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This is the photography blog for photographer and writer David Moore. He's based in Santa Fe, New Mexico but speaks with a funny accent.

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    December 22nd, 2008

    Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM early review

    41XQYPKEBEL._SL500_AA280_.jpgMeet my new favourite lens – the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM prime.

    It’s fast, focuses quickly and seems to share with the 28mm f/1.8 a richness of color that makes ho-hum shots look good and good shots look great.

    (If I ever take any great shots, I’ll be fascinated to see what it does with them).

    (More after the jump)

    Going long

    A crop body like my Rebel XT (350D) turns it into a pretty long 136mm equivalent focal length. That’s a bit too much indoors for anything but the tightest headshot (but might be handy for candid portraits at a wedding, for example).

    I could also see it being useful for some indoor sports shooting where the light wasn’t that great.

    I bought it (secondhand for a good price on eBay with the lens hood included) partly in anticipation of getting a used full-frame 5D next year, when it will (more or less) replicate the reach my nifty fifty (EF 50mm f/1.8) gets on the Rebel XT.

    A certain something

    But even on a crop body it’s a great portrait lens. Bokeh is pleasing, and it’s contrasty with really satisfying color rendition.

    Can you tell I’m really fond of it already?

    It’s also light and smallish (but longer than the 28mm or 50mm primes), so is unobtrusive and doesn’t take up too much room in a bag.

    On the other hand

    The lens hood clamps onto the lens, rather than screwing on which makes it seem only flimsily attached. It hasn’t fallen off yet, but it’s not as solid as the 24-105mm f/4L hood that makes you feel you bang in nails with it.

    And on my (used) version the focus ring is slightly loose, but since I almost always autofocus, that’s not really a problem.

    The minimum focus distance seems long to me, which is a shame, as it would be nice to be able to get in really tight for some macro-ish details.

    Summary and Sample images

    Fast, light and affordable, with great results. A welcome addition to my range of lens options.

    Finn at 85mm

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