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The 5 Best 85mm Lenses You Can Buy Today

Lenses can be tricky and challenging to pick for every photography enthusiast. Many photographers choose 85mm camera lenses due to their versatility in use. Catching stunning portrait pictures by isolating the main subject is easier with an 85mm lens.

In this article, you will find the best 85mm lens you can find on the market!

A Quick Look at My Favorite 85mm Lenses

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best For Video Recording
NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S
NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S
10
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Best Budget
Sony SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22
Sony SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22
8.6
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Best For Image Stabilization
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM
8.5
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Best For Bokeh Photography
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens
8.8
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Best Overall
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens
8.6
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Key Takeaways

  • Despite buying several lenses for various uses, most photographers like 85mm lenses because of their versatility, increasing the image’s quality.
  • Since it is the most significant overall and has a lot to offer, the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens would be my ideal choice if you seek my opinion.
  • The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is a fantastic buy if you’re into bokeh photography, especially if you like to shoot at night.
  • Using an 85mm lens has various advantages, including removing the distracting backdrop and giving the subject some breathing room.

The Top 5 Best 85mm Lenses

5. NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S- Best For Video Recording

NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f1.8 S 4

What I Like

  • Sturdy build
  • Quick autofocus
  • Amazing Optics
  • Dust and splash protection

What I Don’t Like

  • Omits fluorine protection

S-Line is Nikon’s top expanding quality product. With NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S series, they made a pretty light lens for easy hand-holding. The portrait lens is built to be used for a long period of time and is really hard to be scratched.

The importance of the lens stands in the ability to give you the perfect shot in every weather condition. Featuring dust, moisture, and drip-resistant character helps a lot.

The NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S portrait lens features a customizable Control Ring that allows you to use quiet aperture control. That means when you shoot in absolute silence, the iris makes a great transition either while recording a video or shooting a photo.

The lens absolutely owns it while performing in natural video recordings. It has a quiet AF system and really smooth aperture settings. If you plan to shoot documentaries, interviews, or b-roll footage or you want to tell a story in sharp detail, NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S will be a suitable lens.

For chromatic aberrations, NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S avoids any unnecessary color distortion. There is ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) Glass to take care of that, and this results in amazing image quality. Anti-reflection with Nano Crystal coating is another tool that helps with the reduction of ghosting and flare. To prevent fringing, just come closer to the targeted subject and you’ll be fine.

The autofocus of this portrait lens is excellent in speed and precision. Using a “focus-by-wire” stepping motor (STM), this lens is doing everything that you programmed it to do.

Key Specifications
 
  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Lens Mount: Nikon Z
  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Elements: 12 Elements
  • Groups: 8 Groups
  • Angle of view: 28° 30′
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9 Rounded
  • Closest focusing distance: 2.62′ / 80 cm
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 0.12x
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Filter size: 67 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions: 3.89 x 2.95 x 2.95 inches
  • Weight: 1.04 lbs.

Why should you buy it?

If you need an 85mm lens for videos, let me say that NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S is one of those that will help you go through videos in the best way possible. There is also the perfect focusing ability.

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Sample Pictures of NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8


4. Sony SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22- Best Budget

Sony SEL85F18 85mm F1.8 22 5

What I Like

  • Very sharp
  • Dust and moisture resistant
  • Bright aperture

What I Don’t Like

  • Omits image stabilization

Sony’s SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22 lens has a lightweight construction and sleek overall design. We know that lenses come at a high cost, but this is not the case with this series. The lens proves to be best for the offered price point.

The bright aperture of Sony’s SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22 lens is a real profit gained from fine-tuned control over the depth of field. Difficult conditions, say no more with this lens. It performs its best in every weather condition because it’s weather-sealed.

Featuring extra-low dispersion elements to fully prevent chromatic aberrations and color fringing, Sony SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22 lens elicits great picture clarity, accuracy and image quality.

The AF works with a double linear motor system to provide the required smoothness and silence that you are not expecting from the budget camera. Also, the focus hold button keeps the same focusing position for extra functions, and you can choose the AF or MF according to preference.

Taking detailed portraits with a medium telephoto zoom lens is easy. The aim is to fill the gap between the standard zoom lens and the long zoom lens. So, you don’t have to approach too close for a single sharp photo. Even if you crop the taken portrait to 1,200 × 900 pixels, the sharpness will still remain. It’s an amazing lens for shooting portraits. Not only that, but it can be used in other fields too. I use this lens for photographing cars and other fancy objects.

Creating bokeh photography with Sony’s SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8-22 lens is a nice bonus for this offered price point.

Key Specifications
 
  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Elements: 9 Elements
  • Groups: 8 Groups
  • Angle of view: 29°
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9, Rounded
  • Closest focusing distance: 2.62′ / 80 cm
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 0.13x
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum aperture: F/22
  • Filter size: 67 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions: 4.49 x 3.82 x 4.69
  • Weight: 0.81 lbs.

Why should you buy it?

In case you are on a tight budget but still need a precise 85mm lens, this one native to the Sony brand is a very sharp telephoto lens that will help you bring out the best ohotographs. It can capture very clear pictures.

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Sample Pictures of Sony SEL85F18 85mm F/1.8


3. Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM- Best For Image Stabilization

Canon EF 85mm f1.4L IS USM 1

What I Like

  • Great sharpness
  • Optical stabilization
  • Fluorine lens coat
  • Dust and splash protection

What I Don’t Like

  • Expensive

The durability is considered the advanced feature of this medium telephoto lens. The required resistance against dust and water is found in Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM lens too. Besides being peel resistant and weather-sealed, it features a fluorine coating for easy cleaning.

For high-contrast images, there is the molded glass (GMo) aspherical lens. Having an Image Stabilizer, EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM is provided with Canon’s Air Sphere Coating (ASC) technology for visibly reducing flare and ghosting from the reflection of any lighting. Image stabilization is great in this lens.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM lens hands over up to 41 stops (CIPA Standard) of stabilization letting you use it for different types of occasions.

The circular blades in the Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM lens is highly beneficial to showing the intimate details, not only in the focused area but also in the backgrounds with soft touching.

Portraits in this prime lens are mainly designed to give you notable focusing techniques even in poor lighting.

Autofocus is super fast and accurate in critical silent moments. That means catching quickly the moving portraits of your chosen subject is easy. A big thanks to the Ultrasonic ring-type motor that outperforms strongly in manual focus mode too.

Yes, taking portrait shots in this 85mm lens is ideal, but you can also take headshots and detail work aiming for advertisement or pleasure reasoning. Great technologies, great image stabilization, great image quality and a ton of other features make this the perfect 85mm lens.

Key Specifications
 
  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Elements: 14 Elements
  • Groups: 10 Groups
  • Angle of view: 28° 30′
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9 Rounded
  • Closest focusing distance: 2.79′ / 85 cm
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 0.12x
  • Maximum aperture: f/22
  • Minimum aperture: f/1.4
  • Filter size: 77 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions: 4.1 x 3.5 x 3.5
  • Weight: 2.09 lbs.
  • Great for shooting portraits

Why should you buy it?

With four stops of shake correction, this lens from Canon will be the best one to use while taking action pictures when there is a lot of movement. It will bring the best out of image stabilization.

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Sample Pictures of Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM


2. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens- Best For Bokeh Photography

Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

What I Like

  • Very sharp
  • No distortion
  • Bright aperture
  • Even illumination

What I Don’t Like

  • Heavy
  • No image stabilization

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is constructed to live a long life and to handle a few harsh drops without breaking apart. However, if you plan to hold it for hours, it will become very tiring. All I’m saying is not possible to hold it for more than a few hours because it gets heavier.

Special low dispersion (SLD) glass elements and optimized power distribution help to decrease chromatic aberrations at the maximum point.

The focal length technology in Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art leaves behind a great quality of portrait photography. Everything is very well put together in sense of preventing ghosting and high contrast. Shout out to Super Multi-Layer Compensation (SML) for making sure the clarity and sharpness are with no virtual streaking.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is owning the self-made A1 MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) measurement system. It uses the 46 megapixel Foveon direct image sensor to help you achieve the most desirable details in every shot.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art has a redesigned engine to ensure the 1.3 times more speed than previous predecessors. Create your art at the maximum speed possible.

The AF in this lens has no focus switch between automatic and manual focus. Just turn the focus ring and will switch in between. The precision of autofocus is unquestionable especially in this lens for bokeh photography, thanks to the aperture and the blades for the delighted results.

Key Specifications
 
  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Lens Mount: Canon EF
  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Elements: 14 Elements
  • Groups: 12 Groups
  • Angle of view: 28.6°
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9 Rounded
  • Closest focusing distance: 33.46″ / 85 cm
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 0.12x
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.4
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Filter size: 86 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions: 3.4 x 3.4 x 3.4
  • Weight: 2.49 lbs.

Why should you buy it?

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens is for those who need an 85mm lens to create the coolest and the best bokeh effect. It will help you capture some amazing portraitures without editing them!

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Sample Pictures of Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens


1. Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens- Best Overall

Sony FE 85mm f1.4 GM Lens

What I Like

  • Extremely sharp
  • Dust and splash protection
  • No distortion
  • Focus hold function

What I Don’t Like

  • Pricey
  • Dimmed corners at f/1.4

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens is part of Sony’s G Master series and it is designed to be a super fast and fully featured camera lens. It manages to work at its best in hot and cold temperatures due to the dust and moisture resistance support. Shooting portraits is a breeze for this lens.

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM is a short-telephoto prime lens that takes outstanding portraits with its advanced ability to isolate the targeted subject. Every detail is highly emphasized in absolute sharpness and clarity.

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens 11 blades are letting you take amazing bokeh effect photography leaving fully eye-pleasing quality for portraits, events, and any situation you may want to include in your frame.

The physical ring flows smoothly in a de-click position to be redirected into a silent aperture for better video recordings.

The aperture on the other side is able to work through tough lighting situations and gives you total control over focusing while using a shallow depth of field process.

Speaking of autofocus, Linear Super Sonic wave Motor (SSM) autofocus technology is handling every frame with a selective focus approach. The switch between auto and manual focus is placed in the barrel to control the tactile settings while shooting.

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM supports Nano AR Coating to decrease any reflection, flare, or ghosting. The color contrast is expanded even in the poor lighting. Also, One XA and Three extra-low dispersion elements drop the chromatic aberration and fringing. Definitely the best 85mm lens in its category.

Key Specifications
 
  • Lens Type: Standard
  • Lens Mount: Sony E
  • Focal length: 85mm
  • Elements: 11 Elements
  • Groups: 8 Groups
  • Angle of view: 29°
  • Diaphragm Blades: 11 Rounded
  • Closest focusing distance: 2.62′ / 80 cm
  • Maximum magnification ratio: 0.12x
  • Maximum aperture: f/1.4
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Filter size: 77 mm (Front)
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5 x 5.5
  • Weight: 1.81 lbs.

Why should you buy it?

This 85mm prime lens from Sony will do an impressive job in any type of photography. It is one of those lenses with many built-in features, and it is easy to be used by both beginners and professional photographers to use.

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Sample Pictures of Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens


The 5 Benefits of 85mm Lens For Portrait Photography

If you think 85mm lenses are limiting you to only portrait photography, means you didn’t understand the assignment correctly. Ok, it may be the best choice for portrait photography, but there is more than that.

Let’s find out what else you can do with 85mm lenses.

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  1. Bokeh Photography– represents the most famous alternative photography kind. In brief, the term is used for focusing on the front (subject) and leaving the background out of the line by blurring it.
  2. Visible Emotions– Yes, you can catch every emotion of your subject because the expressions usually are great storytellers.
  3. Eliminate Unpleasant Background – if you know what you want to include in your frame, first of all, remove the mess in the background. The viewers will focus more on what you are trying to say. 
  4. Give the Model a Moment– 85mm lenses give the needed space between the photographer and the subject for more comfortable shootings. As a result, you don’t have to vandalize the model’s personal space to get that perfect portrait.
  5. Versatility– 85mm lenses do an amazing job with headshots, and full-body shots and still reach the outcome you were looking for.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 85mm lens best known for?

If you ever talk with a portrait photographer, you will notice that the main lens he or she uses is an 85mm lens. These lenses are super famous as their second name is portrait lenses!

Do 85mm lenses have built-in stabilization?

Most 85mm lenses own image stabilization within, but still, the best known is Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM which works amazingly without the need to turn on your camera’s stabilization feature.

What is the most common aperture found in 85mm lenses?

An 85mm lens will come two you mostly in two ways of apertures. They are f/1.4 and f/1.8.

What is the special thing that 85mm lenses have?

Being considered portrait lenses, most 85mm lenses will come to you with an amazing bokeh effect! It is one of the most used effects during portrait photography as it helps during the focusing of the main subject of the photograph.

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read thus far, I strongly encourage you to do some further reading.

If you intend to build a collection of prime lenses with varying focal lengths, I have some good news for you. I also covered several other blogs, which feature the focal lengths you’ll need to hone and satisfy your photography skills.

I mentioned above that 85mm lenses are perfect and outstanding performers in portrait photography. However, you may have heard about nifty-fifty lenses as decent ones for portraits, but to find out more about them, you can check out some of the greatest 50mm lenses.

So you shoot landscapes every now and then? Nice one, we all love the beauty of mother nature. For that, I’ve included some excellent 35mm lenses that you should not overlook.

If you’re planning on getting personal and close to wildlife, that’s not a good idea. The same goes with sports, before you know the security will be right behind you.

Don’t worry though, I have a solution for that, and that’s none other than getting a telephoto lens.

For you sport and wildlife photographers, I have rounded up a list of great 150-600mm lenses.

Until next time, enjoy.

Caleb Soppe