutter speed
-ISO 100 = 8

85 f/1.2L II
-sharp at f/1.4
-requires 1/125 second shutter speed
-ISO 100 = 8

85 f/1.8
-sharp at f/2
-requires 1/125 second shutter speed
-ISO 100 = 9

100 f/2.8L IS
-sharp at f/2.8
-requires 1/60 second shutter speed w/ IS
-ISO 100 = 9

135 f/2L
-sharp at f/2
-requires 1/250 second shutter speed
-ISO 100 = 10

100 f/2.8
-sharp at f/2.8
-requires 1/125 second shutter speed
-ISO 100 = 10
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DOF comparison

35 at three feet
f/1.4 = 0.18 ft
f/2 = 0.26 ft
f/2.8 = 0.37 ft

35 at five feet
f/1.4 = 0.52 ft
f/2 = 0.73 ft
f/2.8 = 1.04 ft

35 at ten feet
f/1.4 = 2.11 ft
f/2 = 3.02 ft
f/2.8 = 4.36 ft

50 at three feet
f/1.4 = 0.09 ft
f/2 = 0.12 ft
f/2.8 = 0.18 ft

50 at five feet
f/1.4 = 0.25 ft
f/2 = 0.35 ft
f/2.8 = 0.5 ft

50 at ten feet
f/1.4 = 1.02 ft
f/2 = 1.45 ft
f/2.8 = 2.06 ft

85 at five feet
f/1.4 = 0.08 ft
f/2 = 0.12 ft
f/2.8 = 0.17 ft

85 at ten feet
f/1.4 = 0.35 ft
f/2 = 0.49 ft
f/2.8 = 0.7 ft

100 at three feet
f/2.8 = 0.04 ft

100 at five feet
f/2.8 = 0.12 ft

100 at ten feet
f/2.8 = 0.5 ft

135 at five feet
f/2 = 0.05 ft
f/2.8 = 0.06 ft

135 at ten feet
f/2 = 0.19 ft
f/2.8 = 0.27 ft
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Wide Open Performance

Canon 35 f/1.4L
35mm f/2.8: 2077 C & 1652 B, -0.4%, 0.21 V, 1.0 CA
35mm f/1.4: 1873 C & 1574 B, -0.4%, 1.05 V, 1.0 CA

Canon 50 f/1.2L
50mm f/2.8: 2097 C & 1697 B, -0.7%, 0.12 V, 1.3 CA
50mm f/1.2: 1885 C & 1506 B, -0.7%, 0.88 V, 1.29 CA

Sigma 50 f/1.4
50mm f/2.8: 2104 C & 1756 B, -0.57%, 0.15 V, 0.66 CA
50mm f/1.4: 1779 C & 1664 B, -0.57%, 0.63 V, 0.6 CA

Canon 50 f/1.4
50mm f/2.8: 2053 C & 1761 B, -0.4%, 0.05 V, 0.33 CA
50mm f/1.4: 1754 C & 1415 B, -0.4%, 0.82 V, 0.37 CA

Canon 85 f/1.2L
85mm f/2.8: 2108 C & 1863 B, -0.2%, 0.05 V, 0.68 CA
85mm f/1.2: 1763 C & 1752 B, -0.2%, 0.65 V, 0.54 CA

Canon 85 f/1.8
85mm f/2.8: 1923 C & 1688 B, -0.1%, 0.13 V, 0.61 CA
85mm f/1.8: 1813 C & 1536 B, -0.1%, 0.71 V, 0.61 CA

Canon 100 f/2.8macro
100mm f/2.8: 1828 C & 1739 B, -0.03%, 0.62 V, 0.20 CA

Canon 135 f/2L
135mm f/2.8: 2058 C & 1909 B, 0.1%, 0.18 V, 0.46 CA
135mm f/2: 1921 C & 1762 B, 0.1%, 0.67 V, 0.43 CA
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