Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM review

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM is perfect for handheld portraiture

5 Star Rating
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM
(Image: © Canon)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Combining stellar image quality in all respects with great handling and the rare bonus of optical image stabilization, at least in such a fast prime lens, this Canon EF 85mm is brilliant for handheld wedding photography and portraiture. When you’re on the move and don’t have time to set up each shot with a tripod, it can be a real image-saver.


  • +

    Fast f/1.4 aperture

  • +

    Optical image stabilization

  • +

    Tough weather-sealed build


  • -

    Fairly large and heavy

  • -

    Pricey to buy

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The Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM combines a fast aperture with a little extra something. There’s usually no problem in getting suitably fast shutter speeds for portraiture when shooting with an f/1.4 lens. But if you’re at an event like a wedding, and shooting portraits in the evening or indoors under ambient lighting, exposures can become awkwardly slow. This Canon lens comes to the rescue as, unusually for an EF f/1.4 lens for DSLRs, it features an image stabilizer. Naturally, you could use a tripod but stabilization gives you more freedom to move around and play the angles, shooting handheld without setup adjustments interrupting the creative flow.

Read more:
The best portrait lenses
The best lenses for wedding photography

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.