Review of Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM is a lens that may seem unremarkable but you’ll find that it may just be the lens that you’re looking for. If your looking to upgrade your gear.

Taking portraits and shooting bands for local magazines. For live music photography, the 85mm lens was great. For small shots you won’t find much of a problem. For group shots, it was too long but for solo artist portrait sittings, its great. It will never let you down and you’ll be impressed with the way the images looked. It may quickly become your go-to lens.


As far as lenses go, this is pretty cheap. You can buy one brand new Canon EF 85mm F/1.8 USM lens for R6999 at Camerland Sandton. There is nothing else in the Canon lineup in the 85mm range that comes anywhere close to it price-wise. The only third-party 85mm lens that can come close is by Sigma, and it was better, but only a little and it is a lot more expensive. In term of a return on investment, the lens will pay for itself so many times over. the choice of this or a camera body upgrade, proportionately this lens wins by a country mile. Price-wise Canon shooters, this lens is a no brainer.

Build Quality

It’s plastic. It isn’t like the Sigma Art or Zeiss lense. It does feel a little cheap, and it doesn’t look that impressive as well. However, after years of heavy use, it hasn’t failed once. It can survive being dropped a few times and it can survive harsh weather conditions such as snow and rain. The one failing of the build is that the lens hood for this is complete rubbish.


This is where the lens really shines through. You’ll never be disappointed with the optical performance of this lens. It’s better than the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens and is nearly as good as the Sigma Art prime series. From f/2.0 onwards it’s incredibly sharp and renders good colours and contrast. It isn’t exotic, but it performs every single time.


This lens is super fast. It’s faster than the f/1.2 offering from Canon and is almost as fast as the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens. It also seems to grab focus fast and is completely silent. You can get away with focusing it during video without having any odd stuttering or grinding sounds that other lenses often create.

What You’ll Like

The price point for a lens with this optical quality and longevity is great. You can have shots with this from day one and continued to shoot major campaigns with it throughout your career. There is no way that I can justify upgrading this lens to anything more expensive when clients just don’t complain.

The build quality is also great. Although it feels cheap, you can be assured that it’s tough. You’ll probably also not have to service it so regularly, which is more than I can say for more expensive lenses. 

The optics on this lens are amazing. But I really couldn’t pinpoint any faults with the optical performance. The only reason you would upgrade is if you wanted something with a particular aesthetic. This lens does offer a solid performing 85mm focal length that will get your from beginner to a jobbing professional at a great price point, but it misses any magic that some more fancy lenses can bring to the table. But it won’t have you breaking the bank

What You Won’t Like

There are a few faults with this lens. The actual manual focusing band isn’t the best and can come loose, but I think at the price point that this is fine. I have had L lenses have similar faults. Apart from that, the only issue is that the lens hood doesn’t come with it as standard and when you do buy it, it breaks very quickly. So be careful.

Who Is This Lens For?

If Canon lenses fit your camera and you need a portrait or telephoto lens then this is a great introduction to that world. It’s perfect for wedding photographers and portrait photographers. It’s also a great move if you don’t have the money for an expensive zoom and in my opinion, it offers far better optical performance, while it’s lacking the obvious versatility of other zoom lenses. If you already own a good standard zoom or a 50mm or 35mm lens then this would be a great next step to filling your camera bag. I truly believe that as a professional this lens will give you a great return on investment and will allow you to create some really cool work without breaking the bank.

You can find the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens right here.

Original Review by: fstoppers.com (Scott Choucino)