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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 16 Jun 2013 (Sunday) 16:07
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Need Opinions Canon 50mm f/1.4 vs Canon 85mm f/1.8

168 posts
Joined May 2013
Jun 16, 2013 16:07 |  #1

OK, I've read the reviews. I've perused the wonderful photos in this forum. Watched the reviews by DigitalRev on Youtube.

Hey, I'm a newbie. I'm trying to decide between the Canon 50mm f/1.4 USMI, and the Canon 85mm f/1.8 USM as my third lens. Money IS an object, so the "L" lenses just have to wait.

Once purchase is made, my current lenses will be the 18-55 and 55-250 "kit" lenses. The camera will be the t3i. After this purchase, I'll be outta $$ for a WHILE, so I want to make it count.

Politics is a game of lies. He who tells the best lies the best, wins.

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Jun 16, 2013 16:54 |  #2

Well first thing's first... what do you like to shoot, and where do you find yourself commonly taking photos? Either lens on a crop body like the T3i will be a telephoto, with the 50mm giving you roughly ~80mm FOV, and the 85mm giving you a ~135mm FOV. Both are good for portraiture, have fast aperture, and the 85mm provides nice compression.

Just a soul with a camera

Cream of the Crop
13,432 posts
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Joined Mar 2005
Location: Portage, Wisconsin USA
Jun 16, 2013 16:58 |  #3

Yes, decide on a 50 or an 85 first. Read way better reviews than what you mentioned, please., photodo, FredMiranda Reviews, Lens Tip, The-Digital-picture, Lensplay, etc.


168 posts
Joined May 2013
Jun 16, 2013 17:11 |  #4

Thanx. The lens will be for portaiture, and, possibly as a "walk around" lens. Found another enthusiast who just walks around snapping photos. He's been at that a few years. Has some fascinating stuff. Plan to "pick his brain". Will alternate with the 18-55 zoom.

Portaiture will be in my "Kludge Studio" in my garage. Mostly friends and relatives, until I really get some experience. 8' x 10'.

Amazing backgrounds! Wife is a quilter. She has the most fabulous fabrics. Coupla clothespins on a wire shelf, the model sits on a low chair, and you have a background. When done, fold it up, and give it back.

Will hunt up those reviews.

Politics is a game of lies. He who tells the best lies the best, wins.

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Jun 16, 2013 18:00 |  #5

buffumjr wrote in post #16036789 (external link)
Portaiture will be in my "Kludge Studio" in my garage. Mostly friends and relatives, until I really get some experience. 8' x 10'.

Take one of your existing lenses and zoom it to 85mm in this space and see what you can see. Then try 50mm. I think the 50mm may work if you're not going wider than headshots, but the 85mm would not leave enough working room. I think you'd have a hard time getting anything at 85mm without putting both of your backs against the wall.

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Checking squirrels nuts
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Jun 16, 2013 18:35 |  #6

on a crop? easy, 50mm

unless you plan to do headshots, the 50 will be more versatile. with i had my 60D, i rarely used my 85mm in favor of the 50mm

Canon 5d mkii | Canon 17-40/4L | Tamron 24-70/2.8 | Canon 85/1.8 | Canon 135/2L
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Scott ­ M
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Jun 16, 2013 18:49 |  #7

For portraits, a 50mm prime is a good focal length on a crop body. As a walk around lens, I would want something even wider.

That being said, I did not care for a 50mm prime on a crop body -- with the caveat being I do not take many portraits. I found the 85mm prime more useful for concerts, family weddings and indoor sports.

Make your decision based on the focal length you will use. Try your 18-55 kit lens at 50mm and your 55-250 lens at 85mm to get a feel for which length works for you. Also try the 18-55 at 28-30mm. You may fins you want a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 or Canon 28mm f/1.8 instead as a walk around prime.

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"my bits and pieces are all hard"
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Location: Detroit, MI
Jun 16, 2013 19:44 |  #8

On a 1.6X body I personally would be more inclined to go for a 28/1.8 or 30/1.4 as a first prime. If you are absolutely sure you want longer, something at 50mm is probably a better choice than 85mm unless you are really sure that such a tight focal length is where you want your fast lens.

For me my first priority in a fast lens is normal focal length (30mm on your camera)
Then I want wide (15mm on your camera, this lens doesn't exist for 1.6X)
And then I want a short telephoto (50-85mm on your camera)

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I use a Canon 5DIII and a Sony A7rIII

Senior Member
261 posts
Joined Feb 2009
Jun 16, 2013 20:09 as a reply to  @ JeffreyG's post |  #9

Without spending $$$ for L lenses, the 50 1.4 and 85 1.8 are both very good lenses to own/use ... I believe you will be very pleased with the results of either.

Using a crop body for portraits with limited space your best choice is probably a 50 and since money is an object I would recommend that you take a close look at the 50 1.8, a lens that provides excellent results for not a lot of money (you should be able to find one for close to $100). If you take portraits of small groups you should also look at a wider prime such as a 28mm. But with enough light, you may be OK with your 18-55 for this purpose.

The two lenses that you plan to begin with, the 18-55 and 55-250 are both very good lenses and you might want to shoot with these until you develop a "feel" for what you want to do and at that point you can make good, informed choices of your lens purchases. Good luck.

Canon 6D | 50D | EOS M1 | EOS M2 | S-90 | EF 28 f/2.8 IS | EF 40 f/2.8 | EF 50 f/1.4 | EF 85 f/1.8 | EF 100 f/2.8 macro | EF 24-105 f/4L IS | EF 70-200 f/4L IS | EF-M 22 | EF-M 11-22 | EF-M 18-55 | EF-M 55-200

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Jun 16, 2013 20:32 as a reply to  @ JRET's post |  #10

I have both. I would say the 85/1.8 is slightly the better lens because it has ring USM unlike the micro USM in the 50/1.4. However, the 50 is a more usable lens on crop. The 85/1.8 can really melt out a busy background though if you have enough room.

Like others have said though, a 28/1.8 or 30/1.4 would probably the best option for the first fast prime.

Canon 7D/350D, Σ17-50/2.8 OS, 18-55IS, 24-105/4 L IS, Σ30/1.4 EX, 50/1.8, C50/1.4, 55-250IS, 60/2.8, 70-200/4 L IS, 85/1.8, 100/2.8 IS L, 135/2 L 580EX II, 430EX II * 2, 270EX II.

54 posts
Joined Dec 2009
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Jun 16, 2013 20:54 |  #11

When I started, I had similar gear like yourself, Canon XSi with 18-55mm kit lens. I wanted a fast prime so my first purchase was the 85mm F1.8. I found it completely unusable indoors. It's way too long. In fact, even now, I do not use it as much outdoors. Next purchase was the 50mm F1.8 thinking that it would be sufficient indoors. It's not as long but I cannot use it for anything other than shoulder length portraits. Group shots will be difficult indoors. I finally bought the Sigma 30mm and I can tell you that for me, it's perfect. It's my go to lens for everything. I wouldn't hesitate using it as my only lens anywhere.

My suggestion is the 30mm ART so you have the optional USB dock support. ^^

7D | 15-85mm IS | 30mm f/1.4 | 50mm f/1.8 | 85mm f/1.8 | 580EX II | 430EX II | YN-560

Senior Member
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Joined Dec 2011
Location: SF Bay Area, NorCal
Jun 16, 2013 22:56 |  #12

I don't like the Canon 50mm lens. Period. If you don't mind MF get a CY Zeiss Planar 1.7/50 T* off of eBay from a reputable seller. I bought one for $125 and got an adapter for ~$20 more. I blows the Canon away and is as good or better than my Sigma 50mm and it's 1/2 the size and weight. Since I don't use 50mm all that much and I don't want to give up a lot of bag space to the Sigma 50mm I rarely take it with me due to it's size. The thing is when you need 50mm you need 50mm so I don't like to not having one on me at all so the Zeiss fits that niche nicely and is always in my bag.

As far as the 85mm f/1.8 I love that lens on both "crops" (~136mm) and FF cameras. It's an amazing value. I may buy a Nikon Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AI-s and sell the Canon because the Nikon is one of the best 85mm ever made and you can get one for under $600 in 9+/10 condition. I do most of my shooting in MF mode anyway so as long as there's an adapter and the lens doesn't require optics in that adapter to work, then I'm game...

Senior Member
342 posts
Likes: 12
Joined Jun 2013
Location: California
Jun 16, 2013 23:14 |  #13

Canon 50 1.4 has Delicious B O K E H ;)

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Cream of the Crop
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Location: Hong Kong
Jun 17, 2013 06:35 |  #14

baj2k wrote in post #16037523 (external link)
I don't like the Canon 50mm lens.

Same here. Had one, didn't like it (didn't like the IQ, didn't like the build, didn't like the AF), sold it.

Based on my experience with that, I would recommend the 85 (which I happen to like more in terms of focal length even on crop).

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4 posts
Joined Jun 2013
Location: Ontario
Jun 17, 2013 16:36 |  #15

I've had a T3i for 1.5 years now with the 18-55 kit lens, till 6 months ago i got the 50mm 1.4 and man i love it ! It has got me hooked on photograhpy with all the sharp pictures ive taken of my kids and familly !! Just a wicked lens but i've have'nt used anything other than the kit lenses the 55-250 included. Do not regret buying it at all and will never sell it now i got it ! I say yes to the 50mm 1.4:cool:

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Need Opinions Canon 50mm f/1.4 vs Canon 85mm f/1.8
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