Expert Week: Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM lens test

Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Lens Overview

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The Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM is one of the most popular lenses in the Canon EOS system. This is a real portraiture created especially for photographing people. It has a high aperture and at the same time affordable price. Only the ultra-budget Canon EF 50mm f / 1.8 can compete in cost. But these lenses differ primarily in focal length, and therefore in the depth of field obtained in the pictures. The second difference is less obvious to novice photographers – the optical design and nature of the picture.

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F1.8, 1/200 s

Portrait lenses are created specifically for photographing people. In the nature of the pattern of such optics, the developers are trying to achieve a certain compromise between the softness of the blur, sharpness, level of distortion and, most importantly, the most beautiful study of the details of the portrait. That is why the cost of some real portraiture can be very high: sometimes realization of mutually exclusive characteristics in one lens results in the need to use expensive grades of glass and complex optical schemes with aspherical elements. But the hero of our test is notable for its affordable price. Let’s see what he is capable of!

Check Price Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM

Canon Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM is participating in Canon’s “Card Money Back” promotion . When buying this model, the amount of return is 2500 rubles.

In the appearance of the lens, everything is directly proportional to the cost. This is no longer a “whale” with its small backlashes and, as a whole, not too monolithic design, but also not “elka” (the lens of the top L-series) with a waterproof housing. The housing of the Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM is made primarily of plastic, assembled efficiently, without backlashes and gaps. Of the controls, the lens has only a manual focus ring with the ability to adjust focus at any time and an autofocus switch.

Autofocus speed is enough for shooting animals

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F1.8, 1/1000 s

The name and a gold inscription on the lens itself indicate that the ultrasonic motor is responsible for focusing on the Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM. For a portrait portrait, the Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM focuses very quietly and fairly quickly. Let me remind you that this is one of the slowest lenses of any manufacturer: the peculiarity of the optical scheme with often massive lens units affects it.

Minimum Focus Distance

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F1.8, 1/2000 s

The flip side of such a high speed is a relatively large minimum focusing distance. Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM has it at 85 cm. This is the average value for portraiturers, which makes it possible to shoot even large-scale portraits without problems, but significantly limits the use of the lens in subject photography. Let me remind you that most of the Canon lenses we tested focused from a distance of less than half a meter.

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 3200, F1.8, 1/100 s

The Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM was designed primarily for full-frame cameras. This focal length is especially convenient when shooting medium-sized portraits. It allows you to get a low level of perspective distortion during large-scale shooting on the chest and at the same time makes it possible to shoot waist and height portraits without moving too far from the model and without losing verbal contact with it. When using the Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM with amateur mirrors equipped with APS-C sensors, both of these advantages of the lens are preserved, but you have to move away from the model during shooting one and a half times further, which makes it uncomfortable to shoot indoors. I would even say that for cameras with an APS-C sensor, a longer-focus portrait portrait is not needed.

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 50, F1.8, 1/1250 s

Так в чем же преимущество рисунка оптики классического портретного объектива перед, скажем, макрообъективом или телевиком? Во-первых, речь идет о более сильном размытии фона за счет более высокой светосилы. Но и сам характер размытия будет отличаться. Мягкость — это слово в полной мере характеризует зону боке. Единичные блики имеют равномерное заполнение, что практически исключает “эффект чешуи” и двоение линий. Справедливости ради нужно отметить: в некоторых случаях пресловутую “чешую” в боке все же можно получить. Для этого нужно снимать с размытым фоном сюжет, изобилующий мелкими и очень контрастными яркими пятнами, отстоящими друг от друга на некотором расстоянии. В этом случае жесткости рисунку добавят хроматические аберрации. Но чаще всего портретная съемка в таких условиях не слишком удачна в целом: контрастный фон может провоцировать пересветы в кадре, отвлекать внимание от модели.

The lens can be triggered by the appearance of a “scale effect” in the bokeh, but this is not easy to do.

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 800, F1.8, 1/100 s

No doubling in the bokeh zone

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F1.8, 1/3200 s

In all other cases, the blur on the Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM will be close to perfect. Even an absolutely inexpressive and uninteresting background, replete with interfering details, can be represented beautifully in the picture. Blurring the background beyond recognition is not a problem. In a portrait this is often useful. You can get a beautiful shot almost anywhere. The quality of images compared to whale lenses and many zoom lenses will be higher by an order of magnitude. But there will be a difference with portrait lenses of the highest price category . Top optics are distinguished by their unique pattern. Often it is perceived by the viewer at a subconscious level, making the picture more attractive. Compared to the same Canon EF 85m f / 1.2L USM, the hero of our test looks a bit boring in its design.

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F1.8, 1/80 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F1.8, 1/250 s

Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM sharpness lovers will love it. Already at the open aperture, this lens allows you to accurately draw the eyelashes of the model with an accurate focus. But remember that the depth of field in such cases will be extremely small. The skin of the face will be defocused, slightly blurred. In this blur, the character of a real portrait portrait is manifested. Often, images from such a lens do not require complex correction, since already at the shooting stage they allow you to hide skin defects. Covering the aperture to f / 2-f / 2.8 increases both the depth of field and the level of detail. But to close it stronger is no longer worth it: the very idea of ​​a portrait lens is lost, the effect of soft and strong blur.

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F1.8, 1/4000 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F2, 1/3200 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F2.8, 1/1600 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F4, 1/1000 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F5.6, 1/500 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F8, 1/200 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 100, F11, 1/100 s

The only noticeable drawback of the Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM design is the relatively high level of chromatic aberration, especially on the open aperture. Lilac rims in contrasting objects are visible throughout the field of the frame. Their level decreases significantly at f / 2.8, which is partly a way out of the situation. But with this aperture value, the degree of blurring the background also decreases, and the glare becomes slightly angular, repeating the shape of the eight-petal aperture. Fans of shooting on an open aperture should simply carefully choose scenes and suppress aberrations in a graphical editor. Let me remind you that during this test we turned off the automatic correction of all distortions in the camera and did not use the graphical editor.

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 400, F1.8, 1/100 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 400, F1.8, 1/80 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 500, F2, 1/80 s
Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM Settings: ISO 1000, F2.8, 1/80 s

conclusions

The Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM is a Must Have lens for Canon EOS camera owners. It is equally convenient for full-frame and APS-C cameras. This is a high-quality portraiture at an affordable price: sharp on an open aperture, with a nice soft pattern. Of course, in some ways he lacks the “magic” that more expensive lenses like the Canon EF 85mm F1.2L USM possess. But a simple amateur is unlikely to be able to feel this difference. The lens is very good for portraits, but due to the large minimum focusing distance and the relatively high level of chromatic aberration on the open aperture, it is not suitable for other genres, for example, for subject shooting.

We recommend the Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM to all portraits enthusiasts, no matter what your Canon camera is. Compared with a whale lens or even with a better zoom, it will give a fundamentally better result and will delight you with a real portrait picture.

Pros:

  • compact;
  • autofocus fast for portraiture;
  • strong background blur;
  • soft bokeh without ghosting and “scales”;
  • high sharpness for portraiture;
  • affordable cost.

Minuses:

  • minimum focusing distance 85 cm;
  • high chromatic aberration up to f / 2.8.

Check Price Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM


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