Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM review

The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM is a long-serving, budget-friendly prime

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM
(Image: © James Artaius)

Digital Camera World Verdict

Unusually compact and lightweight for an 85mm prime, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM has a sufficiently fast aperture rating to deliver a fairly tight depth of field and freeze motion even under dimpsy lighting. All in all, it’s a smart, budget-friendly lens that’s ideal for portraiture and still-life photography.


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    Small, compact build

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    Good overall image quality

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    No weather-seals

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    Hood sold separately

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    Edge-sharpness could be better

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The Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM is refreshingly inexpensive to buy. Unless you’re a professional portrait photographer, the chances are that you won’t want to blow your budget on a single lens. This veteran Canon lens is still a firm favorite, not least because it’s reasonably compact and lightweight, ideal for popping in a spare corner of a gadget bag. Better still, it only costs a small fraction of Canon’s ‘faster’ 85mm lenses and is much more lightweight, at just 425g. Naturally, downsizing and cheaper manufacturing costs are mostly due to the narrower aperture rating of f/1.8, compared with the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM or EF 85mm f/1.2L USM II lenses.

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.