Best Medium Primary Telephoto Lens: Canon EF 85mm f / 1.4L IS USM

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The Canon EF 85mm f / 1.4L IS USM lens sits in Canon’s fast mid-range prime range between the EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM (£ 325) and the EF 85mm f / 1.2 L II USM (£ 1765) . It is compatible with Canon’s APS-C DSLRs (equivalent to 136mm in 35mm terms), but is best handled on full-frame full-frame EOS DSLRs like the EOS 6D Mark II and EOS 5D Mark IV.

The lens is aimed at serious enthusiasts and professionals who specialize in portraits, reports, and wedding photography. Its focal length is particularly complementary to portraiture and by opening the lens to its maximum aperture, it is possible to produce sublime background blur, though not as dreamy as with the faster EF 85mm f / 1.2 L II USM.

The main feature is its built-in optical image stabilization, something the cheaper EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM or the more expensive EF 85mm f / 1.2 L II USM doesn’t offer. The IS system is effective up to 4 stops, allowing users to capture sharp manual shots more slowly than would be possible in low light conditions.

As expected from an L-series lens with Canon’s famous red ring around the barrel, the lens is fully sealed and features a focus distance window behind its large manual focus ring. The focus is fast and quiet and the lens offers impressive center sharpness at f / 1.4.

Canon fans have had a long wait for an 85mm f / 1.4 to arrive, but this lens doesn’t disappoint in the least. It’s a cheaper and lighter alternative to the EF 85mm f / 1.2 L II USM and it’s a lens that many EOS full-frame users would love to have in their kitbag.


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