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Review: Canon EF 85mm F1.8

I will start here: If you don’t have this lens and you do portraits of any type, what is wrong with you. If you have the F1.4 then, well, look at you fancy pants with that extra half stop and 4 times the price lens. Ok ok, I get it, no angry emails about how much creamier (ughhh) your Bokeh is, or how silent the motor is, this isn’t for everyone, this is something a lot of people will say, this is for people who are on a budget and want to get the best professional results.

So let’s begin:

I had talked about the 50mm F1.8 in the past as a must have prime lens, and I stand behind it, you can get one for 100 bucks.

But we want to really take everything up a notch, we want to get ahead and get into a prime range that a lot of photographers, professional or otherwise, is what some call “home”. That is 85mm.

This is a happy place

If you haven’t shot with a prime lens before, it makes you approach shots a little differently. You can’t “cheat” your way to properly setting up and getting your shot in frame by zooming or any other tricks. You’re working with 85mm and light. Now, how much light is up to you, but that is what is great about the F1.8, you’re going to be able to let a whole lot of light in, and that is great, until there is too much light, and that is where you will run into problems. We’ll talk about that later, up first, what to expect when you shoot with this lens.

Not as much glass as the F1.4, but still substantial

When you do something as simple as a headshot with a lens like this, fully open at F1.8, you will notice something magical happen. First of all, you’re going to get a sharp image, with the smoothest and most beautiful Bokeh ever. What is Bokeh? It’s the aesthetic of the blur that the lens gives, basically how the lens renders out of focus light. Giving you these wonderful orbs of happiness. Here is an example of Bokeh that was shot with the 85mm lens in question.

People Love Bokeh

It’s very aesthetically pleasing to the eye to have this kind of beauty in the background of your photos, and this lens always delivers on a promise to do so.

I know, I don’t have many photos that I have done without my pugs in them, but I can show you the range of what you can do with this lens.

This is also done with the 85mm

However, there are some issues when you are wide open with a lens like this, you tend to get some heavy chromatic aberration in bright light.


This review is just my personal opinion, and I really enjoy using this lens for a range of work because of how crisp the image is and how great it works in low light situations.

You can get it for relatively cheap too, for something so versatile. You can actually pick up the same lens I use for $350. Which is 1/3 of the price of the F1.4 and about 6 times cheaper than the 85mm F1.2.

You can find the Canon 85mm 1.8 through my Amazon Link

Don’t have a Canon? Here is the Nikon equivalent.

Don’t want to buy brand name and want a third party option? I haven’t tested any but this from Sigma the 85mm 1.4 ART which is probably the most amazing lens for the money

In the future, if I have some spare money and get to it, I want to give a good review between the other third party lens makers out there, that have questionable prices for a lot of glass.

For now, enjoy a few photos and if you have any comments or questions, feel free to let me know!

Stefan Glazer
Stefan Glazer

Author, Photographer, Artist, Pug Dad, Podcast Host, Teacher, Friend

Articles: 210

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