The 85 mm lens – a perfect choice in your photography bag



The 85mm lens is definitely a perfect choice for many portrait photographers. However, there are a wide range of great benefits that an 85 mm lens may offer in any aspects of photography.  The below post will give you 5 reasons why you should consider an 85 mm lens in your photography bag.

With a fast f / 1.2 maximum aperture and medium telephoto focal length resulting in minimal perspective effects, the 85mm lens is definitely a perfect choice for many portrait photographers. However, there are a wide range of great benefits that an 85 mm lens may offer in any aspects of photography.  The below post will give you 5 reasons why you should consider an 85 mm lens in your photography bag.


One of the most advantaged points of the 85 mm lens is its versatility, especially for a fixed or a prime focal length.
When it comes to size, weight and profile, the 85mm allows us to shoot in various circumstances from portrait to landscape and street life photography, all with a single focal length. In comparison to a 70-200mm lens, the 85 is less than half of the size, 2 stops faster, but we can still do everything with it.

Of course, you won’t get the same compression at 85mm like at 200mm, however, there are many 85mm lenses with fast apertures (f1.2, f1.4, f1.8…) to compensate for the compression with Bokeh effect in  most anything.

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The 85 mm lens comes with fast apertures, the ability for photography at low-lighting conditions, so it allows us to shoot even at night. This means you can travel lightly while still covering as many options as possible.

Effectively shooting in low lighting condition

Additionally, as a prime lens, most 85 mm lenses are pretty small in profile, so it is handy and portable for any traveling times.

The small size of the 85 mm lens make it portable in any situations

The small size of the 85 mm lens make it portable in any situations


When it comes to the 85mm lens with one single focal length, perhaps everyone will think that its strength is portrait photography.  This is perfectly true because this focal length usually goes with a lens with a large aperture (1.2 - 1.4 or 1.8) whose main effects below can be made use of for portrait photography.

The ability to precisely reproduce the shape of the subject, and enable more accurate background control

An advantage of using an 85mm lens with a full-frame camera for portraits is that it provides the capability of taking pictures without distorting the face or body’s shape. Even when it comes to close-up shooting, it will not deform faces or alter small details.
Perfect portraits taken by the 85 mm lens without any details distorted

Another helpful point is being easy to control the background. Because a medium telephoto lens has a narrow angle of view compared to other lenses, it is possible to adjust the background and create a suitable frame accordingly. Hence, this makes it easy to determine the composition of your portrait shot without unnecessary objects entering into the background. The 85 mm lens also allows us to easily maintain a distance from the subject when taking a bust shot. With this type of lens, you can shoot subjects at a suitable distance - not too far and also not too close. Therefore, you have a capability of guiding the key subject on how to pose because it is not too far away from you, but not too close. This makes the photoshoot more comfortable and effective. In portrait photography, it can be assumed that 85mm is a very convenient focal length.

A great background bokeh and outstanding subject

Another plus of the 85mm lens is that it allows you to capture portraits with a great background Bokeh thanks to the maximum aperture (small f-number) of the lens. In portrait photography, the background Bokeh is an extremely important factor. By blurring the background, you can depict the facial expression and other details of the subject more effective and reduce the impression of a confused background. Additionally, the large aperture (f / 1.8, f / 1.4, f / 1.2) makes it easier to shoot in low lighting conditions.

The bokeh effect make the photo look more aesthetic

With a clear/blurred effect and the use of a suitable aperture so that the subject has just enough detail according to the photographer’s desire. For example, specifying an eye, a face or from the nose to the hair behind… of the mode while all the rest behind is blurred. When using this effect, the photographer usually wants the background to be really blurred to stand out the subject. However, we cannot use the maximum aperture to all situations. Apart from background removal, the description of the subject is the deciding factor for the success of a photo.


In addition to the capability of blurring the background very strongly which is convenient for portraits, the 85 mm lens also has a strength in landscape photography. This is because with a focal length of 85mm, the lens provides an angle of view almost like humans’ eyes. The feature makes it easy to focus on the subject so that the photo won’t be rambling and having a proper depth of field.

In landscape photography sort, with the right distance we can use an aperture of 4.5 to clearly capture all of the subjects in the frame. Therefore, with a focal length of 85mm we can describe most all the impressive scenes that we come across. This focal length helps us to express the scene as we see it in reality. It does not distort the subject, so it is suitable for those who are beginners in photography. Notwithstanding, because of the retaining of all the patterns of the landscape, photos taken from the 85mm lens does not make a strong and unique impression like by a wide-angle lens. Thus, the 85 mm lens is only suitable for simple and gentle scenes.

the 85 mm lens is a good choi for simple and gentle scenes

It's usually safer to use an aperture of 5.6 or 8.0 in a landscape photograph, as long as we don't choose the foreground too close, or even don't have the foreground.

With the strength of removing fonts, we can apply 85 mm lenses in wide landscape photography, especially special landscape photos. However, it is rare to come across a suitable circumstance and the effect is difficult to be made optimally.


Sound quite unconventional, but the 85mm lens is an ideal focal length street life photography. It’s not close enough to really disturb people, but not too far that you can’t completely capture anything you need in the scene.

Additionally, using creative framing with a fast aperture with an 85 mm lens, we can make our street life shots from others which are taken with a very deep depth of field and most things are in focus.

Street life photo taken by the 85 mm lens

This type of lens has many advantages for street life photography. For example, natural viewing angles, strong background blur effect when the aperture is enlarged (1.8 to 3.5), or clear and deep area when the aperture is narrowed down (8.0 - 11.0 - 16.0). It also has some disadvantages: the viewing angle is not wide, not suitable for narrow situations like indoors... So when using this type of lens, you should choose a proper space and skillfully improvise in any circumstances. The important thing is focusing on topic specification to take advantage of this focal length.

While specifying the daily activities of our lives, we should bring into play the strength of this focal length - blur the background, creating a feeling attractiveness for the image.


With many advantages, the 85 mm lens can capture almost all types of photography, including portraits, landscape and street life photography. It meets a variety of needs, especially good at a wide location, and can apply many methods of expression.

In terms of image effect, this lens is almost the opposite of a wide-angle lens. So in a too tight space, it is not a good choice. However, the 85mm focal length lens in particular and other medium focal length lenses are still the most effective because of their versatility at low cost.

To be able to take maximum advantage of the equipment, we have to experience and practice photography skills masterly to be able to achieve the desired images both in content and in technology.

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