85mm 1.8 for portraits on 40D

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by mathew_gardella, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. I am debating getting the 85mm 1.8 for my 40D. This is about 135mm equivalent on a FF camera. Currently, I am using the 24-70mm L on my 40D for portraits and events however, I am not sure if the jump to 85mm and 1.8 wil justify the costs.... I do like the bokeh, if you believe in such things and the ability to work in low light as the 40D gets kind of noisy at higher iso. Does anyone use a similar combination and are you happy with it for portrait and indoor event work.... please let me know.
    regards,
    mat
     
  2. f/1.8 is barely one stop faster than your L zoom. The longer focal length means that you need fast shutter speeds for hand-holding it in available light. So you will not gain much in this regard and for most definitions of "low light" this lens is unsuited as camera shake is still a serious issue. I have the EF 100mm f/2 and in real life I need >1/200 sec for consistently sharp results (or 1/100 for "acceptable"), although faster is always desireable.
    A lens like the EF 50mm f/1.4 or the SigMa 30mm f/1.4 would be much better for shooting at slow speeds -- although the best is a camera with built-in image stabilization and fast primes.
     
  3. I use the 85/1.8 on both FF (5D, now 5DII) and 1.6-factor (20D, 40D, and now 50D). Although nothing can compete with the 50/1.8 in terms of optical performance for the price, the 85/1.8 is cetainly a bargain by the standards of L lenses. It has excellent IQ on either FF or 1.6-factor (if a bit overshadowed by the performance of its big brother) – see recent tests on Photozone – is better made than the 50/1.4, let alone the 50/1.8, and has real ring USM and full-time manual focusing. In short, it offers just the kind of quality/performance/price balance that I think many folks would like to see elsewhere in the Canon range. And incidentally, it is just a bit more than a stop faster than the 24~70, not a bit less. It's pretty much the classic head-and-shoulders portrait lens for 1.6-factor, just as the 135/2L is for FF, and is a good lens for action photography provided that the fixed focal length is not a limitation. Downsides? Doesn't focus particularly close, and still uses a clip-on hood rather than a bayonet hood, not that the latter matters much with a circular hood.
     
  4. As a portrait lens, I liked the 85/1.8 very much on crop 1.6. For lowlight, I agree with Bueh B. the 50/1.4 or the 30/1.4 are more versatile here.
     
  5. We use 17 50f2.8, 24 70 & 50 f1.4~1/8 for events and work. I like usin 80mm on FF but on crop is good very tight shots, I also use 135 on FF but my studio is only 30 feet long. What do you find your FL is mainly, by the exif are you at 70mm and cropping? then 85mm may work, if around 50mm or 30mm that may give a clue as to what would be more suitable for a faster lens :)
     
  6. It's an excellent lens for bust shots as long as you have plenty of room to work in, and for tight head shots if you don't.
     
  7. I can't compare it to the 24-70, but, I think the the 85/1.8 is terrific value for the money. On a 40D, I find it useful for tight head-shots and for macro (with extension rings).
    I also think that fit and finish of this lens is well beyond that expected for the price.
    If you can afford it, I think it is the best deal in the Canon line-up!
    Here is a hand-held macro sample (40D = 68mm extension):
    http://www.photo.net/photo/7596081
    And, here is a sample of a head-shot taken @ f/1.8:
    Cheers! Jay
    00Sy6d-121925584.JPG
     
  8. I think EVERY Canon shooter should have the 85 1.8 in their bag regardless of your aspect ratio/body.
    I like the focal length on both croppers and FF.
    I have the 135L now since I moved up to ff. What a sweet lens that is too.
     
  9. Just got it for my 40D, but my model canceled yesterday so jury is still out. Some tabletop still life available light shots look nice.
    Bueh, 1.8 is 2.5 stops faster than 4. The full stops would be 4, 2.8, 2, 1.4. So actually that is quite a bit more flexibility as far as available light. I have the 24-105 f4 L and love it, but 1.8 is a LOT faster.
     
  10. Hello again Mat:
    Since you were looking for event & indoor portrait stuff...and I don't normally do that, just for fun I shot this avail light portrait today with the 40D and the 85/1.8. I was about 1 meter distance for this shot.
    Cheers! Jay
    00SyDX-121969784.jpg
     
  11. Bueh, 1.8 is 2.5 stops faster than 4. The full stops would be 4, 2.8, 2, 1.4. So actually that is quite a bit more flexibility as far as available light. I have the 24-105 f4 L and love it, but 1.8 is a LOT faster.​
    Uh, I hate tell you this, but Mat's EF 24-70mm is f/2.8. So actually the EF 85mm f/1.8 USM is 1⅓ faster -- which is not thaaat much difference in most situations. As the 85mm prime needs even faster speeds than the zoom at 70mm for shake-free handholding, the low light capabilities are still pretty poor.
     
  12. I still vote for one of the 50mm lenses as a portrait lens on a 40D class body. I confess I don't have an 85mm prime lens, but I do have several pretty decent lenses in the 90 to 105mm prime territory already that I use on both my "crop" and "full" bodies for portraiture on occasion. My 90mm Tamron Macro is f/2.8, and my Nikkor 105mm is f/2.5 and that's pretty fast if you're, like me, not afraid of higher ISOs.
     
  13. I'm not a Canon user, but it doesn't really matter. I'm sure that Canon's 85mm. f1.8 lens is a very good one. But I don't think the focal length is especially good for portraiture on a crop sensor camera. It is simply too long and requires you to be too far from your subject. I've used my 85 mm f/2 Nikkor on a crop sensor body and found that I had to move too far back to get a "from the waist up" shot. Even a head and shoulders portrait needed to much working distance for my taste. The ideal focal length on a crop sensor body turns out to be right around the 50 mm. mark for me, which works out to be about the same angle of view that one gets with an 85 mm. lens on a full frame body.
     
  14. I use 85mm f/1.8 on my 5D almost exclusively for portraits, and I shoot a lot of em. I agree that the 50mm is better on 40D.
     
  15. I own the 85/1.8 and agree with all the good things that people have said about it. It's a fantastic lens, especially for concerts, sports and other events. However, I agree with Frank and a couple of others: the 85 is just a little too long for comfortable portraits on a crop body. Any 50mm, including the practically free f1.8, is easier to use, and I think, more flattering for portraits. If you find its working distance a little too close for a particular face, you can always step back a foot or two.
    Slightly off-topic, my favorite Canon portrait lens is the 60mm macro. It's exactly equivalent to the classic L-word 90mm Elmarits, gives a little separation from the subject with nice perspective, and it's not as bulky and intimidating as a zoom. It does cost about the same as the 85mm, though, and at f2.8, it won't help you any in the dark.
    Anyway, I guess if you're mainly interested in events, get the 85...portraits, get a 50. Or, here's an idea: get a used or refurbished 85, and a new 50mm f1.8.
     
  16. Sorry, duplicate post....
     
  17. I own the 85/1.8 and agree with all the good things that people have said about it. It's a fantastic lens, especially for concerts, sports and other events. However, I agree with Frank and a couple of others: the 85 is just a little too long for comfortable portraits on a crop body. Any 50mm, including the practically free f1.8, is easier to use, and I think, more flattering for portraits. If you find its working distance a little too close for a particular face, you can always step back a foot or two.
    Slightly off-topic, my favorite Canon portrait lens is the 60mm macro. It's exactly equivalent to the classic L-word 90mm Elmarits, gives a little separation from the subject with nice perspective, and it's not as bulky and intimidating as a zoom. It does cost about the same as the 85mm, though, and at f2.8, it won't help you any in the dark.
    Anyway, I guess if you're mainly interested in events, get the 85...portraits, get a 50. Or, here's an idea: get a used or refurbished 85, and a new 50mm f1.8.
     
  18. I am not sure if the jump to 85mm and 1.8 wil justify the costs....​
    Only get it if you really want/need it. I have it but don't use it often, only because I now use my RF kit more.
    Photography being a visual art, makes me want to see the results of equipment I'm tempted to buy. Thanks to Jay for showing actual photos taken with the 85 ef 1.8.
    The price is pretty inexpensive considering that you don't have to buy only primes for your Canon. But first I would get the 50 1.8, and use it awhile. It's so cheap ($70) you will not have buyers remorse. Decide if you need the $380 85mm f/1.8 later.
     
  19. Go for Canon or Sigma 50mm/1.4. They are considerably faster than your zoom (1.4 is twice as much light as 2.8) and on 1.6x body this focal length is already tight enough for portraits as it is 80mm. My Canon 50/1.4 USM with my 40D even at higher ISO speeds produces fantastic results.
     
  20. The 85mm F1.8 will be excellent on your 40D if the light is sufficient enough to allow a fast enough shutter speed. Obviously in low light, possible doin events, you may struggle a bit if the light is really low. But, contary to some suggestions above, anything less than 50mm is garbage for portraits - in my opinion and to my shooting style. Yesterday I took a portrait (head) shot with a 50mm F1.8 on my 5D and that was at the limit of what I feel comfortable with. I much prefer a 200mm lens on a 5D for portraits.
     
  21. I shot a walk-about downtown a few weeks back with the 100mm f/2.0. I had some very acceptably sharp shots at 1/50th and a few that were acceptably sharp (nothing detectable at 1:1 pixels) at 1/25th. If you practice handholding, you can get shots in much much darker conditions with an f/1.8 or f/2.0 prime as compared to a 2.8 zoom. Usually the first shot in a series is the sharpest for me, so I rarely do more than one shot anymore. This was on my 40D on said walk-about. Handheld, braced arms into stomach and held breath. [​IMG]
    Canon 40D, 100mm f/2.0, at ISO 3200, f/2.0, 1/80. She was walking towards me and I was manually tracking focus as I was slowly stepping backwards as well.
     
  22. I agree that the 85mm on a crop is tougher to get a full length shot, of a posed person or object ,while using it on a crop sensor like I am,
    but for me personally I bought the lens becuase I think it produces very sharp pictures,and even though it has no IS I have nit had any
    serious shake issue as of yet.The truth is a lot of times I shoot in places that are not so perfect for photos ,old run down places ,some
    churches I shoot in are just awful when it comes to background shots,so with the bokeh this lens produces I am able to produce what
    appears to higher quality portraits. Whihc so far most people are way more pleased that there faces and clothing is so presentable
    versus the environment ,and lastly I knew when i finally step up to a full frame lens I will have one more lens that I can use and not be
    limited by the cameras i have.
     

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