Personal Experience Review
This isn’t going to be a full technical review, mainly because there are 100s of them out there on the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Telephoto Lens, I will add a link to a technical review I read on the lens before buying, I tend to go to Ken Rockwell’s blog to read some stuff, so I will insert his technical review of this lens. This blog is more an honest look at my experience with it. I did purchase a new camera with this lens also, but the camera isn’t important ever, so I shall refrain from talking about the camera, if you have spare cash and have a DSLR then I recommend you always invest in glass first, (lenses) a lens will make you a far better photographer than any camera could. I am a working professional photographer, so new lenses and new equipment are a must for me, mainly due to wear and tear more than desire to buy new toys (he tries to convince the wife who will no doubt read this 🙂 ) but seriously I only purchase when I need to (honest). This blog will be full of photos as well, so plenty to look at 🙂
So many people have told me about the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Lens, and that as a wedding and portrait photographer it should be a must in my bag, the 50mm is a capable and beautiful lens, but it is so noisy and completely inappropriate for weddings where you are close to things, you’d get hung, drawn and quartered snapping with the nosier nifty 50. So the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Lens is a no brainer, and even more so if you are on a budget and need some quality glass.
The fact I am calling it quality glass gives you a firm clue as to what I think of this wee beaut. I don’t have a wedding for a few weeks, so I was impatient to try this lens, sadly when I bring a camera out my kids go into obnoxious uncooperative mode and don’t pose easily ,the missus gives the non approving stare of death when I bring my cameras out also, even though in my eyes she is fully qualified and totally the ideal model, stunning to simplify , and well I wanted to enjoy playing with this lens, with willing models. So out came the toys, I love snapping toys, they are so low maintenance and always perform 🙂 . Don’t get me wrong I did manage to slip in a few child and wife shots.
I got carried away playing with my new toys and the kids toys, and went on a random toy shoot, (I swear it was for scientific purposes only and I did not have batman and superman fighting 🙂 )
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Lens in my eyes is a winner, I can’t remember the last time a lens excited me so much, so cheap as well, the only other time I was so impressed was with the frustratingly noisy Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. these two lenses can easily give the high end lenses a run for their money. Snapping toys, some of my wife and kids was all very well and I produced some stunning results, however as I am a super keen street photographer, I had to take the 85mm out on a street walk.
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 Lens really impressed my on my street walk, and also really frustrated me, I like to work fast, as street shots need to happen without to much planning & thought, I missed so many good shots due to the focal range, with zoom lenses you can recompose shots rapid, with this fixed lens you have to work and almost think ahead, I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, because it certainly slowed me down and let me think more. But I do enjoying having the freedom to zoom out without having to run ahead and start again, especially in the city center. HOWEVER THE ABILITY of the auto focus on the 85mm is rapid, and accurate, and I mean rapid, no hunting, no frustrating panic of out of focus shots (well not that I can remember) to the extent that I heard myself a few times letting out a euphoric orgasm sound of appreciation at how fast and accurate this baby can be, much to the amusement of the passers by.
NOT SO GOOD
Now this lens is certainly not without faults, but no lens is. My findings
Not so good:
– Some CA purple fringing on higher contrast areas, this goes away stopping down it’s not excessive for such a fast prime lens
– Vignetting/Fall off at f1.8 on a full frame body, reduces quite a bit at f2.8 and is a non issue at smaller apertures (not a problem on crop bodies)
– Minimum focus distance is 85cm which isn’t ideal for close up work, but it’s about normal for a lens of this type (close enough for portrait work)
For serious portrait shooters this is a very good buy especially at this price it’s an important lens to have for a number of reasons the lens speed makes it easy to “put the background out” with blur and the speed also comes in useful for lower lighter shooting. (Bokeh)
You can use shorter focal lengths for portrait work (50mm lenses can work okay on crop bodies) however it can be very handy to have the compression effects of longer focal lengths for portraits. I have no real complaints about the lens even though there are higher priced offerings out there f1.8 offers enough speed for most users.
As the lens has no IS you will have to take a bit more care for lower light shooting, I find I can get 1/50-60s or a bit slower shutter speed usually with no problems, good technique helps here bracing your arms into your chest helps steady it in dimmer conditions.
A very good lens overall and a must have for portrait shooters, that’s the thing though, even though it is versatile enough to use in almost all situations, I just know that this lens will be used mainly for portraits, I have no doubt what so ever that it will produce stunning and outrageous results.
The bokeh (such a fabulous word) this lens produces is jaw dropping, Ii haven’t really moved this lens past F5.6 since I bought it, truth be told I have tried my hardest to keep it wide open at f1.8 as much as the lighting would allow me because of that pesky purple chromatic aberration that attacks high contrast at times, it can be fixed, but it is still an irritation, I do feel petty for mentioning it considering the price you can get this lens for, but it would be foolish to ignore it, and because of this coupled with lack of IS, i would give this lens 9.5 out of 10, and you know that is pretty spectacular.
it still makes a noise, but almost unnoticeable, yes it also feels a wee bit plastic, but hey, it means it’s super light, again I am just being pedantic in mentioning that. If it’s a lens you are considering then do it, I promise you will have hours of fun with it, I have, and plan to have many more hours of fun in the future, it’s safe to say it has earned it’s place in my bag. I will use it for street again, I will use it until it has earned every penny back and more, then when its dead , I will buy another and another, an all round beauty (for portraits and stuff, and some cool pictures of batman, it’s a winner)