Tested my 85mm lens.

When I sold my 70-200 2.8L IS to get one of the newer, sharper f4 versions I also picked up a Canon 85mm f1.8 to use for shooting portraits and lifestyle stuff. This week I have been shooting with Kaya Turski , fresh off her win at the European Open and with an x-games medal in her pocket she is finally putting injuries behind her and skiing really well. As well as some skiing stuff, I also wanted to get a few headshots and portraits of her as i’m sure magazines are going to be needing this stuff next winter. This was the first time I got to use my new 85mm lens. I’m not going to post pixel peeping samples, theres no need as these are available at many other places on the net. It is a very impressive lens though and certainly sharper than my old 70-200 2.8. Build quality is decent , though not L quality and focus is surprisingly fast and accurate. The only thing i noticed (and this is a well documented issue with this lens) is a bit of purple fringing at wide apertures on specular highlights. I only found this though because I was looking for them , it hasnt occured so far in real-life shooting. I don’t often shoot with prime lenses, most of my lenses are zooms simply because it is a good way to save weight if I am skiing. I can take a couple of lenses with me that cover a very wide range. Getting back to shooting with a prime was great though  I think it makes you think a bit harder about the composition, and the resulting prime lens quality is noticeable straight away. For me 85mm on a full frame camera is just the perfect focal length for this kind of shot. This shot (click to see larger) was shot with the 85mm at f5.6, 1/200 and iso 250 on my 5dMKII. It was lit with an Elinchrom Ranger with a 52 inch Photek Softligher on the head. This is another piece of kit that I am loving at the moment too. It’s easy to see why Annie Liebovitz uses the softligher as the key light in most of her locations shoots. It is simple and quick to setup, sturdy in a breeze (unlike a lot of softboxes) and the light quality is fantastic. This was the only light in this shot, no reflectors either. Positioned slightly above kaya and a bit to camera right. Remember that the closer you can get the light source to the subject, the softer the light will be……

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Dan Carr

Founder of Shutter Muse, full time photographer and creative educator. Dan lives in the Canadian Yukon, but his wanderlust often sends him in search of images all around the world to meet the needs of clients and readers alike.

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