EF 85 1.8 USM
.Portrait Lover Glass
The EF 85 1.8
USM is Canon's shortest telephoto. Fast
aperture and natural perspective of this focal
length make it a wonderful lens for indoor
portraits and candids. This is also the shortest
focal length for flattering head and shoulder
portraits on full frame cameras. Wider lenses distort and enlarge
objects slightly nearer to the lens, e.g., noses
Grace Frary | Canon EOS A2, EF 85 1.8 USM & Fujichrome 100
When shot wide open to F2.8, the
shallow depth of field creates beautiful
background blur and really makes the subject
pop. However, because the depth of field is
shallow, be sure to focus on the most important
features (eyes for humans and
EF 85 1.8 USM | Shortest lens for flattering head and
shoulder portraits on full frame
The EF 85 1.8
USM is small (71.5 mm L) and light (425 g) for a fast
lens, slightly larger than the EF 50 1.4 USM. The 58 mm
filter size makes filters inexpensive and easy
to share with other Canon lenses.
USM is silent and shockingly fast. Because it employs internal
focusing (IF), the front element doesn't rotate
nor does the barrel change in length. Like all
ring-type USM lenses, it has FT-M and a distance
window. FT-M (Full-Time Manual) allows manual focus without flipping the AF/M switch.
The manual focusing ring is fairly wide and
turns almost as smoothly as a manual lens.
Thankfully, the construction is more beefy and
handsome than old AFD designs such as the EF
50 1.8 or EF 135 2.8 SF.
99 | Canon EOS A2, EF 85 1.8 USM & Fuji
The main reason to use a lens like this is for the shallow depth of field (DOF) at F1.8 and the resulting bokeh (soft background). However, with narrow DOF you must pick your point of focus carefully. For portraits, this means locking focus on an eye. DOF at F1.8 at head and shoulders distance is extremely shallow: if you focus on an eyebrow, the eyeball, nose and ears will be soft!
not a macro lens, it focuses close enough for
head shots (.85 m/2.8') and is well
corrected for distortion. Chromatic aberration (CA) is well controlled with only slight magenta fringing along high contrast edges. e.g., tree branches against a bright sky.
This lens is very sharp
and flare resistant. It's sharp center frame at F 1.8 but I often stop down to F2.5 or 2.8 to squeeze in a wee bit more DOF. It's a little sharper stopped down, especially corners, but I rarely stop down beyond F4 since I prefer a blurred background.
The EF 85 1.8 USM uses the
massive ET-65 III (or ET-65 II) lens hood, a
clip-on design. It shades well but is a bit loose and pops off easily.
Grace | Canon EOS A2, EF 85 1.8 USM & Kodak
The EF 85 1.8 USM has been in production since 1992 and such longevity is a testament to the effectiveness of this design. High optical quality never goes out of fashion. If you shoot a
lot of portraits, especially in small studios,
this is a must-have lens. For the price of a
consumer zoom ($375), you can have image quality
that rivals the finest L series
Please help support this website by purchasing this lens at Amazon.
6/21/2001 | Revised 06/25/2017
2001-2017 by Peter Kun Frary | All Rights