Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens review

A new lens - for two weeks (270/366)
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Photodoto announced that BorrowLenses would hold a lens rental giveaway for a free 2-week lens rental. I wrote:

I think I’d want to try a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 because I’m very much into street photography right now and my 50mm is too close for comfort. 🙂

Max at BorrowLenses chose me! As a cool ego boost, he liked this photo blog, too. How awesome is that?

In the course of two weeks, I took over 600 photos. As of now, 67 of them are uploaded to Flickr.

My simple review

My expectations were already high. The Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is slow. While the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II is an inexpensive, fast prime lens, it takes a long time to focus in low-light situations. It’s pretty noisy, too. (For the price, it’s still really good, though.)

When I received the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens, I was very pleased with the build and feel of the lens. I immediately took a self-portrait [above] to test it out. Awesome. Of course, since the Canon EOS 40D has 1.6x field of view crop factor, it’s like a 136mm focal length.

I don’t pixel peep, so don’t expect that analysis here. Just know that for basically all the photos I took with it, I loved the quality and bokeh it produced. At 19% the cost of the Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM, I wouldn’t even hesitate.

My picks from the two weeks using the 85mm lens

James, our drummer
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You did well
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Kate (273/366)
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All that matters after a long day
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Kristina from The Breakup
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Extended rush (281/366)
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You can view all the photos I took with the Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM lens at this Flickr photoset.

Thanks to John at Photodoto and Max at!

Published by

Bryan Villarin

Bryan works at Automattic. Cat whisperer. Sometimes, a photographer and card magician.

5 thoughts on “Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM lens review”

  1. Dollar for dollar, Canon never made a better lens. I bought mine used for under $275, and have wondered ever since just how the seller could ever part with it. If you do not have one, get one. It is light, takes up very little space in your bag, and produces great images.


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