Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Telephoto Lens Review



Bokeh – At 85mm and having a f/1.8 aperture and 8 aperture blades, this lens delivers great bokeh. If you really want to isolate your subject and have that smooth creamy background blur, this lens is perfect for the job.

Distortion – When taking portraits it is important to watch the distortion your lenses create. Shooting at lower focal lengths than 50mm typically will result in disproportional facial and body features on a subject. Here is another point at which this lens shines, as expected for a mid-telephoto prime there is little to no distortion.

Vignetting – Throughout my use I have only seen slight vignetting when shooting into the sky when the aperture is wide open, otherwise once stopped down to f/2.8 or more vignetting is almost non-existent.

Flaring – The lens will produce some flaring, however it is very mild and can be corrected for when composing images.

Sharpness – Here is a 100% crop of one of the shots shot at f/2.5:

Canon 60D IMG_5302-2

From the shots above you can tell that you will have the ability to get some tack sharp images with this lens at any aperture. Optimal sharpness for this lens can be achieved at around f/4 – f/5.6.

Color fringing – However, there is a slight downfall when shooting in high contrast situations with the strong purple/magenta color fringing. This almost goes away when you stop down a bit.

Example shots at f/2.5 (bird’s legs) and f/2.8 (flower edges) at 100% crop below:

Canon 60D IMG_2364 - 2

Canon 60D IMG_5286-2


Over the course of my ownership the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM has been quite impressive. Despite its color fringing in high contrast scenes, the lens performs wonderfully for almost any composition. It’s fast and accurate autofucus has helped me to capture shots I thought I had missed. And even though its main selling point is for portrait photography, it works great for those looking to get into still life or street photography where you want that extra reach of a telephoto, but don’t want a huge super zoom sticking out making you look like you are out on a safari.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM - 1

Best of all it is sold at an affordable price of around $360 and the bokeh you get with it is worth every penny. This lens will actually outperform Canon’s far more expensive EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM in many aspects at one fifth the cost! If you are in the market for a great portrait lens or just want that large f/1.8 f-stop, this is the lens for you. To learn more, please visit the Canon website at:

Check Out The Canon EF 85mm F/1.8 Lens at Amazon.

First introduced back in July of 1992, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM medium telephoto lens has been the go to lens of portrait photographers for decades. It benefits from the solid build quality coupled with the low price and overall great image quality. Furthermore, it is lightweight, has pleasant bokeh, and has an extremely fast and accurate focusing system. However, it does have some drawbacks which include color fringing near wide open apertures and the minimum focusing distance is a little farther than I prefer. When I first started off in photography I had my cheap, but trusty Canon…

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