Is This Canon's Best Value 85mm Lens?

An 85mm lens is by far one of the most useful and popular options out there, but premium versions can reach well over $2,000. Canon's RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM is far more affordable and offers some useful features more expensive options do not. This great video review takes a look at the lens and the kind of performance you can expect from it in practice. 

Coming to you from Dustin Abbott, this excellent video review takes a look at the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM lens. 85mm lenses are highly popular for portraiture work, and this version is relatively affordable compared to most, coming in at $599. In addition to the good price, you also get 1:2 macro capabilities. This makes the lens particularly versatile; for example, wedding photographers can use it both for formal portraits and ring closeups. Along with the macro capabilities, the 85mm f/2 also comes with an Optical Image Stabilizer that offers up to five stops of compensation, great for hand-holding those closeup shots without having to break out a tripod. Finally, it comes with Canon's customizable Control Ring, which can be used to adjust a variety of settings, such as ISO and exposure compensation. Altogether, it looks to be quite a versatile option. Check out the video above for Abbott's full thoughts on the lens. 

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Sam Sims's picture

Well that review from Dustin Abott wasn't overly positive. I don't know why Canon doesn't just produce a full lineup of non-L 1.8 primes. Why only f2? It also sucks that lens hoods for the cheaper lenses are still expensive extras.

Alejandro (Alex) Martinez's picture

Talking 85mm lenses is my wheelhouse as I have sampled and tested many over the years, and I have landed on a very firm conclusion that surprised even myself.
In my opinion, the absolute best 85mm lens, dollar for dollar value, is the ZEISS Planar T* 1.4.

The quality of glass, color/color contrast, sharpness, etc., are all as good, if not better, than any other manufacture; however, this lens will make you a better photographer. Why??? It's manual focus only. Let me explain.

Have you ever autofocused with the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II??? It's crazy slow. You can hear and feel the motors trying to rotate all that heavy glass around. It's so cumbersome that manual focusing with that lens is twice as fast, which you have to do so you don't miss a critical shot. I always rented that lens and never bought it for that reason. However, I took the plunge the Zeiss's 8 years ago ( over a thousand dollars cheaper, might I add), and I have never regretted it. Having no options but manual focus forces me to be much more present and far more selective when releasing the shutter. When I shoot portraiture and beauty with this lens, I notice there is so much more intention behind every click. I shot less but get to the shots that the clients love much faster. Not to sound cheesy, but there is a zen quality to shooting like that. Granted, if I ever have to capture movement or spontaneity, manual-focus would be a terrible option, but an 85mm with autofocus would not be my go-to lens for that anyway.

I know it's not an RF mount, but that's beside my point. For portraiture, beauty, and even video, finding quality glass at a lower price without AF I believe creates a win/win. -Alex

George Pahountis's picture

Dont forget the Canon ef 85mm 1.4 is. Great lens at a good price. Also since I do not comment, why do I get the feeling that video has taken over and most posts here and elsewhere should have the simple title, ''Hey check out this video'' ? :) Just saying

Ean Miller's picture

The best value 85mm canon lens is by far the Samyang/Rokinon RF 85mm F1.4 Fast Af, Astoundingly Sharp, Great colors, Metal build and weather-sealed for 600-700$.
That's Pro-level quality and performance at the hobbyist level price point with the performance and quality to back it up.
The results speak for themselves.

Sam Sims's picture

It’s not up to RF 85mm f1.2 optical quality, obviously, but certainly a much better choice than the RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM by all accounts. Also Samyang/Rokinon don’t sell the lens hood separately for $50.