By Jean Rydberg
Professional quality underwater imaging equipment has never been more affordable or easier to travel with. Canon's line of crop-sensor mirrorless cameras including the EOS R7, R10, and R50, are incredibly compact, lightweight, and accessible for both new and experienced photographers.
Since all divers have a limited amount of bottom time, we are always looking for the equipment that does double-duty as something we also want to shoot on the surface. The Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro lens is a perfect example of that. Canon took one of the most beloved focal lengths for topside portraits and added close-up 1:2 reproduction macro capabilities. But is this lens actually any good underwater? Check out our full review of the ins and outs of this lens, then scroll down to see the results below.
Canon's incredible AI-driven animal tracking autofocus system makes shooting small fish underwater feel like a too-easy video game. Canon EOS R7 • F/10 • 1/125 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
It can be tricky to focus on small subjects that are floating in front of a complicated background. Try locking focus on something larger at the same distance, then scoping back to the subject before you refine focus and snap the shot. F/29 • 1/160 • Canon EOS R10 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
The 85mm f/2 is actually faster than the 100mm f/2.8L for nice bokeh in portraits as well as macro close-up. F/7.1 • 1/160 • Canon EOS R7 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
I often found myself shooting fish that I wouldn't have bothered with when I was shooting older AF systems. One and done with this guy. F/18 • 1/125 • Canon EOS R7 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
Shooting a couple of DS230 strobes ensures that you have plenty of light at any aperture. F/29 • 1/160 • ISO 200 • Canon EOS R7 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
Eye detection AF worked well even in more confusing backgrounds, like this hole that provides good camouflage for its inhabitant. F/14 • 1/100 • Canon EOS R10 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
Stationary subjects without eyes actually can be a little tricky for the camera's AF algorithms. Try switching back to Spot AF if you're having trouble locking focus. F/29 • 1/160 • Canon EOS R10 © Ikelite Underwater System
No crop on this photo. I had no trouble filling the frame with smaller subjects like this Christmas tree worm that's probably around an inch tall. F/29 • 1/160 • Canon EOS R10 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
With the additional magnification of a crop sensor and a flat port, the 85mm is not a portrait lens underwater. But it can inspire some creative photography as you chill at your safety stop and head towards the surface. F/6.3 • 1/160 • Canon EOS R10 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
This was a challenging shot to lock focus on, multiple layers of the fine feathers of black coral on a busy wall. F/6.3 • 1/125 • Canon EOS R10 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
Cooperative subjects are no problem for the 85mm and I could have spent a dive shooting the fine details of these horribly invasive yet beautiful creatures. F/20 • 1/125 • Canon EOS R7 © Ikelite Underwater Systems
Jean Rydberg, daughter of Ike Brigham, became President & CEO of Ikelite in 2006. Prior to that, she wisely pursued a degree in Astronomy & Astrophysics to prepare herself for the challenges of running a technology-driven manufacturing business with global distribution. Jean fully embraces the need to travel outside of her hometown of Indianapolis to experience good diving. She believes that any camera is capable of amazing results in the right hands, and anyone can become a great photographer given the right advice. When she's not working she's spending time with her husband, cats, and two daughters (though not necessarily in that order).