< Back to the Photography Museum Lenses: Canon EF Mount
Canon EF 85 ƒ/1.8 USM
Originally introduced in 1992, the Canon EF 85 ƒ/1.8 USM is a highly prized medium telephoto lens with relatively fast aperture. The large aperture and low distortion of this lens make it ideal for portraiture or any activity requiring high-quality rendering. It has been characterized as the “Bokeh King” for its pleasingly smooth out of focus rendition, especially considering its attractive price.
Early-2020 MSRP prices comparison:
|Canon EF 85 ƒ/1.8 USM||$419|
|Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM||$1599|
|Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM||$1999|
|Canon RF 85mm f/1.2L USM DS||$2999|
|Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art||$1199|
|Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD||$749|
|Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary*||$479|
*Canon do not make a APS-C equivalent lens, but Sigma have introduced a fast 85mm equivalent lens.
Mounted on an APS-C camera an 85mm lens is equivalent to a ~135mm focal-length FF lens.
I purchased my copy around 2009. The lens is compact and fast enough that image stabilization is not missed in real-world use (indeed, IS would make the lens bigger). I had intended to use this lens mostly for candid portrait work, but the USM autofocus is rather slow and the focal-length rather long on APS-C, especially indoors. I always love the results, but don’t often find a use for this lens. As such, it only comes out on special occasions.